There was no doubt in anybody’s mind that Capcom’s reimagining of Resident Evil 2 would be excellent, but no one could have predicted that it would be this good. Not only is it an excellent remake as well as an excellent game that can stand on its own two legs, it’s also instantly joined the most legendary Resident Evil games (including its namesake) as one of the best titles in the series- and for a series that is as loaded with landmark, high quality releases as Resident Evil is, that is no small feat.
Like all games, however, Resident Evil 2 isn’t perfect – no game ever can be – while there’s also the possibility that things that are imbued into the game’s DNA by design, owing to its very nature, might not gel with some people – which is also true for most games. So yes, there have been some issues that have been brought up by Resident Evil 2 players ever since its launch.
In this feature, we’ll be taking a look at eight such issues. They might be ultimately insignificant in the larger picture, or they might be things that aren’t flaws so much as they are conscious design choices made by the game that some people haven’t enjoyed quite as much- either way, these are some issues that players have been pointing out with Resident Evil 2.
Resident Evil 2, back in 1998, was a game that made the entire industry stand up and take notice for many reasons, and among the many, many things that it did spectacularly was its zapping system. The idea of Leon and Claire’s campaigns being affected by gameplay choices you make in the other’s story was an ambitious one, but it was executed very, very well. The remake brought back separate campaigns for both protagonists, of course, but it didn’t carry over everything that defined the zapping system.
In the original Resident Evil 2, you could, just as an example, pick up items like the machine gun and the Side Pack in campaign A at the risk of not being able to get those items in campaign B. Alternatively, you could choose not to pick up those items in A, and instead leave them for whoever you were going to play B as. There were a handful of such instances throughout the original RE2 that could even impact things such as whether or not you can gain access to a room, or even whether or not a character or an enemy makes an appearance in the B scenario. In the remake, that no longer happens, and its absence is something that has been brought up by fans quite a bit.
REPETITION ACROSS CAMPAIGNS
Claire and Leon do both have different campaigns, while flipping the order of who you go as first can also slightly alter some things in both scenarios. However, as people have been quick to point, there is quite a bit of overlap and repetition across both campaigns. Of course, both campaigns do shift things around and shuffle elements quite a bit, to make sure that they don’t feel like flat-out retreads. But all too often, both Claire and Leon are solving the same puzzles, at times fighting the same bosses, going through locations in the same order.
A counter argument to that, I think, is that there are some things that are exclusive to both individual campaigns as well, such as story arcs, characters, the order of some events, some very specific boss fights, or even the difficulty, which ramps up in the 2nd Run considerably. So it would be fair to say that that staves off the sense of overfamiliarity that might have otherwise creeped into the game.
The following two sections have spoilers for Resident Evil 2. Skip ahead if you want to avoid spoilers.
INCONSISTENCIES ACROSS FIRST AND SECOND RUN
The way Resident Evil 2 frames its narrative is that the A and B campaigns collectively tell the full story of the game. Though each character has their own arc, only when you’ve played both do you get the full story (and also the true ending). The first run is supposed to be the story from the perspective of one character, while the 2nd Run is supposed to show the other side of events, from the perspective of the other character.
But Resident Evil 2 plays a little fast and loose with its own rules at times, and events that take place in a campaign are at times inconsistent with the events shown in the other. For example, if William Birkin had already killed Mr. X by literally ripping him in half underneath RPD, how come Mr. X pops up again in Leon’s campaign in the Umbrella Lab? Many have also brought up things such as the fact that Claire or Leon (depending on who you play as first) have to open up Goddess Statue once again, with discs that the other character should, by that point, already have retrieved to have already opened up the Statue. Or the fact that the character in the first run is by themselves in RPD for quite a bit before they meet up with the other across the locked gate in the courtyard, but in the other character’s campaign, it takes them all of five minutes to get from the streets of Raccoon City to the gate. Some of these are minor, others not so much- but their incongruity with each other is noticeable.
CARDBOARD IS SHERRY’S GREATEST WEAKNESS
In Claire’s campaign, during a short section, we get to take control of the young Sherry Birkin, which, of course, was in the original RE2 as well. However, unlike the original, when you’re playing as Sherry in the remake, you find yourself in the Orphanage, which is an entirely new playable location in the game. As Sherry’s playable section begins, she find herself locked in a room.
The only way out is through a hole in the wall that leads to the adjacent room- but Sherry can’t get to it quite so easily. Why? Well, because the hole is covered with cardboard. Cardboard. She has to go looking for scissors, for which she has to solve a puzzle, and only once she gets the scissors can she cut the thin layer of cardboard open to crawl through the hole.
Sherry, it’s cardboard. Cardboard.
Spoilers over. It’s safe to come out.
VERY LITTLE INTERACTION BETWEEN CLAIRE AND LEON
For all the time Claire and Leon spend in the same locations at the same time, it’s a little surprising that they don’t come across each other more often (or at all). Moments when the two of them are face to face with each other are very rare, and there have been a few Resident Evil 2 players who’ve voiced their dissatisfaction with how little interaction there is between both characters.
Sure, they do leave each other notes throughout the game, but other than the game’s beginning, the scene in the courtyard, and the very end, they’re mostly off doing their own thing, even though they’re often in the same locations. In the original Resident Evil 2, there were more moments than in the remake where they crossed paths, while they would also stay in touch with each other over the radio, and as such, the two of them being separated in spite of being in close proximity was something that was contextualized better than it’s been done in the remake.
NO STOMPING ON ZOMBIES THAT HAVE BEEN DOWNED
One of the best things Capcom could have done with Resident Evil was to bring it back down to Earth again, to make it more grounded, to make the player feel more vulnerable thanks to, among many other things, a relatively more limited moveset. No more roundhouse kicks for Leon, and no more whatever the hell it was that Resident Evil 6 could let you do. With Resident Evil 7, and then with Resident Evil 2, they did exactly that.
But you know what? I wouldn’t have minded being able to stomp on zombies’ heads who’ve been downed to finish them off. It’s not something, I feel, that would have taken away from the game’s horror too much- The Evil Within 2 let you do just that, and it was still plenty scary. Sure, there’s an argument to be made that not knowing whether or not a zombie is truly dead is something that adds to the horror and foreboding atmosphere of the game significantly. You never quite feel safe even in rooms and areas you’d thought you’d previously cleared out. And sure, that’s a valid point- but you can’t deny that being able to stomp on zombies is something that could have come quite handy in several tight situations.
MISSING ENEMY TYPES
When it came to light prior to Resident Evil 2’s release that it had removed a few enemy types and mini-boss-like encounters from the original game, such as the moth, or the spiders in the sewers, there was a section of the fanbase that was quite displeased about that- almost to a baffling extent, in fact. And sure, it’s true that there are some enemy types that the remake cuts out, and that zombies are very prominently featured throughout. But given just how excellent and formidable those zombies are as enemies, and the fact that the removed enemies (especially the moth) were very briefly featured in the original game, I feel like their absence in the remake is only a flaw on paper, and not an actual flaw when you get down to actually playing the game.
NOT ENOUGH OF OUTDOORS RACCOON CITY
As Resident Evil 2 begins, we see both Claire and Leon running through the ravaged streets of Raccoon City as they try to get to RPD- and in both their campaigns, you get to the building surprisingly quickly. There’s a little bit more of outdoor sections in Raccoon City in both campaigns (slightly more so in Claire’s than in Leon’s), but by and large, the game largely takes place in indoor environments. The original Resident Evil 2, of course, was also largely set in indoor locations, but it did have a little bit more of Raccoon City itself than the remake does. Given how beautifully the remake recreates iconic locations from the 1998 classic, and how stunning they all look thanks to the incredible RE Engine, I wouldn’t have minded having a bit more time to explore the streets of the city itself.
I guess it’s fine, though. We just have to wait till the inevitable Resident Evil 3 remake arrives.