How 'Resident Evil 2' Remake Appeals to Newcomers and Veterans Alike

Resident Evil 2-Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Capcom
Having survived their time in the Raccoon City Police Department, Heat Vision's Richard Newby and Patrick Shanley discuss the remake's appeal and how it lives up to the original, as well as the biggest scares and surprises from Capcom's latest.

Capcom has returned to Raccoon City with its remake of 1998's smash hit survival horror game Resident Evil 2.

Already receiving glowing reviews, the remake has fans excited to step back in the shoes of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield to battle hordes of infected zombies and terrifying creatures hellbent on evisceration.  

Having survived their time in the Raccoon City Police Department, Heat Vision's Richard Newby and Patrick Shanley discuss the remake's appeal and how it lives up to the original, as well as the biggest scares and surprises from Capcom's latest below.

Richard Newby: I was scared before I even started playing. That’s one of the great things about the Resident Evil games, no matter how many you’ve played you always feel unprepared for the next one. And I knew since this remake was utilizing the RE Engine built for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard that Resident Evil 2 there was going be plenty of horror waiting in shadowy corners for me.

Patrick Shanley: Let me preface all my reactions to this game by stating: I am an enormous coward. That said, even if I was made of sterner stuff, this game would still rattle me. The sound design, the updated aesthetics where everything is just dripping with, well, evil ... honestly, this game’s mood is top-notch and it kicks in with a bang (on both character play-throughs). I had never played the original myself, but remember watching my older brother sink some hours into it and giving myself nightmares in the process. It’s astonishing how Capcom was able to update the experience to give me just as cold of a spine over 20 years later.

Newby: I too had not played the original Resident Evil 2 (I never owned the original PlayStation), though I remember watching friends play. Still, I had enough familiarity with the series to appreciate how the game has been updated. Leon is my favorite character in the Resident Evil series, partly because Resident Evil 4 was the first installment I played, so I chose him instead of Claire for my first play-through. And I played on “Standard” difficulty, because I sincerely doubted my ability to get through it on “Hardcore” on a first go round. Plus, I didn’t want to deal with ink cartridges for saves.

Shanley: It’s funny, I actually had the exact same process. RE4 was my entree into the franchise and, as a result, Leon was sort of my go-to whenever I thought Resident Evil (well, him and Milla Jovovich, obviously). Still, what I really loved about this game is that you got to see the story play out through different characters and (unlike you, Richard) I actually started on the “Assisted” mode with Leon (I said I was a coward …) and then kicked it up a notch for Claire’s play-through to “Standard.” Anyone who defeats this game on “Hardcore” has my utmost respect. In your opinion, how did the two experiences stack up between Leon and Claire’s play-throughs? Did you have a preferred experience?

Newby: Well my play-through the second time, with Claire, was definitely easier and shorter because I didn’t have to spend as much time on the puzzles and figuring out where to go next. But one of the aspects I appreciated is that Leon and Claire’s stories take different directions. Resident Evil 2 has the kind of replay value you don’t normally get out of survival horror games. And there are alternate scenes in a kind of “New Game Plus” mode when you replay as Leon or Claire for the second time. Ultimately, I think I preferred the experience of playing as Leon because it was my first and everything was terrifying, but really you can’t go wrong with either character. I’ll admit though, I definitely made a few poor inventory decisions early on with Leon that I didn’t repeat with Claire.

Shanley: I’m glad you brought up replay value, which is funny considering this is a remake, but the game’s length really does help with that. This isn’t as long of a game as more recent Resident Evils, in terms of its narrative, but it manages to be engaging throughout on both separate play-throughs and, furthermore, as you noted, it makes you feel more comfortable the second time through. It’s fun to feel yourself becoming more comfortable in a game that was so unsettling at first and I think that’s the real fun of the game, feeling like a badass in the worst scenario imaginable.

Newby: Another cool thing that I took advantage of on the replay was which weapon I favored. I’d say most of the ammo you get comes from gunpowder, and having to combine two types to form different ammo and amounts. Certain weapons are definitely more efficient for defeating certain enemies than others. And headshots with the default Matilda don’t often put the zombies down for good. There were definitely a few weapons I couldn’t manage to grab (still haven’t gotten the submachine gun), so I never had to make any really tough choices in terms of my inventory.

Shanley: One thing that has always gotten me with the Resident Evil series is the handling of my inventory. I am a huge Final Fantasy fan and grew up on that franchise and similar JRPGs, so delving into the survival horror genre (particularly one that really emphasizes the “survival” aspect, like the RE series) was a difficult adjustment for me when I was younger. The amount of stress being low on ammo caused me in this game can’t be overstated. Seriously, if you hooked me up to an EKG I’m sure I spiked a few times. Also, the Tyrant in this game is perhaps the most ominous enemy type in recent memory. Literally, just the sound of his footsteps would give me anxiety. It’s such a great idea from a game development standpoint to put a tank enemy into such narrow, constrictive levels and the way the game forces you to be on your toes whenever he appears is one of the high points of the experience. At least, it is if you like sweating bullets.

Newby: I was actually pretty confident starting out in the police station. The statue puzzle wasn’t too difficult and I mostly managed to keep my distance from zombies. Don’t get me wrong, the situation was still tense as hell but I felt like I was making my way through pretty quickly. Then came the Lickers. And then came the Tyrant. Let’s just say these early encounters, along with revived zombies cornering me, took a toll on my supplies. It’s a bit surprising how much herb and ammo you get early on. I made the mistake of thinking the rest of the game would be like this. I was wrong, and spent the vast majority of the game hobbling along with my health in a state of caution, and was down to three bullets at several points. There was a lot of restarting from previous checkpoints for me. The game definitely rewards you for making smart use of limited resources, giving you that accomplished feeling by the end. And speaking of the end, there’s a post-credit scene that makes me very excited about what Capcom may be planning to do next with Resident Evil.

Shanley: Same. What’s so great about the RE franchise is that it’s both the grandfather of survival horror in many ways and yet still remains one of those franchises that you can’t wait to see what will come next. Biohazard was such a crazy game and felt so different from something like Resident Evil 6. Even when they look to the past, with this remake of RE2, Capcom delivers something new and fresh. It’s a testament to the brand that they can continue to wring out so many scares from a series that is approaching 25 years old.

Resident Evil 2 is available Friday.