Resident Evil 2 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 31.01.2019

Review for Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation 4

Resident Evil 7 marked the beginning of a new direction for the venerable Japanese survival-horror juggernaut. Quippy one-liners, elaborate stunt choreography and Hollywood style pyrotechnics got dropped in favour of tense harrowing terror. After the series strayed from its origins as a Sweet Home remake, becoming an action game franchise, things came full circle with that title, reverting to something more traditional, about a documentary crew exploring creepy houses. With the RE Engine proving itself as a technological marvel with Resident Evil 7 and Capcom teasing the possibility that they would remake the 1998 Resident Evil 2 after porting the Resident Evil HD Remaster, have fans finally had their wishes granted with what may be the ultimate Resident Evil experience? Cubed3 enters the survival-horror world of Resident Evil 2.

For a time, Resident Evil's style and tone was not much different than Devil May Cry's. Characters frequently would act flippant towards monstrous threats, strike poses all the time and generally act cool. This era began with Resident Evil 4 and continued with the sequels and side games, eventually getting to a point where the series had lost all its identity with Resident Evil 6.

By the time Capcom's team began the seventh entry, it became obvious that this twenty-plus years-old series had to find its voice again, after chasing what was popular for so long. Resident Evil 7 was a big risk for abandoning its indulgent and over the top aesthetics to become what can be best described as a true horror property. It was a turning point and now Capcom finally knows what Resident Evil should be. This confidence could not be more evident in this remake of one of the highest selling PlayStation games released: Resident Evil 2.

Before even getting into the differences of the 1998 original and this 2019 remake, on its own merits, Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation 4 is a contender for one of the best looking games this generation. Contemporaries like Detroit: Become Human or Red Dead Redemption 2 are the few that come close to the visual fidelity that the RE Engine pushes in Resident Evil 2, but with the key distinction that it is running at a much higher frame rate.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation 4

For the uninitiated, the RE Engine is effective at scanning real life objects or people to make 3D models and detailed textures. Expect to see an extremely lifelike and natural looking rendering, which makes P.T. look like t.p! Lighting is extremely realistic - and that's key in a horror game that is dense with atmospheric haze and lofting particle effects, which give a gritty mood.

Even enemies are detailed to extremes, with zombies showing many layers of bodily damage from knife slashes or gun shots. The weight every character has is felt with sublime animation and is rife with surprising detail; for example, zombies fumbling around over objects realistically, or when they connect a grab and try to bite into Leon or Claire. The effect looks and feels so natural that it is actually shocking that it is not a cut-scene.

Since Resident Evil 7, it was decided that the characters would finally act like humans and not cartoons. Resident Evil 2 continues this style and tone where the acting feels real and they speak lines that are relatable. The facial animation capture especially must be commended; Capcom found non-union actors and it paid off beautifully since these performers are unknowns, which means they were casted based on how well they embody the new vision for this remake.

All dialogue is very low-key and delivered so naturally that it will be hard to imagine anyone else in these roles. Even minor characters from the original, like Robert Kendo, the gun shop owner, have had their role expanded and given some substance in the story. Overall, the drama of the original story has only been compounded on itself now that current day technology is able to emphasize all kinds of detail that was just not possible in 1998.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation 4

Much like the remake of the original Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2 stays true to its source, but with some modern-day concessions. A sad fact of the matter is that most consumers of survival-horror games today have moved on from fixed camera angles and tank-controls. While it would have been mind-blowing and completely bold on Capcom's part to make this remake more in line with the first, it would also be unrealistic and much less accessible. This means that the developers have the thankless task of balancing what the fans of the 1998 original want and satisfying the average modern gamer, who plays mostly games with the standard 3D third-person control set-up.

Capcom completely nailed it, hitting a home-run. The way the level design is constructed, and how it guides users to the various puzzles and threats, is impeccable. Above all, it is perfectly consistent with the first remake. Resident Evil 2 not only expands on what the fans of the original knew, but also remixes it to keep them on their toes to great effect. It is like revisiting a half-remembered dream... but a dream where everything is trying to kill you.

Raccoon City Police Department feels lived in and connected. Activating one thing in the building will always trigger something else in the building, giving it almost a simulation-like quality. Nothing ever disappears either; all bodies are persistent - and in the harder modes where ammo and healing items are scarce, planning a route in this labyrinth is crucial.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation 4

As if things weren't bad enough, Resident Evil 2 has a pursuer enemy type that functions in a way that's not dissimilar to Jack Baker from Resident Evil 7. Mr. X used to only appear at scripted moments and couldn't open doors in the 1998 game. In 2019, Mr. X is much more sophisticated and will pursue Claire or Leon throughout the police station. This is where Resident Evil 2 shines its brightest, since when this guy appears, he behaves like a roided-up Michael Myers looking for a baby-sitter.

These moments are some of the most tense and scariest since he is invincible, but is slow enough to outrun, so staying in one place becomes a liability. His weighty footsteps can be heard even if he is a floor above or below - and with binaural sound, the effect is eerie.

As if being a beautiful looking game that remixes one of the most enjoyable survival-horror games ever made was not enough, Resident Evil 2 maintains the tradition of high replay value of its PlayStation ancestor. Both A and B scenarios are present for each character, making it worth replaying from alternate perspectives since both Claire and Leon get their own exclusive areas. On top of this, the team at Capcom even managed to squeeze in the Tofu and Hunk survival games, and tons of unlockables of various styles to complete the game.

It is really hard to find something to criticize in such a generous package. At best, one could nit-pick about the loss of some aspects of the original, like the moth enemy or the giant spiders. However, with the sheer breadth of new areas and deeper gameplay, no one will mind the loss of a couple of bugs.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation in 1998 was one of the most enjoyable survival-horror games ever released. The remake continues that tradition and improves on all the aspects that made it great, and the result is what could be the best Resident Evil ever made. It may even be the best horror title ever made just going by the sheer level of craftsmanship and detail. Is it the scariest? It is scarier than the 1998 original, but on current platforms such as PlayStation 4, one would be hard-pressed to find anything that's even half of its calibre. This is one that keeps on giving; highly repayable and full of interesting ways to keep playing, even after completing two campaign variations.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

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