The original Resident Evil was the very first Playstation game I ever owned. We’ll get into that a bit more later this month, but suffice to say, I loved it. That being the case, I was really hype about Resident Evil 2. I followed the coverage leading up to the release, including all the changes and the info about what is now referred to as Resident Evil 1.5. When Resident Evil: Director’s Cut was released, I ran out and picked it up, partially to play the arrange mode of the original game, but almost moreso to play the included demo of RE2. I played that demo who knows how many times, and when the finished product dropped in January of 1998, I was first in line.
I played it to death. I got all the outfits, all the bonus weapons, all the hidden characters, everything. It was my favorite game in the series until our hero, Leon Kennedy, made his triumphant return in Resident Evil 4. It remains my second favorite game in the series, after that one.
The basic story is one I’m sure you’re all familiar with, and it’s a period that Capcom continues to return to with new games in the series. Leon Kennedy, rookie police officer, and Claire Redfield, sister of the original game’s (and Resident Evil 5’s) hero Chris Redfield, both happen to arrive in Raccoon City at the same time the zombies do. Somehow (and we find out how over the course of the game), the T-Virus has gotten out of Umbrella’s compound in the Arklay Mountains and into the city proper, and now all hell’s breaking loose. The two are together just long enough to be separated by an explosion, and they agree to meet back up at the Police Station.
The original game allowed the choice of two heroes, but the areas traversed and bosses encountered were more or less the same. The sequel upped the ante by giving each character their own disc, which led to their own maps, weapons and supporting cast members. Upon beating the game, you can play the other character’s b-game, which allows say, Claire, to see some of the content from Leon’s campaign. Overall, there are four scenarios, plus mini-games that follow HUNK, an Umbrella operative sent to retrieve a G-Virus sample, and Tofu, a giant piece of tofu sent to retrieve the same sample, except with only a knife.
The game itself is much scarier than the original, and the voice acting, while still b-movie quality, is a marked improvement. However, the addition of not one, but two monsters constantly stalking you greatly improves the tension (though, granted, Mr. X only pursues you in the b-game scenarios), as does the larger map and the sense that everything is really fucked now. In the first game, you’re in a crazy house, things are bad, but you can escape. In Resident Evil 2, Raccoon City is infested with zombies, nevermind all the other horrifying creatures. There is no easy way out. The city is full of horrors, and the only escape is determined to be through the sewers, which are infested with giant spiders and who knows what else.
If you have somehow never played this game, the best way is surprisingly the N64 version. The game’s been ported to something you own, I’m sure, but the one I could not believe they did, the one where they squeezed this into a cartridge is the best of them all. It has extra documents fleshing out the story, a mode that randomizes all the items, and, best of all, and alternate control scheme the removes the tank controls. So, if you’re biggest reason for avoiding this game is the tank controls, seek out the N64 version. Fun fact: the N64 version of this game was ported by the studio that would become Rockstar San Diego.
Although, any way to play this game is a good one, even the bare bones Gamecube port, which lacks the improvements seen in both the Dreamcast version and the N64 version. It’s creepy, fun, and it tells a pretty decent story, before the Resident Evil mythos spun ridiculously out of control. One of the strongest entries in the one of the most loved series in all of horror gaming.
- Released: 1998
- System: Playstation (Later ported to PC, N64, Dreamcast and Gamecube)
- Publisher: Capcom