Resident Evil 2 has been the recipient of wildly positive reactions from one and all since its launch, being called not only a worthy re-imagining of a classic title, but also one of the best games in the series even on its own two feet. There’s plenty of reasons for all these plaudits, with the game managing to do so much so well- one of those things is its incredible audio design, which is just as responsible for its foreboding atmosphere and intense horror as its incredible visuals are.
Speaking in an interview with Digital Trends, Resident Evil 2’s audio director Kentaro Nakashima got to talking about the processing of creating the audio of the remake, about how it differs from the original, and how Capcom made sure to enhance the horror as much as they could using the new, modern technologies that were available to them now, but hadn’t been back when Resident Evil 2 had first been made in 1998.
“It was a challenge that I gladly accepted,” said Nakashima. “For the reboot of Resident Evil 2, we approached the sound direction from a number of different angles in a way that would ‘betray’ the sound of the original, but in a good way. Sound is very important when it comes to fear, and with modern technology we were able to produce sounds that weren’t possible at the time of the original. This challenge greatly motivated the entire sound team and influenced every aspect of the design, helping us to uncompromisingly produce sounds of horror that I believe no one’s heard before.”
Nakashami was also asked about the challenges Capcom faced that were particular to the fact that Resident Evil 2 was using an over-the-shoulder third person perspective (although thanks to fan-made mods, you can play in first person on PC if you want), and as such, had to account for the fact that the player’s field of vision would be much larger at any given time, and that the audio design would have to compensate for that.
“We did encounter some trouble in having to rethink how to make the audio work, now that the camera isn’t fixed in place,” he said. “An over-the-shoulder camera stays much closer to the player than a fixed camera, so we developed audio that more closely matches the mindset and feelings an OTS camera evokes. Our use of the real-time binaural system was also specifically because of the OTS camera. By adapting our approach to the new camera angle, we were able to better utilize sound to instil fear into the player.”
“A larger field of vision brings with it a greater sense of security,” he added, when comparing the audio design of Resident Evil 2 with that of the first person title Resident Evil 7. “By extension, this makes it harder to manufacture fear in comparison to a first-person point of view. Unseen terror gives way for some great audio opportunities, but with a third-person perspective’s field of view being so wide, sounds for anything unseen end up being far away. The player wanders around a lot of buildings in the Resident Evil 2. In addition to the impactful frightening sounds, we recorded and used a great deal of environmental sounds, like sudden loud noises that break the silence. Together with the high-quality visuals, we were able to produce some great sounds that really make you afraid of being alone in a room.”
Audio design in games is often overlooked, especially when they look as good as Resident Evil 2 does, but its importance in any game, especially one that relies on atmosphere and horror as much as this one does, cannot be overstated. It’d be fair to say, though, that Resident Evil 2 absolutely knocks it out of the park in this area. Playing the game with headphones on is an unbelievable experience, and one you shouldn’t miss out on.
Resident Evil 2 is currently available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It recently got its first DLC, The Ghost Survivors- it’s free, and does quite a few interesting things. Read more about it through here.