How necessary can a remake be? After all, we are overwhelmed by games of any kind at such a higher rate that we struggle to catch up with them. Also, in a world where games are often no more than clones one of the other, where new chapters seem to be all alike and new IPs struggle to come out, how good can a remake be? I wish I had all the answers but one thing I know for sure: Resident Evil 2 Remake is a darn good game and, IMHO, it was necessary. Let’s discover why …
The original RE2 came out in 1998, probably one of the best periods of the entire PSX lifespan. It was the time for good sequels, with great title reaching the shelves more or less in the same season (Tomb Raider 2, Ace Combat 2 …) and exactly like those titles, RE2 surpassed the original in every possible way. Don’t get me wrong: RE was (and is) the father of the genre, but the sequel introduced mechanics that, together with the expanded storyline, literally opened a new frontier. Now, 21 years later, a true remake (not a simple port or adaptation) has finally arrived … and it is here to stay!
If you played the original title you’ll know that you can impersonate two different characters: Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop that has chosen a really bad day to start off his new job and Claire Redfield, sister of Chris (one of the members of S.T.A.R.S. and key characters in the first game) bound to Raccoon City in search of her brother. Unlike the games of the period, where choosing one avatar or the other was mainly aesthetic (with some very minor variations during the story), RE2 sported two different campaigns actually coded on two different disks.
Those campaigns saw the protagonists progress their stories across almost completely different routes, even though in the end most environments were the same as the same were, for obvious reasons, boss fights. Completing the game meant to complete both campaigns, first with a character and then with the other. The original RE2, like the present one, was preceded by a time-limited demo included in the Director’s Cut version. You could play it as many times you wanted to, but with a time limit set at 20 minutes.
For the aforementioned reasons, when developers decided to give this remake a go they faced an almost impossible task: was it possible to surpass the original once again, despite its old game mechanics, well-known story, zombies abuse everywhere and the likes? Was it possible to turn the game into something new while preserving the original spirit? Many had already failed before while attemping a similar task but Capcom decided this would not be the case. And so we are, once again, traveling toward Raccoon City to embrace our fate made of impossible and unspeakable creatures, ready to feast with our flesh and brains. Like the first time, I did not intend to become someone else’s meal and so I joined forces with the other companion to escape from the nightmare.
Getting back to Raccoon City was like getting back to the Ishimura spaceship in Dead Space 2: I spent so much time in those narrow corridors that I started to shiver before even encountering the first opponents. Nonetheless, the Police Department has its safe spots, where you can catch your breath yet everything is significantly different. The first thing that strikes you is, obviously, the 3D compartment. Such choice, despite been an obvious adaptation to modern gaming, allowed for darker environments, often lit only when you point your flashlight.
Traversing those environments becomes not that “simple” anymore since evil can lurk behind every dark corner. Also, windows can be broken by zombies but this time you will be able to fix them with makeshift barriers. Such trick is more important than you think since zombies are now much more resistant to bullets and they stagger in unpredictable ways, making very difficult to land a headshot that, unless coming from a very powerful weapon, won’t stop them at first blow.
The plot, although very faithful to the original, unfolds in a more mature way and you’ll get the chance to play with different characters: Claire’s campaign will also put you in control of Sherry Birkin, while Leon’s one will allow you to play with Ada Wong … virtually, I mean …
Although very short such sessions do add depth to the gameplay finally shedding some light on those two co-protagonists. In particular, Leon’s campaign focuses on his relationship with Ada, something that we have been wondering about since 1998.
Completing both campaigns (neither the order nor the final score will matter this time) will let you impersonate Hunk, leader of one of the Umbrella Security Services’ squads sent to Raccoon City to retrieve a sample of the G-Virus. I never got to play this add-on before, but this time I had my chance so playing AND COMPLETING Hunk scenario is another one of those results that I pursued for too many years but I finally achieved (others, as reported in the recent past were Zork and Leather Goddesses of Phobos).
Hunk scenario is very short (10 to 12 minutes will do) but extremely intense. If you are wondering what it is or if you are in need of help to complete it (it took me several frustrating attempts) here is the full video.
There is no difficulty selection here (set on Hard by default) and items are scarce (only those that you have in the inventory at game start) so it is no easy task, but it can be done. Completing this stage will allow you to play as Tofu, an even more difficult mission since the medikit are even scarcer and its only weapon is a knife!
Finally, a few days ago Capcom published The Ghost Survivors, a free add-on where you can play in the shoes of 3 characters that never made it out alive from Raccoon City (the owner of Gun Shop Kendo, the Mayor’s daughter and a member of Hunk’s unit). In this alternative version of their stories, you will have the chance to save them all, finally bringing some justice in a world devastated by the infamous Umbrella Corp.
As said in the article’s opening, playing this remake was really enjoyable and rewarding. RE2 remake may have started as a product brought out for nostalgic reasons, but Capcom managed to craft an unforgettable experience. In my humble opinion, this is how any remake should be done: a splendid experience that not only gives justice to the original, but that expands its universe in a consistent and incredible way.
I can only suggest you try it out yourself. Will you be able to escape the nightmare and live another day?
I honestly do not know what to ask more from a game so, for me, this is a perfect score.
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