Resident Evil 2 review. Leon and Claire battle hordes of zombies and dangerous Lickers in the RE sequel
Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 is the direct sequel to the original Resident Evil that was released for the PS1 in 1996. Two years later, Resident Evil 2 hit the scene for the original PlayStation in 1998 and set the video game world ablaze.
It was Resident Evil 2 that arguably propelled the survival horror genre into prominence and set conventions (although most of them were started with the original Resident Evil) that would be followed for years to come in many copy-cat me-too games that would try and replicate the formula that was set-in-stone by this landmark title.
The game took what was great about the first game and ran with it. Everything about the game was as a sequel should be: bigger, longer, better and with more depth than its predecessor.
Released in 1998 initially for the PlayStation 1, the game would also be released later on the PC, Dreamcast, Game.com, Nintendo 64 and GameCube and starred two new characters to the series: Leon S. Kennedy (who would later appear in Resident Evil 4) and Claire Redfield (who would later appear in Resident Evil: Code Veronica), the sister of Chris Redfield (now starring in Resident Evil 5) from the first game.
So how does a survival horror title released in 1998 that’s never been remade fair in 2009 in the shadow of Capcom’s upcoming Resident Evil 5? Read below to find out.
System: GameCube (Playable on Wii)
Also On: PlayStation 1 (Playable on PS2 or PS3 depending), PC, Dreamcast, Game.Com
PS1: Resident Evil 2 (Debut Version) – USA January 21, 1998 – EUR May 8th 1998 – JAP January 29th 1998 (Note: “Resident Evil” is called “Biohazard” in Japan)
Resident Evil 2: Dual Shock Version – USA November 11, 1998 – JAP August 6, 1998
Game.Com: Resident Evil 2 – USA November 11, 1998
PC: Resident Evil 2 – USA February 28, 1999 – EUR June 1999 – JAP February 19, 1999
Resident Evil 2 (Windows XP re-release) – JAP 2006
Nintendo 64: Resident Evil 2 – USA November 19, 1999 – EUR February 2000 – JAP January 29, 2000
Dreamcast: Resident Evil 2 – USA December 15, 2000 – EUR April 28, 2000 – JAP December 22, 1999
GameCube: Resident Evil 2 – USA January 14, 2003 – EUR May 30, 2003 – JAP January 23, 2003
Genre: Survival Horror (Action Adventure Horror Game)
Players: One Player
Save: 1 Block for GameCube Version. Saves are manual with 1 ink ribbon used at a typewriter required to save.
Rated: M for Mature (Contains Violence and Blood & Gore)
Resident Evil 2 takes place after the original Resident Evil although the linkage between the two titles are subtle in the sense that they will in no way effect your enjoyment of the game if you have not played the original Resident Evil. But for fans who have played that game you will find a few areas to link the two games together, although not many.
The storyline of Resident Evil 2 is as follows according to the instruction manual:
A CITY CRAWLING WITH CONFUSION
Imagine a normal mid-western town, built at the base of a vast forest.
Business thrived here, especially with the advent of several new industries.
Heck, you couldn’t find a more peaceful wilderness getaway than Raccoon City.
Then the trouble began. It all seemed to start when the corporation arrived.
Rumors began to spread, and the town was overcome with odd occurrences. Bizarre, unidentifiable creatures appeared out of nowhere. Fatal accidents mounted up at an alarming rate. Word got out about one severe accident at a mountain lab. Not one of the townspeople knew what was happening to their quaint, formerly serene hamlet.
In an effort to calm the growing fear among locals, the Raccoon City Police Department recruited new officers. Leon S. Kennedy is one of the promising young recruits. As Leon prepares to join his new unit, he attempts to contact the captain who hired him, but has no luck reaching him.
At the other side of town, a distraught Claire Redfield searches for her missing brother, Chris. Claire begins her search in Raccoon City, the last known location of her brother nearly two months ago, only to learn about the “accident” in the forest. Is Chris still in Raccoon City?
Sadly for Leon and Claire, they are completely unaware of the overwhelming world of horror and despair they are both about to enter . . .
Resident Evil 2 is divided into two parts, the “Claire” game and the “Leon” game. Each game is made up of two scenarios (A and B) which are only playable after you play the first “abbreviated” scenario of the other character. So if you play Leon’s Scenario A you’ll then unlock Claire’s Scenario B which you can start playing right after you finish the game. In order to play Leon Scenario B you’ll need to start on Claire Scenario A. It sounds confusing at first but you’ll understand once you start playing.
The scenarios are basically different viewpoints of the same events and only by playing all four scenarios will you be able to get the complete picture of the Resident Evil 2 storyline. The first scenarios are also cut-short (literally) so you will not get to see what truly happened at the end unless you play the second scenario for that character.
Further complicating things is how these scenarios were originally represented. When Resident Evil 2 first came out it was released on the PS1 in 1998 and was 2 discs, one disc for Leon’s two scenarios and another disc for Claire’s two scenarios. So you would insert the disc for the scenario you wanted to play and then select “Load Game” and the Memory Card which had your corresponding game save file.
In subsequent ports of Resident Evil 2 the game was simply released on one disc (or cartridge in the case of the N64 version) and the player switches between the story’s by going into the Option Menu and selecting “Leon Game” or “Claire Game”, after which the game’s logo on the main menu will be subtitled with “Leon’s Story” or “Claire’s Story” to let the player know which story will be played. The N64 version was simplified further where the player simply selects what character they want to play as when playing for the first time (under “New Game”) and can load the rest of the scenarios when they save their game after beating a scenario.
Resident Evil 2 is a survival horror game, which is a fancy way of saying that the game is an action adventure horror title that is distinguished by a few genre conventions that were established in the original Resident Evil and that help define what exactly a “survival horror” game is.
Among the “survival horror” genre conventions present in Resident Evil 2 include: advancing from room to room, often confronted with locked doors which can only be opened by finding a key hidden somewhere else, being limited in ammunition which can be found scattered throughout the game’s environments, a fixed camera that cannot be manipulated, “door opening sequences” that play as you open the door between rooms and solving puzzles that you will encounter in rooms to progress the game’s storyline. Naturally the “survival” part comes from the fact that ammunition or weapons can be scarce and “horror” due to the fact that the games are supposed to be scary.
In the sense of genre conventions Resident Evil 2 is almost exactly the same as the original Resident Evil game except beefier.
Like the previous game and all Resident Evil titles your main foe in the game comes in the form of zombies (although they are not zombies by the technical definition, but rather creatures infected by a virus to become “zombie-like creatures” as described in Claire’s scenario) which you will encounter throughout the game’s environments in addition to facing tougher enemies including “Lickers” (four-legged creatures that lash out at you with a long tongue and will crawl along roofs), crows, zombified dogs, deadly plant creatures, giant spiders and a few others.
The list of creatures in the game is not very large although you will encounter several different types of zombies (including females, which was a first for the series) and improvements from the first game including the fact that zombies can advance after you at a quick pace (including lunging forward and grabbing onto your leg, in which case you want to mash the buttons and d-pad until your character kicks their head off [Claire] or smashes their head into the pavement with their foot [Leon]), zombies will sometimes lack clothing (they aren’t anatomically correct, don’t worry), some zombies will spit acid at you if you get too close and the zombies wear various types of clothing ranging from police officers to random people.
Your main means of taking out the zombies and other enemies in the game is with various firearms that you will find lying around the game’s environments. Depending on whether you are playing as Leon or Claire you will start off with and pick up different weapons. Both characters start off with a Pistol and Knife while Leon will find a Shotgun and Claire will find Bowguns. You’ll also find other weapons like the Magnum (Chris), Grenade Launcher (Claire) and upgradeable parts for the Pistol, Magnum and Shotgun if you are playing as Chris.
However your ammo is very limited and you can run out if you are too gung-ho so you will want to try to conserve ammo by avoiding enemies that can be avoided (try shooting them until they get knocked back and then run past) and only killing enemies that you have to kill to get passed. You will pick up ammo as run throughout the environments and they will be both visible (sitting on a shelf, on top of a desk, on the floor) and hidden (inside a drawer, inside a cabinet, inside a locker, in the trash, etc.). If they are hidden you will need to press the action button to check the area in order to find it.
All items that you pick up go into your inventory which has eight slots. When you go in to your inventory you can combine two items (if they are combineable) or examine them which will give you some basic information about the item. Unlike the first Resident Evil where Jill could carry more items than Chris, in Resident Evil 2 both Claire and Leon can hold eight items and both of them can find a sidepack that once equipped will increase the amount of items they can carry to ten (although during the game you’ll have to choose between which character you want to have the sidepack and which you want to have the Machine Gun, except in the N64 version where you can take both).
Each character also has a special item in their inventory, Claire gets a Lockpick that allows her to open certain “simple locks” on locked drawers and the like while Leon gets a Lighter. Although Leon will find small keys that he can use to open the same locked drawers (he just can’t do it unless he has found a “Small Key”) and Claire will find a Lighter eventually. At the top of the inventory screen you will also be able to view any files you have collected (you will find these scattered throughout the game’s environments and they will shed more light on the game’s happenings and characters) as well as your map, which can be quickly viewed by pressing the Z Button on the N64 or GameCube versions.
In order to manually equip ammo when you are running low in your gun you must go into the inventory and combine the right ammo with the right gun. Ammo will take up one slot and your gun will take up one slot which can quickly add up to you being low on space to hold other items you might need to pick up. So if your Shotgun is running low on ammo you would open your inventory, then select the Shotgun Shells, select “combine” and then select your Shotgun to re-load it with the Shotgun ammo. Alternatively your gun will automatically reload if you run out of ammo and then take another shot when it’s empty.
You’ll also need to combine items in order to heal yourself. Throughout the game you will find herbs of various color (Green, Red and Blue) as well as First-Aid Sprays (which heal you all the way). The herbs can be combined with the colored Red Herb increasing the potency of Green Herbs (but being useless on its own) and the Blue Herbs curing you of poison. You can also combine two or three green herbs or one Green, one Red and one Blue Herb, etc., although only three can be combined max. You’ll only use the “combine” command in a few other situations, but overall it’s mostly relegated to ammo and health items.
During the course of the game you will fight lots of different zombies and make your way through a whole lot of different environments. The game starts in the streets where you will need to make your way through a ton of zombies and to a gun store, before you make your way to the Raccoon City Police Station where most of the game takes place.
Like previous games in the series, in Resident Evil 2 you spend most of the game running from room to room checking the environment and picking up items whilst fighting off various enemies that are in your way (although a good strategy is also to avoid them if possible). You will mostly be looking for keys to locked rooms or objects that need to be placed in another location. Such as a spot in the clocktower that’s missing a gear in the mechanism that you need to find and insert in order for it to turn. You’ll find keys that match certain doors, some of which you need to examine in order to tell what door they fit specifically (Like the Spade Key for doors that have a Spade etched, which you will discover if you try to open the locked door).
And then you’ll find areas where you need to use one of your items, such as your Lighter to light something, a wheel-shaped Valve Handle to turn valves or a Manhole Opener to . . . open a manhole. To use these items you will need to be standing next to the object you want to interact with, go into your inventory, select the item and then select “Use”.
You’ll also discover random files spread throughout the environments that were written by previous people who have lived or worked in the area you are in, most of whom will be dead (naturally, this is a horror game after all). Some of these come in the form of journals that can be quite chilling, especially when regarding evil people, while others are simply company print-outs or the like.
These can be found in the environment, sometimes in obvious locations where they are clearly visible, and sometimes more hidden where you will need to check the location with the action button (The A Button in the GameCube and N64 versions) to find it. The same goes for ammo and other items which can be hidden or visible.
You always will want to check the environment, you never know what you may find (hint: check the messy desk in the S.T.A.R.S. office room 50 times in a row to find a hidden roll of film that you can develop in the darkroom).
And be sure to thoroughly check environments as you can “get stuck” if you don’t check everywhere. How so? Because you can sometimes miss a crucial item, such as the Notebook in the S.T.A.R.S. office room on the second floor which is laying on Chris’ desk. I missed that in one of my play-throughs when reviewing the game and even though I had played and beaten the game many times I forgot about the notebook and didn’t pick it up. As a result I was wandering all around the Police Station trying to figure out what I needed to do, which can get very frustrating. So be thorough and check EVERYWHERE!
The Police Station is still one of my favorite environments in the entire Resident Evil series and even today the place holds up pretty well. What I’ve always liked about the Resident Evil series is how the game’s environments are so well laid out that although they may be a bit confusing at first, it is only a matter of time before you will know the layouts like the back of your hand. It’s a far cry from say Assassin’s Creed where the environments are almost impossible to learn.
Video of Claire and Leon’s Resident Evil 2 Intros
Other environments you’ll make your way through include the sewers and a power plant. As you make your way through the environments you’ll come across various enemies. Most of the early game is made up of regular zombies and dangerous leaping, clawed creatures known as Lickers as explained above. These guys can kill you in one hit with their tongues that they lash out at you if you are injured and will leap towards you as well. In addition you will fight a few other enemies including giant tarantulas (which can poison you), giant walking plants, zombified dogs as well as flying crow birds.
In addition you will also face a few boss monsters. These guys are much bigger and tougher than normal enemies and you will want to make sure you go into the fight with a good collection of powerful weaponry as well as healing items if you are to successfully take them down.
There’s even a very creepy guy called “Mr. X” who will follow you in the second scenarios of each character. He will even bust through walls! So you’ve been forewarned.
Although it can be difficult on your first play through when you don’t know if a boss fight is coming up or not and can come ill-prepared (and even get stuck if you don’t have enough ammo to beat them), Resident Evil games are meant to be played more than once so as you play the game you will start to learn the layout and where and when you will face certain enemies so you can better prepare for them.
The storyline in Resident Evil 2 is told via a mix of computer generated cut-scenes and real-time cut-scenes as well as via the aforementioned documents that you will find lying about the game. The documents are pretty cool as they we will give you some backstory and insight into a few of the characters you will meet in the game such as the Chief Irons, the leader of the police. There are several characters you will meet throughout the game including a journalist named Ben, a police officer that you encounter early on and the owner of the gun-shop whom you will meet during the very beginning of the game.
You will also come across several key players in the Resident Evil saga who made their debut in this game. Amongst them are Ada Wong and Sherry Birkin. Ada Wong is a character that you will meet during Leon’s campaign and you will even get to control her for a short period at one point during the campaign. Just like in the the first Resident Evil, these side-characters play a big part in the Resident Evil 2’s storyline and you will encounter them from time to time.
Ada is there looking for a reporter named Ben who is said to have some information about her missing boyfriend named John. But as in most stories, you will eventually discover that Ada has some ulterior motives and things aren’t exactly as they appear.
Sherry on the other hand plays a much greater role in the fiction of Resident Evil 2 and is connected to key players in the over-arching Resident Evil storyline. Sherry is a young child and the daughter of Annette and William Birkin who are both scientists who work for the Umbrella Corporation, the creator of the T-Virus that infected the zombies that players encountered in the “outskirts” of Raccoon City during the first game at the Mansion. A place which was later revealed to be an experiment house for Umbrella’s Bio Weapon (i.e. hulking monstrosities and the game’s key boss) research led by Albert Wesker who was undercover for Umbrella as part of the S.T.A.R.S. force.
In Resident Evil 2, William Birkin is the creator of an all-new and much more powerful virus known as the G-Virus, which has the ability to turn people into much more powerful Bio Weapons. However just because William works for Umbrella does not mean he is going to simply hand over his life’s work . . . .
You will also encounter William’s wife Annette during the course of your adventure, the mother of Sherry, a young girl whom you find wandering around the police station during Claire’s scenarios. Like Ada you will eventually be able to control Sherry for a short time during the course of the game and you will also frequently run into Annette who will explain much of the game’s backstory through both in-game and CG cut-scenes.
The cool thing about the storyline in Resident Evil 2 is that Claire and Leon’s scenarios overlap and intersect at a few points. So while playing Claire you will occasionally encounter Leon or speak with him via a radio that he gives you early on in the adventure. And while you will never see Ada, Leon, Claire and Sherry altogether at the same time, you will come to learn via the two scenarios of both Leon and Claire that when one thing was going on, another character may have been there seconds earlier where another event took place. So in order to completely get the full story, as mentioned earlier, you will want to play through both scenarios. A good example of this is a fight between two key characters where one knocks another down. In the other scenario you will encounter the character who fell right after that event took place.
In addition to this, a few things will also effect the second scenario, a system that Capcom dubbed the “Zapping System” upon the game’s release. This includes the aforementioned side-pack and Machine Gun. You can only take one weapon because either Claire or Leon will save the other weapon for the other character. So when you come back during the B scenario of the other character, you will find either the machine gun or side-pack depending on which item you decided to leave when you were playing as the other character.
The zapping system also comes into play in the form of a Wire which you can find and use to cover up some windows that will prevent zombies from coming out of them. However depending on which room’s windows you choose to cover, the zombies will burst out of the OTHER room during the B scenario of the second character (key hint: one of the rooms can be avoided altogether, the other can’t). And there is maybe one other time that the zapping system comes into effect.
Overall though, you feel like the whole zapping thing was really underused and it doesn’t effect the game all that much, and doesn’t effect at all the storyline of the game. So it’s pretty much a throwaway system.
For those who have played later games in the Resident Evil series, such as Resident Evil 4, you need to keep in mind that Resident Evil 2 is an older game in the franchise and thus doesn’t include many of the later features that streamlined the series and made it more accessible.
There is no quick-turn in most versions of Resident Evil 2 (only the N64 version has it if you use the controls that allow you to play with the control stick and move in whatever direction you press) which means you need to slowly rotate around, which can get annoying and even cost you your life since you can’t quickly turn around if you are about to be attacked.
You also can only save in the game by finding ink ribbons which you then use on a typewriter to save your game (which means that the number of times you can save is limited) and in order to free up space in your inventory you will find magical boxes (simply called “Item Boxes”) in certain “safe rooms” and other areas where you can store items for use later and take any items that are in the box. You can also only organize your inventory via an item box by putting them in the box and placing them in a different slot in your inventory when you take them back out.
Likewise you will encounter “door opening sequences” when moving from room to room which can sometimes get annoying, because once the animation starts you can’t stop it (because in actuality it was a cover-up for the game loading the next area) and if you then have to turn around and go back through the same door you will have to wait for the animation again. And sometimes that happens, as you’ll sometimes forget what you were going to do or where you were going to go and go through the wrong door.
And there are a few other features from later games aren’t in Resident Evil 2. These include the ability to dodge attacks which made its debut in Resident Evil 3, the ability to use “Defensive Items” when being attacked by zombies which was in the Resident Evil GameCube remake or the ability to simply use herbs on the ground like in Resident Evil Zero (often written “Resident Evil 0″). This means that if your inventory is full and you are badly wounded and there’s a Green Herb on the ground, then you will not be able to pick it up unless you go back to a storage box, get rid of an item, and then come back to pick up the herb, at which point you can finally use it. This obviously can mean the difference between life and death and is part of the reason why inventory management is important in Resident Evil 2, you don’t want to get stuck wounded an unable to pick up a Green Herb to heal yourself. You also can’t set any items down to free up space, a feature which also made its debut in Resident Evil 0. You also don’t collect money to buy additional upgrades or items like you do in Resident Evil 4 and the upcoming Resident Evil 5.
Even the controls can be hard if you aren’t used to how Resident Evil games play, this isn’t a shooter either, so you can only stand in one place when shooting your gun. In Resident Evil 2 like in all Resident Evil games you use the up button to walk forward, the down button to walk backward and the right and left buttons to turn around (i.e. rotate in place).
The reason for these controls is due to the game’s set camera angles, where you may be facing right in one view but then facing left or forward in another as soon as the camera angle changes as you move into the next area. So the so-called “tank” controls allow the camera angle to change while still assuring that you always walk or run “forward” within the context of the camera view. Either way, some people simply hate this style of control and find it difficult, so be forewarned. And directional “tank” controls cannot be changed unless you are playing the N64 version of the game.
However most of this stuff is water under the bridge as it is all classic Resident Evil mechanics and part of the game’s charm. And most of it is dileberate by the developers. For example, the tension is raised when you can’t move while shooting . . . even though they did add that feature for Resident Evil 3. Regardless, the game plays like a Resident Evil game, and that is a good thing not a bad thing in the humble opinion of this reviewer.
So players of the first Resident Evil or other game’s in the series should have no problem with any of the above features (or lack thereof) which are hallmarks of the Resident Evil franchise.
However, not so good is how cheesy the dialogue in Resident Evil 2 is. Now out of full disclosure, Resident Evil 2 is a game I originally played back on the Nintendo 64 in 1999 (yup, I was a late-bloomer and missed out on the PlayStation 1 version) and was totally blown away by it, everything from the dialogue to the storyline. And actually having played the original Resident Evil (released on the PlayStation in 1996), which had laughably bad dialogue, I was amazed with the dialogue and voice acting in Resident Evil 2 which seemed leagues better than the first game.
While it’s true that the game’s dialogue avoids such cheesy phrases as “You almost became a Jill sandwich!” and “The master of unlocking”, that doesn’t stop the game from sounding nearly as cheesy as the original after playing the game in modern times for this review. Even though my nostalgia wants to blind me, I have to admit that . . . man, the dialogue in this game horrible! Especially when you compare it to a lot of modern games or even to later games in the Resident Evil series like Resident Evil Remake, Resident Evil 0 or Resident Evil 4. It’s almost hard to stomach, especially when the game is supposed to be serious and the bad voice acting simply ruins any kind of emotion you would’ve felt.
Regardless though, the game still has a pretty interesting storyline and the gameplay itself is enjoyable as well.
One thing missing though and another aspect of the game that didn’t live up to my nostalgia-factor is the game’s puzzles. Or rather, lack of puzzles. I could have sworn that back in the day I thought the game was more puzzle focused than the original, but it’s not. The first game has more puzzles and better ones. In fact puzzles are almost none existent in Resident Evil 2. The ones that are in there are very simple. For example there is one early on where you need to push two statues onto plates on the floor. Hardly difficult to figure out. The hardest puzzle is probably one where you need to move these switches either up or down. But it’s easy enough to guess as the solution is simply up then down. And once again when compared to other Resident Evil games, especially remake, zero and four, this game feels extremely lacking in the puzzle department.
Even so, the game is still an adventure game like all the Resident Evil titles so if you haven’t played Resident Evil 2 before then you will hit spots where you will need to use your brain to try and figure something out.
One of my favorite parts of the Resident Evil franchise is how you can check everything in your environment. By simply pressing the main action button when walking or standing next to an object text will appear on the screen telling you about it or your character will make a comment in the text about what is in front of them. I always found this fun and miss it in other games that don’t include the feature because environments seem “static” and lifeless if you can’t read about them.
Like all Resident Evil games, there is more to the adventure after you have played it through once. And like all the other games you are also rated on your performance, including how quickly you beat the game and how many ink ribbons you used to save. Depending on your rating you will unlock new weapons and a key that allows you to access new outfits for your characters (the outfits change depending on the version, such as the N64 version which had its own unique outfits).
You can also unlock two extra scenarios if you are good enough, although both of them are similar and one is literally a parody of the other. The first is called the Hunk mission and in it you will need to make your way from one point of the game to another as quickly as you can with only a limited amount of items while facing a ton of enemies in your path. The second is called the Tofu mission, and this one is even harder than Hunk as you are armed with only a knife!
The other extras will depend on what version you play. The N64 version of Resident Evil 2 is unique because it includes new Resident Evil 2 EX Files that are hidden in various areas throughout the game. These extra files are very well written and even tie the game into later games in the series such as Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Resident Evil 3 and Resident Evil 0 (which was in development at Capcom during the porting process of Resident Evil 2 to the N64).
Once you play the N64 version you will miss having the files available because they are fun to search for (since they are hidden EVERYWHERE and most are hidden, so you won’t find them unless you check the area) and are also great reads. The N64 version also includes the ability to tone down the violence, change the blood color to blue or green, play a “randomized” version of the game that will mix up the location of items (also available in the GameCube and PlayStation “Dual Shock” versions) and the ability to change the control scheme to a version that allows you to move in any direction that you press the control stick in, instead of the typical “tank” controls.
The N64 version also has high-definition graphics (like smoother looking characters) but is a bit muddier as far as the environments are concerned. The N64 version also contains all of the cut-scenes of the PS1 version and all of the voice acting barring one or two obvious cuts, such a scene that features Annette & Claire talking or Annette & Ada talking, depending on who’s scenario you are playing, and yet the N64 version uses the voice of Claire even if you are playing as Ada, however it’s a very brief voice-clip so not a big deal. The N64 version also features different ending music (which is much quieter, better IMO, than the rock music in the other versions) and a few other changes. But because the N64 version is on a cartridge and not a CD that means that the CG cut-scenes are HORRIBLE quality and the sound is also more high-pitched and of lower quality which can be somewhat bothersome. You can also skip cut-scenes in both the N64 and GameCube versions of the game.
Missing in the N64 version however is the Extreme Battle mode from the PlayStation One “Resident Evil 2: Dual Shock” versions and the subsequent Dreamcast, PC and GameCube versions. The Extreme Battle mode is unlocked after you beat the game and is almost like a separate game. Unlike the Hunk mission, the Extreme Battle mode is much longer, so long in fact that you can save your game at any of the typewriters you come across. In this mode your goal is to make your way through a number of stages until you reach the Police Station where you need to find four bombs (the game ends when you collect the fourth one, so you simply want to find them and then put them in an Item Box). There are four unlockable characters to play as and three difficulty settings. And not only will you need to find the bombs, but you will also face a horde of enemies (including every kind of enemy and most bosses) that you will need to survive. Which is VERY tough! Thus the “Extreme” moniker. Each character also has their own unique items and weapons and, like the real game, you can find updates to your shotgun, pistol and magnum and even hidden weapons (like a rocket launcher) if you know where to look.
Last but not least, the PC version of the game included an additional unlockable art gallery whose artwork you can see in GameTrailer’s Resident Evil Retrospective: Part 2 or at this Resident Evil 2 art gallery.
It’s also worth noting that if you are hunting for the PlayStation One versions of Resident Evil 2 then you will want to keep in mind that there is the regular edition and the “Dual Shock” version. The Dual Shock version has all the extras (such as the Extreme Battle Mode and randomizer as well as force feedback, i.e.= controller rumble support) which are not in the original version of Resident Evil 2 for PS1. So it is my opinion that the best version of the game is probably the GameCube version, which you can even play on the Wii and has all of the above minus the N64 exclusive EX Files. However it can be hard to track down, so you might wanna keep your eye out for the PS1 Dual Shock version otherwise. You could also spring for the N64 version which includes the EX Files as mentioned above, as long as you don’t mind the inferior graphics and voice acting.
Musically Resident Evil 2 has some pretty good tunes (I particularly like the Police Station main hall music) and has one of the better soundtracks. However the game’s mood is less scary than I previously had thought, and IMO if you truly want scares you should look into Resident Evil Remake on GameCube, Resident Evil 0 on GameCube or Resident Evil 4. If you want to hear some of the music in Resident Evil 2 you can find some on this Resident Evil 2 music page and two Resident Evil 2 remixes at OverClocked Remix.
Graphically Resident Evil 2 is certainly dated although you can still appreciate the amount of detail that went into the pre-rendered background environments. However the characters are blocky and can have stilted animation (particularly in real-time cut-scenes) and there is no lip-syncing at all when they talk, they simply move their heads. But hey it was created on the PS1 so you can’t really knock the game too hard.
Overall Resident Evil 2 is a fun entry in the Resident Evil series with an interesting storyline, good classic Resident Evil gameplay, challenging boss battles and lots of unlockables. If you haven’t ever played Resident Evil 2 and consider yourself a fan of the series or are in anyway interested, then you’d be doing yourself a favor by picking the game up, especially since it has yet to be remade and the game’s storyline is unique. It’s especially a good game to play if you want to see where Leon and Ada from Resident Evil 4 first made their debuts.
However the game is quite dated in many regards, as mentioned above. But if you can stomach that in addition to the horrible dialogue, then you’ll find a fun Resident Evil game. But if you don’t like Resident Evil titles and their unique tank-style controls and somewhat slow-paced “adventure”-like gameplay, then this game will not change your mind, as it is “classic” Resident Evil through and through. Additionally, if you have played Resident Evil Remake, Resident Evil 0 or Resident Evil 4 then you may find this game very painful to look at. It is a PlayStation One-era game which doesn’t hold up extremely well.
But if you are looking for classic Resident Evil gameplay and a good action adventure game with quite a bit of replay value, then Resident Evil 2 will not disappoint!
FUN FACTOR: 8.0
Resident Evil 2 is a fun Resident Evil game with classic Resident Evil survival horror gameplay. It also has a good and interesting storyline, cool characters, tough boss fights, lots of unlockables, good music and more. However the game hasn’t aged particularly well and features pretty laughable dialogue and voice acting and graphics that can’t exactly stand the test of time (but look leagues ahead of the original Resident Evil ’96). But if you want to understand the whole Resident Evil saga, then you’ll definitely want to play this game.
The game is dated with blocky character models, some stilted animation and CG sequences which don’t look so hot in 2009.
Music and Sound: 7.5
Resident Evil 2 has a pretty good soundtrack, one of the better ones in my personal opinion. Sound effects are as you’d expect while all the voice acting is laughable and undercuts the game’s serious tone.
Resident Evil 2 is really just a beefed up version of the original Resident Evil. It didn’t do anything new even though it had the “Zapping System” whereby a few things you do in one scenario will effect the second. But if you are going into it fresh it is typical, classic survival horror fare.
Replay Value: 8.0
The game has a pretty good assortment of unlockables, which gets upgraded to a great assortment if you are playing a version that features the tough Extreme Battle mode, which has its own unlockables. There are also additional weapons and outfits you can earn as well as two unlockable missions called Hunk and Tofu. If you really enjoyed the game then you’ll be able to pump out a whole lot more hours by replaying it and earning all the extras, some of which are extremely tough.