Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review #301 - Resident Evil 2

 'Game Over'
 Resident Evil 2 is considered by many to be the game in the franchise, and its the game that marked Hideki Kamiya's debut as a videogame director. It's bigger, looks better, SOUNDS better, more action packed, more intricate and longer than Resident Evil 1, making it the prime of example of what a sequel should be.

 The action takes place on the streets of Raccoon City, where Claire Redfield, looking for her brother Chris, comes across Leon, a cop on his first day at the job, while zombies assault them both. It's not long before they get separated... and then reunited. And then separated again.... While both Claire and Leon go their separate paths, they do collaborate via radio. There's two ways to play the game, Claire A/Leon B or Leon A/Claire B, but it's not as interesting as it sounds. While Leon and Claire meet a different supporting cast, most of their puzzles are the same, it's just the location of a few items that changes. And while scenarios are called 'A' and 'B', they are basically the same, but scenario B is a bit tougher with even more zombies, sometimes even substituted by tougher enemies, and the addition of new bosses, including one that reappears every now and then to annoy you. Basically, you get two play 4 variations of the same thing. There's a few other differences between Claire and Leon, like the weapons they find. Leon gets better all-around weapons, with a gun that holds more bullets, the ever-useful Shotgun and the extremely powerful Magnum... and he even gets to upgrade them! And there's a few segments in which you get to play as an alternate character, Leon's has a gun to defend herself. Meanwhile, Claire gets a gun that holds 13 bullets top, can't be enhanced, and the very situational bowgun that can't hold a candle to the shotgun.... but she also gets the Grenade Launcher, which is extremely powerful, covers a wide area and is very versatile thanks to three ammo types, but the alternate playable character on her route can't even defend herself, and without spoiling too much, you even have to babysit her, run too fast and she'll stop dead on her tracks, and if she falls too far behind you won't be able to enter a different area. All in all, Claire's scenarios are definitely harder.
 The most important thing in Resident Evil is item management. Ammo and healing items are hard to come by, and your small inventory forces you to carry only the bare essentials, you really don't want to enter a new room, after skillfully avoiding enemies without getting hurt or wasting ammo, only to find out that you can't carry all the key items it houses, forcing you to do the whole trip again. I'd hesitate to call them 'puzzles', since they are very easy, but most of the time you'll be exploring mazelike environments, searching for items to activate mechanisms or the such someplace else. Strewn throughout the game are special chests, on which you can deposit your items, and magically retrieve them from any other such chest, as well as Typewriters, which at the cost of one ink ribbon, can be used to save your game.

 Savespots are rather uncommon, so dying hurts a bit, since it potentially means redoing minutes, upon minutes of gameplay. But there's a slight advantage to dying, now you should be familiar with what you have to do, and where the enemies are, so it's easy to learn and do things better the second time around. Now you know if going towards that dead end is worth it, maybe going through three zombies to get a healing item you don't need isn't really worth it. And that's the beauty of how the game works, you'll learn the environment, you'll learn to lure zombies, and run past them, without wasting a single bullet on them, so dying isn't all that bad, most of the time anyways.
 Unsurprisingly the game uses the two staples of the genre that the franchise itself cemented: Fixed camera angles and tank-like controls. People say that these create tension and add to the 'helplessness' feeling. I say it's hogwash. Fixed camera angles are downright annoying, you can hear the enemies, but even if you know that there's danger ahead, it's not unusual to get hit from an enemy just around the corner, a zone that the fixed camera angle just doesn't cover. If there are many enemies, you just might find out that all your dodging was for naught, as there's three zombies right in front of you. It's not fun, it doesn't make me feel 'tense' or 'scared', it only annoys me. And it's not like the game can't be scary on its own, the game caught me once without a jumpscare, by just having a Licker appearing on a window. And even though PS1 graphics are dated, they managed to make the monsters look gruesome and disgusting, which is just amazing. As for the tank-controls, I don't really mind them or find them annoying, but trust me, sometimes you'll wish you'd be able to turn faster.

 I found Resident Evil 2 to be immensely entertaining. But as fun as it is, and I do recommend doing an entire A/B run, since there's different bosses and a few new areas, unless you really, REALLY like the game, doing the alternate A/B run back to back isn't really worth it. It's the same game, two more times. That said, for future playthroughs, it adds replayability, so it's not a bad feature per se.
 8.5 out of 10

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