Editors’ Choice: Resident Evil 2 is Survival Horror Mastered
Dreams of a Resident Evil 2 remake have been swirling in my head since 2005. My imagination ignited the moment I unlocked Leon’s Raccoon Police Department outfit in Resident Evil 4. Seeing the outbreak survivor in his updated, detailed RPD uniform battling parasitic threats with RE4’s revolutionary over-the-shoulder gunplay set my mind wild imagining what a remake of RE2 could look and play like. Fast forward to 2019, and Capcom has delivered on fervent fan expectations that have been marinating for over two decades.
Capcom’s stunning 2002 remake of the original Resident Evil is perhaps the finest horror game ever made, so quality expectations were high heading into the RE2 remake. The modern third-person gunplay merges seamlessly with the traditional, atmospheric survival horror trappings. Don’t let the empowering aiming system fool you into thinking this is a guns-blazing action game – zombies can shrug off more bullets than ever. Enemies’ toughness and agility places the priority on subduing and evading rather than destroying everything, which ratchets up the tension of every encounter. Ammo and health are still your precious, limited lifeblood.
Beyond the intuitive gunplay changes, this remake adds meaningful new gameplay options. Knives can be used both offensively and as get-out-of-jail-free-card defensive weapons, introducing new strategic options. A crafting system similar to RE7’s lets players make the ammo they prefer. Multiple stylish ’90s fanny packs can be found to expand your inventory. Capcom nails the details and expertly embellishes existing survival horror systems.
The fearsome Tyrant (aka Mr. X) crashes the party in the main RE2 campaign, unlike the 1998 original where he patiently waited to terrorize you until the second playthrough. Tyrant is a hulking, unstoppable, trenchcoated menace — and I adore him. The bio-weapon is an unrelenting slasher movie tribute injected into an already intense zombie apocalypse. His heavy, oppressive footsteps thud throughout the police department and constantly remind players they’re in danger. His ability to endlessly stalk you throughout most of the building makes ducking into a safe room more relieving than ever. Tyrant is an encapsulation of what Capcom gets right about this remake, capitalizing on his full gameplay potential from the original game while staying true to the somewhat grounded universe of RE.
Resident Evil 2 was an ambitious sequel back in 1998, packing two PlayStation discs — one for Leon S. Kennedy and another for Claire Redfield. After players finished the game with one character, they could play through the horrific events from the other’s perspective. The remake preserves this ingenious formula, offering brave players four distinct playthroughs. Replaying RE2 is where the game (and series) truly sings, enabling players who once felt like they were barely scraping by to become zombie-dodging masters. Memorizing the RPD layout, expertly navigating the labyrinthine sewers, and unlocking bonus weapons (unlimited ammo!) for subsequent playthroughs is part of the full RE2 experience.
Over 20 years after the celebrated original, the Resident Evil 2 remake earns’ PlayStation’s Editors’ Choice as a defining horror experience. This remake shows that the Capcom team — who invented the genre in 1996 — still deserves the mantle of masters of survival horror. RE2 is manages to be consistently nerve-wracking, smooth, and entertaining. The fun’s not over, either — the recent announcement of the Resident Evil 3 remake has me thrilled to survive Raccoon City once again.