Resident Evil 2 Hands-On: A Terrifying, Polished Remake
January 28, 2019 Andrew Cheng

Remaking old video games is nothing new. In fact, some remasters aren’t particularly enticing, and at worst, they are even viewed as a quick cash grab. Thankfully, the new Resident Evil 2 is not that kind of game: it is a mighty good example of an excellent remake.

I’ve spent a brief amount of time playing through the new remake, and I’m very impressed with the game’s mechanics, gameplay, and graphics. But most importantly, I’m absolutely terrified of the game.

Full disclosure: the last game in the franchise I completed was Resident Evil 4 on the PlayStation 2. Suffice to say it’s been a while since I’ve laid hands on a Resident Evil game, and going into this new remake, I was hoping it’ll play similarly to Resident Evil 4.

Boy, was I wrong.

Sure, the over-the-shoulder perspective is reminiscent of Resident Evil 4, but the ambiance and general feel of dread in Resident Evil 2 make it a fundamentally different game. The enemies are terrifying, the dark environment adds to the tension, and even a simple action like opening doors is nerve-wracking.

Note that this was only in the first few moments of the game; I haven’t even encountered more powerful enemies, which are bound to be even more terrifying than the “normal” zombies I’ve faced. Considering the fact that these zombies are already bullet sponges, I dread to think how resilient the other enemies I’ll face later in the game.

To make matters worse, the zombies you’ve “killed” aren’t 100% dead. There were a couple of times where I thought a downed enemy are dead for good, so imagine my surprise when it started moving again.

All of these make Resident Evil 2 a terrifying experience, and again, the generally dark environment of the game further heightens this. There was one instance where I turned around to go up a flight of stairs when I was ambushed by a zombie, and I didn’t see it at all; my flashlight wasn’t pointed at the undead when it jumped at me.

Of course, I could just turn up the brightness of the game to make it less intimidating, but that takes away the suspense of Resident Evil 2 – it’s one of the most appealing parts of the game.

Next, we have Resident Evil 2’s various puzzles, which can be frustrating for players who want to just rush through things. The solutions to these puzzles aren’t very straightforward, and it requires players to explore every nook and cranny of the game (including examining closely the items you’ve picked up) to make progress.

Personally, I do find this quite interesting. It encourages players to explore every area of the game, and the mechanics of these puzzles will feel familiar to Resident Evil fans. On top of that, it does add to the challenge of the game without being too cumbersome to complete.

Graphically, Resident Evil 2 looks gorgeous. Character models are very detailed, exposed flesh and injury look extremely gory, and the environment is rendered very well. I played the game on PC, and the amount of settings I can tweak is ridiculously expansive. That’s great, as it allows even gamers with more modest systems to play the game at acceptable frame rate.

For console players, great news: Resident Evil 2 runs pretty close to 60 frames per second. The bad news? Only the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X can maintain that frame rate. According to Eurogamer, the standard PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S can only do about 40fps. Still relatively good performance, of course, but if you want the best console experience, the game will be more enjoyable on the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X.

Even though I haven’t spent a fair amount of time playing Resident Evil 2, it’s easily one of the most terrifying survival horror game I’ve played in recent times. The gameplay is fun (and nail-biting), the puzzles aren’t too complicated, and the graphics are stunning.

On top of that, I haven’t even gotten into the plot of Resident Evil 2 yet, and I’m excited to learn about Leon’s past before his time in Resident Evil 4. The branching storyline involving Claire Redfield is quite intriguing too, and I love the fact that I can play through the game again as these two characters to unlock the “true” ending – it adds replay value.

But the thing is, I’m quite frightened to launch Resident Evil 2 again. It’s a terrifying, terrifying game, and I will need to prepare myself mentally before heading into the game once more.

Plus, I really dread to be ambushed or chased around by zombies again.