While most publishers, Capcom included, seem to be perfectly happy to bring back their classic games with low-risk remasters or even simple resolution boosts, some titles deserve a more extensive rework with full remakes.
In the case of Resident Evil 2, Capcom is going above and beyond the call of duty by revising the gameplay to the extent that this could easily be called a new game following the original pretty much like a source of inspiration, but not completely sticking to merely recreating every element as it was.
If you’re a fan of the Yakuza series, you’re probably familiar with two examples that will give you a good idea of what I’m talking about. This operation is very similar to what Sega did with Yakuza Kiwami, and Yakuza Kiwami 2. As of Tokyo Game Show, I have played three different demos of Resident Evil 2, and it feels just as promising as the renewed adventures of Kazuma Kiryu. If you check out the reviews I linked, you’ll probably notice that’s high praise coming from me.
You’ve probably seen the first demo featuring Leon Kennedy pretty much from every angle by now. The second demo was a bit simpler. It was presented behind closed doors at Gamescom and only recently starting to surface fully, it centered about Claire Redfield’s pitched fight against a particular monster with an eye-shaped tumor on its shoulder, whose identity I won’t reveal, just in case.
The third demo, which is the focus of this preview and was showcased behind closed doors at Tokyo Game Show, picks up where the second left, as Claire explores the underground of the Raccoon City Police Department searching for a way out. I had just north of an hour to test it out on PS4 Pro, as I was sharing a three-hour window with Devil May Cry 5, and it was thoroughly enjoyable, albeit very tense.
One of the most relevant aspects of this “Remake Plus” as I like to call it, is the controls. It’s true that Capcom did away with the tank controls and fixed camera angle, but don’t expect something as agile and quick as modern third-person-shooters. Resident Evil 2 remains mostly true to its roots in how your character responds and moves, which is great since this sets the game apart from the many games that put a camera over your shoulder and a gun in your hands.
You could say that the classic Tank Controls feel like a tank in Simulator Battle mode in War Thunder, while the new ones feel like World of Tanks. Basically, there is still a lot of “tank” in the controls, even if they’re certainly smoother and more intuitive. They feel great, but they still convey the spirit of the original game in more than one way.
Ammo is also as scarce as you would expect, and the jury is still out on whether the new controls combined with this make the game more or less challenging. Zombies are very much bullet sponges, and it can take quite a few shots to finally lay them to rest for good. You need to be patient and aim carefully to avoid finding yourself with an empty clip, and with certain enemies like the iconic lickers (which were present in the most recent demo), it’s tough not to panic.
Of course, battling zombies and lickers isn’t the only thing I did in the demo. There is also plenty of that sweet and tense puzzle exploration that the series is known for. You’ll find yourself seeking clues and keys while continually looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re not going to be eaten alive. You’ll find the pacing perfect if you’re into slower games that require to use your brain and patience more than your trigger finger, even if the new camera and aiming make the trigger finger a bit more relevant overall.
It would be strange to talk about a remake without mentioning the graphics. The jump from the original game is obviously massive, and thanks to the power and flexibility of the Resident Evil Engine we’re looking at a game that can stand on par with most of the big current-generation ones.
The details of the characters and the environments are definitely impressive. There is so much to see and explore in the moldy police department, that fans of the series will go crazy scouring every pixel that they couldn’t see in the original game. Chief Irons’ office is especially interesting, and I’m sure many will spend a lot of time there.
The brand new level of fidelity definitely adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game. More precisely, while the original relied a lot on atmosphere and tension to be scary, the remake doesn’t lose any of that but adds a whole host of gruesome details that make it even more impactful.
I’m especially fond of Claire’s new look, which makes her look just as tough as she’s supposed to be, with a touch of sexy which never hurts. She fits the new and realistic visuals of the game a lot better than what her original cartoony look would have.
The latest demo also provides a nice glimpse at the weather and wet effects which Capcom talked a lot about, and they do look great, adding an additional layer of complexity to the overall visuals of the game when you happen to walk in the rain. Claire actually reacts realistically to being wet, by looking annoyed and by trying to get some of the water off her clothes, which will dry gradually, alongside her hair and skin.
This is topped by the extensive use of photogrammetry and the advanced rendering engine, which give materials a very tactile feeling. Resident Evil 2 is a game that feels like you could touch it, and that’s awesome.
Considering what I was able to play so far, Resident Evil 2 is another shining example of a state-of-the-art remake. While there is a whole lot that we haven’t seen yet, I really wish that Capcom, and other publishers, went above and beyond the remaster call of duty this way much more often. It gives classic and beloved games a second life that they definitely deserve, and that new generations of gamers deserve to enjoy as well.
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