‘Resident Evil 2’ review: A wonderful remake of the survival horror classic

The Evil Dead: Leon Kennedy, a rookie police officer, is the main protagonist in 'Resident Evil 2.’ The remake is a mastered re-imagining of the classic, keeping the spirit of the original while modernizing the game play mechanics for a new audience.

Like many others, one of the games that defined a section of my childhood was Capcom’s Resident Evil series. Releasing before the over-saturated zombie market of the early 2010’s, the series was a survival horror in every nature of the word.

Limited ammo, frightening enemies and perfectly executed settings defined a generation. Sadly, around the fifth installment of the series, the series shifted its approach in terms of survival horror; instead opting for a third-person shooter action.

The series returned to its roots with Resident Evil 7 in 2017, an awesome game in its own right, and now in 2019 with a remake of survival horror classic, Resident Evil 2.

Resident Evil 2 takes place in the late 90’s, where a zombie outbreak has been let loose in the fictional Raccoon City. Protagonists Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy cross paths, and must fight their way through the maze-like Raccoon City Police Department.

The good news is that current consoles and software make gameplay smooth with seamless transitions. While the first entry of the series was remade for current gen consoles, what sets the remake apart is the creative liberties and adjustments added to modernize the game.

Instead of a fixed camera that the original installment had, the remake has a much more accessible third-person perspective, much more akin to the more recent entries of the series. It makes the game feel fresh, but loyal to the original version, capturing the classic atmosphere that makes fans feel a certain level of nostalgia.

You are given two options at the beginning of the game. You can either pick Claire Redfield or Leon Kennedy, an RPD officer who was expecting a normal first day on the job. Claire’s storyline revolves around her hunt for her missing brother, Chris.

Depending on your choice, you will experience relatively different gameplay experiences, characters and weapons. Leon gets a Desert Eagle for instance, while Claire gets a Sub-Machine Gun. Each character goes in and around the station, solving puzzles while trying to survive.

Just like the best of the games, RE2’s survival horror gameplay is an addicting, tense and most of all replayable loop. Unlockables, like alternate outfits, new weapons and new campaigns encourage multiple playthroughs.

My only problem with the game is the bullet-sponge enemies who seem to take a whole clip in order to take down. Its either that, or the guns feel underpowered. Leon shooting a zombie in the head with his pump shotgun should be enough, but it takes more than that for some of the weakest enemies in the game. You can get upgrades for your weapons, but there are some balancing issues that need to be worked out.

Every year, the January/February timeslot is usually barren of good titles. The gaming industry tends to fire on all cylinders during the holidays, and then fizzle out in the following months.

Regardless of the little bugs, such as proper balancing between weapon power and enemies, Resident Evil 2 is a considerable game of the year contender.