As we shuffled into a packed room of media personnel eager to relive the horrors of 1998’s Resident Evil 2, the moment the trailer for the upcoming reimagining of the classic hit, we knew we were in for a ride that was going to be much scarier, more dramatic, and hugely improved after 20 years.
The man of the hour soon arrives, and Resident Evil 2‘s producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi carries the same excitement as many fans do. Explaining Capcom’s direction for the game, Hirabayashi shared that this new entry in the franchise is not exactly a remaster.
Instead, the team over at Capcom is referring to it as a brand new game, filled with new story beats, puzzles, the addition of a handy map, and many improvements come this January 25, 2019.
Based on our own experiences at E3 2018 and TGS 2018, it certainly feels like the original, but enhanced in plenty of ways to bring back nostalgic fans and draw in a newer generation of gamers into the survival horror genre.
Gone are the fixed cameras of old, with a new over-the-shoulder camera that brings the action and more importantly, horror, up close and personal. With a restricted view, there is no doubt that tensions will rise. The addition of gorgeous, enhanced lighting and the use of a flashlight serves to up the ante even more. Shadows and the darkness all contribute to a sense of dread that was missing in the original, and Resident Evil 2 promises more intense scares than before.
From both the Leon and Claire demo, the action never truly stops. Enemies are now no longer bounded by doors, there really is no place to hide when zombies smash through doors and windows. A new mechanic of boarding up windows have been added, giving players a more tactical option of funnelling foes and protecting one’s back from surprises.
In fact, Capcom has made the undead a more fearsome prospect, stronger and more durable foes that are harder to take down. And it all plays perfectly into a dismemberment system much like Dead Space. Shoot off a zombie’s leg and watch it crawl desperately towards you, it is equally impressive and freaky.
Furthermore, there is a dynamic difficulty system built into Resident Evil 2, if you are the gung-ho type of player that loves killing everything in sight, be ready for a tougher experience as the zombies get stronger and more difficult to deal with. It is a great way to surprise returning players familiar to the intricacies of the original, and adds another layer of challenge to the game.
Quality of life improvements have also been made, with the fabled ink ribbons no longer needed to save your games at typewriters scattered around. In fact, there is an autosave checkpoint system that can save players plenty of time should they meet an untimely demise. Cut-scenes are skippable, and weapons switching, much like Resident Evil 7, makes a welcomed return to even the odds further.
Resident Evil 2 certainly looks like a 2019 game, with a graphical fidelity that puts it on par with Resident Evil 7 in terms of facial animation and environmental design. During the Claire demo in a boss fight against William Birkin, Hirabayashi took the opportunity to showcase environmental destruction as the room filled with steam and debris as Claire fired off grenades against the monster. Birkin himself becomes scorched like the enviroment, and it was a visual spectacle.
By breaking new ground in an already established classic, the Capcom team is reimagining Resident Evil 2 as a brand new experience filled with new and returning characters, better enemy diversity and design, and more endgame surprises that are still under wraps awaiting players.
It bodes well for its January 25, 2019 release, and for survival horror fans, there is no better news than hearing the team and Hirabayashi are working hard at finishing development of what could be yet another classic in a storied franchise.