Hands-On: Resident Evil 2 Remake is Everything We Could Have Hoped For

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Capcom first announced Resident Evil 2 Remake all the way back in the summer of 2015. We haven’t gotten many details since then, but thanks to E3, we now know exactly what to expect. During my time at Capcom’s booth, I played around 20 minutes of Resident Evil 2 Remake. As a fan of the original game, I was extremely impressed by what I experienced. If you’re going to update a classic game for the modern age, this is how you do it.

The demo featured a baby-faced Leon S. Kennedy who begins his tenure at the Raccoon City Police Department during the outbreak of a zombie plague. The first thing that stood out to me was the game’s camera angle. Instead of static pre-rendered CG backgrounds, RE2R has a third-person over-the-shoulder camera. Basically, it has the camera angle from Resident Evil 4. This immediately lets players know this isn’t just the old Resident Evil 2 with a new coat of paint. This is a remake in every sense of the word.

Despite the shiny new graphics, this is still Resident Evil 2 at its core. There’s no better proof of this than some of the puzzles found in the police station’s entrance. Seriously, who designed this place? Imagine having to work at the RCPD and needing a special blue key to unlock specific doors. How about acquiring three medallions to unlock the contents found at the base of an angel statue. This all seems even more preposterous than before thanks to the realistic graphics. Still, it is cool to see the game contain the classic puzzles… even if they are extremely outlandish.

If you’ve played any post-Resident Evil 4 title, you’ll find the controls familiar. The older RE games have clunky controls by today’s standards so I’m glad Capcom choose to update them. Since I didn’t have to worry about controls, I was able to completely focus on exploring the abandoned police station.

Naturally, I had to deal with a few zombies along the way. Shooting mechanics are very reminiscent of Resident Evil 6, which means some shots don’t hit their mark even at point-blank range. I’m not sure if you can upgrade weapons, but my handgun felt decidedly weak. Head shots didn’t always guarantee a zombie would stay down. Using the combat knife helps immensely when you’ve run out of ammo. However, you can wear it out, so it’s best to use it only as a last-ditch effort.

Like the original, one must manage their items carefully. This wasn’t an issue during the demo, but it can become a problem in the final game. Key items are stored alongside your health sprays and ammo. You’ll run into situations where you’ll need to drop an item for something more important. Thankfully, you do not need to carry ink ribbons to save, and things like bullets and health items all go into their respective inventory slots. I’m sure you can upgrade your inventory capacity later in the game.

Resident Evil 2 Remake runs on the same engine as Resident Evil 7. Because of that, everything is rendered with an impressive level of detail. What really sells the visuals is the lighting. The dimly lit halls of the RCPD give the game an appropriately dark and uncomfortable ambiance. Some sections are so frighteningly detailed you almost wish Leon would turn his flashlight off. Even in a well-lit press room where I was surrounded by people and accompanied by my friendly PR handler, I was still frightened.

Resident Evil 2 is a classic, and this remake is most certainly doing it justice. It’s a nice example of how to properly update a beloved game while retaining its key elements. There are a ton of new titles dropping in the coming months, but this one is deserving of your attention. It truly is solidly designed. If you’re a fan of the original or have never experienced it, you totally need to check out Resident Evil 2 Remake. Expect the game on January 25, 2019 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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