I remember being only twelve so years old when I came across the N64 version of Resident Evil 2 at my local Target. It was just sitting behind the display case, taunting at me, like, “Hey kid, want to play a strange scary game for once?” as the zombie on the box kept staring straight at me. Then I don’t know what I did, but my parents ended up buying me a copy of it since it was just zombies and my then teenage sister gave the approval for me to play it. Hurray for my first horror game ever!
While I originally knew what Resident Evil was all about and even saw my sister play a rental of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis months prior, I always avoided playing the series as a whole both due to the insane difficulty of the series that I heard from my sister and also for it being known to be really scary to play as a kid. But me, I wanted to try something different and branch off from the usual family friendly games of yesteryears like Mario or Sonic. I wanted something edgy, I was turning into a teenager after all.
So on the car ride home, I opened the boxed and started reading through everything that was inside it. This was the era when we use to get instruction booklets and other reading materials to get you excited on the way back home. I must have gone through the instruction booklets countless times on that ride back from Target and got myself familiar with the lore, the characters and the controls.
I wasn’t too familiar with the actual story of the game being that I never played Resident Evil 1 at that time and I’m starting with Resident Evil 2 out of all things. So I didn’t know what the viruses where or who Umbrella was, I was going in blind and the only thing I expected were lots and lots of zombies and little to none ammo. So I read the character bios and found both Claire and Leon to be likable characters. Claire was the sister of one of the main character in the first game and was out looking for them after they disappeared. Leon on the other hand was completely new in town and a rookie of the Raccoon City police force. So I decided I’ll play as Leon first, since he was new to the game’s city and I was completely new to the series. It turned out to be the perfect match. The only thing I had to get use to first was the complex tank controls — which for those who don’t know is that your character will move directly forward by pressing up on the control pad regardless of where the camera is ever at. Tank controls were an entirely new concept for me and something I didn’t get a hang of, but as I played as Leon in Resident Evil 2, I slowly came to appreciate them and got the hang of it by the time I reach the third area of the game. I was a zombie dodging pro by then!
Leon and myself made the perfect team though and it was a strange journey of survival, horror and to my surprised a deep conspiracy by the villains of the series, Umbrella. A lot of the story, while told by cut scenes here and there, where also told via documents you can find that fill in the story of the doomed citizens of the city. Some of it could be news reports, others work memos, etc. each one filled in the gaps and rewarded the players with strong lore. There was a surprising amounts of backstory as I inched closer to the climax of the game and finally beat it as Leon and much to my surprise, there was still another story to play, a Scenario B. The filled in the gaps of what the other character, in my case Claire, was up too as I played as Leon the first time. It blew me away as a kid to know that there was more to the story, and I instantly started playing that and begun to notice all the notable difference like additional bosses, new routes and even Mr. X — a giant, humanoid like super zombie that will chase you around throughout Scenario B!
This was all nearly 20 years ago though, and over the years the Resident Evil series has turned out to be one of my favorite game series to play on the regular right next to Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid and WWE games. I’ve played nearly all the games in this series and even own multiple versions of certain games like buying Resident Evil 4 numerous times; having a soft sport for the Outbreak spin offs and even Resident Evil 1 Remake and Resident Evil 7 games; And even being critical on certain entries of the series, like Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City. I’ve done it all and it’s all thanks to picking up that N64 copy of Resident Evil 2 many years ago. And because of that game, I also have branched into other realms of horror games like Silent Hill, Outlast, Evil Within, etc. Half of my entire gaming library is filled with numerous horror games I just can’t even remember list!
This brings me to what I really wanted to talk about in here…
About a few years ago, after massive pleading by the fans, Capcom finally said something that got the gaming world spinning, especially for survivor horror fans like myself. Sure they didn’t have any footage or anything to show of it, but Capcom mention in a video that they will indeed remake Resident Evil 2! For fans of the series, it was a bombshell since it was a near 20 years since the original Resident Evil 2 was released and a really long time since the remake of the original Resident Evil came out. We never thought it would ever happen, but it did and we were all happy. Yet after that, Capcom went extremely quiet and not a word was said. Years went by and fans believed the remake of Resident Evil 2 was scrapped
As we waited we got Resident Evil 7, which was a lovely new entry in the series focusing on a more personal survivor horror story of a man searching for his missing wife in the Louisiana bayou, who comes across new monstrous horrors in the process. It was a slight throwback to a classic, grounded, scarier Resident Evil after the action heavy installments of Resident Evil 4 to 6. It was a welcome change of pace that the series desperately needed and told gamers that the developers at Capcom knew how to make a horror game again.
A year went by and no word at all about that Resident Evil 2 Remake that Capcom announced years prior until E3 2018. I luckily saw it all live on Youtube.
Premiering during the Sony E3 2018 Press Conference, the video started slow from the perspective of a rat moving about in a storage room. The rat overhears two men arguing as one of them gets shoved right into the shelf the rat was on. The rat crashes into the floor as the shelf squashes it and the camera changes perspectives zooming away from the dead rat. We see one of the men fall to the floor, a police officer as another lands on top of him and beings eating his neck away. The one eating looks up and he is a zombie staring hard at the camera and the audiences watching at the Sony E3 2018 Press Conference. The zombie stares for a few seconds longer, until it’s blasted in the head dead by someone else standing by the door frame with a bright flashlight. The camera cuts to the figure by the doorway and it’s the Resident Evil 2 version of Leon! This caused everyone watching it live to break out into a loud cheer and utter excitement; the Resident Evil 2 Remake wasn’t vaporware anywhere and an old video of a generic promise, but instead it was real and was actually happening!
The trailer then cuts into a fancy movie trailer of sorts showing off everything new in the remake with the way the zombies behave, the newer refined over the shoulder camera, the new revisions of characters like Leon, Claire, Sherry and Marvin. And even showing off the new creepy vibe of the police station that the Resident Evil 2 story takes place in. Then the next bombshell of the trailer happened, it’s releasing January 25, 2019! In less then a year, the remake of Resident Evil 2 will be in our hands after quietly being in development for over 4+ years. This, in my opinion, got the strongest reaction of E3 2018 second only to the reveal of Capcom’s other classic series coming back, Devil May Cry 5. But that wasn’t the end of the Resident Evil 2 Remake at E3, there was still the next day where the Resident Evil 2 Remake team sat down with Playstation personal to give off the first ever game play of the game to everyone!
Here we started off in the early half of the police station already as Leon. The station itself looks eerily familiar to veterans of the series but at the same time drastically different. It’s more of a mess and you can actually sense that the police were trying to hold off the zombie horde when it hit them. Leon himself is so unlike the way he was in Resident Evil 4 or 6 and is more unsure of things, constantly reminding himself that he “got this” as he moves down a dark hallway alone. In a change of pace, Leon isn’t going through the western wing of the police station like in the original and instead he goes through the eastern wing first. A lot of the station is actually way different then the it use to be, and it’s almost alien in a way and this is a good thing. There’s still a sense of thing happening the way they have to, but it’s all different and all new just like how Resident Evil Remake 1 was. These new additions and changes bring tension and horror back to the series. For example, as Leon continues down that dark hallway in the eastern wing, he comes across another survivor who doesn’t make it out alive and gets torn in two. Leon, takes that officers journal — filled with hints and notes to the station — and tries to make his way back to the main hall but gets overwhelmed by zombies and has to crawl under a shutter to get to safety. As he crawls, he’s suddenly grabbed by a few zombies and you think is instantly doomed, but Marvin appears and pulls Leon to safety and beings running him down on everything that happened, giving him a knife in the process to use! All of this by the way, never happened in the original Resident Evil 2. In that one, you come across Marvin badly injured and infected in the Party Room of the Western Wing and he instantly tells you leave him alone. This new Marvin actually will sit in the main hall and wait for you; passing along hints and advice if you need it. He’s still injured but the jury is still up on if he’ll transformed in Resident Evil 2 Remake. My guess is that he’ll end up mutating into a boss for Leon to fight in the main hall.
Other notable game play changes that show up is that this entire remake — as pointed out by Rely On Horror in their interview with the game’s producers Yoshiaki Hirabayashi and Tsuyoshi Kanda — will be in third person over the shoulder view like how Resident Evil 4 to 6 were but also at the same time retain the item management, atmosphere and horror of what made Resident Evil 7 so great. So this also means that gone are the days of the level/chapter system that also seemed to be everywhere in the action centric Resident Evil games of old and returning instead is that you can walk around and do whatever you want with all the backtracking you want to too. In my opinion, it’s truly the next evolution of Resident Evil into what it should have always been!
Other major additions to the game is the fact that zombies can keep coming both in filling up the police station with more undead and also for the fact that any zombie you drop can regenerate and come back to life again — unless you decapitate or shoot them in the head. Therefore making backtracking a bit more of a challenge to players since the rooms will not always be empty anymore. On top of this, zombies are difficult to avoid compared to the other entries and instead can be extremely touchy with grabs. Once grabbed the camera will zoom in even closer to show the zombie going for the attack, ramping up the tension in the players. All monsters are rumored to have this, so can you imagine the giant spiders doing the same too!
Newer mechanics implement in the game are also the fact that you can board up windows to prevent the zombies from entering and making backtracking easier; also the knife isn’t viable and can easily break. But you can always have a knife on you similar to the action centric Resident Evils and use them for self defense like in Resident Evil 1 Remake or for puzzles like they were used for in Resident Evil 7. Speaking of, this remake itself also runs on the same exact engine that Resident Evil 7 used, The RE Engine. This engine is notable for is more realistic character designs alongside the more creepy vibe a hallway can get due to good lightning. Also made known is that the Scenario A/Scenario B modes of the original are scraped in favor of both Leon and Claire having more coherent stand alone stories. Since in the original if you played as Leon first and then Claire, you ended up having notable plot holes compared to doing Claire first and then Leon. So by them doing this, all of those old plot holes are filled out and everything is held together well!
But other then these things, such as when we’ll get that playable E3 demo on PSN and Xbox Live — which was only playable on the E3 show floor for now — or anything else about Claire were all kept hush hush to the public at large. A lot of Resident Evil Remake 2 is still a mystery with only this other E3 trailer to salivate at. But hey! we’re once again about step foot into the world of survivor horror and I honestly can’t wait for it!