A trip down memory lane – Resident Evil 2

You’d have to head back to 1998 to understand the importance of this classic sequel. The world back then was a very different place. Sony had just released the Dualshock to bring feedback to your favourite games, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker brought us laughs with their on-screen antics in Rush Hour, Britney Spears burst onto the scene with her hit, Baby One More Time, and the internet was still in its infancy. These were much simpler times, but Capcom and their developers were about to show the world how a sequel should be made.

A quick look at the games that launched in 1998 and you’ll find that it included the likes of Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Tekken 3 and Metal Gear Solid – these are all games considered as some of the best games of all time. 1998 was a mammoth year for those who lived through it. Somehow Resident Evil 2 went toe-to-toe with all these big names and is to this day regarded as one of the best, if not the best, Resident Evil experiences. So, why was that? The game went through more development hell than you might think.

The dream team

Shinji Mikami, the director of the original game and other classics such as Vanquish and The Evil Within, had stepped into a role of being the producer, while Hideki Kamiya (Bayonetta, Devil May Cry and Ōkami) took over the reins as director. It was a big shift for the team, who worked very closely on the first game. This Capcom dream team got to work on Resident Evil 2, but halfway through production they felt that something wasn’t right and that it did not live up to expectations. After receiving feedback from an adviser they scrapped the entire game. There was just too much to change and today that game is known as Resident Evil 1.5, discs of an early demo are floating about the dark side of retro collectors, but it’s just about priceless and was never officially released (outside of footage). It’s the very reason we received a Resident Evil Director’s Cut, alongside a Resident Evil 2 demo. Unlike the recent one-shot Resident Evil 2 remake demo, players could play it numerous times, but, like this recent demo, it’s the catalyst that had people dying with anticipation for its launch. After waiting for an additional year (games were much quicker to develop back then), Resident Evil 2 finally launched. After all the hype leading up to the launch it somehow met expectations, but, more importantly, it far exceeded anything that any fan expected.

Looks like it’ll be licking its wounds…

A new character, Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie cop who was about to start his first day on the job at the Raccoon Police Department and Claire Redfield in search for her missing brother, Chris Redfield, entered the horrifying adventure. Raccoon City and the Police Department just felt like the perfect setting for the next chapter and the world-class intro CG trailer set the mood for the game – depending on which character you chose, the intro would be different. Unlike the spooky mansion of the first game, the Police Department had a bigger sense of scale filled with many cops who had turned into zombies, as well as the introduction of a brand new monstrosity, the Licker. Several attacks would result in Leon or Claire visibly showing their status by walking in a painful manner, without having to look at the health status bar. There were now also different zombie variants and not a horde of zombie twins to mow down. It’s these small adjustments that made the game all that more impressive 21 years ago. The pre-rendered backgrounds of the time gave it a graphical quality miles ahead of the competition. For the time the scenes looked super realistic on your standard CRT TV and tied in with a superb soundtrack that had fans on the edge of their seat while searching for files, herbs, ammo and ink ribbons to save your game.

Panic stations

The slow pace of the first game was sped up a bit with the introduction of Mr.X. He would appear out of nowhere and it would take most of your ammunition to get him to drop to his knees. Ammo was very limited and you couldn’t just fire away at will. Each and every bullet mattered. Unfortunately killing him was not so easy and because of that, paranoia would kick in. Instead of systematically taking your time, searching for items or clues, you would be rushed to make decisions and in turn make mistakes. This all tied in with your limited inventory slots, which often had you leaving important items in a room to be fetched at a later time, or had players risking it and running about the police station with limited ammunition or health items in the hope that they would be rewarded with important items. The story was just as gripping and formed a huge part of the Resident Evil series. In fact, all of the Resident Evil universe is anchored around events in Resident Evil 2. The combination of big boss battles, puzzles, twists and jump scares cemented this as yet another classic, but it was the replay value that kept players coming back for more.

It’s then when Leon regretted the fact that he left the 9 mm bullets in his storage box.

Once completing the game with either Claire or Leon (it was your decision who you would start with first), a new scenario B would unlock. In other words, you got to play as the other character to see what they experienced at the same point in time as the original character you played with. Brand new areas were visited that included refreshed puzzles and those who completed it saw the true ending – this was known as the Zapping System. In 1998 this was unheard of and, 21 years later, it’s still something you rarely see, if ever. Players who finished the game (both scenarios) with an A ranking could unlock the special Hunk mission that would grant you access to a side story, filling in some unexplained story details and Tofu, your typical Japanese humour coming through in the most bizarre fashion, was even harder to unlock, but brought bragging rights with it before achievements and trophies were a thing. The real hardcore players unlocked infinite rocket launcher, machine and gatling gun weapons for finishing it in speedrunner-like times. This game was a bonafide single-player wet dream.

A 90s classic remade for a modern generation

Resident Evil 2 was a 90s spectacular… and now the remake is about to bring fond memories back to some and introduce many to what exactly made that original outing so enormous. Leon and Claire have never looked this good in all their polygon glory. It’s the game we’ve all been pleading for, for years. The remake is filled with traditional elements, yet it’s modern in its approach. Everything we loved from that original game is about to unearth itself alongside all the zombies you’ll be confronted with.

The Resident Evil 2 remake is about to showcase what made the 90s era so unforgettable on 25 January for PC, PS4 and Xbox One and, baby, I’m gonna hit that one more time.

Disclaimer: This article was sponsored. The content was created in-house and we chose the topic and tone of the article.

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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