Res­i­dent Evil 2 re­turns the se­ries to its roots, re­work­ing a 20-year-old clas­sic and bring­ing sur­vival horr or back to its best. OXM got hands-on and found it scar­ily fa­mil­iar…

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - RESIDENT EVIL 2 - Chris burke

It’s been 20 years since this writer was last in Ra­coon City’s sprawl­ing po­lice sta­tion. It was an­other time, an­other con­sole. Re­turn­ing to it now is as if the years have melted away. Of course, usu­ally what hap­pens when you re­visit old games is that you re­alise you’ve re­mem­bered it through a rose-tinted fil­ter, but not this time. Res­i­den­tEvil2’ s even bet­ter than you re­mem­ber.

That’s be­cause, of course, sur­vival hor­ror in­no­va­tor Cap­com has cho­sen to re­visit its clas­sic sec­ond Res­i­den­tEvil game, up­dat­ing its vi­su­als and me­chan­ics for 2018. Gone are the fixed cam­era an­gles and the block­ier, pix­elly graph­ics in favour of the now fa­mil­iar

Res­i­den­tEvil4- style, over-the-shoul­der ac­tion cam­era, and Xbox One X-en­hanced sharply re­al­is­tic char­ac­ter mod­els, back­grounds and ef­fects. It’s a treat for the eyes and thumbs al­right, but it’s also a game that pays se­ri­ous fan-ser­vice by chang­ing very lit­tle else.

Younger gamers might find some of the game’s 20-year-old ideas other-worldly. Firstly, there’s the ’90s set­ting with quaint con­cepts such as sav­ing your progress with type­writ­ers, rolls of film that need de­vel­op­ing in a dark room, and com­plete lack of smart phones. There are also the fun­da­men­tals of the game me­chan­ics – de­vised, in­ge­niously at the time, out of tech­ni­cal con­straints and lim­i­ta­tions on the size of the play area pos­si­ble, but re­tained faith­fully and some­how still made to feel fresh here.

The genius of Cap­com’s first two games was in that these lim­i­ta­tions were used to also con­vey the claus­tro­pho­bia and fear that helped the games feel like in­ter­ac­tive hor­ror movies. It’s weirdly re­fresh­ing that

Res­i­den­tEvil2’ s puz­zles and game­play de­vices still fol­low the same ideas they did 20 years ago. Keys, crank shafts and com­bi­na­tions to door locks must be found in or­der to open up ar­eas of the game’s cen­tral Po­lice Sta­tion lo­ca­tion, and con­se­quently you’ll of­ten find your­self re­turn­ing to an area time and again as ob­jects are found, puz­zles solved and doors opened up. It’s cer­tainly not an open world game – quite the op­po­site, in fact. It’s as claus­tro­pho­bic and lim­it­ing as it ever was, and we love that.

“We had re­quests from the fans for many years to cre­ate a re­make of

Res­i­den­tEvil2,” ex­plains pro­ducer Yoshi­aki Hirabayashi as to why the time was right for a new ver­sion of the game. “We wanted to not only re­spond to our pas­sion­ate fan base but also de­liver a whole new zom­bie hor­ror gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that utilised the Cap­com in-house pro­pri­etary en­gine, RE En­gine, to bring it to life on cur­rent gam­ing con­soles and also at­tract a whole new au­di­ence that may not have been around for the orig­i­nal re­lease in 1998. We also wanted to have play­ers feel new kinds of pos­si­bil­i­ties for Res­i­den­tEvil by com­bin­ing the Metroid­va­nia-style ex­plo­ration and sur­vival hor­ror of the orig­i­nal game with the lat­est mod­ern game ex­pe­ri­ence.”

And they’ve de­liv­ered that in spades, if OXM’s playthrough is any­thing to go by. Our hands-on time with the game be­gins with rookie cop Leon S Kennedy, who’s turned up for his first day on the job only to dis­cover that every­one’s dead, or un­dead. We’re start­ing some­where in the mid­dle of his cam­paign – both Leon and stu­dent Claire Red­field each have their own dis­tinct playthrough, echo­ing the orig­i­nal.

Leon meets the enig­matic Ada Wong in the un­der­ground car park, and we leave with her to go out into the pour­ing rain in an eerily silent Ra­coon City street.

A quick word about the rain. It’s awe­somely cool. We love ev­ery­thing about it from the at­mos­phere it con­veys to the way Claire puts her arm up to shield her eyes from the down­pour, and the way Leon shakes his sleeves of ex­cess wa­ter when he en­ters a build­ing from out­side.

It’s not just the weather that’s im­proved though, but the game’s story beats. Leon and Ada need to pass through a gun shop, and it’s here we see a strong ex­am­ple of the re­make’s newly emo­tional depth for the first time. The gun shop owner emerges with a shot­gun trained on Leon and Ada, in a beau­ti­fully-worked cutscene in which it be­comes ap­par­ent he’s pro­tect­ing his daugh­ter, who’s turn­ing into a zom­bie. It’s har­row­ing,

above Leon and Claire are the stars once more.

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