Resident Evil 2

Posted by Diego Souza.
First posted on 03 February 2000. Last updated on 01 March 2013.
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Resident Evil 2
Mayhem and destruction run rampant throughout the city.
Resident Evil 2
The inventory interface definitely shows its console origin.
Resident Evil 2
You can play as Claire or Leon for the main character.
Resident Evil 2
Leon must survive through the madness of Raccoon City.
Resident Evil 2
Die, zombies!

Originally titled Bio Hazard in Japan, Resident Evil has astonished Sony PlayStation gamers with its combination of horror, action, and adventure. The game quickly rises to be among the most popular console titles ever released. This success has convinced Capcom to bring the Resident Evil phenomenon to the PC. Resident Evil 2 continues the story of the evil experiments conducted by the Umbrella Corporation, a biochemical company responsible for creating the virus which turns poor citizens into bloodthirsty zombies.

After the destruction of the mansion's lab in Resident Evil, the unscrupulous Umbrella Corporation has moved to Raccoon City. Thanks to the corporation, there are more jobs and everyone appears happy to live there, at least until the G-virus broke loose, transforming almost all the people in the city into living dead flesh eaters. As disaster strikes throughout the city, rookie cop Leon arrives in town for his first day on the job. Little does he know the city has been infested with zombies. What seems as a good work opportunity now turns out to be an endless nightmare of survival. Together with Claire, who is trying to find her brother Chris (one of the S.T.A.R.S. member who helped in the lab's destruction in Resident Evil), Leon must discover a way out from the madness of Raccoon City.

In Resident Evil 2, you play as Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield. The game comes on a separate disc for each character. Installation is simple and trouble free, though the game takes up a lot amount of space in the hard disk (300MB required). The game is first released in the United Kingdom under the label Resident Evil 2. This release includes both the original European and Japanese versions. In North America, an expanded version of the game is released under the label Resident Evil 2: Platinum.

The graphics in Resident Evil 2 are definitely topnotch and far better than its predecessor, especially when 3D acceleration is enabled. Both characters and zombies are modeled in high resolution and look really great with an appropriate 3D card installed. If you think the 2D backgrounds in the Resident Evil look good, then prepare to be amazed by this sequel! Resident Evil 2 improves over the original by adding numerous details to everywhere you look. Car wrecks, broken glass, and all sorts of junks are scattered around Raccoon City, imparting a look of the city's complete destruction. However, some of the backgrounds may look very grainy depending on the hardware used. Dynamic cinematic camera angles contribute to the atmosphere of suspense, but sometimes they can prevent you from seeing where the zombies are until they already attack! Cut scenes are adequately distributed throughout the course of the game, helping to convey the many subplots involving the characters' personal dramas as well as the Umbrella Corporation's devious plans.

The audio in this game is a mixed bag. On the upside, a most enjoyable element of this title is its soundtrack. The music fits properly to each scene, with creepy piano tunes setting the ambience of danger and fear. On the downside, I cannot help but wonder why Capcom has not hired better actors to provide the voiceovers. Although the voice acting is a step better than Resident Evil, the overall acting still has a B movie feel. The cheesy dialogs do not help either.

Depending on which character you select, there are some unique puzzles to solve and rooms to explore. As Leon you eventually control Ada Wong, a mysterious woman whose true intentions are obscure. As Claire, you get to control a 12 year old girl named Sherry Birkin. These 4 different scenarios, each with different enemies and mission goals, add lots of replayability to the game. Some of the actions taken while playing the first scenario actually influence you see when playing the game for the second time.

Unfortunately, the puzzles are far too easy, even for novice players. The puzzles usually involve fitting objects into empty slots of corresponding shapes. There are also a few mechanical puzzles to figure out, though some of them seem to be a little out of place in a police station. The game's real emphasis is on action rather than adventure, and as such most of the time you find yourself shooting rather than thinking.

The character control in this sequel remains the same as the original. To blast a zombie, press and hold the aim button, then press the fire button. You cannot walk while aiming, but you can raise or lower your weapon's direction and move the character 360° around. The control is slightly confusing at first, notably when using the keyboard instead of a joystick.

The origin of Resident Evil 2 as a console game is apparent and PC users may have a hard time getting used to the save system—you cannot save anytime, the number of saves is limited, and a special item is required to activate the save option (an ink ribbon must be used on a typewriter). While this feature is part of the game's design and intensify the player's fear of death, it surely gets on my nerves when I have to replay large parts of the game every time my character dies, since there are only limited ink ribbons available for use after completing each key action sequence.

Even more annoying is the very limited space in the inventory (only 6 items at a time). Often the player has to make all the way back to the storage boxes to drop off the unneeded items. Rather, the player should be able to drop these items on the floor and get them back later on. At least the game tells you when an item is useless and can be discarded immediately. Eventually, you find a backpack which adds two more storage spaces. The catch is that if you get the backpack in the first scenario, it is not going to be available for the second.

As a bonus, the PC version has an "Extreme Battle" mode with randomly placed zombies, a Windows desktop theme, a screensaver, and a "Gallery Mode" to view concept art, 3D models, and movies.

The Resident Evil series is the pinnacle in horror gaming. As with the original, this sequel is a game to be played with the lights off and certainly not for the faint of heart. At the positive end, the 4 scenarios add lots of replay values, with different puzzles and places to unravel and enemies from different locations. The background artworks have improved since the first installment of the series. There is a wider selection of new weapons, plus an entire new cast of zombies. The "Extreme Battle" mode, with randomly placed enemies, is an interesting challenge. At the negative end, the puzzles in RE2 are just so easy that no living soul should have to think twice before solving them. The voice acting is mostly bad and sometimes terrible. The inventory space is inadequate, making the inevitable need to frequently visit the storage boxes to drop off or pick up items. Awkward camera angles may obstruct the player from seeing what peril lies beneath a room. Some of the 2D backgrounds look too grainy. The save system may annoy most PC users.

Resident Evil 2 is a frightening game that keeps players on the edge of their seats. It succeeds as an action game but fails to deliver challenging puzzles, so it is not recommended for adventure purists. Still, if you are looking for a terrorizing experience packed with lots of action and intense atmosphere, this game is definitely what you are looking for.

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