Ever since the hugely popular 2002 remake of 'Resident Evil' fans have been clamouring for a HD remake of 'Resident Evil 2' from Capcom to release a remake of the 1998 survival horror classic, considered by many to be the best title in the franchise.
Having been rumoured for years and confirmed in 2018 the remake is finally here and Capcom has successfully created an experience that harks back to the golden days of the franchise whilst modernising it for the current gaming landscape.
The game is set two months after the events of the first 'Resident Evil', with the majority of the citizens of Raccoon City transformed into zombies by the Umbrella Corporation's biological weapon the T-virus.
You play as either Leon Kennedy, a police office on his first day of duty, or college student Claire Redfield, who is looking for her missing police officer brother Chris and you have to escape the American city whilst also uncovering the origin of the T-virus.
The story is classic Resi-fun with cheesy one liners and silly action abound with the story being almost identical to the 98 original. But with a modern touch such as motion captured cut scenes - that almost step into the 'uncalley valley'. Another noticeable change from the original version is that the fixed camera angles are gone and instead a third person view is introduced, a change in gameplay that was popularised by 2005's 'Resident Evil 4'.
Unlike 'Resident Evil 4', however, the game strips back a lot of the action that has plagued recent entries so don't expect to be shooting up the undead. Instead, you will be conserving ammo and running away from your grizzly foes. The zombies have been given an upgrade as well with some taking as many as five shots to the head before going down. This ramps up the difficulty level considerably when you are surrounded. Especially given that zombies sometimes fall down and get up when you least expect it. Your storage is low as well so you will have to combine and discard many items to survive your way throughout this hellish nightmare.
This isn't a game for the squeamish as the graphics have had a major upgrade and with that comes more realistic gore and violence. By means of zombies who heads explode like melon with a blast from your boom-stick and undead who tear flesh from your body. The raw violence gives the survival aspect a boost as a bite or slash from zombie will not disappear from your person until you pick up the familiar green plant to heal.
However, there is no greater terror as when the villainous Mr. X is chasing you. The huge fedora-wearing foe, created by Umbrella, can't be killed and will chase you throughout the game's environment. Run as you might the terrifying Mr. X will always find you, even following you into supposed safe places like the police station reception! The grey monstrosity is the game's greatest enemy and he will stay with long after you turn off that console. Other great creature designs include the lickers, who despite being blind move faster than any enemy and the famous resi dogs who burst through windows to attack its prey. The creature designs have always been one of the franchise's strong suits and seeing these prodigious designs in the 4K gaming landscape is a treat.
The weapons themselves are pronounced with great kickback and sound effects from the team at Capcom. Both characters have different weapons giving the game a great replay value as both characters feel different. With Leon preferring the kick of a shotgun while Claire enjoys the grenade launcher and MAC-10. Both characters feel distinct despite the having the same story giving the game and the fun costumes you can put the characters in add a lot of fun to the preceding's. The best addition though is the ability to play the game with the original PS1 music providing a lovely nostalgic hit to players.
Overall, 2018's 'Resident Evil 2' remake successfully reinvents a 90s classic for the modern age. With updated controls and a renewed camera making the game feel as fresh it did back in 98. In all it's the perfect of example of how to remake a game for modern consoles without alienating those original fans.
'Resident Evil 2' rating (reviewed on PlayStation 4): 4 / 5
By Ross Martin-Pavitt