Tuesday, November 26, 2019

900th Review! Resident Evil 2 (PS4, XB1, PC) Review

We've finally reached another new milestone, gang! SuperPhillip Central arrives at its 900th unique review in its 11 year history! This 900th review is a big one, too--call it a biohazard in the form of a review! It's Resident Evil 2 from earlier this year, and it's a game that is too good and too terrifying to miss! Find out why with this super special SuperPhillip Central review!

Unraveling a conspiracy in Raccoon City? It takes two, baby.

It's time to take a return trip to Raccoon City, an initially bustling mountainside metropolis now teeming with the undead and biohazards alike. Resident Evil 2 receives an amazing overhaul--ditching the fixed camera angles of the original, but still classic game--and bringing in a over-the-shoulder camera in its stead. That's not all that Capcom gives players with this remarkable remake, either. Apart from the glorious eye candy that are the visuals, Resident Evil 2's 2019 revised version brings with it some splendidly satisfying gameplay changes and story beat alterations as well, making for a fantastic revisit to Raccoon City and a truly terrifying title. Do you think you know what to expect with Resident Evil 2? Think again.

Resident Evil 2 (2019) tells two revamped tales that intertwine. One of these tales stars Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop reporting for duty on the worst possible day to do so, and the other playable character being Claire Redfield, a college student in search of her brother, Chris. Playing through the stories of the two presents mostly unique cutscenes and scenarios, but the two do find themselves scouring and scavenging the same areas of the game: the police station, the sewers, and a final area. The only difference is that parts of the former are locked off depending on which character you choose to play as. You'll eventually want to explore the other character's campaign to get a full, fleshed out version of the game's events and story, and beating one character's campaign unlocks a second campaign that tells the full story and gives the real ending.

That said, having Leon and Claire live to tell their stories is a challenge all to itself. Each of the three separate sections of Resident Evil 2 are crawling with zombies, dangerous enemies, and other horrific nightmares that can't wait to cut a run short. Yes, there are plenty of locations to save your data in the form of typewriters in safe rooms--those lovely rooms that always grant Resident Evil players with a sigh of relief--but elsewhere, Raccoon City isn't the nicest place to explore.

Is it too late to mention that this review's screenshots aren't entirely all-ages appropriate?
For instance, the first major area of the game, the Raccoon City Police Station, is infested with zombies. They're also zombies of a hardy stock, requiring plenty of bullets to take down. In later difficulties, it's just better to shoot one in the head to stun them, and then quickly run past them to avoid confrontation and avoid wasting precious ammo. More so than ever in a modern Resident Evil game, being smart with your ammo and equipment management is key for survival. Ammo and health items do not fall from trees and appear in an overly generous fashion. It's quite possible to make the ability to progress highly unlikely due to having no ammo available to you. 

There's also managing your inventory to worry about, as you'll need to pick up various objects to open doors, solve environmental puzzles, and otherwise make progress. Everything takes up precious space and slots in your inventory, such as guns, combat knives used to stagger enemies as well as serve as a "getaway" item if a zombie grabs onto you, healing items like first-aid sprays and medicinal herbs, as well as all of the ammunition and rounds you find. Hip pouches lessen the worry about inventory management, as they add slots to your arsenal, but you simply can't go around picking everything up you find littered throughout the game either.

Okay! Okay! Next time I'll book an appointment!
Resident Evil 2 first has players exploring the police station, venturing from room to room, acquiring keys in the form of "key items" and literal keys, solving puzzles, and eliminating or otherwise avoiding enemies to make progress. An insanely helpful map reveals room locations and names, whether you've visited them or not, and whether you've ransacked every item within said rooms. Of course, you have to find the maps to get a full view of the current area you're in, but with proper investigation of your surroundings, this is seldom a challenge. What IS a challenge is learning the environment, learning how to get from point A to point B in the most efficient and safe way possible, and overcoming each challenge, whether a puzzle or a horde of zombies in your path, to the best of your ability. Part of what makes Resident Evil 2 so horrifying and tense is that you're always one slip-up or mistake from dying, so you're always needing to be on full alert. 

This goes even for diehard fans of the original game from 1998, as Capcom has made some new gameplay alterations to keep even those players who know the original Resident Evil 2 like the back of their hand on their zombie-weary toes. For one, zombies like to play dead a lot. They can appear incapacitated on the ground, but they can quickly rise up or latch onto your character's leg. They can bust open doors (except in safe rooms, of course), surround you, and gang up on you quite easily. It was truly terrifying to open up a door, enter into the other side, and find poor Claire grabbed onto by a bloodthirsty zombie, tearing its grisly teeth into her flesh seemingly of nowhere. You can bet I jumped when that happened!

Another new change occurs midway through the investigation of the police station. This so happens to be a favorite of mine, and that's Mr. X, a giant, golem-like, silent but deadly type that marches through the police station. He is indestructible, and loves a chase. When his heavy footsteps resonate and vibrate nearby, you can tell he's close and you should be quite careful. Mr. X hits hard, and it's obviously for the best to completely avoid him and run away. This can make exploring the police station a bit difficult when in the claustrophobic rooms and hallways of the compound, Mr. X blocks your path, requiring you to find another way around him to reach your destination, but the ever-present dread that I felt when Mr. X arrived in the game was such an almost perverse pleasure and certainly satisfying challenge.

Claire, meet Mr. X. Mr X, meet Claire.
Resident Evil 2 has multiple difficulty settings to play on, and these greatly alter the experience. The easiest difficulty, Assisted, gives you less damage taken from enemies, auto-regenerating health at times, and the option to turn on auto-aim to make aiming at enemies much easier. Meanwhile, the hardest difficulty, Hardcore, can have zombies and bosses kill you in less than two hits, more aggressive zombies, needing to use scarcely found typewriter ribbons in order to save your progress, and a much faster Mr. X to worry about in some portions of the game. 

Utter abominations await players down in the sewer depths.
Along with the multiple difficulties, the different campaigns: Leon's initial run, Claire's initial run, Leon's second run and Claire's second run (the latter two both being the "true" ending of the game), offer noticeably contrasting experiences as well, as I've touched on a little earlier in this review. The second run of Leon and Claire's individual campaigns start off in new locations, sport new and/or altered cutscenes, and have a much different key item and enemy locations. Completing these in a fast enough time unlocks some great bonus goodies, too, such as infinite ammo weapons to help out with later difficulty runs and purely aesthetic alternate costumes for Leon, Claire, and the occasional other playable characters.

TAG! You're it! 
Resident Evil 2 nails its horror atmosphere with some of the most haunting, chilling, and just foreboding environments I've encountered in a game. The particularly dark hallways and rooms where the only light source was my character's flashlight were a highlight, as I never knew what I was going to encounter, and sometimes when I did find what I'd encounter, I "noped" the hell out of there! 

There's plenty of creatures that go bump in the night in the hellish town of Raccoon City.
The zombies are especially graphic to each and every gory and macabre detail. The way they drag their feet and lurch towards you shows stellar animation, and the way their vertebrae, muscles, and flesh drip with blood as your blast holes in their bodies or shoot open their heads, revealing an unsettling but still appreciable splash of blood, gives off some insane graphical work by Capcom.

Resident Evil VII had brought the Resident Evil franchise back to its former glory days, and now with Resident Evil 2, the series has ushered in a brand-new golden age. Resident Evil 2 is a sensational remake in every sense of the word. Capcom didn't rest on its laurels by just upgrading its graphics and gameplay--it totally reworked the game to modern game standards, and the end product is without question one of the best games released this year. Resident Evil 2 isn't just good--it's scary good.

[SPC Says: A]

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