Everything old is new again in Resident Evil 2
Hands-on WITH CAPCOM’S Stunning REIMAGINING of A Survival Horror CLASSIC
“IT SEEMS STRANGE, BUT THEN WE CAN’T HELP BUT FEEL AS IF IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE.”
FORMAT: PS4, PC, XBOX ONE | PUBLISHER: CAPCOM | DEVELOPER: IN-HOUSE | RELEASE: 25 JANUARY 2019 | PLAYERS: 1
It has been two months since the incident at the Spencer Mansion. Chris Redfield – Point Man for the infamous S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team – is missing in action, prompting his sister Claire to make the long trip down to Raccoon City in search of a few answers. Unfortunately for her, all she finds is a situation that begets more questions; locked in a deadly struggle to survive the outbreak of a deadly virus, forced into an uneasy alliance with rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy as the pair look for a way out of the city before it’s too late.
We experienced this hellish situation first hand as we were given the opportunity to take control of Claire, our demo beginning a few hours into her campaign. We crawl apprehensively through the backrooms of the Racoon City Police Department, long after
Leon has already scoured the building for insight into why the residents of the city have transformed into nightmarish ghouls. It’s difficult to not become distracted by the detail in the environments, Resident Evil 2 looks positively otherworldly rendered through the RE Engine. Still, there are more pressing matters to attend to than the scenery.
Namely, the shambling horror known to us as G; the sight of his huge shouldermounted eye summoning a concoction of nostalgia and abstract horror within us that we find to be captivating. And so there we are, drunk with terror, once again facing off against a creature that has been known to occasionally haunt our nightmares over the past 20 years.
We’re running haphazardly through a maze of corridors in a maintenance room now desperately wrestling with a control scheme that at once feels archaic and fluid all at the same time. G emerges through the thick mist filling the room as we attempt to navigate a twisting labyrinth of tight corridors. We root Claire in place, the camera fastening tightly above her shoulder as we pump round after thunderous round into G’s head until he stumbles towards us within grappling distance, forcing us to swivel on the spot and break into a light jog to gain some distance.
The ping of a casing released from the grenade launcher as satisfying as ever, the low-whir of rounds peppering G’s torso from an Uzi an ineffectual comfort in amongst the chaos of the struggle. All of this done in an effort to get that eye to reveal itself – a weak point that can be attacked for massive damage.
In a sense, it’s so strange to be back here. Resident Evil 2 controls far better than the original ever did, although it feels a little more tempered than the setup featured in Resident Evil 4. Then again, perhaps that’s just our brains wrestling with the realities of modern action games versus something that is antiquated by its very design; with no dodge button to speak of, getting out of harm’s way is all stiff turns and frantic dashes with your back turned to the enemy.
It seems strange, but then we can’t help but feel as if it is supposed to be. Claire’s segment is designed to highlight Resident Evil 2’s action and intense boss battles – a far cry from
Leon’s far more atmospheric and tempered segment, as revealed at E3 2018. We have to admit, this demo has done a compelling job of demonstrating just how brilliantly Capcom has modernised Resident Evil 2’s gunplay and movement. The controls are precise and easy to use, even if the framework they are presented within is a little rigid. Seeing a room littered with Green Herbs, twinkling red ammunition boxes and strange components begging to be combined within your briefcase hasn’t lost any of its lustre, nor has the distinctive enemy, environment and sound design.
Resident Evil 2 feels at once fresh and familiar. Capcom’s assertion that this is no mere remake but a total reimagining holds true, with the 2019 release retaining the spirit of the 1998 classic while updating its most outdated aspects – and it has done so without sacrificing any of the character or charm that made it legendary. Whether you’re a Resident Evil veteran or a new player eager to see what all of the fuss is about, we are certain that this is going to be a must-play game of the current generation.
Right: Slight changes are being made to the story and order of events, forcing us to reconcile with the recollection of lost memories as they are immediately re-written. We got a sense of this as we saw Sherry Birkin get snatched up in a parking garage by Police Chief Irons. We’ll have to wait a little longer to meet Ada Wong it seems. Right: William ‘G’ Birkin looks absolutely terrifying in this latest incarnation. He’s the sort of character that scared the hell out of one generation and now he is back to ruin another. The level of detail that has gone into every aspect of his mutated body is, frankly, absurd.