BY DEAN MOSES
Game: Resident Evil 2
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Rating: M for Mature
Nowadays the undead are a rather overused trope, ever since George A. Romero introduced us to the modern visage of the zombies in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. What Night of the Living Dead did for horror cinema, the original Resident Evil did for the video game world. Over the years though the franchise has had some serious missteps, transgressing from the beloved horror genre to plain white-knuckle action, all the while zombies were being overused in comic books, film, television, and, of course, interactive media such as games. However, Resident Evil returned to its horror roots back in 2017 with the seventh game in the franchise. It was a fantastically macabre experience, but it left out everyone’s favorite ghoul: The zombie. Last month the long-running series gave us this missing piece with a remake of the cherished Resident Evil 2.
Return to Racoon City
Let’s get this straight. This iteration of Resident Evil 2 is not a port or a glossy high-definition makeover, it is a completely fresh experience, constructed from the ground up. The setting is still the same, telling the bone-chilling tale of the fictional Racoon City and its few remaining survivors after it becomes inhabited by flesh-eating zombies. We can choose to play as either Leon Kennedy, a police officer during his first day on the job, or Claire Redfield, a woman coming to the city in search of her brother; fate throws these two heroes together as they hold up in the metropolitan police station. Converted from an old museum into the hub of RPD’s crime fighting unit, this building holds many secrets within its walls, but can it reveal what caused the citywide outbreak? It is up to Leon and Clare to find out by banding together and discovering a way to escape the doomed city.
X Gonna Give It to Ya
Developer Capcom has crafted an amalgamation of the franchise’s storied history and modern design by doing away with the cumber-some tank controls of the past in favor of an updated system that feels fluid and, most importantly, fun. These new controls work well with the classic zombies, who make their long-awaited return to the series. Thanks to this contemporary control scheme, we can now easily aim at an enemy’s head, legs, arms, and chest, which, when defending oneself, is a far more intuitive process than in earlier titles. Still, this is a survival horror experience, meaning there is more to the experience than just shooting your way to the credits. You will need to conserve ammo and medical supplies, manage your inventory space—the items you can carry at a given time—and solve a variety of puzzles to proceed. The RPD police station is permeated with riddles and mysteries, some are harder to resolve than others, yet all are grounded enough to make solving them not only possible but enjoyable as well. All the variables are in place to make this a classic Resident Evil experience, even the multitude of monsters. We have the run-of-the-mill zombies in conjunction with lickers—a blind mutant that can scale walls and ceilings while attacking with its extended tongue—gigantic crocodiles, and, of course, Mr. X. You may have noticed this character popping up in memes on YouTube and over Facebook, scaring people wherever he is posted. You see, Mr. X is an enormous, invulnerable brute who follows the player throughout the game, from room to room, from puzzle to puzzle, producing terrify-ing moment after terrifying moment.
A Building With a Soul
Of course the graphics are impressive, still this is something we have come to expect from the powerhouses that are the PS4 and Xbox One. It is the locations that impress me, the love and care that went into crafting a truly unnerving game world in which to explore. Take the Racoon City Police Depart-ment for instance, this building consists of long, winding hallways, vast staircases, ghostly offices, dank underground tunnels, but most of all it cloves the player in an oppressive sensation, an ominous feeling that hints at a disturbing truth: this place may have a soul all of its own and it wants you to fail, it wants you to become another one of its undead residents.
While the narrative is somewhat weaker than I would have liked, everything else is on point, from the compelling surroundings and horrifying monsters to the refined gameplay, Capcom has gifted us another fantastic Resident Evil title.