Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 Remake is a near-perfect throwback to actual survival horror, but it’s also a step backwards from Resident Evil 7.
The Resident Evil 2 Remake is a Hollywood reskin done right. Unlike Vince Vaughn’s Pyscho which only added colour and crappy acting, Capcom improved upon the original in more ways than just adding modern graphics so Leon and Claire are sexy protagonists who players actually want to strip rather than acid trip nightmares with ginger hair, blocked bodies, and flat faces. Still, while the return to the land of the dead is an excellent throwback to what survival horror is so the industry can stop copying the chasing simulator Outlast, there are a few miniscule problems that fans refuse to admit.
Now, before I potentially offend anyone by removing the game’s make-up to show some of its warts, let’s first acknowledge that Resident Evil 2 is a near-perfect upgrade. The graphics and motion capture performances are of course stunning, but the game’s universal praise mostly comes from it being a remake that stays true to the original while simultaneously being innovative. It’s fun, it’s good, and it’s a nice throwback to survival horror and adventure titles that made gamers resort to pulling out a pen and paper (now if only Konami could do the same with Silent Hill 2).
So, now that I’ve joined in on the obligatory act of stroking the game’s already erect you know what, let’s try and deflate it by daring to mention some of the imperfections that are hidden behind the AAA production values.
Leon and Claire are bland
Like super models who hide their airheaded personality by constantly posing in skimpy garments such as Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret branded underwear, the blandness of Leon and Claire is well hidden behind the attractiveness of models Eduard Badaluta and Jordan McEwen. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the models or the voice acting, but there’s no denying the characterisations of Leon and Claire are boring. Rather than coming across as campy protagonists straight out of a B-horror movie, they instead play out as awkward teenagers who flirt but don’t flirt.
Claire is just a do-gooder who occasionally tries her hand at being witty in the sewers, and Leon is a composed hunk of a psychopath. The only character with any sort of personality and edge is the unpredictable “is she or isn’t she” good girl, Ada Wong. Her high heels, black shades, and inappropriate for fighting zombies dress is more memorable than anything Leon and Claire say or do.
Mr. X is an annoying stalker in need of a restraining order
The never verbally referred to as Mr. X juggernaut is an unstoppable behemoth who manages to get everyone’s heart racing thanks alone to the sound of his boots. However, while he’s scary when pursuing Ada Wong, Claire and Sherry, along with when he first reveals himself by crushing Ben’s face, in the RCPD he quickly becomes an annoying stalker in need of a restraining order.
Instead of being terrifying, it’s more annoying when you have to go all the way around the RCPD to get to a room he’s currently blocking. I’m also sorry to say his trench-coat and fedora is quite frankly ridiculous and goofy. Rather than looking like a noir detective or a suave gentleman who just wants to take Claire and Leon out on a date, he instead comes across as a stripper who can expose himself at any time. I don’t know whether he’s supposed to be scary, or if his design is intentionally a goofy throw-back to the series’ status as B-horror camp, but what I do know is that I both love and hate him.
Resident Evil 7 is better
While I do love Resident Evil 2, I can’t help but feel that it’s a small step backwards from what Capcom achieved with the remarkable Resident Evil 7. The valley to the Pinkertons was a terrifying nightmare that felt like a self-aware Resident Evil cocktail mixed with Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Evil Dead. Rather than being too serious, the seventh instalment embraced the series’ campiness with unpredictable acts and references such as when Jack tried to run you over in his car in the garage, or when he got a chainsaw and unleashed his inner Ash Williams. The enemies were also funny and scary with Mia being something straight out of Ash Vs. Evil Dead, and Ethan – although faceless and just a bunch of arms – had more personality than Leon and Claire combined by just saying “f**k” when having his hand chopped off by his girlfriend.
Meanwhile, in Resident Evil 2, the zombies are just generic zombies that have a fetish for necks, the boss fights are all the same (bar the infected alligator encounter that plays out like Temple Run), and the story is a trite tale that can only exist because everyone’s an idiot. Where Resident Evil 2 shines is the combat and puzzles, whereas Resident Evil 7 was a masterpiece that revolutionised the franchise, made VR worth a damn, and excelled at almost everything.
If you enjoyed Resident Evil 2, then you’ll be delighted to know Capcom are supposedly planning to launch a Nemesis remake before the inevitable Resident Evil 8. You can also see what Resident Evil 2‘s update 1.02 includes by clicking here.
Meanwhile, if you’re also a Kingdom Hearts fan, you can open yourself to reality and let darkness consume your heart by seeing what nobody admits about Kingdom Hearts 3.