Bigger and badder, Resident Evil 2 established itself as the series’ most important title to date.
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I have long used this comparison explaining the differences between the original Resident Evil and it’s sequels for the PlayStation. Capcom evolved their own zombie franchise to match the pace of groundbreaking master of horror George A. Romero’s classic Dead trilogy.
The original RE pacing is slower, suspenseful, slowly uncovering more and more terrors of humanity as you progress. Letting the quiet isolation and unspeakable stress of life or death loom silently around every corner. All the way up until it’s relentless conclusion. The slower paced psychological horror would be more akin to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.
Where as with a newly established sense of familiarity, a canon timeline and a fresh new set of main characters, RE2 goes in guns blazing from the beginning and rarely lets up. Much more akin to the Director’s perennial release, Dawn of the Dead.
Like most sequels it follows the tried and true formula: Less explaining, more action.
Resident Evil 2 takes place shortly after the events of the first game, with the evil corporation Umbrella successfully covering up the Mansion Disaster for a short period of time before predictably, all hell breaking loose on a grander scale.
Interestingly, it should be noted that of the three original Resident Evil titles for the PlayStation (and any other console for that matter) RE2 is the only game to be in double disc format. This is mainly because the developers double-downed on having multiple playable characters/play throughs. The first game showcased this feature as well letting players choose between either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield but the sequel takes it a step further. Having the characters path’s cross throughout multiple stages of the game and even making players be mindful of the items they take as to not hoard items and abandon the other character with no items on the second run . It’s a dastardly clever lesson to learn on a first play through but reinforces the time frame of each character’s events happening simultaneously.
The game takes place mainly in the Raccoon City Police Department as either first day police officer, Leon Kennedy or hellbent-on-finding-her-bro, Claire Redfield. In retrospect, Resident Evil 2 feels like the most important game of the series as it established tropes and storylines that would continue on into Resident Evil 6.
Not only was the game a massive commercial and critical success all but guaranteeing a prompt continuation of the series it also sets into motion several key storyline elements for the next few games. It sees Claire searching for her brother Chris which would see them reunite in Code:Veronica X. It begins the star-crossed tale of Leon and Ada which would blossom in later titles. Incidentally however it also features one of the most annoying things about the series as a whole: children. Sherry and Claire’s dynamic is mimicked ad nauseam in Resident Evil 4 but that can be destroyed another day.
All in all the controls while still tank controls are more responsive and quicker than ever. The zombies come in much more stressful hoards and the jump scares are tripled. Oh and did I forget to mention they introduce Lickers in this entry. Yay!
The voice acting has improved exponentially despite it still being pretty bad, the music is better, the sound, the atmosphere, the colors and the graphics have all improved. Basically every single thing you would expect to improved in a high profile sequel was and that’s exactly what makes Resident Evil 2 the most important game in the franchise.
Overall: 94% (GOLD)