Reasons I love the Resident Evil 2 Remake
I’ve put 20 hours into Resi2 and it has to be one of my favourite games of all time. The design choices really resonated with me. Huge spoilers ahead.
I’m sure if I played this game when I was 15 I would not have been able to finish it because of Mr. X. But as an adult, and with a healthy attitude towards stress management, I find that the inclusion of Tyrant in the game makes it a lot more enjoyable. It feels like I’m playing against someone rather than just solving puzzles.
My favourite moment was leading him into the East Wing so I could double back, stay silent, and move all the book cases in the library, only for him to kick down the library door as if to say “THOUGHT YOU COULD PULL A FAST ONE ON ME, BOY? TIME FOR YOUR BEATING.”
I’m also a huge fan of how he just kind of shows up in the game with no fanfare other than your character shrieking “Jesus Christ!” without you ever giving up control. There are a few moments where it falls flat because it happens in a cutscene and therefore has no tension, but the in-game moments such as throwing the helicopter to the side, bursting through a concrete wall, and most hilariously, just kind of showing up in a random hallway in my first “2nd Run” playthrough which scared the crap out of me in a way that was truly delightful — they were all great.
Tyrant was much more charismatic and creative than the other big bad, William Birkin, even though the game REALLY wanted you to think of G1-5 as the primary big boss monster (to the point where G2 kills Tyrant in Claire’s run, as if to replace him entirely). Leon’s fight with Tyrant at the end was significantly more impactful than Claire’s with G4.
2: Bullet Sponge Zombies
I love how ridiculously hard to kill the zombies are. It’s a huge point of annoyance for many people, but I think it’s great that you never know how many shots are gonna take down a zombie, and you can never be sure that it’s truly been taken down at all.
I once downed a zombie, shotgunned it in the head, and then knifed it ten times to be sure. When I came back, it had crawled all the way down the end of the hall. I love it. A policeman bashed his way into the weapons locker, so I shotgunned him in the face, then unloaded six shots to the back of the head. When I came back to put in the “2” key, he was still alive and took a chunk out of my leg on my way in, so I shot him in the head again. When I came back with the “3” key, he was still alive, so I put a MAG round into him just to be sure. I loved it.
It really gets across the “necromancy” of the undead in a way that I think has been lost in much of zombie media. These are meant to be creatures that defy death, so making them literally defy death as a game mechanic is inspired as hell.
I’d say it works less well for bosses (who are a bit frustrating to fight because I can’t aim for shit with a controller) and for the ivy zombies, which are among the coolest zombies I’ve ever seen, yet a bit boring to take down (I just blast em with 70 units of flamethrower fuel with Leon or 1-2 flame grenades with Claire and I’m good). Overall, I really like how persistent and tanky the zombies are, especially when it comes to …
3: Planning and Decision-Making
I’ve always hoped that Dead Space was more like this game: a big spiderweb of a map where you slowly work your way through each obstacle as though unpicking a lock. I like planning out my route, I like managing my inventory, I like deciding my approach to the enemies in a room (avoid, cripple, or kill?), and I LOVE having to improvise an escape route when Tyrant shows up to screw up my plans. I love that your actions are persistent across the entire game: if you leave a corpse somewhere, that corpse does not move til the credits roll, so you can see your handiwork as you backtrack (have always loved it when games do that).
One thing I wish is that there were more open rooms like the library and fewer narrow hallways, but the narrow hallways really sold the size of Tyrant and how hopeless it would be to attempt to slip by him.
The sewer levels and the NEST were both fun, although I did not like the aesthetic of the sewers nor the unique sewer enemy (the giant G-virus swimmers), plus the NEST was a bit too short and linear. Neither the sewers nor NEST had Tyrant, and they obviously weren’t built with Tyrant in mind (having many areas where you have to duck in once then backtrack through the same route). The design shines the brightest in the RPD building by far, which has plenty of twisting, interconnected paths and multiple entry points to almost every room.
Back to Dead Space: replacing its linear level design with one huge continuous interconnected map like the RPD building would make it a perfect game. Just like RE:2, you’d have to build up a mental image of each room and each route, planning your approach carefully and methodically as you either clear enemies to make traversal easier, cripple them to prevent their movement from room to room, or avoid them entirely knowing that you won’t be coming back. I’d also love to see a mature Metroid: Fusion remake with this design sensibility as well. The X-parasite overtaking hosts could be a really interesting game mechanic similar to how the zombies do not stay dead in RE:2.
Overall I guess I just want more games to take after RE:2.
4: The Acting
My god, some of the lines the actors have to read are banal as fuck, yet I never felt that a single line in the entire game was unconvincing. Leon’s voice actor really sold the heartfelt earnestness of the character, Claire was always absolutely delighted to see everyone, Ada was contemptuousness at first but became softer as Leon broke through to her naturally throughout the game, Annette had this entertaining bitterness and animosity to her, and Marvin was just straight up a good dude. I think the performances between Hunk and the chopper pilot were especially entertaining (“My extraction point!!”)
William’s actor was the only one who couldn’t quite overcome the ridiculousness of his lines, but overall I really liked all of the characters based purely on how hard each actor sold their lines.
Sometimes I would imagine the same lines being spelled out in text boxes over static low-res character models and I would rightfully think the lines being said were dumb, but the voice actors and the mocap artists really pulled their A-game.
RE:2 does not have a “good” story by any stretch of the imagination, but at least its characters are bloody charismatic.
Anyway I think that’s all I’ll ramble about for now. I wish more games took RE:2’s design sensibilities to heart. I haven’t played the RE:3 Remake yet but I’ve heard that Nemesis is pulled back considerably compared to Tyrant, which is a shame: I want them to go further. I want a scarier dude chasing you, tougher zombies, more intricate spiderweb levels, and characters and scenarios that are as entertaining as possible. I don’t have that perfect game, but RE:2 is pretty close.
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