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Resident Evil 2 Review
Posted on March 01, 2009 by

Resident Evil 2 is the 1998 sequel to the original Resident Evil. This, like many future RE's, would go through multiple forms before its final release. Fans were first shown screenshots around mid-1997 and promised a Fall release. The footage prominently showed two new characters, only one of which would ultimately end up in the game. The other was one Elza Walker, who was to be a university student who just happened to find herself in Raccoon City during the outbreak. A lot of footage of this RE 1.5 exists and it is a bloody good show, so many hope that Capcom will release it as a bonus on future RE projects (I'm certainly among its fans!)

Capcom was unhappy with the lack of innovation from the first game and scrapped that current version, including Elza. The game was completely redone and delayed until January of 1998. Would the wait be worth it?

The story in Resident Evil 2 is essentially a continuation of RE. Two months have passed and a lot has changed in nearby Raccoon City. The fact that zombies are now walking the streets of the entire city suggests that the people living there have undergone changes as well...

It would seem that an outbreak on a much larger scale than the Spencer Mansion incident has occurred. Unfortunately for the main characters, names of Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, they just so happen to have business in Raccoon City as the outbreak is reaching its head. Leon is a rookie cop and the newest member of the Raccoon Police Department. Tough first day, huh?

Claire Redfield is the sister of Chris Redfield, one of the main protagonists of the original. She has come to town to look for Chris, who went missing near the beginning of September.

When it comes to graphics in Resident Evil 2, they are the one of the main reasons Capcom decides to redesign the game completely. Shinji Mikami felt that what was being developed with 1.5 was too similar visually to the original. What RE2 ended up being was something quite new graphically.

While the basic outlay of the world is the same, with prerendered backgrounds dominating the environs, these very backgrounds are much more expressive, with a lot more action going on through presentation. Character models for Leon and Claire have also advanced. They both turn their heads toward strange noises, a nice touch to be sure. I also like how their character models change as the game goes on, mostly due to storyline events.

Zombies come in much greater variety now, with female zombies added to the mix. There were two kinds of zombies in the original, RE2 has civilians, police officers, females, and more. Considering the prevalence of these enemies, it is a great thing that there is variety. Many of the new creatures definitely hit the mark, like the plant mutations. Some may be tempted to think of the licker, but I am not a fan of this creature, especially as it seemed to be designed to replace the Hunter. They are not nearly as fast or threatening. If you have a heavy weapon and are quick on the draw, they will never damage you. The file that describes them is much scarier than they actually turn out to be. A big disappointment in my book.

Music is an improvement in every way. Masami Ueda crafts ominous pieces like the Front Hall and the Library, which is what is expected. It is in the action cues that RE2 really elevates itself as a sequel. Escape from the Laboratory is awesome and intense, not to mention the boss battle, Malformation of G. All equally fun to hear, especially the wailing of the final G malformation!

Sound Effects play a bigger role than ever, with shuffling zombie noise alerting you to their presence from around tight corners. The heavy breathing of the Licker is probably the only tense thing about it. Lastly, the voice acting, while still mediocre, is definitely an improvement from Resident Evil. I like Alyson Court (Jubilation Lee!) as Claire Redfield quite a bit. Brian Irons, the crazy chief of police, is unknown to me. I really think his voice actor should have gotten more work.

Gameplay is pretty much the same as Resident Evil, with those "tank" controls that some people just can't seem to get used to. I am glad that the two characters are both different, yet none have obvious advantages, unlike Jill Valentine in Resident Evil. Just remember a magnum is more powerful than a shotgun. Being ignorant in weapons at that point in my life, I always tried to use the shotgun first. Heh.

Claire's grenade launcher is a real multitasker of a weapon. 3 different kinds of ammo, pretty much effective against any kind of enemy. Definitely not what I expected, one might even say that the launcher is overpowered. As for Leon, he also has a handgun that is a bit more powerful at the cost of firing speed. Oh, and his weapons can be modified, which is definitely a lot of fun!

Challenge is pretty much equal to Resident Evil, the puzzles are similar, the combat, pretty much everything. Like the best sequels, Resident Evil 2 succeeds at taking the good and making it bigger and better. The game definitely feels like a longer quest. Overall, I would say that veterans of the first game would have no trouble adjusting to this sequel.

Replay value is much higher than the original due to the implementation of a "zapping" system. I did not describe this in gameplay because it is kind of a secret once you complete the game. Besides that secret, there are plenty of unlockable weapons and bonus modes that provide additional challenges.

Before we get to my summation, I need to add a paragraph or two discussing Resident Evil 2's subsequent rereleases, on different platforms as well. Resident Evil 2 was rereleased with Dual Shock support later in 1998. The Dual Shock support is kind of neat (I never thought rumble was a neat idea at all. The original Rumble Pack was often uncomfortable to handle with Star Fox 64, as it seemed to go ballistic with rumbling action at times...) As a further blow to this "addition" is the fact that the analogue sticks are not pressure sensitive, meaning you can't apply more pressure to make the character run, like in Mario 64. Lame.

The good of this edition is a new code for unlimited ammo and Extreme Battle mode. This new mode plays like the game in reverse, as you seek special bombs. There are multiple difficulties and four characters. The last secret character is definitely a neat surprise, check out their use of the custom shotgun and how it makes Leon look like a little girlie man! The enemies in Extreme Battle also are a surprise, as you may encounter some ingame bosses on your quest...

Resident Evil 2 was also released on the Nintendo 64 in 1999. This port was handled by Angel Studios, now Rockstar San Diego. This was a very impressive project, as it was able to fit the entire 2 CD game on a 64 MB cart. Not only that, Capcom added EX files, detailing previously unknown tidbits of the Resident Evil storyline, as well as then to still be released games like RE Zero. A neat addition. More minor is the item randomizer, which mixes up key item locations, violence control, which allows you to change the color of the blood to blue and green.

Lastly, RE2 N64 features true analogue support, eliminating the need for a run button. Awesome. Graphically the game also features a high-resolution mode at specific times during gameplay. Lastly, Factor 5's team implemented surround sound for the cutscenes. Just watch Annette's Recollection and you'll definitely notice the difference!

The Dreamcast, PC and Gamecube releases only require one paragraph, because they are identical to the Dual Shock PSX release. VMU use for health and a new difficulty for the PC version don't cut it as new for me.

In summation, Resident Evil 2 is a great continuation of the series, and the point where these games really started to come into their own. Things would keep getting better as RE 3 Nemesis was coming, and what it would bring with it would definitely change RE for the better.

- Ugly Bob

What do you think of the Gamestop settlement in California?

Gamestop got exactly what it deserved. They've been screwing over gamers for too long.
The lawsuit was stupid. Consumers should have known better, and now, Gamestop will start reducing prices of trade-ins.
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