Video Games

Resident Evil 2 Remake 2019

The following article contains spoilers from this point on.

So, it’s been a long time since I put a post up about a video game:

A rather long time. But, if you are interested in reading about my thoughts with Mafia II instead, Click or tap here

It’s also been a long time since I put up a blog post involving anything, what better way to start back up and blog about a game that has consumed most of my February, Resident Evil 2 Remake.

Pointed out to me by a co-worker of mine, but it you look at the Red Letters on the right, It looks like REDRUM or murder backwards, a reference to the movie, The Shining

The game is a reimagining of the 1998 game with many enhancements. The game follows Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop showing up for his first day as a Raccoon City police officer and Claire Redfield, a college student heading into Raccoon City as well, looking for her brother Chris. The city has been overrun with a Zombie apocalypse two months after the events of Resident Evil when the T-Virus finds its way into the populace of the city. Leon and Clarie must work together and survive. Along the way, they will encounter many enemies and survivors as they to escape the world of survival horror.

Right away, everything feels ominous. The rain, well lit sign heading into a darken area of the land. Everything looks great.

When the Sony Playstation first came out in the US, I didn’t care for the system. I was far into the Sega team in the 1990’s “console wars” that I didn’t have any interest in Sony’s first game console. I remember going over to a friends house, and they had a game for this system called Resident Evil. I was curious about that game, so I played it and was immediately hooked. It was something new to me in terms of gaming, this survival horror genre. I was able to play through up to the point when the Hunters arrive at the mansion in the game without saving. It kind of sucked not being able to save due to my friend’s memory card being full and losing all of my progress. That started my inception into Resident Evil. I still wasn’t on board with Playstation and wouldn’t be until the PlayStation 2, but I did have a love for this series. For this post, I want to only focus on Resident Evil 2 Remake and not the original. I might make a couple of references, but I’d like to save a full post for the original game on a future date.

This game does hide many references to other Resident Evil Games as well as other Capcom games.

Being rebuilt from the ground up, Resident Evil 2 Remake takes gameplay ideas from other Resident Evil games. We are long removed from the still camera angles and cut aways when you move to another area of the screen or into another room since Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Instead, it takes the 3rd person perspective that a lot of Resident Evil games adapted since Resident Evil 4. The game also has side arms taken from the Resident Evil: Remake from 2002, which either auto equip or you can equip, but I’ll get to that later. Saving your game is easier. Resident Evil 2 had ink ribbons which you needed to get to save your game. In the remake, unless you play on Hardcore, you can save on any typewriter in the game without ink ribbons. The game also has an autosave feature as well that seems to save at specific points of the game. Again, this is feature isn’t on hardcore mode as well. On Hardcore, you play the old way of needing ink ribbons to save your game. They are limited in this mode, which makes you choose when the best time to use one.

There is a feature where you can board up windows in the game to save yourself a headache from zombies entering from outside. Besides one or two different areas you can do this it’s not really important and only takes out space trying to carry the board to do this with.

Since this game doesn’t have any set camera angles, I wondered how the game can create terror. Not being able to fully see your enemies or see them suddenly appear when the camera cuts over gave me a jump scare or several in the past. The lack of lighting in the game was a start. I do like the use of a flashlight in darkened areas of the game. Not being able to clearly see an enemy heading toward you but hearing them was nerve-racking to me. By not being able to fully see or comprehend your environment, you can run into a dead end not knowing it while trying to get away from an enemy. One thing that I sort of was prepared for and not was how you could be chased into another room by a zombie. It happened to me whenever I tried to escape one by going into another room. I missed how you could just avoid a zombie chase you by running into another room. Since we have upgraded in game consoles since this game first release in 1998, a zombie can now follow you into another room. It wasn’t fun when you have one zombie you escaped from banging on a door to get in behind you and another in front of you lunging to attack. Most of the game does “fight or flight” rather well. The enemies feel a bit tougher than the other Resident Evil games that I’ve played in the past. Ammo and items are more scarce in this game, especially on the harder levels. Picking and choosing when to fight or run was thrilling and done right. The game’s horror makes you feel anxious, at least the first two or so times that you play.

Resident Evil 2 Remake has the standard puzzles and locked doors that you can’t progress until you either solve the problem, find an item, or get a key that you need. The weapons in the game are standard weapons, your handguns, shotguns, grenade launchers, etc. You can start with a standard gun and find other weapons in the game as you progress. Leon and Claire have their own set of arms. It’s nice that all of the guns have optional upgradable parts scattered throughout the game. They can upgrade a select weapon, and you can downgrade as well, but I don’t why you’d want to do this. The only reason I see is to save space in your inventory slots. Some weapons go from one to two slots after upgrading, but the game has side packs that give you 2 additional slots from everyone you find. The items and upgrades aren’t that hard to find, and the puzzles are pretty easy as long as you pay attention in the game. You also have sidearms in the game. These are items that if you are in a grapple situation with an enemy, you use this to get yourself out of harms way without taking damage. You can also use them as regular weapons are well. The flash grenade and grenade return and can blind enemies (flash) or take out a whole group (regular grenade). You also have a knife you can use which can be retrieved back after you down an enemy but will degrade and brake after so many uses.

Not the best, but I love the little details, such as the light coming through the bullet holes in the door after you turn the light on in the press room.

The enemies of the game are from previous Resident Evil games. You have your standard zombie that moved away from moans and now snarl and growl like something out of The Walking Dead TV show. You can shoot them down, but ammo is scarce depending on your level. Your best bet is shooting at their limbs or legs till they give way and break off. It’s a really cool effect to see an arm or leg slowly break off when you attack it. Lickers make a return, while great with hearing, they are unable to see. It makes the idea of “fight or flight” better as you can either sneak around them or try and take them out with a sneak attack and risk being attacked back. They still have their ridiculously long tongues like in the original. The Cerberus hounds (Zombie dogs) return, but I feel they are unchanged from the first time I encountered them. A reimagined enemy introduced call Ivy, based on Plant 43 creature from Resident Evil 2. They are confronted late in the game and do provide a bit of a challenge and a cheap one-hit death if you are grappled by one without a sidearm. You can avoid this if you have a sidearm weapon like a knife or grenade. I didn’t mind them, but the one hit death bothered me, and I’ll get to why later.

There is no pool of blood to tell if a zombie is dead (again) like the original. So, unless you get an exploding headshot, waste ammo and take them down, the best bet is to incapacitate them with shots to the legs with they collapse and run around them. Be careful not to get grabbed though.

The two main bosses are Mr. X and William Birkin. Mr. X is a Tyrant that stalks you, starting about halfway through the game. The footsteps that he makes gives a rightful scare at times. It’s scary when you are trying to complete your mission, only then to hear the thumping steps getting closer to where you are, and a door opening with him coming in a room does give a great sense of panic. He can be avoided, but I feel sometimes he can show up or know what you are going to be at any point in the game, depends on what item or room you need to use the item at. He doesn’t become a boss until the end of Leon’s story. Which was a bit underwhelming for me as it was reasonably simple to take him down. William Birkin the scientist who was involved with creating the G-Virus becomes another monster in the game. He is accidentally gunned down by Umbrella’s Alpha team wanting to acquire the virus. I want to say that I thought it wasn’t possible to make William Birkin mutations grotesque from the original, but somehow, this game found a way. He is the boss battle at a couple points with both Claire and Leon. Claire fights him one additional time in the end. Again not a very difficult boss when you get his pattern down.

When Mr X. arrives at this point in your first playthrough, it kind of makes you want to say, “I’m sorry that I’m in your way Mr. X. I’ll put the controller down, shut off the game and play something else.”

There are two different scenarios that you can play. There is an A and B story for both Leon and Claire. Unlike the original game, there is not too much difference between both stories besides item placement for both characters. This is where I’d say that the original did this better. The original game had essentially four different stories depending on who you started out with with a “hidden” boss battle if you clear both A and B mode stories. It doesn’t matter in the remake if you chose story A or B for either character. The story in the game will remain the same, including the “hidden boss.” Probably done for continuity/retcon reasons, but I liked the different story that 1998 game had. I also felt that the story was missing some plot points that seemed only to be found in notes scattered across the game. This could leave someone playing the game for the first time lost. It might be me, but this might have been for speed-runners that play the game, or maybe assuming that people would already know all of the cues from the original.

While really cool looking, I am not a fan of Ivy’s One Hit Kill if they grapple you.

For our two main characters, They have improved for the most part. Gone is the badly read dialogue that we got from the early Resident Evil games. Now, we have better dialogue and more coherent voice acting and direction. I liked that Leon was dumbed down to actually being a rookie. He can come off as too cliched as a rookie cop, but I’m OK with this. I am accepting that this is his origin and comes off as someone who wants to do right. His naivety and lack of knowledge of the situation was great for this game. This naiveness that he shows in the game cutscenes about wanting to do right allows for more growth for his character in future games. Claire also underwent some noticeable changes. She seems a lot tougher and expositions this when she said she and Chris have been on their own since their parents died. She comes off to me as a stronger female character than the first game she was featured in. But there some moments where sheer trying to take action came a bit too late when she could have prevented actions from happening that made things worse for her. One odd thing was there was one note in the game from Chris that details him going to Europe on Vacation. It felt like a forced setup for Resident Evil: Code Veronica, as she does go there next in her story. I can personally guess that a remake may be in works for that or it’s just to retcon the stories together.

I personally don’t think that there are the best Resident Evil characters in the series (their good, just not great), but Claire and Leon have had the best stories and journey I think.

The other survivors in the game have either gotten better or worse from the original game in terms of character. Chief Brian Irons is one who got worse with me. The police chief of Raccoon City, in the original game, was slowly built up to be shown as a character who initially looked to be a survivor but was revealed to be a cause of the T-Virus outbreak in Raccoon City by sweeping the news and those involved under the rug. In this game, he’s just a complete lousy guy with no build what so ever. He felt more of a serial killer than a man who let the deranged side of him get slowly revealed to the player. Except for one note that was found on his desk, there wasn’t any real connection to Umbrella, the pharmaceutical company responsible for the G and T-virus in Raccoon City and Chief Iron’s coverup. It would have been helpful for this build, but this does seem to speed the game’s story and pace up. It’s was good and bad for me at the same time. The same could be said about Ben Bertolucci. The reporter who was locked up by Chief Irons, for trying to expose his corrupt ways. He only had one scene in this game before he met his timely death. I felt that was an OK change as he didn’t really add much in the original game that this was based on other than exposition.

William Birkin G2 phase (top) from the 1998 game was pretty horrifying for it’s time. The bottom William Birkin G2 (bottom) are the stuff nightmare are made out of.

I did appreciate the changes of Marvin Branagh. In the original game, all he did was provide the player with an item, some exposition, and then became a Zombie you could shoot down later in the game. Here he actually had a better role and provided some help rather than tell the player just to go while pointing a gun at them. He saves you from a Zombie attack at one point. It’s a small role but a more meaningful one. Sherry was improved I thought. It was annoying in the original game that she continuously ran away from Claire when Claire was continually trying to help her. At least when she and Claire split up, it made sense. I even like playing the Orpahange Section with Sherry. It added tension to the game and story and at least saved Chief Irons character at that part. Her mother Annette was slightly improved as well. The mother to Sherry and wife of William Birkin, she did come off as a scientist, though a bit more neglectful and absent to her daughter’s safety and security. She does seem more interested in the science of the G-Virus then protecting or covering up the incident. I was bothered a bit by her in the original Resident Evil 2.

The Orphanage scene while hiding from Chief Irons was one of the most tense moments I’ve felt in awhile in a game.

Finally, Ada Wong, a mysterious private agent who appears in Leon’s story, claims to be an agent of the FBI. She seems more or less unchanged to me. She seems to play more towards Leon naivety, which makes sense. Even manipulates him (I feel) to do most of the work to get a sample of the G-Virus. It gets revealed that she doesn’t work for the FBI, but an unnamed organization who wants the virus. I don’t really know what else I can say about Ada. I think that she is just a standard double agent that she was in the original game. It just gave a sense that Leon doesn’t know what is good or bad at the end of the game.

Ada did change up her look from the original game, but why make her wear sunglasses during a nighttime setting?

If there is one mode in this game that I can’t stand, its 4th Survivor. In this, you play as Hunk AKA The Grim Reaper, an Umbrella Security Service operator and the leader of Alpha Team. His team was tasked with getting the G-Virus from William Birkin. His team was wiped out, and he was the only Survivor left. In this mode, you have to get from the Sewers to the front of the police station for extraction. In this mode, you don’t have any weapons that you can pick up. No matter what I do, I always seem to get grabbed.

Another problem is out of instinct, I mash buttons on the controller hoping to get free. This is a problem because when you get grappled, you can use a sidearm to free yourself. Sometimes you have to take a hit in this mode. When I almost completed this mode, I ran into the problem of many Zombies and a few Ivy’s at the last part of the game. I was grabbed by an Ivy and instantly one hit KO’d when grappled (why I hate the one hit KO grapple that Ivy’s have). I couldn’t defend myself because I was out of side arms. I’ve been frustrated with this and haven’t gone back to the 4th Survivor since. Right now, I don’t even care that by doing this, it unlocks Tofu, the block of Tofu you can play as in the same scenario mentioned.

Right now, I just can’t do it. No matter what right now, I can’t beat 4th survivor.

The Ghost Survivors is interesting. These are 3 what if scenarios with the gun shop owner Robert Kendo, the Mayor’s daughter Katherine Warren, and Ghost, an Umbrella Solider on Alpha Team. Completing these stories unlocks a 4 Ghost Survivor, the sheriff from the opening of the game. Instead of having anything to do with the Resident Evil 2 story. These are just what-if scenarios. I don’t mind this at all, but I felt we could have gotten more flesh out back stories from these characters instead. Like why and how the Mayor’s daughter Katherine wound up with Chief Irons after her father left Raccoon City. They play like a 4th survivor but has one thing that 4th Survivor doesn’t have which I liked, getting items, either from backpack zombies or vending machines where you can choose one item. Some new enemies were introduced like the precursor to the regenerators zombies are shooting off parts of these zombies will regrow and purple zombies that can poison you if you get to close when you shoot to kill or are grappled. I just started out and haven’t gotten far in this mode yet.

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