As I began Resident Evil 2: Remake, I had no idea what to expect. I had never played a Resident Evil game before and as such, had no idea if I should have been scared, excited, pumped up, or hesitant. I am happy to report that after playing the game, players will experience ALL of the feelings previously stated. Not to mention, the graphics, story, and character building were all superb.
RE2 surprised me right off the bat as it gave me not one, but TWO campaigns to play. The two main protagonists, Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, both have their own campaigns with unique dialogue and weapons. I played through Leon’s story first with Claire’s second, but both campaigns kept me thoroughly engaged in the beautiful Raccoon City.
No matter which campaign you choose, the game begins with a brief cutscene, which helps players to understand the what, where, and hows about the horrific T-Virus breakout. Leon and Claire meet at a rural gas station, but quickly befriend each other when the infected start swarming the station. To my surprise, they do not stick together for the campaigns as I had suspected, instead splitting off quite drastically near the beginning of the game. Throughout the game, they occasionally meet, but not for long as the grotesque infected zombies soon split them up once again.
I will admit, the first half of the game does not really have an emphasis on story, though some of the later parts give a hearty supply of lore that I thoroughly enjoyed. Both campaigns cover roughly the same areas, though the 3-4 major areas in the game are vastly different, with a ton of different rooms to explore and loot. Each campaign took me around 7-8 hours, none of which I spent bored or confused.
On top all this, the main antagonist amid all of the zombies is Mr. X: a giant, muscular, mutated abomination, known as a Tyrant, with a sole goal to kill Claire and Leon. Mr. X provides an extremely intimidating presence throughout the early areas, with a wet-yourself scariness in the later parts. While Mr. X is scary at times, for the most part he just seems (and looks) like a mild threat who just wants to give you a warm—but deadly—hug.
As previously mentioned, I had never played a Resident Evil game before this. However, I was deeply engaged in the combat, as well as the puzzle solving.
Depending on your difficulty level, ammo and other items become scarcer, making the game much more stressful as you decide to shoot enemies or risk damage and run past them. Throughout the game, Leon and Claire both develop a small arsenal of destruction to use on the hordes of zombies they encounter. Not only does each new weapon make you feel even more powerful than before, you also need to manage a new, powerful ammo type in your inventory.
Another great gameplay design is the inventory system. Certain items may take up multiple squares, but players can move around items to maximize storage. This plays an extremely small part in the game but was still enough for me to notice. Just when you feel like you are not going to have enough inventory space for a new item—bam—a new hip-pouch, adding a few more slots to your inventory.
Probably one of the most controversial parts of this game and games in general is backtracking. Backtracking, or the act of going back to past areas to unlock or find something, is quite frequent in the game, especially in the earlier areas. I can’t be entirely partial to this concept, as Metroid-Vanias are some of my favorite games of all time. However, I felt the backtracking to be incredibly fun, especially when the zombies you just killed in there come back to life for you to kill all over again. Being locked out of an area made me disappointed because I was really invested in the area I was currently exploring, forcing me to go to another area. However, I was overjoyed when finding a new key or item to help unlock the previous area even farther. This gameplay loop, mixed with the frequent mutants and zombies, really helped to flesh out the world, keeping me playing for hours on end.
One of the first things I noticed even on the opening cutscene was how good the game looked. Granted, it was one of the first AAA games I had played on my first PC, but it still blew me away from my old PS4 experiences. For scale, I have a Ryzen 5 3600 paired with a Nvidia GeForce 1660 Super. This allowed me to hit near Ultra graphics, but no further due to the VRAM constraints. On the bright side, the game ran at 100-120 fps consistently since it was not being pushed to its absolute limits.
A major part of RE2 is how dark the game is. I know the game is meant to be eerie and scary, but in my already dim-light room I felt as if I needed a flashlight to play. I’m currently torn as to if this was a good thing or not, seeing as it immersed me much more, but at the same time, I could hardly see in the darker areas of the game. For all I know, I had my brightness too low, though I felt pretty comfortable in the better lit areas.
Generally, all graphics were fantastic while playing, though some of the lighting and reflection effects blew me away. While I didn’t have Ray-Tracing on, I thought the puddles of water—and blood—looked extremely realistic. Lighting as previously mentioned, felt realistic, but made me uncomfortable at times, which I suppose was Capcom’s goal the whole time. Characters also looked extremely life-like, with people watching me thinking I was watching a movie at first.
All in all, Resident Evil 2: Remake showed me the power of PC Gaming, and excited me for whatever Resident Evil 3: Remake would hold. After completing Leon’s story for the first time, I was so amazed by the graphics and gameplay that I immediately started Claire’s story. I highly encourage anyone interested in adventure, zombie, or even puzzle games to give this game a go, especially since it goes on sale for about $15-20! While I don’t plan on coming back to the game for at least a year, I am 100% satisfied with my purchase, as well as the time I spent with the game.