E3 2018: Hands-on – Resident Evil 2

If the last few years is going to be remembered for anything, it’s that Capcom has turned around their misfortunes and released hit after hit after hit. They released the fantastic Monster Hunter World earlier this year and later this year we’ll get to play Mega Man 11. There is, however, a series in their armoury that simply can’t be touched – Resident Evil. We all have our favourite Resident Evil game and that’s just fine. Problem is that if it’s not Resident Evil 2 then you’re simply wrong, and this remake is going to remind you why that is.

Fans hoped that we would see Resident Evil 2 show up at this year’s E3 and, though we thought it was just a wild wishlist dream, Capcom had other plans. Resident Evil 2 isn’t a simple remaster (please take the time to learn the difference between a remaster and remake to keep me sane) – the game has seen a complete overhaul. In this E3 demo, events kick off as Leon enters the police department lobby. Everything looks exceptionally familiar, but it’s not the exact game you played back in 1998. Doors that were once accessible are now locked or require electricity for the locks to work. Leon is also a much younger rookie cop, as you would expect. He’s got an innocence about him and is highly confused, seeing that it is the first day on the job.

It recently took some time for it to sink in, but Resident Evil 4 actually uses the original tank controls that made the first three Resident Evil games so popular. Resident Evil 2 uses the exact same viewpoint and control method as that of Resident Evil 4 and with that comes the expected tank controls. It hasn’t left its roots behind either as you’ll still be picking up first aid sprays, green and red herbs to combine and you’ll be on the lookout for ink ribbons as you’ll be using typewriters to save your progress. The big crate also returns to help you with inventory management as you can only carry eight items at a time. Ammunition is also very scarce, which is perfect as it’s sticking very closely to what made the original sequel so compelling.

The mood and tone of the game is sombre. Something has gone incredibly wrong. As Leon makes his way through his first corridor, after crawling underneath a busted roll-up door, there are cops lying all over the place who have been torn to pieces. One has a metal pipe stuck in his eye, another has her jaw gradually tearing towards the floor as the rot of her flesh deteriorates and another is hanging from the roof, having taken his own life. The corridor is dark, but when entering any dark space Leon whips out his flashlight automatically to help you make your way through to the next point of interest. As you proceed you’ll see important objects marked with the X symbol. These are generally ammunition or item pickups, but it could also be documents to read that tells you a story of what might have happened here in the Raccoon Police Department and city. The DNA of the original Resident Evil game can be found in every nook and cranny.

From the outset, it’s very obvious that Leon is going to deal with the usual puzzles that made the original games so beloved. Why some doors will require a spade-shaped key or why three medals will open some door that leads to a secret passage will never make any logical sense, but in the world of gaming, it’s what makes it all the more interesting. After failing to save another police officer, Leon gets surrounded by several zombies. I’m not sure if the sensitivity was a bit high in the demo I played, but aiming the gun was quite a struggle. Landing a headshot isn’t as easy as it was in Resi 4 and requires 2-3 headshots to drop a zombie using a 9MM.

Should the zombie get in too close it’ll lunge itself at you and take a nice big bite out of your neck and shoulder area. Reloading your gun is as simple as pressing square (without having to aim – you just press square whenever you want). I should mention that switching between guns can be done so on the D-pad now, so no reason to jump into your inventory just to merely swap your guns. Unfortunately, I never got to a point to pick up another gun, though I did find some shotgun bullets lying around. Silly cops just leaving shotgun bullets all over the show. Oh yes, it’s America…

Pressing the L3 button has him sprinting, instead of walking, and I got him the hell out of there. Leon finally makes his way back to the metal roll-up door and pulls himself through when another zombie grabs his leg (because of course, those Capcom bastards must give me another heart attack). Another officer comes in to save that day and squashes the zombie head with the said roll-up door. He brings Leon up to speed and provides him with a much-needed knife. Now he can defend himself if he runs out of bullets or for other means.

Remember the corridor where you met your first Licker in the original game? That Licker isn’t there anymore, but those windows are all open or broken. Yes, the same windows that had zombies arms smashing through it on your first return in the original game that had you put on a pair of clean pants thereafter. By now if you kept your eyes open you would have noticed that there are several wooden barge boards to pick up. These are used to keep the undead from making their way through the windows and stops zombies from absorbing more of your hard-to-find bullets. The layout of the map resembles everything about the original game, but there are tweaks. Some corridors are now blocked with furniture or collapsed walls that force you to find other means of progressing. I got to the point where you can develop your photos, right next to the staircase. To my surprise the staircase doesn’t just go up one level now – there’s another level of horror waiting for you.

I moved through to the next room, saw a Licker moving past the window, and as I moved through the next door my screen turned black. My 20 minutes was up *insert crying emoji*. This game felt incredibly good to play and the soundtrack pulls you right back into a setting that is etched deep within your memory. It’s the lovechild of Resident Evil 2 and 4 and I can’t wait to see if we can once again play scenario A and B with both Leon and Claire. Whatever it ends up being – this game is going to leave fans with much to love and there’s nothing evil about that.

Resident Evil 2 will launch on 25 January 2019 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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