In the midst of our 1998 20th anniversary celebration, an entire month dedicated to one of the best years in all of gaming, I surprised everyone by slipping Resident Evil 2 back into the middle of my series run. I had originally planned on skipping it because I had recently played the game as part of a mini Project M against Brad but as I delved deeper into this run and my anticipation of the remake heightened, I decided it would be a crime to skip it. This is the game that convinced me that I NEEDED a Playstation afterall, and for all intents and purposes, it changed my gaming life forever. Not only did I play the game for the nth-teen time, I blew through both scenarios (Claire A / Leon B) in a single day! The challenge seemed daunting at first but i’m happy to report that the game is just as engrossing and fun to play as it’s always been. So much so that the 8+ hours that it took to complete flew by.
Coming right off the heels of Resident Evil Remake and Resident Evil 0, it felt a bit odd traveling back in time to play a game that very obviously predates those games. Technically speaking, this was my first true taste of classic Resident Evil in this series run but it just reinforced exactly why I love this style of game. Resident Evil 2 exemplifies every aspect of the genre that I consider timeless. The elements that I love from classic Resident Evil are at their best in this game and their influence can be seen in just about every entry in the franchise including those that deviate wildly from the norm. Resident Evil 7 rose so high on my Resident Evil ranking because of how seamlessly it blends modern controls and presentation with the the beautifully crafted level design, pacing, and exploration elements of a classic like Resident Evil 2.
Truth be told, I played this game numerous times in the 90’s and early 2000’s but this was my first time playing both scenarios back to back. It was an eye opening experience seeing exactly how neatly the scenarios are woven together. While there may be a few obvious narrative inconsistencies that are hard to ignore, the end result is undeniably impressive. That moment when you realize you can choose between picking up a powerful gun or leaving it in a locker for Leon in Scenario B is kind of mindblowing (and excruciating for the indecisive). Sadly, those moments are few and far between but the fact that they exist at all demonstrates how much effort went into iterating and innovating on the original formula. I personally hope to see some more of these cost and effect elements make it into the remake but Capcom is being tight lipped about the actual structure of the game beyond just saying that Leon and Claire will both be playable. One way or the other, it’s a key component to what made Resident Evil 2 a magical experience so it will have to translate into the remake in some form.
At the end of the day, Resident Evil 2 will always hold a special place in my heart. The Racoon City Police Department is one of those video game settings that I will always consider iconic thanks to it’s remarkable layout and moody soundtrack. It mixed up the original formula in some exciting ways thanks to its dual protagonists and scenarios while telling a straight-forward zombie story that any fan of the genre should be able to appreciate. I’m hoping that the upcoming remake is able to modernize this genre classic without sacrificing what made it so special. If we’re lucky, it will be handled with as much love and care as the remake of the original Resident Evil and we’ll end up with another classic. We’ll find out for sure in January when this series run comes to an end. In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me going forward since there are so many more chapters in this saga that I still have to get through.
Next Up: I just finished up my playthrough of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and will be sharing my thoughts on that soon. Starting next Monday night (October 1), I will be starting up Resident Evil: Code Veronica which debuted on the Dreamcast in 2000. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on Resident Evil 2 in the comments below! I will continue to respond to all comments related to this series run!