2019 heralded the launch of the first official remake of Resident Evil 2. Three years ago to the day we were treated to what was unofficially dubbed the ‘Resident Evil 2 Remake’. Every re-release prior was basically a port of the original title or the upscaled GameCube version. There was nothing new to be had a no accommodations for modern gaming sensibilities. Resident Evil 2 (2019) changed all that. And with it set a standard that’s undoubtedly going to be hard to follow for quite some time.
Indeed, 2020’s Resident Evil 3 remake fell somewhat short. While perhaps unfairly criticised for its duration, Resident Evil 3 (2020) was still a very good game. However, little of what it did was as impactful as its predecessor. Much in the same fashion as the original 1990s releases: while trying to replicate the formula, Resident Evil 3 (2020) lost the essence that made Resident Evil 2 (2019) groundbreaking.
My personal experience with Resident Evil 2 (2019) was to play through the campaign as Leon on Standard difficulty at release. Then, knowing my personal gaming agenda was at breaking point and having enjoyed my first playthrough so much, I decided not to player through the ‘2nd Run’, or ‘B’ campaign as Claire. Instead, I put it aside to wait for the day when I could still remember the mechanics, but that the puzzle system and the layout of the environment would be less familiar. Turns out I timed this just right.
Resident Evil 2 Remake Replayed
The B campaign missed some story beats for the sake of getting into the action quicker. Happily, I could remember enough of this that the opening still made sense but didn’t drag on. Within 15 minutes of beginning this fresh playthrough I was knee-deep in zombie swatting, exploration and medallion puzzles. It was a gripping experience – so much so that I played through the entire campaign in one sitting.
The modernisation of Resident Evil 2 (2019) meant that I could transition from all the titles I’d been playing recently – Halo Infinite, Serious Sam 4, The Gunk, Psychonauts 2 and more – with relative ease. The input functioned exactly as I expected. There was no issue with having to revert to the ‘90s ‘tank control’ system, and the pacing of the campaign as it flittered between puzzling, combat and plot development was perfectly pitched.
Though Mr. X was less pervasive on this second runthrough than I remember him being during my first – I genuinely only experience two close encounters before he was removed from play – those footsteps creeping closer still hastened my thought processing and interpretation into action. Furthermore, I could find myself pacing my item collecting to be less about safety and more about progression. Just one green herb? That’s plenty – with the knowledge that the task at hand would have a solution that’s always within reach. Some might argue that this takes away the element of ‘survival’ in a title that’s supposed to be a ‘survival horror’ experience. For me it simply encouraged me to continue no matter what odds I was facing.
This, arguably, is where many of the more recent Resident Evil titles have failed. Resident Evil 4 may have been punishing at times, but it always felt fair. Contrarily, Resident Evil 6 regularly mistook challenge for swarms of enemies. Resident Evil 2 (2019) has none of these issues.
What Comes Next for Retro Resident Evil?
While the title seemed reluctant to experiment – no co-op gameplay, no multiplayer (for better or worse!) and no Mercenaries Mode – it could be said that being the first modernisation of the original trilogy since the GameCube’s remake of the first Resident Evil title was experimentation enough. With Resident Evil 3 (2020) following and a rumoured remake of Resident Evil 4 already on the way, one must question which title will get the modern remake overhaul next? Resident Evil: Code Veronica? Resident Evil 0? Would a second remake of the original Resident Evil be a remake too far?