There were a lot of great games showcased at this year’s E3, including some surprises as well. However, one of the biggest surprises for me was the announcement of Resident Evil 2. It’s been a long time since the game was announced and I was looking forward to how it will play, given that it’s much more than a remake. So, it’s no joke that fans have been screaming for this game every E3 for the past several E3s. Many of those fans consider Resident Evil 2 to be the best in the series; and, though I don’t think any of them in this series have surpassed Resident Evil 4 just yet, I was fully prepared to take on the zombies once again.
Have you ever played a very old game, then played a remake or remaster and said, “It looks almost identical to the original.” Just to actually go back to that original version and notice, “Damn, they really did clean this game up. It’s the same but so much better.” That’s exactly what to expect from Resident Evil 2. The show floor demo takes place in the iconic police station, the same one you should remember too. But if you look closely, it’s much different, more refined, and more real. Closed doors and stair cases on either side, eerie, unsettling lighting giving off a soft glow so you can barely see what’s in front of you, and cluttered desks, devoid of people, scattered around as though this place used to have employees working here… but then mysteriously vanished. Something went wrong. Very wrong.
"But if you look closely, it’s much different, more refined, more real. Closed doors and stair cases on either side, eerie, unsettling lighting giving off a soft glow so you can barely see what’s in front of you, and cluttered desks, devoid of people, scattered around as though this place used to have people working here… but then mysteriously vanished."
Leon Kennedy is back once again, and this time he sounds a lot different than before and also looks a lot different. Gone are those crummy sounding voice-overs where everyone sounds like they’ve come from a low-budget film. Replacing them are high quality voice-overs where you can feel the determination and fear in Leon’s voice. It’s not just the voice-overs that are high quality either. The creaking of the doors, the tapping of footsteps on the cold stone floor, and that low ambient musical tone that indicates something just isn’t right.
The set-camera angle, the thing I disliked the most of all of the first few original games in the series, is gone. Instead you get a camera more along the lines of Resident Evil 4. That’s right, they’ve maintained Resident Evil 2 as the third-person horror game it originally was, instead of transforming it into a first-person horror game after the success of Resident Evil 7. Like most of the Resident Evil games, there’re mysteries around every corner: a missing medallion here, a series of hieroglyphs that must be spun around to unlock something there, several statues that you know have a key or an important item hidden around them. This is the original Resident Evil 2, but with more mystery behind it, puzzles have been rearranged and switched up to always keep that mystery — especially for returning players — alive.
There were several times where I found a medallion, or unscrambled a code I found in a book, only to have more puzzles behind those. Three is the magic number, at least in the demo I played. Many of the locked doors, or secrets are always hidden behind a set of three-anythings. Rather it be the spinning hieroglyphs mentioned earlier, or three medallions that unlock three doors, I think Capcom have always had an obsession with the number three. So when you find one of something stay calm, control your breathing, you’ll likely need two more of the same thing. But this demo is early on in the game, so, maybe that special number changes later on. As I mentioned before, the strategy on how to get from one place to the other through puzzles has been changed up to keep even old fans on their toes.
"The knife broke! A zombie jumped onto me and came right into the camera, almost making me think it was coming through the screen. With no knife, no ammo, they got me again. It’s too late. I died."
Of course, I eventually came to the inevitable zombie fight, and I really hoped those bullets and green herbs I found along the way through the locked doors payed off. I was wrong. It’s interesting to hear the music change when zombies jumped out at me. The intense atmosphere of fighting the zombies in most situations throughout the demo was heart-pounding. Tight corridors and small rooms made up a lot of the police station locations, leaving little room to react to oncoming enemies. Sure, they’re not fast and they creep around like a wounded animal, but when the room is not very spacious, zombies can close in very quickly. I was able to down the first few zombies that had gotten in my way and made it to safety with my assault rifle and pistol.
But after a few moments of reprieve, another onslaught of zombies were after me. I crawled under a passage, through a door, under and around, shot a few in the head, and…oh, no! I am out of bullets. Luckily, along the way I found a knife and began to slash away at them once again. The good old classic Resident Evil knife. Helps in a pinch, and it did! I took two zombies out with it… but then something happened that was surprising. The knife broke! A zombie jumped onto me and came right into the camera, almost making me think it was coming through the screen. The camera closes in when a zombie gets on you. With no knife, no ammo, they got me again. It’s too late. I died.
The intensity of each room, its atmosphere along with challenging zombies is a testament to how well crafted Resident Evil 2 truly is. It feels fresh, reinvented, and a totally new experience, even if what you see is a little familiar
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