Resident Evil 2 (2019) Review

Ever since the announcement of Resident Evil 2 remake last year, I had been waiting for its release with great deal of angst. Then I shared my thoughts on why the Resident Evil 2 remake is the best survival horror yet.

Alas, the wait is no more. On 25 January 2019, the game was finally on the shelves of video game stores. I went to buy the game after work that Friday and couldn’t wait to start playing once I got home.

Now for the price tag of nearly $80, it does feel expensive considering that Resident Evil 2 was originally released back in 1998. But this is a remake and not a remaster. Capcom spent resources to re-create the whole game that not only gave it a fresh coat of graphics but also re-imagined what the game could be given the technological advances we have experienced since 1998.

After playing it over the weekend, I’ve got to say it’s definitely worth it.

It uses that 3rd-person, over-the-shoulder view pioneered with Resident Evil 4. That view make the whole gaming experience much closer and intimate while enabling you to see more of the world. The first-person view of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard though definitely increase the horror factor you experience because you can’t see what’s behind you, it doesn’t offer the same amount of tension. Just imagine what’s it like to see what’s coming at you but you can’t do shit about it because you ran out of ammunition for your weapons. Your only option was to run. In first-person mode, well, if you can’t see it, you aren’t scared of it.

To add to the tension is the game’s effective implementation of limited resources and require you to ration. There is no way you can shoot your way out of every situation. First, it takes a lot of bullet to take out a zombie. You can attempt to shoot out their limbs (looks like it takes a page out of the Dead Space playbook) to limit the zombie’s mobility but it takes up to five shots to take out a leg. Three to five head shots can take down a zombie but it doesn’t kill them. And it’s really down to chance if you can make a zombie head explode with just a single shot. For other enemies, it require a bigger weapon to take them down and ammunition for those weapon are actually even more limited. So you are better off running away.

The game also had great audio in terms of implementation and quality. Take Mr. X for example especially in the later part of the game. For those uninitiated, Mr. X is a humanoid bio-organic weapon whose sole purpose is to kill you in the game. Due to its size, every step it takes actually generate fear-inducing thump. And even if it is not in the same room as you, you can hear it moving around. There was this one situation where I’m in a room on the first floor and it is in the room directly above. I could hear the stomping sound and made me want to stay where I was, not wanting to go up for fear of encountering him. Not only that, you can also hear the groans and moans of zombies through the walls when they are hunting you. Furthermore, the music is done very well to shape the feelings you get as you move from a safe room to an open corridor.

As for the graphics, the RE engine has definitely allow for a much more realistic world. Now, the key to good graphics is lighting just like in photography. The placement of lights, how they reflect off surfaces and how they make objects look affect how you feel about a particular scene. In Resident Evil 2, the way lights are placed and how they light the world up actually make you feel like you are truly in a place where dangers lurk in every corner. If not that, they did a great job of setting the scene to make you feel like it’s a bad place to be in.

Not only that, weapon damage done to enemies are also visible and make you feel like you are making an effort to kill or injure your enemy. Let’s take this image of me having killed a zombie after dropping it to the ground with headshot and slicing it with the knife until it’s dead.

Look at the slashing damage on the body. Look at that arm. It has fallen off. This is the kind of realism that I look for in a game like Resident Evil 2. I want to feel like I’m doing something to my enemies.

Last but not least, the cutscenes are also well done in terms of fluidity, how it showcases their vulnerability and how well it transit from gameplay and back again. The characters’ voice actings are also pretty good by how they interact with each other and how they show that they are afraid in real time. There are quite a lot of times when the game character, Leon, was cursing and swearing as he tries to take down enemies or when he was being chased.

Even though I spent only a few hours on it, I’m glad that I was right that it’s definitely the survival horror game to play. There are so many times when I actually just want to put down my controller because it got all wet from my excessive sweat due to all the tension and anxiety. My heart was actually thumping pretty hard in certain area of the game and I lost count of how often I didn’t want to enter a new room because I’m not sure what I would expect. Yet, I still want to play the game despite my fears based on how often it’s hanging around in my mind. I’m always thinking about the game, having the urge to pick up the controller again even though I’ve put it aside to do other things.

The Evil Within 2 Initial Review

The Evil Within 2 is a survival horror game and the the second game in the series produced by Shinji Mikami. He is also known for creating other survival horror games like Resident Evil and Dino Crisis.

I played the first game, The Evil Within, previously. For that game, I did stop playing for nearly half a year because I just didn’t feel like playing it anymore. And when I did finish the game, I only felt a sense of relief that I finished a game but it wasn’t that memorable.

Yet, I decided to give The Evil Within 2 a try on Saturday, 6 Jan 2018, several months after it was released because I felt like playing some new games.

Until now, I have only finished up to chapter 3 and below are my thoughts so far.

Game Environment and Atmosphere

Like the first game, The Evil Within 2 has a great in-game environment. Almost every location as far as I have been to invoke the feeling of dread and trepidation.

The game also rely a quite a fair bit on foggy environment, which is not that different from Silent Hill.

The game also has a great deal amount of gore, blood, and violence. There are bodies and blood pools everywhere. All that contributes to the sense that the world is going mad. Since the game take place inside of a mind-like world and given the game title, the bodies and blood pools is quite fitting.

Game Creatures

There are different kind of enemies. Most of the time you will encounter zombie like creatures which can be quite tough to kill.

Then there are near un-killable creatures like the following that could appear during certain game moments or events.

It is usually enemies like this kind that send chills down your spine and you just want to run.

Story and Gameplay

I have not gone that far into the story. What I have experienced so far does feel like it’s been done before. It’s not that particularly interesting nor was it boring.

To tell the player a story, the game relies on flashbacks quite often. Those flashbacks show you what had happened during the in-game 3 year period and certain key moments from the first game. The transitions are very well-done. It was no different when the game attempts to move on to the next chapter. With that, the experience is not detracted in anyway.

The gameplay saw some minor changes in this new game.

For a start, weapon upgrade has changed. You get to craft items and upgrade weapons through the use of workbench. In the previous game, weapon upgrades can be done through the same menu used to upgrade your abilities when you go back to the safe room. With workbench, they are more numerous in the game world that allow you to upgrade more often. That is a good thing. With that, you don’t need to find the mirror, which serves as a portal between different areas of the game and make the jump.

The world is also more open that allow you to roam around. With that, you get to do side quests. That was something missing from the first game. With side quests, often you will get more ammunition, access to certain areas, find those locker keys, etc. The first game mostly forces you to move along a fixed path. Personally, I prefer a limited open-world setting rather than forcing you to go from point A to point B linearly. So the second game definitely is better with the current open-world implementation.

Graphics

The graphical settings are pretty much maxed out on the machine I play the game on. With that kind of settings, it did help to bring out the game atmosphere. Normally, for modern games, I would expect playing the game on 1440p will result in some choppiness in scenes with more action. Thus far, I haven’t faced any and that’s a good thing. This just show that the game engine is pretty well-polished by the game developer.

Overall

I think this game is better than the first. It is more polished, the gameplay felt that it has matured, and the characters are kind of better developed compared to the first game.

To me, this is a great example of what happens when a game studio focus on what make a survival horror game great instead of trying to appeal to a bigger market.