It's been for ages one of the most anticipated games and one of the most mysterious ones as we really didn't know what to expect from it. Then, it was finally revealed at E3 2018 during the PlayStation Showcase, and we all discovered it was so much better than we were anticipating. Resident Evil 2 was and ultimately proved to be, a true remake.
At the latest and first Italian Xbox FanFest in Milan, I had a chance to give Resident Evil 2 an early play, and I really felt like I was playing an entirely brand new game based on the original RE2 tale. I was totally surprised by what I was putting my hands on, and it was one of those surprises you suddenly fall in love with and didn't know you needed in your life.
Let me explain to you why I feel this way in our Resident Evil 2 hands on.
First of all, there's a huge technological work Capcom has managed to do on Resident Evil 2. The game's amazing in terms of graphics, I've played it on Xbox One X, and it almost felt like a product on another generation of hardware. That's because of a few reasons, both from the tech as I said and from the art side of things.
As in the original game, RE2 is revolving around pretty but relatively small locations, and this is what has allowed the Japanese developer to make the game look so great. You have your view behind the protagonist, and you can see all the details around you in an unexpected vivid, gritty and photorealistic look.
I've played through the campaign of the male protagonist Leon Kennedy, and it was the same demo you've seen showcased back at E3 2018 in June. From that demo, I had the impression the title was going to have a hard time in handling the view in so small locations since it was the same we've been used in Resident Evil 4 which had bigger and outdoor environments.
Well, the good news is the camera works pretty well and you won't have anything to worry about, also because the movement is so realistic and slow that you won't really need to turn your perspective around that quickly. And, for what matters aiming, that's something so familiar you'll be required only a few minutes before you get into it.
As for the gameplay itself, you'll need three shots in the head to bring zombies down with your first gun, so you'll learn the hard way that, despite being a third person shooter, the game's still a survival horror. There will be times where it'll simply be the best solution to run away from your enemies and find safer places for you to stay.
As you run away you'll see the movements are as slow and heavy as you remembered them to be in the original Resident Evil 2, which I've found quite amusing especially in consideration of the fact that there are so few games that handle them this way. Of course, you can run, but the pace of the game doesn't really look to suggest you should do that unless you're not avoiding enemies.
All the riddles and the exploration you've sure enough fond memories of are still in place, even though they might be a bit different from what you remember as Capcom tried and changed quite a bit from the original title in order not to have you spoiled of all the things across your newest journey.
As I've already mentioned I've been playing the police station “level”, and it really was like I've had my memory of the place reconstructed the way it looked in the current game. This means that, despite all the changes the title has been through, the Japanese studio has managed to stay as loyal as possible the original matter.
In terms of visuals, the remake looks gorgeous, with a color palette going around blue and grey, dry, photorealistic, more polished in comparison with what we've seen in Resident Evil 7 which was probably aiming for a more disturbing look. Overall, RE2 seems to be even a step forward in comparison with the latest entry in the franchise, although it's basically been made more or less simultaneously.
Loyal to its nature of survival horror, the game's very dark and you'll often be required to use your electric torch. While at times you could be a bit annoyed about not having a clear view on what's in the locations – as the title is filled with riddles and things you need to find around the locations -, it's a nice feeling to have the game tasking you with manually moving the torch in spots you think could be worthy of a deeper look.
One more thing I was not expecting to deal with is the amount of violence the production is featuring, with very direct details on zombies – hanging bodies at the upper levels of the police station, deep cuts on faces, undead feeding right in front of you as you try and save poor people being attacked, and so on. So, that's probably the size of the change between RE7 and the oldest chapters: this is not psychological, the horror is the things you see in front of you and rarely a thing is hidden in the dark.
Resident Evil 2 is releasing on January 29 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.