Reviewed on Xbox One X and Xbox One
I’m trapped in the Safety Deposit room. With two lickers and a gigantic ten-foot Tyrant waiting for me, I think I’m fucked. After tinkering with my inventory and weighing up my options, fighting the foes is completely out of the question. Thankfully, at this point, I’ve already semi-completed the game once. Now on Scenario B (dubbed Second Run), I’ve become very familiar with the game’s numerous maps. Okay, time to run.
Bursting through the door, I immediately curve to the left, taking its corner as fast as I can. At the end of the hallway, two zombies start shambling towards me; with three powerful enemies following I don’t have time for these. Thankfully, they’re not fast enough to catch me. Just before reaching the end of the hall, I hoof a right into the Dark Room—safety.
This is just one five-minute segment in Resident Evil 2 that managed to grab me by the heart and refuse to let go. Throughout my twelve-or-so hours with the game, these moments were not few and far between. From the starting gas station location to the True Ending final boss fight, Resident Evil 2 has become the pinnacle of survival horror… again.
While this may be a remake of the 1998 PlayStation original, Capcom’s reconstruction of the classic horror game is one of the finest examples of a video game remake we may ever see. It uses the original as a base experience to expand upon, something that the original game’s remake also did, but this new Resident Evil 2 feels new.
Puzzles and the environments around them have been considerably altered in the past two decades. While most of your time within the game is set in the iconic police station, it’s the other environments that see the starkest improvements. The sewers, for example, have been expanded more than any other section. While the comically-sized spiders may be gone, their home is now bigger than ever and repopulated by horrifyingly mutated Tyrants.
Just like in the original, you’ll spend your time playing as either police officer Leon S. Kennedy or the badass Claire Redfield. Upon starting the game, you’ll get the chance to choose the character you wish to play as for that run, although playing as both is required to reach the true ending. Unlike the original, actions and decisions you make in your first playthrough won’t affect the second, but both experiences are vastly different.
No matter who you play as Resident Evil 2 is a terrifying experience. It’s one of the best survival horror games we’ve seen in years, and one of the best looking we’ve seen yet. It sticks close to its roots—it’s classic Resi. Ammo is scarce. In fact, half of your encounters with the undead may not even be spent fighting them. Instead, the game’s tensest moments arrive from attempting to outsmart enemies. While you could fight them, you may want to conserve ammo and kite them around corners to open up escape routes. Just hope your plan works.
Even when attempting to fight off the hordes of the undead, you may find yourself at a huge disadvantage. The game’s zombies are now tougher than ever. At the start of the game, you’ll find yourself having to unload full clips of your puny handgun into their crucial weak spot—the head. Your bullet collides, their head shoots back and flesh ejects from their face, but they keep on walking towards you. Bullet after bullet rips apart their face into nothing but bone, but they keep on coming. Once they’re downed, you’ll have to make sure they’re down for good or else face the consequences.
Despite its many enemy types. Resident Evil 2’s crowning achievement is its ability to make traditional Romero-style zombies scary again. Unlike games like Dying Light, the undead here can’t sprint, spit acid or perform sick parkour tricks. They shamble, groan hauntingly, grab and chow down until you become one of them. With the sheer amount of damage these walking bags of meat can take, they’re a considerable threat for the first time in years.
That’s not to say they’re the scariest aspect of this awesome remake. The original game’s two persistent bosses make a prominent and haunting return. A large section of the game will see you chased around the environment by the ten-foot-tall, hat-and-trench-coat-wearing Mr. X. No matter where you go, he will find you. His heavy footsteps echo throughout the walls. Once he sees you, he’ll chase after you and deck you straight in the face. Oh, and he can’t be killed, only slowed.
On the other hand, you’ll have to deal with frequent fights against the game’s true boss—William Birkin. Transformed into a giant mutated creature thanks to the outbreak of the G Virus, Birkin is a sight to behold in his new remade form. Constructed of large, mutated tendons, his gross and transfigured body is an intimidating presence. Although, with enough ammo and perseverance you can make sure he doesn’t bother you for a couple of hours at best.
Resident Evil 2 even introduces new sections that further flesh out the game’s cliched-but-enjoyable narrative. Ada Wong and Sherry, two crucial characters to the original story, now have reworked and original sections respectively. Sherry’s segment feels the most modern and new whereas Ada’s is a from-the-ground-up retooling of her original journey. It makes the entire experience feel complete and with the unlockable 4th Survivor and Tofu modes available as completion bonuses, this is undeniably a full package.
In my five years of reviewing video games, I’ve never given a game the full 10-outta-10 rating. However, Resident Evil 2 raises the bar not just for survival horror games, not just for video game remakes, but for video games as a whole. It’s a complete experience, it’s a terrifying adventure and it is amazing from start to finish. I mean this when I say, I have no actual faults with Resident Evil 2. It’s as close as it gets to a perfect video game.
Capcom has released the Game of the Year in the first month of 2019. If you only buy one game this year, make sure it’s this one. Screw Red Dead Redemption 2, move over The Witcher 3—Resident Evil 2 is, so far, the game of the generation.