Monday, February 25, 2019

Resident Evil 2

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Joint. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and my thoughts on the medium as a whole. You can see everything we do all in one spot over at This week we're going to be talking about Resident Evil 2 so with no further ado lets get spooky.

Consider this your official spoiler warning: this video will contain spoilers for RE2, and minor spoilers for RE7. If you don’t want those games spoiled for you then stop watching now.

I know that I've mentioned it on the channel before but I have played most of the mainline entries of the Resident Evil series but the only ones I've finished are RE7 and the new version of RE2, so keep in mind that what I have to say is my opinion.

RE2 is in my opinion the best Resident Evil game to date. I don’t think I liked it as much as RE7 but from the outset it was always very clear what Resident Evil was supposed to be and RE2 is a better realization of that vision that RE7. The game looks fantastic, plays fantastic, and most importantly it feels fantastic. All games are supposed to make the player feel something whether that be excitement, intrigue, or confusion and almost all of those are followed by satisfaction. While other games can lean on secondary emotions and other gameplay elements to achieve satisfaction horror games aren't afforded that luxury. If a horror game doesn’t make the player feel tense or scared there is little else that can be done to achieve the satisfaction that games are supposed to provide. RE2 delivers on that satisfaction in a huge way and is a return to form for the series and one I hope to see continued moving forward.

I have always been very specific about terminology when it comes to remakes, remasters, and reboots and as a result RE2 is very confusing for me. The game can barely be called a remake because it's almost an entirely new game. It's almost like RE2 was put into production in the late nineties, there was a script, maps, mechanical concepts, and design documents then the game just didn’t get made until now. It's the same game but different. So I suppose RE2 isn't a remake in the same way video games are usually remade its more of a remake in the way movies are usually remade, the same basic ideas done in a different way.

The overall presentation of the game is nothing short of stunning. From the large scale of looking at the Raccoon City Police Department from the outside at the start of the game to the smallest details like the characters walking animation communicating the players health everything about the way RE2 is presented to the audience is nothing short of breathtaking. Visuals are fantastic, while the game isn't as graphically impressive as top tier games like God of War it does trade blows with the best third parties have to offer like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Assassins Creed Odyssey. More impressively though is the performance that comes with those visuals. Full disclosure I played the game on a PS4pro so your results may vary but from what I experienced that game had zero noticeable technical hiccups throughout my 12+ hours of gameplay. And on the surface of all the technical mastery is an art style that fits the series so perfectly that it makes it difficult to imagine Resident Evil games being any other way. The character models are realistic and expressive, the animations are on point, and the sense of scale is nearly flawless. Seeing Mr. X bend down to walk through doors really communicates well how large he is and gives the environments a sense of realism. Zombies in the game are decayed to the point that they are without a doubt scary but the more grotesque stuff like the lickers, G-type adults, and Mr. Birkin are used sparingly enough that the player never becomes desensitized to it.

Gameplay in RE2 strikes a perfect balance between the two best entries in the series RE4 and RE7. Leaving the tank controls of RE4 behind was a welcome change. Then taking the slower movement and careful gunplay of RE7 and putting it in all in the perspective of RE4 makes the game play the way we have all wanted Resident Evil games to play for so long. All of this fine tuning and combining of existing mechanics and concepts while at the same time bringing the game back to the iconic masterfully established tone of the first three games in the series makes for a new high water mark.

Now at this point in the video I have said multiple times that RE2 is the best Resident Evil game ever but that’s not to say the game isn't without it's flaws. Just like everything else (except Donkey Kong Country 2) RE2 is a flawed experience. The tyrant mechanic, some stiff in game dialogue, and repetitive story telling keep RE2 from reaching it's full potential.

One of the best and most enjoyable parts of the game was the environments that were available to explore. The RPD is a sprawling maze of hallways and connected rooms each with a specific purpose. My first hour of the game was spent in awe at the detail put into every inch of the environment. Roughly two and a half hours into my first play through I encountered the tyrant Mr. X. While Mr. X did fill a void in the game as the big bad presence I felt like the roughly hour and a half to two hours of the game that is spent with him constantly in pursuit is time that I was wishing could have been spent exploring the environment and appreciating the puzzles and inventory management but instead I had to be constantly on the move. The mechanic was a good idea but I felt like the way it was applied in the game was to unforgiving. It felt as though there was this gigantic building and Mr. X was constantly within a hundred foot radius of me. This is obviously comparable to the Alien AI in Alien Isolation but where the Alien was constantly in the area and if I wasn’t careful I would end up face to face with it Mr. X was not only in the area but almost always just a room away. While the Alien pressures the player to move when close by it also pressures them to stay put when its further away, Mr. X only emulates the higher pressure scenario and therefore made the two hours that I had to deal with him before his death unenjoyable.

Story telling throughout most of RE2 is excellent. During the cutscenes the characters motivation, emotions, and relationships are properly displayed and developed. Dialogue during those cutscenes moves the story forward in an intriguing and believable way, dialogue outside of those cutscenes is a different story. Every single time I heard Claire say "what the fuck is your problem?" to a zombie after shooting it multiple times in the face I was left thinking "well Claire, this is a zombie. We've been dealing with them for the last several hours." Throughout the entire game the reactionary gameplay dialogue feels stilted and dumb rather than contributing to the overall experience. A small complaint but one that kept coming to mind all the way up to the end.

Now I know I just got done saying that the story telling was good but there was one major flaw. I am of the opinion that the story would have been better served if the player had switched between Leon and Claire as needed and both stories had been told concurrently rather than playing through the entire story from Claire's perspective then moving through the same story from a different perspective. After having seen Leon on the train at the end of Claire's story and knowing what happens at the end of his arc I had little to no desire to play it again. Once the arc had concluded there was still large portions of the story that I hadn't seen including all of the Ada Wong scenes but I had progressed through the natural motions of a story and felt the satisfaction of finishing it. I know that that’s how the original version of RE2 was developed and laid out but with everything else this version of the game changed I think that integrating the two storylines into one longer story or at least giving the player the option would have been beneficial.

Resident Evil one, two, and three were very intentional and the developers clearly had a vision of what they wanted those games to be. RE4 was somewhat of a reinvention of the series to modernize it for its time which resulted in the game being more action horror than survival horror. RE 5 and 6 both struggled as they leaned way to far into the action and the series as a whole lost it's way. For me the first six Resident Evil games always had a deal breaker attached making them games I couldn’t really get into. The static camera angles and tank controls of the original trilogy, the tank controls that continued into RE4, and the fact that RE5 and 6 were simply not good games prevented me from ever getting really into the series. Resident Evil had become an action series, and it wasn’t until RE7 that Capcom would bring it back to its roots with a true survival horror experience. RE7 reigned everything in, the action, the movement, the scale, and focused on a more consolidated independent experience that is only connected to the rest of the series in the final moments of the game. RE2 keeps the momentum built by RE7 going and continues to establish what the series desperately needs, uniformity.

Resident Evil has varied wildly in tone, genre, experience, story telling, and gameplay. What RE7 and now RE2 have done is establish a clear definition of what a Resident Evil experience is. Tone, gameplay (aside from perspective), mechanics and even UI are all brought over from 7 and applied to 2. Even the change from first to third person isn't enough to make RE7and RE2 unrecognizably related. All this is a great thing and needs to be applied to the series moving forward.

RE2 stands as evidence that Capcom has rediscovered what Resident Evil should be: a scary, tense, claustrophobic atmosphere used to tell an insane sci-fi story. Characters we know and love are modernized for the PS4 and Xbox One and a classic experience has been entirely rebuilt from the ground up. Now at this point I can only hope that Capcom remakes Resident Evil, RE3, and RE4 in this same style then moves forward with RE8 and makes the official canon RE 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 etc and just wipes 5 and 6 from existence.

What were your thoughts on RE2? Would you call it a remake? What do you want to see come out of the series next? Let me know in the comments down below.

Thank you for watching my video. If you liked what you heard don’t forget to subscribe for a new video every week. If you just cant get enough you can check out our gaming podcast HardReset or our movies podcast NoRefunds the podcast that watched bad movies so you don’t have to! You can find everything we do all in one spot over at I'll be back next week talking about Apex Legends so until then just go play some games!

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