Reviewed on the PS4 (Standard).
People have had insanely high expectations with this reimagining of a 20 years old survival horror experience. More so with the people who didn't get to play the original.
Spending about 20-25 hours with the game, exploring both Leon's as well as Claire's horrifying first playthrough, it is possible to say the wait had been worth it.
This review on Resident Evil 2 Remake is divided into 4 parts, namely, Setting (visuals), Gameplay, Sound Design and Story. We will be analysing each of these attributes of the game in a detailed manner while stating its pros and cons along the way.
Well, without wasting any more time, let's just get right into it.
RE 2 Remake is set in the Racoon city during the outbreak of a G Virus. You play either as Leon Kennedy - a rookie police officer or Claire Redfield - a young college student looking for her brother who has apparently gone missing. Whether you decide to play as Leon or Claire, the level designs seem to be vastly similar, though the characters you meet along the way are different. Other than that, most of the puzzles and the basic storyline remains the same.
Now, RE 2 Remake is built from the ground up on the stunning RE engine which was first used in 2017's Resident Evil 7. The game boasts of some stunning lighting and water effects which is almost picturesque though when it comes to interiors you would expect a little more realistic graphics - considering how much linear this game is.
On the other hand, the characters look great. Leon's hair hasn't looked prettier before and Claire's face got dirtier (as well as sweatier) by the time the story's conclusion was reached. Not to mention the incredible detailing in their costumes which got wet when exploring the outdoors and the crisscross pattern reflecting across while walking.
Overall the visuals are pretty good although it doesn't look any better than Resident Evil 7 which is a shame considering the two years gap between the release would have yielded a little better visuals.
RE 2 Remake's biggest achievement is that it's not a game for everyone. Don't expect it to be a walk in the park, the game is difficult and unforgiving just like a true horror adventure should be.
Now what to love here the most is how intricately designed its areas are. Thinking about it now, this is what made RE games so popular in the first place and RE 2 Remake is the pinnacle of providing you with such an experience.
We absolutely love the level design in this game, whether it comes to exploring the depths of RPD or the Umbrella facility, every location is connected internally with multiple pathways and getting lost is easy. The puzzles are smart and often require some brainstorming, finding the key to a locked door is always tempting and backtracking is necessary for a rewarding experience.
What makes exploring even better in RE 2 Remake is how smooth the controls are. It's absolutely adorable the way Leon/ Claire moves and shoot, the camera angles are perfect and being a long time fan of this series it means a lot because well, you all are probably aware of the tank like controls in the previous titles.
That being said, don't expect the game to go easy on you just because it controls well. The game is a true survival horror experience and it will keep you on the edge, for the most part. Deciding when to shoot and when to run away from the zombies is crucial because the ammo is scarce. But yes, the most important thing to note here is that game isn't cheap. It is fun and terrifying at the same time, that means its highly unlikely to rage quit like in previous titles such as RE 4 or 5.
#3. Sound Design
Good sound design adds fuel to a horror game and is very much necessary.
For the most part, RE 2 Remake succeeds, exploring its dark and grimy corridors was always unsettling and the background score didn't help at all.
The jump scares were made even more frightening with the perfect sound and the grotesque zombies moaning for your flesh didn't make things any easy.
However, where RE 2 Remake sound design completely goes off the track is its voice acting.
It's shocking to see how one-dimensional and bland most of them sound. The dialogues ain't any catchy though Leon's character does seem to attain some of its quirky sense of humour from the previous entries though his campaign overall is inferior to that of Claire's. Rest of the cast though completely disappointments, especially of Ada Wong's whose tone of the voice seemed completely off from her character as if Capcom didn't pay the actor.
Comparing these from the benchmark-setting performances in RE 4 as well as RE 6 this comes as a major disappointment.
Resident Evil 2 Remake's story takes place during the iconic Racoon City incident with the outbreak of citywide G virus, two months after the events of the original Resident Evil.
Honestly, high production values and blockbuster storytelling is expected from a Resident Evil game especially in the latter half of the story but nothing of such calibre happens in here. Instead, RE 2 Remake storytelling comes out as completely bland and empty.
This is actually the only aspect of the game that gives out its 20 years old identity, along with the voice acting of course.
Storytelling in video games have come a long way since then and with the likes of The Last Of Us, Red Dead Redemption and even the previous RE 4 and 6 on the horizon which featured some strong climatic storylines with diversified characters, we were genuinely expecting more and some deep insight about the ever famous Racoon city incident but unfortunately nothing of such sort exists.
In fact, RE 2 barely have any story, the cutscenes are kept to a bare minimum and shocking to say the characters develop suddenly as if they are bots in the body of humans. The 6-7 hours long campaign doesn't do any justice either.
If you're hoping for a solid foundation for Leon and Claire's story then don't because both the main protagonist seems a little bit too sketchy to say the least, Leon a little more which is a disappointment.
Should you buy the game at launch?
Of course! RE 2 Remake is an instant classic which will take you back to the days when video games actually didn't hold your hands. It's smart gameplay, intricate level design and spooky atmosphere reek of a true survival horror experience- one that is shockingly lacking these days. But its empty characters, bland voice acting and a simplistic plot do hold it back from being a masterpiece.
Resident Evil 2 is out now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.