REVIEW: The ‘Resident Evil 2’ remake updates a survival-horror classic

“Resident Evil 2 (2019)”
Genre: Survival horror
Publisher/Developer: Capcom
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Rating: M, for mature

By Gieson Cacho | The Mercury News (TNS)

Like the recently reworked editions of Street Fighter II and Mega Man games, Capcom has opted to revamp the Resident Evil titles from the ground up. Beginning with the excellent original, the company has updated the visuals and design for several chapters.

Resident Evil 2 (2019) follows the same path but comes with a caveat. This chapter is arguably the best entry in the series, and that sets the bar high for any update. Capcom can’t just update the graphics and tweak the camera a remake has to substantially improve the experience. This entry accomplishes the feat by renewing the focus on scares while also making the game more accessible to modern audiences.

With the upgraded visuals, Capcom R&D Di- vision 1 heightens the frights, making the game more visceral. The team playfully uses shadows and flashlights in dark hallways to build atmosphere and fear. Zombies may break through windows and grab players or they can fall over a stairway banister. Despite a free camera system, the team manages to hide monsters and maximize the shock.

Capcom also does an excellent job of using sound to build tension as Tyrant wanders the po- lice department. Players can hear its heavy foot-steps pounding on the floor as the monster looks for the two main characters, Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield.

The two protagonists are backed by two sup- porting characters. The mysterious Ada Wong has a bigger role as she helps Leon through the sewers. Meanwhile, Sherry Birkin is a girl who holds a secret and becomes a ward of Claire. Her section escaping an orphanage doesn’t have zombies, but it’s one of the most terrifying aspects of the game. Expanding the roles of these secondary characters breaks up the gameplay and helps with the flow of the second act in the sewers.

As far as the game-play goes, it borrows the over-the-shoulder camera made popular in Resident Evil 4 and combines it with the classic structure. Players have to conserve ammo while managing a limited inventory with supplies and items needed to solve puzzles.

What’s notable though is the lack of the “Zapping System,” which was the innovative game-play wrinkle that made Resident Evil 2 (1998) so iconic. The magic of the “Zapping System” is that player decisions in one campaign affect the second, so if Leon took a hip pack, it wouldn’t be there for Claire in her campaign. This new remake doesn’t continue this detail. However, like the original, the remake should be played twice. The first play-through shows the perspective of one protagonist while the second run shows the other, offering a complete picture of the narrative.

Although the differences add to the replay value, having the option for a Zapping System like the original would have been great. It would have added to the strategy and enhanced the realism of the remake. It’s a big flaw, but not a game-breaker. The Resident Evil 2 remake still has plenty to offer, giving fans a fuller and deeper experience of survival-horror classic.