Con­trol

It’s a re­make in name alone

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Re­flect­ing on the past of­ten has a habit of elic­it­ing a mixed emo­tional re­sponse. The fa­mil­iar pang of nos­tal­gia drives rec­ol­lec­tion, leav­ing you at the mercy of some­thing so ut­terly im­pos­si­ble to con­trol that it can be dif­fi­cult to know where you stand with for­ma­tive mem­o­ries of the past. The good times come flood­ing back with the bad, grad­u­ally at first, as if a gen­tle wave were lapping a shore, then more fran­ti­cally, a haz­ardous re­treat into what has al­ready been writ­ten. Nos­tal­gia is of­ten in­dis­tinct and un­tame­able.

And yet so of­ten do we find our­selves at its mercy. Is it this that has helped en­shrine the re­turn of Res­i­dent Evil 2 as a point of con­flict in our hearts and minds? We’re over­joyed that a le­git­i­mate clas­sic is be­ing pre­sented to a new au­di­ence in an aes­thetic form it will ap­pre­ci­ate, while still dis­ap­pointed that Cap­com isn’t chan­nelling its bud­get, band­width and ex­per­tise into bring­ing about an en­tirely new ex­pe­ri­ence. What we’re try­ing to say is that ap­proach­ing this re­make with a clear head is eas­ier said than done – though it’s in your best in­ter­est to do so.

As too is re­treat­ing from the se­ries’ long and sto­ried his­tory – for­get­ting all that has tran­spired across the two decades of sub­se­quent fran­chise mu­ta­tion – in an ef­fort to fully ap­pre­ci­ate what Cap­com is in the process of achiev­ing here. It’s im­por­tant for us all to do so, mind; Res­i­dent Evil 2 de­serves to be viewed free of ex­pec­ta­tion and con­dem­na­tion born from the past. It de­serves to be viewed anew rather than as a relic of the past worth sav­ing or cel­e­brat­ing.

The rea­son be­hind our think­ing here is that Res­i­dent Evil 2 feels like a land­mark mo­ment, a re­turn to form for a genre that has long grap­pled with its place in the mod­ern era. Cap­com is treat­ing Res­i­dent Evil 2 as a brand-new re­lease, us­ing the 1998 clas­sic as lit­tle more than a foun­da­tion for big­ger and bet­ter things. Take the head­quar­ters of the Ra­coon City Po­lice Depart­ment, a build­ing cast in in­creas­ingly bleak shades of dis­re­pair once rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy ar­rives on the scene – one week late to a new job only to find him­self im­me­di­ately swept up in a whirlpool of vis­cera and vi­o­lence.

For many of us it’s a fa­mil­iar lo­ca­tion, one with a lot of his­tory at­tached to it; mem­o­ries of stran­gled screams echo­ing out from be­hind tear-soaked sofa cush­ions. But see­ing it pre­sented this way, re­built lov­ingly in the ev­er­im­pres­sive RE En­gine – Cap­com’s pro­pri­etary

“Res­i­dent evil 2 feels like a land­mark mo­ment,a Re­turn to form for a genre that has long grap­pled with its place in the mod­ern era.”

toolset that al­lowed its in-house devel­op­ment teams to put so much life and en­ergy into ex­per­i­men­tal first-per­son hor­ror ex­pe­ri­ence

Res­i­dent Evil VII early last year – and it’s dif­fi­cult to find the room to breathe.

It looks in­cred­i­ble, and even bet­ter in mo­tion. The depth to the spa­ces, the de­tail found in the par­ti­cle and light­ing ef­fects, the sense of pres­ence each of the sham­bling zom­bies holds over its claus­tro­pho­bic cor­ri­dors is truly star­tling. The im­ple­men­ta­tion of third­per­son movement and com­bat me­chan­ics re­aligns Res­i­dent Evil with the lean­ings of per­haps its most famed en­try, that of 2004’s

Res­i­dent Evil 4, while the re­vamped ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence of en­emy AI, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of full dis­mem­ber­ment sys­tems – you haven’t truly lived un­til you’ve sev­ered an en­croach­ing com­bat­ants arm at the bone with a few wellplaced shots – and the abil­ity to see the player char­ac­ter be­come vis­i­bly weary and scarred from as­saults puts this on a plane of ex­is­tence above any of its po­ten­tial com­pe­ti­tion.

That in it­self is mis­lead­ing, though, as

Res­i­dent Evil 2 has no ob­vi­ous com­pe­ti­tion to speak of. The only things it is fight­ing with is your mem­o­ries of the past and the tra­jec­tory of the fran­chise it be­longs to; as VII looks to thrust the se­ries in a new sus­tain­able di­rec­tion, this ti­tle only seeks to pull us back into the past, in an in­stant mak­ing us only too aware of how far the sur­vival-hor­ror genre could have gone had Cap­com not steered to­wards more ac­tionori­ented ex­pe­ri­ences in the Noughts.

There is some­thing truly haunt­ing about Res­i­dent Evil 2’s pre­sen­ta­tion. The game’s playable spa­ces are as ex­pres­sive as they have ever been. They are forg­ing a true sense of place in a world that feels some­what rooted in re­al­ity – the retro aes­thetic of the en­vi­ron­men­tal and char­ac­ter de­signs feel­ing bet­ter re­alised than it ever has be­fore. The shift in per­spec­tive, the re­newed vis­ual style and new-found affin­ity for guts and gore feel like a match made in sur­vival hor­ror heaven. There’s still a part of us that wishes we were re­ceiv­ing a more faith­ful re­make that echoed that of the orig­i­nal de­sign – per­haps made in the style of the leg­endary Res­i­dent Evil re­make – but that’s just the nos­tal­gia talk­ing. Take a step back and you’ll be able to ap­pre­ci­ate this for what it is; one of the most im­pres­sive and vis­ually strik­ing games com­ing in 2019.

RES­I­DENT Evil 2 is the lat­est project from the tal­ented folks at Cap­com. Find out more here: cap­com.com

You may no­tice that Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Red­field look and sound a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to how you re­mem­ber them. That’s be­cause the stu­dio has re­cast the duo; not only do they both have new voice ac­tors, but body mod­els too, to make use of the RE En­gine’s pho­togram­me­try ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Res­i­dent Evil 2 is be­ing built us­ing the pro­pri­etary RE en­gine, which made its de­but with Res­i­dent Evil VII last Jan­uary. it looks ab­so­lutely stun­ning, mak­ing us fear that we might not be able to stand up to the game’s hor­rors all over again.

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