Resident Evil 2
This game contains scenes of explicit violence and gore” – oh yes, bring it on! Brace yourself for the final word in fully immersive, edge-of-your-seat interactive horror… oh, and don’t eat anything that could cause awkward bowel movements at least 24 hours before playing, alright!
The rise to reality of Resident Evil 2 has been a long and turbulent journey full of speculation, half-truths and a few out-and-out lies. But it’s here now, so we won’t harp-on about just how long it has taken to arrive, let us press on to the nitty gritty and establish whether or not it has been two years well spent…
Set within the murky confines of Racoon city (albeit 90% in the police station) you must unfathom the mystery concerning the residents’ transformation into flesh-chomping zombies and the whereabouts of the original S.T.A.R.S team who unearthed the secrets of the original T-Virus in Resident Evil.
Think Aliens and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Like the Hollywood blockbuster, the adventure has progressed from tense, gritty origins to all-out action. And whereby the original game balanced the scales with the shooting and puzzle aspects, in RE2 the use of the grey-matter has been toned down to ensure that you’ll crack the puzzles with ease and have plenty of energy left to take-out the vast ensemble of zombies, dogs, spiders, birds, mutants, and a rather large crocodile.
Resident Evil 2 borrows many of its big thrills from Hollywood. The game starts with a superb rendered, motion-captured intro that steals from Terminator. This is particularly clever. The game comes on two discs – one for each character, Leon S Kennedy and Claire Redfield, and each has their own intro… well, at least part of it is their own. It starts with each characters’ respective emergence into the city and the perils they encounter upon arrival (i.e. the zombie equivalent of Zulu!), however, it isn’t long before circumstances throw the two outsiders together and both intros merge into one, epic sequence that sets the scene perfectly for things to come.
As in the original Resident Evil, the game varies in difficulty depending on which character you use (although the game now has an ‘Easy’ and ‘Normal’ setting as standard. The choice of character is affected by way of the standard objects they carry (him – a lighter, her – a lock-pick) and the weapons they find. The chosen difficulty is the difference between starting the adventure with 130 bullets as opposed to 15, and enough First Aid Sprays to overdose on!
Whereas in the last game, playing with both characters only differed slightly, this time you can meet new people and explore areas that the other cannot access. There are four controllable characters in total – playing as Leon will allow you to meet, and periodically control the lovely Ada Wong, and playing as Claire will enable you to meet the nimble young Newt… sorry, Sherry Birkin. Like the young lass in Aliens, Sherry is effectively orphaned when her scientist parents become too engrossed in their work (which involves creating the new G-virus – 100 times more powerful and deadly than the T-virus!), and so relies on her quick-pace and cunning to survive in the police station before joining forces with the sickeningly broody Redfield.
Perhaps the biggest myth about RE2 is the fact that it spanned across the whole of the city. This isn’t the case. True, you start in the streets after the clever intro sets the scene, and it is then a mad dash past the burning motors (the bus being a particularly classy touch) and moaning undead until you reach the seemingly safe confines of the police station. This is where the action remains for most of the game as you venture back into familiar territory of finding the right keys to access the all-important new areas and solving the odd puzzle to get an item. Like we said earlier, not much thought is required for the puzzle aspect, which is a great shame because the game suffers as a result. True it is satisfying to crack the teasers so easily, but RE2 spells the clues out so blatantly that you’d have to be a prize cretin not to crack it first time. Also, there doesn’t seem to be as many forks in the storyline. In the first Resident Evil, the order you performed the tasks and suchlike affected the points at which you met and interacted with the other characters. In RE2 it seems a lot more straightforward.
One brand new feature, and a dastardly clever twist in the tale is the second mission. Once you play and complete the game using either or the two characters, you’ll be able to save the completed game data onto a memory card and then load it up on the other disc. By doing so, the events that took place the first time you completed it will be carried across to the other character – so you’ll be able to play and view the adventure from a different perspective. This also adds more depth and events to the original plot-line that you thought you had sewn up. For the second mission, the other character starts the game on the other side of the burning truck that causes both parties to become separated in the first place. From there the second character must complete the game again, only this time the objects will have moved and they’ll be more enemies and confrontations to contend with – the most notable being a mysterious ‘being’ that is air-dropped through the roof of the police station and then proceeds to pursue you relentlessly through the remainder of the mission. It is also clever because the radio chats that took place between Leon and Claire in the first mission happen at the same time, only from the other’s perspective… it sounds confusing but it makes perfect sense when you play it.
Anyone familiar with Resident Evil will instantly be able to pick up and play this game, as the basic mechanics are the same. The way you find and use objects, search new areas, store items in crates and even save the game using typewriters is all familiar territory.
The time consuming aspect of making the game was obviously spent on special effects and updating the graphics because they look much better than before. Whereas the first was a B-movie fright-a-thon, Resident Evil 2 is a big budget production that is as captivating to watch as it is to play. You really do get caught up in the plot and then stand back in awe as the action cuts to a sequence that introduces one of the many big frighteners… and there are many.
New effects that stand out are the way in which your character gets injured whenever too many chunks have been ripped out of them. From a broad stride, they will then go to a slight hobble whilst clutching their side. When things get really critical, your character will be reduced to a limp and use any long weapon for a makeshift crutch. These injuries can be easily rectified if you find a First Aid Spray or some trippy-coloured herbs to chomp on. These visible injuries do well to enhance the scare factor as you instantly become much more vulnerable due to the severe lack of pace in your sprint.
In fact, this reviewer can’t remember any video game that has stirred up so many emotions. To physically jump whilst patrolling the sinister corridors is such a credit to this game’s eerie nature (mind you, it could have had something to do with the six-foot screen in pitch darkness upon which it was played!). This creepiness is enhanced dramatically by the pant-crapping soundtrack and spot-effects which rumble menacingly and grind up in tempo whenever anything dramatic, or indeed scary, is about to happen.
If you liked the first game then you’ll love this basically. Although the same faults that bugged the original are still apparent – like annoying delays between rooms, sometimes impractical perspectives for seeing oncoming perils, and worst of all, the fact that you need two memory cards to save Claire and Leon’s progress.
It also won’t take you too long to complete (although it is mighty tough on the normal setting as opposed to easy), but in practice you’d have to complete it a minimum of four times to see everything, so there is a lot of replay value in there.
Like the big blockbuster films that this game borrows from, the onus here is a lot more on the action, and, more to the point, the killing.And for this task, you need more guns obviously, and this is where Resident Evil 2 is such a must!
This game has got loads of guns – big guns, small guns, noisy guns, quiet guns, and then some! In fact, we’ve counted ten different devices for mass butchering; ranging from the standard (handguns, shotguns) to the bloodyminded (machine guns, chainguns). Some of these weapons are so powerful that they actually take up two spaces in your inventory – how hard is that!
With these instruments of death you can splatter the zombie hordes to the four winds in comical fashion. Aim high to pop their heads like over-ripe water melons! Aim to the side to pick-off an arm. Aim low to ensure that they’ll never walk again, and, if you get bored with toying with them, aim a powerful weapon at their midriff to blast them clean in two!
However, persistent zombies may still crawl after you with only a cold paving slab where their wedding tackle used to be, which is simply hilarious! It’s also worth mentioning that whenever Claire takes out a zombie with her bow-gun, the bolts can be seen to be protruding from the neck and torso of the speared ghoul – very impressive, although unfortunately you can’t yank them back out and re-use them later.
It is horrific touches like these, and the many set-pieces that make Resident Evil 2 a classic. Some of the confrontations are by far the best seen in a video game – especially the gigantic crocodile that ambushes you in the sewers (if you’ve ever seen the film, Jaws, you’ll guess how to defeat it!). The build up to the finale is also impressive and gets your ticker racing faster than a doped-up horse. This all builds up to the best game ending sequence ever seen – although to see the good one you’ll have to complete the second mission. Fans will also be delighted to learn that this leaves the prospect of a Resident Evil 3 well on the cards!
It is very hard to work out if this game is actually bigger than the original. If it is then the difference is only marginal. However, the actual locations themselves come across as being a lot more varied and exciting, and the time spent loading in new rooms is often well spent as they seem much bigger than before.
Words cannot quite sum up the experience of playing and seeing all this game has to offer – especially after the wait. But it certainly doesn’t disappoint and is one of the most clever, crowd-pleasing, tense, dramatic, beautiful and playable games ever conceived. It also has some of the most gruesome deaths, hopefully which won’t be cut out of the PAL version. A truly fantastic, blood-soaked and brainsplattered game. If you rated the first, or just thirst after a roller-coaster ride of terror, get this! It’s one of the best games on the PlayStation.