Resident Evil is back, offering an all you can eat buffet of guns, guts, shuffling corpses and jumpscares alike.
When this game was released by Capcom in early 2019, I was ecstatic, being one of my favourite franchises and all. For some stupid reason, however, I forgot to purchase it until just last week, when it was included within the Spring Sale on the PS store. Whilst I realise this review is belated, I am going to review it anyway.
Amassing a measly £15.99, I was left with no option but to buy it in a drunken stupor, however; unlike drunken decisions from the night before; I did not regret it at all the morning after.
I sort of knew what I was getting myself into when buying this game, although, I remained somewhat held back with an overwhelming sense of ‘please don’t screw this up’. Much like other remasters or remakes, I was worried that this was going to massively flop. I could not have been more wrong.
Everything is different but similar, from breathtaking cinematics to the newly imagined expressions of terror scattered on characters that before lingered in the sideline and felt forgettable. Within twenty minutes of gameplay, you’ve witnessed the sparkling red innards trailing from the torso of a poor policeman being smeared on the floor; a ghastly sight that is only enhanced by the gorgeous graphics.The emphasis of ‘these zombies were people’ is a heavy focus of the game’s lore, with handwritten notes and letters painting a horrible scenario within the players’ head. Of course, the plot is the same and all in all it is a very faithful remake. Everything just seems… well… better.
This game is a complete overhaul of what made me fall in love with the series. The atmosphere in the Raccoon Police Department main hall felt tense, despite it being a safe haven for Leon a large portion of the storyline until Mr X; a largely emotionless famed tyrant/megadick who stops at nothing to give you a few swift right hooks to the jaw; comes along to ruin your day. A feeling of tenseness only amplified through the usage of echoing footsteps, marred only by the tortured groans and shuffles of nearby zombies. The slight problem for the player is you can find yourself listening to this too intently to try and figure out how far away he is before BOOM, he busts through the door and races towards you like an unrelenting street salesman.
The freakishly massive monster will have you scampering away, desperately trying to find a safe corner to hide in or retreating back to the RPD main hall, a place you have been safe in all those times before. But it's not safe anymore, nowhere is safe, save for a couple of levels that are crucial for storyline progression. Sure, a couple of well placed magnum or shotgun shots will land him on his knees but he'll be back, he always comes back.
When talking about Resident Evil 2, it would be rude not to mention the grotesque creature that is WIlliam Birkin who much like Mr X has gotten a touch up. The lacerations and slimy offshoots of used-to-be-arm are exceedingly grotesque in this version of Resi 2. The tortured Dr is definitely something to run from although the game makes you fight him a fair few times... rude.
The new cinematics and graphical possibilities lend a new veneer of humanity to Birkin, despite his monstrous figure. This leaves the player feeling sorry for him as its clear to see that he has some shred of humanity left in him in his earlier forms. This is made obvious when he protects his daughter Sherry Birkin and seems to back down when being confronted by his conflicted wife, Annette.
The addition of a sense of lingering humanity in the creatures you face within the game add to the experience, whether that be derived from the human sounding shrieks the zombies can sometimes make when chasing you or the varying zombie models and appearance used to give them the feeling of individuality, rather than just looking like the same zombie you've killed time and time again.
The point of view is one that die-hard Resi fans are familiar with, easing away from the first-person view that Resident Evil 7 expertly donned and displaying a newly realised version of the third-person we’ve grown to love instead. Don’t get me wrong though, the shift of POV in Resi 7 was welcomed by most fans and myself alike.
What shocked me was the re-implementation of intricate puzzles that I fell in love with as a child. I found myself using my camera on my phone to take pictures of codes and cryptic messages I needed to remember and using a notepad to write down areas of the map I needed to revisit later on. There was a much larger focus on the puzzles within the game and the survival horror element of the series was more present; something I welcomed with open arms and a screaming bank balance.
Alas, the game makes up for its price tag(original price, not what I paid for it) by bleeding utter replayability. Upon completion of the main story as either ‘new blood’ Leon. S. Kennedy or badass college student Claire Redfield, you are met with a 2nd run option which ultimately urges you to play the game again with the other character. This may sound like a chore but it largely feels like you are playing a different game.
The only piece of advice I will give you to take away from this review is to wear a pair of good headphones, mainly because I am a horrible person and I want you to sit there in fear and scream like a madman when a zombie or other meddling creature jumps out at you, much like I did.
I could sit here all day and bombard you with praise upon praise but ultimately you just need to play it. If you haven’t already, go out and buy it now. Well, because of the lockdown I mean stay indoors and purchase it digitally. Whatever, my point still stands.