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Resident Evil 2 (2019)
Game Reviews

Resident Evil 2 (2019)

A fully remade experience that’s just as tense, scary and atmospheric as the original 1998 release.

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There’s a trend these days toward remastering and re-releasing classic titles, updating them for the new era and bringing them into the modern age. We’ve seen some pretty successful games come out of this trend, like the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy and the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Not all classic game remakes come in threes, though, as we see with Capcom’s complete reimagining of Resident Evil 2 for the modern set.

Rookie cop Leon Kennedy is due for his first day on the job with the Raccoon City Police Department, while college student Claire Redfield is looking for her brother Chris. They converge on Raccoon City, unaware that things have gone somewhat awry. “Somewhat awry,” of course, means that the whole place is crawling with capital-Z Zombies, and Leon and Claire need to figure out what’s going on while avoiding becoming lunch themselves. You can choose to play either character and can then use the other for a remixed second playthrough after you’ve finished.

Here’s a fun fact for you: the original Resident Evil 2 was the first game I ever played for the PlayStation back in the day. That means it’s got a special place in my heart, so I was desperately hoping that the remake would do the game justice. Turns out I didn’t have to worry, since 2019’s Resident Evil 2 makes some improvements while retaining the survival horror spirit of the early Resi games like Resident 5 (or The Evil Within) than the first-person scares of Resident Evil 7.

Those improvements mostly revolve around adding a little bite to the gameplay – pun intended, since zombies look and feel much more lethal now. The days of simply ignoring slow-moving, dumb corpses as you scour each room for oddly-shaped keys and puzzle objects are over. Now, bites are near-impossible to dodge, save for the use of consumable items, and you have to give zombies the respect they deserve if you don’t want to get eaten. That’s saying nothing about the myriad other enemies that show up. Combat is both more necessary and more dangerous in the 2019 version, while the game in general is a lot more scary as a result.

Other aspects of the original remain, though. You’ve still got the aforementioned puzzle objects all over the place. That’s combined with the real danger of the early Resident Evil games: critically limited inventory space. A key takes up the same space as ammo or even a gun, so you’ll have to carefully manage items with storage containers found throughout the game to avoid running into issues. There are inventory-expanding pouches here and there, but they’re few and far between. Expect some backtracking.

Of course, this remake had the full weight of Capcom’s impressive production staff behind it, so it looks and sounds absolutely fantastic. Play on PC for the best possible experience. The powerful atmosphere that defined Resident Evil 7 is present and accounted for here, so it’s a much more intimidating experience than the original PlayStation release on. It brought me back to the good old days of young teenage me wandering the Raccoon City Police Department with the lights out, hoping beyond hope that I’d find a healing item before another Licker or zombie popped up.

Fans of survival horror are bound to have a good time with the remake of Resident Evil 2. It’s just as tense, scary and atmospheric as the original was back in 1998, only brought into the modern era none the worse for wear. Just note this isn’t a reissue but a full-fledged remake, built from the ground up for modern hardware – and modern expectations. It’s bigger and scarier than ever, even though certain elements feel stuck in the past. But with two playthroughs to check out and plenty of ridiculous keys to find and use, you can’t go wrong with a trip back into the world’s most terrifying police station.