Date Posted: 27/10/19
The first Resident Evil 2 came out in 1998 and introduced fans to Leon S Kennedy and Claire Redfield. I didn’t play that game because at the time survival horror wasn’t my cup of tea. However, as it is now 2019 and I have gotten more into that particular genre after enjoying the likes of Alien Isolation and Resident Evil VII I figured that I would give this one a go. Having not played the original I don’t know how faithfully this one follows it, but I will give my opinions on it knowing little to nothing about the Resident Evil franchise.
Now before I go any further I might as well point out that similarly to Resident Evil VII I did somewhat ruin this experience for myself by watching Outside Xbox playing the game, now whilst they did not do a full 100% walkthrough I knew the majority of what was going to happen as I started Leon’s campaign. However, this game is designed to be played at least twice, potentially up to four times through, so whilst half or maybe only a quarter of it was spoiled for me I would be able to enjoy the rest.
When you load up you have the opportunity to play as either Leon or Claire, according to Outside Xbox, the canon is Leon first then Claire, so that is what I did. Apparently the story of one affects the other so playing it through a third and fourth time doing Claire first then Leon may provide new content and different cut scenes or something.
Anyway, we jump into the shoes of Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop who is driving to Racoon City to start his new job. On the way he stops for gasoline and encounters flesh eating monsters that are ripping people apart, moments after fleeing from the gas station shop, he encounters a woman, Claire Redfield. The two of them head to Racoon City together to find out what is happening, Claire is looking for her brother Chris (who I think was in Resident Evil so would be in the mansion at this point...maybe...?) and Leon wants to get to the Police Station. The two get separated almost as soon as they arrive and Leon ventures into the quiet station alone.
After examining a security feed he sees another cop in trouble so he races to the other officer’s aid. He gets there just in time for the other officer to be ripped in half and suddenly the station seems to be swarming with shambling corpses that want to feast on the flesh of the living.
Leon manages to make it to temporary safety and meets a wounded officer named Marvin, who tells him what happened and orders him to get out of the station anyway he can leaving him [Marvin] behind if necessary.
With limited weapons and health Leon must venture through the dark corridors of the Police station, searching for a way out whilst trying not to fall victim to the shambling corpses that roam the hallways, the twisted monsters that have found their way into the station, and a monstrous figure that dogs his every step...
That is the gist of Leon’s story, below is Claire’s during your second playthrough.
Claire encounters Leon then bish-bash-bosh they are separated and she ends up in a different part of the Police Station to him. Like Leon she begins to explore her surroundings and is quickly able to deduce that she needs to find a way out as the station is overrun with zombies.
She is able to get out and encounters a small girl named Sherry. Sherry’s parents are lost and the chief of police Irons, wants the child for some sinister purpose. Unable to find her brother Claire sets about trying to keep Sherry safe from the monsters that have taken over the station, whilst a twisted monstrosity stalks the little girl through the hallways...
Going into the game as Leon I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to face and I was determined to do a better job than Andy and Jane did on Outside Xbox.
You have a gun but the zombies that you face don’t just drop after one headshot, most will take at least three or four bullets before they are put down for good. I tried shooting out their knees to make them fall over but again it takes several bullets to get them down. Plus when they are on the floor they can still lunge and bite at you, sadly there is no Isaac Clark style stomp which will smash their heads in once they are on the ground. The zombies are capable of moving surprisingly fast and as you try to get the all important headshot they will shamble towards you with their arms out and their mouth wide, you can back-up but will quickly find yourself with your back to a wall. Panic firing will take some of your ammo and you need to keep your wits about you at all times, I lost track of the amount of times a zombie managed to sneak up on me from behind as I was distracted. If a zombie does grab you from behind it will take off about a third of your health before you can knock it away, if one grabs you from the front and you have a sub-weapon like knife or grenade then you can stab them or jam the grenade in their mouth to get them off you without losing health. The knives you find have durability though and will get lodged in zombies, so if you want your knife back, you must kill the zombie in whose chest it is now sticking out of.
Throughout my playthrough (as Leon) I was rarely struggling for pistol ammo and found the zombies more annoying than threatening with them only overwhelming me once or twice. The hit boxes that detect when they grab you also seem to be closer than you think they are, I swear that I would run past a zombie only for the grab animation to kick in. Getting bitten by the zombies was like getting pecked to death by ducks, as every time it happened I was rolling my eyes because there had been a good foot between me and the zombie yet they were able to grab me anyway.
Fairly obviously I learned more about how the game wants you to play as Leon than in my second playthrough as Claire. Initially as Leon I was running around constantly and tried running past Lickers and just hoped that they wouldn’t catch me as I ducked into different rooms. However, later as Leon and then as Claire I realised that Lickers are blind, hunting through sound, as Claire I also found a note which said that which I must have missed as Leon, but anyway. Therefore running around meant they could follow my footsteps, however, if I just walked and move quietly I was able to move right past them. There were several instances as Claire when they were on the ceiling above or the walls next to me and I wandered past without altering them. I enjoy mechanics like that because it forces you to change your tactics to deal with different threats the game throws at you.
The map was also ridiculously useful, probably the most useful map in any game I have played. What makes it so useful is the fact that rooms appear red when they are still to be fully explored (or items are still there) turning blue once they have been fully explored and all items have been collected. It means that if you do get a bit stuck you can bring up the map and look back towards rooms that you haven’t turned blue yet. You may just find a crucial item necessary for progress if you return to those rooms to have another look round. Admittedly because I am what you humans might consider Obsessive Compulsive, if a room was red I would venture back to it to find what I missed, potentially wasting ammo and health supplies for something that ultimately wasn’t worth it.
Your inventory is also very helpful and whilst it is initially pretty small, you can pick up hip pouches which add two additional slots for each one you find, so you can quickly increase the amount of items that you collect. The best part about this inventory system though is the small red tick that appears in an item’s inventory slot when key items are no longer required. I was stuck when playing as Claire and couldn’t figure out where to go, however, as my bolt cutters did not have that red tick in the corner I knew there must be other chained doors out there to find. After a map check, sure enough I found a door, cut my way through it and progress was made. This means that if you are short on inventory space and have an item with a red tick beside it then you can safely discard it without worrying that it might be essential for plot progression later. I will admit that it would have been nice if this game simply allowed you to drop items like Dead Space but I guess if it did the rooms would have to return to being red which might just make things unnecessarily complicated.
One final point about the Inventory that is a bit strange is the fact that later on you get a wrist band which your protagonist wears on their arm, and yet it takes up a space. Why does something that is being worn on your person taking up a slot?? Ditto weapons that you have slung over your shoulder also take up room in the inventory, that didn’t bug me too much, but it seemed strange that something on your arm takes up a space in your hip pouches.
Gunpowder can be found and mixed to create various types of bullets, shotgun shells for Leon or Flame and Acid rounds for Claire. I did mix some gunpowder to create more ammunition but I was rarely hurting for bullets as either character as the game is not really stingy with giving you the means to fight the zombies and the other things wandering around.
I was also quite happy with the mixing of Herbs to create health items. Unlike Resident Evil VII neither Leon nor Claire splashes chemfluid on their hand to heal, instead they can either scoff down herbs, or mix them together, then scoff them down. Different herbs have different properties, Blue cures you of poison, red reduces damage, and green heals you. If you mix them together you can create an item that heals, cures poison and gives you damage resistance for a time. I think the damage resistance effectively doubles you health levels. You have a heart monitor thing that appears when you open your inventory with Fine in Green, Caution in Yellow, and Danger in Red. Both Leon and Claire will be slower when they are wounded and very slow when in Danger. If they are wounded though they make strained breathing noises which I found a bit on the irritating side. Three hits takes you down to Danger, but you get around six if you have the damage resistance effect in place.
Weapon-wise, Leon has a pistol, shotgun, Magnum and later a flamethrower. Claire has three different pistols, only one of which I actually seemed to ever find ammo for, a grenade launcher, and a machine gun. I tended to be struggling for health items more than ammo when I was playing because zombies would pick away at my health as I tried to run round them, so I would generally walk into a room and put down anything shambling around in there to save myself getting nibbled on later.
Weapons can generally be upgraded with new parts to make them more accurate, more powerful and take less fuel. Exploration is rewarded because you find these additional parts which make you better able to take on the game’s challenges.
Admittedly I’m not sure how Claire’s story works in parallel to Leon as he has a boss fight with a guy, and then Claire has the same boss fight with the same guy, who falls down the same hole as he did when I beat him as Leon. Doors that I’d unlocked as Leon were closed when playing as Claire. I’m not sure exactly how these stories work if stuff that I have done in one doesn’t appear to carry over to the other. At time of writing I have completed Leon and Claire, but I’m sure I’ll go back to do it again as Claire and Leon to see what is different
In what I assume is a staple of the Resident Evil franchise (having seen it in Resident Evil VII) you save your game in various rooms rather than on the fly. Those rooms are safe from enemies and contain item boxes that you can use to store anything in your inventory you don’t currently need. These boxes are connected so you can put an object in one box, and then retrieve it from another somewhere else. Once you are beginning to know your way around you can plan routes to different objectives making sure to drop items in these boxes then pick them up from another so you don’t waste precious inventory slots carrying them unnecessarily far.
Generally there was a lot that I was really enjoying as I was playing through. Years ago I played Dino Crisis on the PS1 (still just called the Playstation then) which was described as basically Resident Evil with Dinosaurs instead of Zombies. The two games were made by the same guy so it wasn’t really surprising that this game was reminding me of Dino Crisis as I played it.
Sadly, things weren’t all good...
I think the biggest source of irritation in the game can be summarised in one word: Tyrant. I know nothing about this thing apart from it appears human, has a face that looks like a fingerprint, and it punches you to death if it reaches you. There was a horror film I saw a while ago called It Follows which was surprisingly creepy, basically the premise was that “It” would follow after someone killing them when it caught up, it would only ever walk. If a person was being followed they could get rid of “It” by having sex with someone at which point the thing or whatever it was would go after them instead. The Tyrant kind of reminded me of that entity with the glaring exception that “It” was scary and the big guy in the trench coat wasn’t. Now I understand that you start to get comfortable in your surroundings, by the time the Tyrant shows up you have generally explored a lot of the Police Station, you know which rooms are clear and which ones contain dangers. As Claire there were a couple of Lickers in a certain corridor so I knew to walk when I was travelling through there. The Tyrant is probably supposed to represent an omnipresent threat that means you have to move faster, you cannot linger in places because if you do the Tyrant will find you. The problem is that he is not an instant-kill if he reaches you, yes a single punch will knock you down to Danger health immediately but if you get hit, quaff down a health item and get the hell out of dodge. What made the Alien in Alien Isolation so scary was that if it caught you, you were dead, the flamethrower could push it away but it would keep coming after you until you ran out of flamethrower fuel. The Tyrant just slowly plods around with heavy footsteps that seem to be the same volume regardless of how close it is making locating it when you don’t have eyes on it a pain in the arse.
Plus remember a few paragraphs ago when I said that the Lickers hunt using sound so you need to walk rather than run to get by them? Naturally that is a rhetorical question. The reason that I bring it up is because there were several times when I was trying to avoid Lickers and the Tyrant as Claire but the neither attacked the other as both went after my unfortunate protagonist. If Lickers hunt by sound then why do they ignore the Tyrant?? The Alien would ignore the Working Joes in Alien Isolation presumably because they were not alive, still, there were occasions when Joes that had been ripped apart, presumably by the Alien could be seen so perhaps the Alien had ripped apart the first few it encountered, realised they were not the threat so ignored them after that. The Lickers and the Tyrant just ignore one another and it is a pity because it would have added an extra level to the game if you could lure the Tyrant into areas where there were Lickers and leave the two to fight whilst you scarpered in the opposite direction.
What I find strangest about the Tyrant though is the way it always seems to know where you are. Going back to the Alien Isolation example the Alien was actively hunting you down, if doors were opening and closing it would investigate. It would follow after the sounds of footsteps, and most importantly there wasn’t really anywhere you could go to truly escape it. In RE2 there are several locations that the Tyrant cannot enter, save rooms for one, the S.T.A.R.S office for another, and so you are perfectly safe if you are in one of those locations. But the Tyrant won’t hang around outside a safe room waiting for you to emerge, it will wander off. Now what I don’t understand is how it knows that you’ve left your safe haven behind and have gone somewhere it can get you. Unlike the Lickers which hunt using sound there is no explanation for how the Tyrant can find you every time other than the game knows where you are so the Tyrant does too. Basically, the only way that the Tyrant could keep finding you is if it knows exactly what your objectives are as you complete them and get new ones. It knows that you need to move the shelves in the library to create a bridge to get to the clock tower, then it knows that once you have the electrical parts you are going to be returning to the jails (as Leon) and it also knows that you have left the Police Station behind to travel to Umbrella’s underground lab. The only explanation I could come up with for how it is always able to find you is...you’re playing a video game. The Tyrant can find you because the game knows where you are and so it does too. It is as simple as that. I like context in games and I found the Tyrant to be just out of place, it’s presence didn’t enlighten the game for me, if anything it just irritated me. As I said I’m happy to explore every nook and cranny to find secrets, a game mechanic that prevents me doing that is not one I am going to enjoy.
Plus in Claire’s campaign the Tyrant is killed by something worse, in Leon’s story is running parallel to hers then why does it die when playing as her, but doesn’t die when you are playing as Leon??
I just don’t really get how the two stories are running alongside each other when key events like the Tyrant being killed happen in Claire’s story but it is continuing to follow Leon to the end. Is there more than one Tyrant?? Also how come we have certain boss fights being done in the same way, in the same locations as they were in each story, wouldn’t it have made more sense if Leon and Claire encountered these bosses in different locations and in different stages of mutation??
Graphically the game looks very impressive with a suitable amount of blood and guts on display. If Leon or Claire gets overwhelmed by the zombies you do have to endure the sight of them having their flesh ripped off as a zombie bites into them as they scream in obvious agony. The lip syncing though seemed off to me with Claire’s mouth generally moving a fraction before the words escape them which was a little distracting during her cut scenes.
The version of the game that I have is the Deluxe Edition which contained various new outfits for Leon and Claire, plus a gun that I don’t think you unlock till later, it’s called the Albert something-or-other which appears to be like the Albert 01 from Resident Evil VII which unlocks after you complete the game for the first time. It packs way more of a punch than your regular pistol but takes the same ammo, and I’m pretty sure that the Albert gun in RE2 is the same. It can’t be upgraded but gives you a bit more firepower. As the Deluxe Edition was on sale and reduced by around £20 I bought it (after my recent misadventure with hacking I have decided it will be safer to just buy stuff for a while), and in the PS Store you could get all the unlocks for something like £3 so I thought fuck it and got those too. I arrived at the game’s first item box to discover that I have access to a Mini-gun, Rocket Launcher, Machine Gun, Knife that won’t ever break, as well as a pistol and all of these weapons have unlimited ammo. I looked it up and apparently the criteria a player would need to go through to unlock these basically means that they wouldn’t need them because they are that good at the game already. We’re talking Hardcore runs under a certain time, and without using too many items or saving very often. Personally I don’t mind a challenge and happily used the Hand Canon in Dead Space 3 after playing Classic Mode to unlock it which only allowed you to make classic weapons and locked the difficulty onto Hard. I am a decent enough gamer but I knew though that I would never be able to complete the criteria necessary to unlock these weapons but as I had actually paid real money for them, then I should use them
This was a question that I pondered for a short time. Playing the game with a mini-gun that could tear through zombie and lickers alike without any difficulty would be awesome but it would also remove any challenge from the game. Just for fun I ran around for a bit just wrecking the monsters in the game and it made me laugh. I remembered back when I got the Hand Canon in DS3 I set the difficulty to Impossible just to give myself a challenge because the enemies were pathetic being shredded almost instantly by such an overpowered weapon. By that point though I had probably played the game through two-three-maybe even four times so basically knew it inside out and back to front. However, playing Resident Evil 2 was a first for me, yes I watched others playing it, but that is still different to playing it yourself and in truth I didn’t want to ruin the experience by making it too easy. As a result all of the unlocked weapons sat in the Item Box for my first playthrough as Leon and my 2nd as Claire so I could play the game as it was intended.
...But...I did choose to use those weapons when I came to do my 3rd playthrough with Claire first and am now on my 4th run as Leon. They made the game way easier, but it could still be challenging in places so it wasn’t exactly like playing on God-mode or anything. I can’t say that much seemed to be different this way around, but I haven’t finished Leon’s run yet so it might be different later. I didn’t get bored or feel too overpowered using them so did not feel the need to put them back into the storage boxes.
In summary Resident Evil 2 is a fun survival horror game and utilises the same engine that brought Resident Evil VII to life. It has its problems, mainly the Tyrant being annoying, still generally I have had a lot of fun playing it so obviously it gets a Thumbs Up. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am a firm Resident Evil fan now but it has perhaps made it more likely that I will play the Remake of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4 both of which have been sitting ignored in my PS4’s Library for quite a while.
9/10 – Anything less than a nine felt wrong and so that is the score I gave it. If you are like me and enjoyed Resident Evil VII then this game features some of the same survival horror elements that game did. If you are simply new to the Resident Evil franchise then this as good a place to start as any, yes you might not know exactly what is going on, but the game play is so fun that by the end, like me, I doubt you’ll care.