Review: Resident Evil 2
Posted 02 Jul 2003 at 04:20 by Bas Oosterveld
Summertime in the game industry is a time when game publishers keep a low profile. Gamers will trade their console for a sunny vacation, resulting in few game sales, thus companies save their releases for better times. Capcom thought that this was a good moment to release two older episodes of their very successful Resident Evil franchise, namely Resident Evil 2 and 3, for the Gamecube. Resident Evil 2, a 5 year old game and originally released for the Playstation, has made his entrance on the Gamecube. Although we can't question the commitment of Capcom, have they succeeded in this almost impervious task?
You have to be honest here, how much upgrade would you really except from a collector's item which wasn't meant to break sales records in the first place. Some scenes, like the opening scene tells you that there has been some work done to make it smooth and slick. But overall, the graphics have lost their edge, although back in 1998, visuals of this sort were considered top class. My guess is that they ported the already poorly upgraded Dreamcast version of Resident Evil 2 and left the graphics as they were, because there are many flaws on this area.Blocky fire and blood effects, pixelated backgrounds, low polygonal character models, fluctuating framerates. In brief, the graphics leave a lot to be desired.
The dialogue is cheesy and very B-movie type of sorts. If this was their purpose, they have done a good job. Every horror movie quote and chant has been used to tell the story and the predictability can be spotted a mile away.
The soundtrack, if you could speak as such, is eerie and silent, resulting in a good tension. The same goes for the special effects. The screams, the grunts, the footsteps, all standard tricks for a horror movie, still work in Resident Evil 2.
The game itself holds up after all these years. Whether it's the little riddles and puzzles, the cheesy storyline or the moaning decaying zombies, Resident Evil 2 still has its appeal. You play the role of Leon Kennedy, a rookie police officer or/and Claire Redfield, sister of Chris Redfield, one of the main characters of the original first Resident Evil. Due to an accident with the so called G-virus, an epidemic has hit the city of Racoon. Arriving in Racoon on the first day of his job, Leon discovers things aren't exactly the way they should be. Claire has headed to Racoon on a desperate search for her lost brother. By a twist of fate they run into each other. Both determined to found out what's going on, they'll have to find their way through the cursed city by hacking zombies, solve puzzles, and find keys and other objects. You know the drill.
A nice feature is the opportunity to play with 2 other characters in certain parts of the game, namely the sexy and mysterious Ada Wong and you can take control over a spoiled little brat that goes by the name of Sherry Birkin. These extra characters will bring some refreshment in the game, although their parts are short and their actions pretty similar to your main characters.
Another good feature is the save mode. You can only save on typewriters, which are available on carefully calculated locations, with ink ribbons. The ribbons can be found usually near typewriters, and aren't infinite. In other words, don't save too much or you'll run out of stock. Also around the typewriters there are certain 'magical' chests, which allow you to store found items. The chests are important, because you can only carry up to 8 items with you.
The difficulty of Resident Evil 2 can be set to normal and easy. There is also a arrange mode, which is at rookie level. This mode gives you infinite ammo for you machine guns, making your task a whole lot easier. The puzzles are of a considerable difficulty, and with the exception of the normal mode, the zombies don't put up much of a fight. The same thing can be said on the few, scarce bosses throughout the game, especially if you know what to do. The only predicament with enemies is whether you want to spill your precious ammo on them, because ammunition is your saviour.
Using the left or right on your controller stick allows your character to turn and set a direction, followed by the back- or forward to move your character in that direction. This type of movement is not uncommon in games, but not very intuitive either. Sure, your main character can walk backwards, but in action type of games, and Resident Evil 2 has his share of action, you need a lot more agility to get away from your foes. And because you need to take two actions before you move, it is frustrating to say the least. The camera standpoints don't give much support either; you cannot manually change them, which is definitely a necessity. Moving objects for instance can be a complete struggle, added up the sloppy, robotic controls. Also, the lack of a target visor is causing some annoyance, half of the time you cannot really tell where you're aiming at and you'll have to rely on the blood that spills out of your enemies.
Already released on the N64, Dreamcast and of course the Playstation, most Cube owners probably have played this game to the ground. For those who never played a Resident Evil game, and appreciate the gameplay, there is enough to fulfil your needs. The multiple storylines could convince you to play again after you finished one. With the completion of a story, various things can be unlocked. In addition to an alternative mode for Leon and Claire there is a secret character that you can unlock and there is also a 4th survivor mode. And although the storylines remain similar, it still is appealing to try and finish them.
The passing of time has paid its toll on this game, and Capcom did little to nothing to overcome this aging. The gameplay remains solid, but I don't think its enough to really enjoy the game, there are just too many shortcomings.
If you're truly a fan, add Resident Evil 2 to your collection, just for the have. If the game was a lot cheaper, you could take the chance of buying it. Keep your money in your pocket otherwise.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Rather a collector's item more than it is a game.