It’s a remake in name alone
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.