Digital Gaming

Resident Evil 2 preview: More than just a remake

Its been 20 years since the action-horror classic Resident Evil 2 stormed our PlayStations and GameCubes, and now that the nightmares have subsided, the producers have decided that the time is ripe to haunt our dreams once more.

On 25 January 2019, a new version of Resident Evil 2 will be re-released for PlayStation 4, Xbox ONE and Windows. If you’ve paid any attention at all to this legendary series, you’ll know that Resident Evil 2 wasn’t just one of the best games in the canon, but one of the most iconic games in video game history. Together with its predecessor, Resident Evil 2 defined the horror-adventure genre with its immersive atmosphere and gameplay. And now, 20 years on from its original release in 1998, Resident Evil 2 gets a chance to re-define itself.

(Photo: Daryl Chow)

We had a chance to glimpse at this new iteration of Resident Evil 2 at a media preview last week, and here are some of our observations. Perhaps the most important thing for Resident Evil 2 fans to take note of is that this version isn’t just a revamped version of the old game with souped up graphics. In fact, at first glance, this game feels and plays much more like Resident Evil 7 than its great-grand-predecessor (perhaps because it uses the same engine).

One big departure from these previous two systems, however, is the introduction of an ‘over-the-shoulder’ viewpoint and a torchlight that only illuminates the adventure from a moving first-person angle. This limited light source, according to the producers, heightens the horror and the claustrophobia of the environment while ramping up the realism (besides the fact that the batteries in the torchlight will never run out).

Fans of Leon and Claire and the rest of the Raccoon City cast may also be interested to know that the storylines in this version have also been rewritten from scratch. There’s plenty to be nostalgic about, however, as the characters you know and love are back in action (you can even unlock Claire’s 20-year-old outfit for a runthrough should you be so inclined).

(Photo: Daryl Chow)

Like the original, Leon and Claire have alternating storylines that weave together, with Leon’s path seemingly offering up more horror and brute force and Claire’s path more puzzles and emotional engagement. One thing that fans may remember is that there were no toilets in the police station in the original Resident Evil 2, and this has been duly fixed in this version (though only the female toilet can be accessed due to reasons only the Japanese producers can explain).

In terms of gameplay, there’s lots to love here for both new and old fans alike. The puzzles have also been re-designed, so there’s new challenges for the elephants amongst you (seriously, you deserve an award if you can still remember the puzzles from two decades ago). What’s all-new and awesome are the photorealistic graphics and seamless video transitions that make this experience perhaps even more memorable than your last visit to Raccoon City. Shooting zombies in different places will cause them to react and collapse differently, and even interacting with the landscape produces different gameplay effects, like shooting pipes to fill the room with steam, and lingering burn marks on enemy skin. The lifelike gore captivates you right from the beginning and keeps you riveted.

Resident Evil 2
(Photo: Daryl Chow)

Yet, you have no time to be paralyzed by horror, because the game keeps challenging you to come up with creative ways to stay alive, such as a creepy-crawly boss that can only hear but not see. A new mechanism that has been integrated into this iteration is the ability of the game to adjust its difficulty level to your playing style. While you can still manually customise your preferred challenge level, dying often or not dying at all will be noted by the system, which will result in a tailored gaming experience.

If, like myself, you were drawn to the game because of its RPG elements, this version will not disappoint. Guns and items exude customisable-cool and your limited item slots force you to seek out ways to expand your inventory before you progress. You can also use items to interact with the landscape such as blockading windows to stop the tide of zombies, but the limited supply of such items forces you into interesting decisions.

(Photo: Daryl Chow)

So if you’ve been craving a return to Raccoon City, or are now intrigued to visit for the first time, Resident Evil 2 awaits you in stores 25 January, 2019

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