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Resident Evil 2 (1998) review

alex9234’s Sunday Review – Halloween 2020 Special

I’m back with another review just in time for Halloween, and it’s time to review a game that I had planned on doing for a while now. Today, we’re looking at what is considered to be the best classic-style Resident Evil game in the series, and some go as far as saying that this is the pinnacle of the Resident Evil series. This game is Resident Evil 2, which originally came out on the PS1 in 1998, but was ported to the Nintendo 64 a year later. I’m going to review the N64 port of RE2, which is considered by some fans to be the definitive version of the game. RE2 is also the first Resident Evil game to come out on a Nintendo platform.

The Plot

Resident Evil 2 takes place two months after the events of the first game, this time in the heart of Raccoon City. Almost all of it’s citizens have been transformed into zombies thanks to the effects of the T-Virus, a type of biological weapon secretly developed by the pharmaceutical company Umbrella. RE2 follows two protagonists – Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie police officer on his first day on the job, and Claire Redfield, a college student who is the younger sister of Raccoon City Police “S.T.A.R.S.” member Chris Redfield. After arriving in the city, both Leon and Claire head to the Raccoon Police Department, in order to take shelter from the infected population. They soon find out that most of the officers have been killed, and that Chris left town to investigate Umbrella’s main HQ in Europe with the other S.T.A.R.S. members. With no reason to stay in the police station and wait for help, the two split up to look for survivors and flee the city…

The Gameplay

Gameplay of Resident Evil 2 is similar to that of it’s predecessor, however, since this is the N64 version, there are some changes. The controls have been improved upon and are easier to handle. For example, instead of pressing another button to run on the PS1 version, you can run by simply using the N64 analog stick. You aim your weapon with R and press A to shoot, and you can switch targets by pressing L. You can access the map by pressing C-UP, and you can access your inventory by pressing the Start button.

Both Leon and Claire can carry 8 items in their inventories, and both have personal items that they carry around to solve puzzles – Leon has a lighter, Claire has a lockpick. However, their inventory space can be increased to 10 spaces if one of them equips a Side Pack. However, for example, if you’re pick up the Side Pack as Leon, Claire is unable to access it. Both Leon and Claire start out with typican 9mm handguns. In terms of special weapons, Leon can get a shotgun and a Desert Eagle (yes, the .50 Action Express model), and Claire gets a Grenade Launcher, which can be used with 3 different types of ammo – Grenade, Flame, and Acid, as well as a Bow Gun, which fires out bolts. There are 3 different types of healing herbs in this game – Green, which can be used to restore health. Next is Blue, which is used to cure poison. And lastly, is the Red herb, which can be mixed with the Green herb. The mixing combinations are as follows: G X 2, G X 3, 1G X 1B, 2G X 1B, 1G X 1R, 1G X 1B X 1R.

Like it’s predecessor, RE2 uses the Metroidvania gameplay style that was made famous in Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. You explore a large area with puzzles to solve, locked doors, and rooms where you can save your game. You can store whatever excess items in item boxes, which are usually found in save rooms.

The Nintendo 64 version features bonus content which is not featured in most other versions released, such as alternate costumes for Leon and Claire, the ability to change the blood color, a randomizer that places items in different locations during each playthrough, and a more responsive first-person control scheme. Another bonus included are the 16 in-game documents known as the Ex-Files, written by Tetsuro Oyama, which reveals new information about the series’ lore and connects the story of RE2 to other games in the franchise, including the first game, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Resident Evil CODE: Veronica, and Resident Evil 0. The N64 version also supports the Expansion Pack, which gives the graphics a much better look than what’s on the PS1 version. The soundtrack uses Dolby Surround, was reworked from the ground up, and was converted by Chris Hülsbeck, Rudolf Stember and Thomas Engel. And since this is on a cart, there are no loading times. Not too bad, I must say.

The Characters

Leon S. Kennedy – Age: 21 – Leon is the main character of Resident Evil 2. He is a rookie police officer for the Raccoon City Police, and arrives in the worst place at the worst time on his first day on the job. He works with Claire Redfield in order to find survivors and escape Raccoon City. Leon eventually makes a return as the main character of Resident Evil 4, and is also the main character of Resident Evil 6.

Claire Redfield – Age: 19 – Claire is one of the main protagonists of RE2. She is a college student, and is the younger sister of Raccoon City Police S.T.A.R.S. officer Chris Redfield. Claire originally planned to travel to Raccoon City to track down her brother, only to walk right into a zombie infestation. She teams up with Leon, and the two of them eventually find out that Chris went to Europe to investigate Umbrella’s main HQ. Both Claire and Leon work together to find survivors and escape the city.

Ada Wong – Age: 24 – Ada is a corporate spy working for an unknown competitor of Umbrella. She was sent by her employer to steal a sample of a new virus created by Umbrella scientist William Birkin in Raccoon City. While on her mission, she meets up with Leon, and claims that she is trying to find her boyfriend John, a researcher who works for a branch of Umbrella in Chicago. Despite Leon not knowing her true objective, Leon decides to work with Ada to try and find a way out of the city.

Sherry Birkin – Age: 12 – Sherry is the daughter of Umbrella researchers William and Annette Birkin. During the Raccoon City infestation, she took shelter at the Raccoon City Police Department, and while hiding in side-rooms and vents, she was able to survive without help. She eventually runs into Claire, and the two of them work together to get out of the city.

My Thoughts

This was my second Resident Evil game. After playing Resident Evil 4, I decided to try out other games in the series. After hearing that Resident Evil 2 was on the N64, I decided to order that version (Complete in box, btw.). Though it took me a little while to master the game, Resident Evil 2 is my second favorite game in the series behind RE4. The controls, especially on the N64 version, are excellent and easy to master. The gameplay was implemented very well, and is easily one of the Top 5 Metroidvania games ever made. Though the voice acting isn’t all that great, I actually don’t mind it, and it gives this game that 1950s/60s horror movie feel. The selection of weapons are excellent, and though there aren’t items everywhere, there are just enough to make this feel like a proper survival horror game – conserve and only use when necessary. The difficulty is also very balanced, and with the exception of the Tyrant, there are no insane difficulty spikes. The graphics have also held up very well, and this is one of the best aged games in the N64’s library. Backtracking isn’t that big of an issue either, as there are ways to make your journey to a different area very quick and painless. The soundtrack is a classic as well, and probably the best of the series. Even today, this game can still give someone a good scare, and the jump scares present in some parts of the game are excellent. It still scares me when I play it. Overall, I can’t think of too many problems with RE2. The only problem I can think of with this game is this game’s length, as it is very short for a Resident Evil game.

Overall, Resident Evil 2 is easily one of the Top 3 best games in the series, and the best classic-style game in the series. If you are to try this game out, I recommend the N64 version, and I believe that it is the best port of the game out there.

And by the way, how come nobody ever ships Leon and Claire?

My score: 9.5/10


Published by alex9234

A skeptical game writer who doesn't believe the gaming press.

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