Ever since the Resident Evil remake released in 2002 for the GameCube, it seemed like just a matter of time until Capcom gave Resident Evil 2 a similar treatment. 17 years and countless fan petitions later, and Capcom has finally delivered a full-fledged Resident Evil 2 remake that brings the survival-horror classic to modern consoles and stands on its own as one of the best horror games of an entire generation.
Resident Evil 2 is scary, and in an effective way that few other games manage to achieve. The game is masterful in the way it fills players with dread, building anxiety with brilliant sound design, cleverly placed jump scares, and overwhelming darkness. Players spend most of the game fumbling through the dark, often running low on supplies and constantly having to deal with a variety of undead horrors like zombies, lickers, and more. Even standard zombies are a threat this time around, making every encounter tense and meaningful.
Out of all the freaky monsters in Resident Evil 2, the scariest is by far the Mr. X tyrant. Mr. X's appearance in the original Resident Evil 2 earned him a frightful reputation, but in the remake, he's a true force to be reckoned with. Whenever he appears, Mr. X relentlessly stalks players, following them room to room like a slasher movie villain. With Mr. X breathing down their neck, Resident Evil 2 players will realize that the horror movie trope of people tripping or making mistakes when running away from the villain isn't as outlandish as it seems. Players will fumble with their inventory as they try to quickly solve puzzles before Mr. X arrives, or they may make a wrong turn and end up at a dead-end, leaving them no choice but to confront the hulking monstrosity head-on.
If players manage to successfully escape from Mr. X, his presence is still felt. His heavy footsteps can be heard as he searches for the player, and making too much sound will draw him closer. The excellent sound design truly shines in these moments, as players rely on their ears to help them avoid more confrontations with Mr. X.
Resident Evil 2's scare factor alone makes it an easy recommendation to horror fans, but the game is great for other reasons. It plays like a classic survival-horror game, with plenty of exploration, puzzle solving, and ammo conversation, but without the frustrating tank controls. The Resident Evil 4-style over-the-shoulder camera is a great choice, and goes a long way in helping the combat feel modernized as well.
Combat is something Resident Evil 2 players are better off avoiding due to how genuinely scarce ammo is, but of course, there are times when they will be forced to shoot some zombies. And the shooting in Resident Evil 2 is great, allowing players to move and shoot if they wish, but rewarding them when they stay rooted to the spot by offering more precise shots. The close quarters situations players often find themselves in means that the combat is also frantic as well, as players try to quickly lineup a headshot before any zombies can take a bite out of them.
As players shoot zombies, chunks of rotting flesh will fly off their face in a realistic manner. The zombies look frighteningly lifelike, and the high level of detail on the other monsters is impressive as well. Overall, Resident Evil 2 is just a fantastic-looking game from top to bottom, and in our time with it, we didn't encounter even the most minor of graphical glitch or hiccup.
From its jaw-dropping visuals to its tight controls and high scare factor, Resident Evil 2 is very nearly the perfect horror game. However, there are some things that hold it back. The sewer area, which yes, retains the classic alligator boss fight from the original game, brings the Resident Evil 2's momentum to a screeching halt. Navigating the sewers is a pain, as it has a confusing layout and the characters seem to move slower in the murky water. The main puzzle in the sewers also requires a lot of backtracking, and it's just less interesting than the Raccoon City police station in general.
The worst part about the sewers in Resident Evil 2 are the G-Virus monsters that lurk beneath the sewer waters. These creatures are often blocking the path forward in a way that makes it virtually impossible to actually move around them, instead forcing players to fight them head-on every time. This goes against the rest of the game, where players usually have a number of options whenever they come across enemies.
If players try to get around these things, they'll almost always get grabbed and have poison spit in their face. The poison status ailment isn't even all that threatening in Resident Evil 2, but it does make characters stop every few feet and start having coughing fits. As one might imagine, this makes getting from point A to point B rather annoying, especially if there are no blue herbs readily available to heal the poison. Combine this with the sewer already being annoying to navigate and the whole place quickly becomes a drag. These encounters aren't scary, and players will simply dread having to return to the sewer in subsequent playthroughs.
The sewers are a big blemish on an otherwise great game, but the area's impact is felt worse in Resident Evil 2 than perhaps it would in other games. That's because Resident Evil 2 is built very much for players to go through it multiple times to see all the story content, get the S rank, and more, meaning players have to relive their time in the sewers beneath Raccoon City every time they decide to play through the game again.
Speaking of Resident Evil 2's replayability, some may feel a bit misled by the notion that the game has multiple campaigns as Capcom has advertised. While it's technically true, Leon and Claire both explore mostly the same areas, and so playing their extra scenarios just feels like going through the same motions again. Of course, the story beats are different and there are some important gameplay differences between the two of them, but it still feels like claiming the game has different campaigns is a little disingenuous.
Otherwise, Resident Evil 2's replay value is impressive. The game can be beaten in about six hours on an initial playthrough, but fans will be tempted to go back through the other scenarios to see more of the story and unlock the true ending. There's also achievements and trophies to unlock, in addition to a bonus game mode called The 4th Survivor that stars Umbrella operative HUNK as the playable character.
The 4th Survivor game mode returns from the original Resident Evil 2, but it's not the only piece of bonus content that fans can look forward to reliving in the remake. Tofu Mode returns as well, and is just as ridiculous as fans remember from the original game. These bonus modes give players extra incentive to fully complete the game, and do their own part in adding replay value to the overall experience.
In the future, Resident Evil 2 will have even more rotting meat on its bones, as Capcom has already detailed some of its post-launch plans for the title. Resident Evil 2 is getting free DLC in the form of some new costumes and a new game mode called Ghost Survivors, all of which will be free, so players are definitely getting their money's worth with this game.
Resident Evil 2 is definitely worth the price of admission, especially for horror fans or fans of the Resident Evil franchise. The game pays homage to the original release while successfully updating the experience for modern audiences. It's not perfect, but it's close, and here's hoping it inspires Capcom to remake other Resident Evil games in a similar style.
Resident Evil 2 is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PS4 code for this review.