Entertainment

Behind the Controller: Resident Evil 2

Hello, and welcome dear reader to “Behind the Controller,” an ongoing column centered around the local video game community, the ongoing trends within the video game industry and where I will review some of the most popular new releases.

Horror as a concept has impacted at least every entertainment medium in existence. From plays such as Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” to books such as Horace Walpole’s “The Castle of Otranto,” to films such as Georges Méliès’ “Le Manoir du Diable,” it is only natural that newer mediums, like video games, would be affected too. Horror, and its sub-genre, survival-horror, has been around now in video games for at least over 20 years, arguably ever since the 1992 release of “Alone in the Dark.”

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that it is already on my list of the best games of 2019 and an early game of the year contender in my book.

It wasn’t until later with the release of “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill,” in 1996 and 1999 respectively, that the new genre began receiving  critical and popular acclaim in the video game world. For a while thereafter, the horror genre exploded with gamers waiting in anticipation  for the next scary game to be released. Up until a few years ago however, AAA video game publishers tried to tell gamers they didn’t really want horror games because, “horror doesn’t sell.”

Thankfully, that trend has been on the decline, with ground-breaking titles like, “Amnesia: the Dark Descent,” “Outlast” and “Resident Evil VII,” it seems that horror games are going through a revival. The most recent product of this and topic of this article is the remake of “Resident Evil 2” by Capcom. After finishing it just before writing this piece, I can tell you that “Resident Evil 2” does its job in spades. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that it is already on my list of the best games of 2019 and an early game-of-the-year contender in my book.

As said earlier, “Resident Evil 2” is a remake of the original “Resident Evil 2” which was released on the PlayStation back in 1998. The narrative centers around the fictional Racoon City located in the American midwest in the year 1998, where a horrible disease called the “t-virus” has infected the entire city, killing its inhabitants and turning them into zombies.

Our two heroes are Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop who’s picked the wrong day to show up to work, and Claire Redfield, a college student who’s arrived in Racoon City looking for her brother Chris Redfield, the hero of the first “Resident Evil” game. Made with the new RE-Engine that was first used in “Resident Evil VII,” the new “Resident Evil” title looks stunning as far as graphics go, with realistic lighting and other visual effects that really give the remake a modern feel to it.

The gameplay gives this remake a modern uniqueness with its over the shoulder, third-person camera and shooting mechanics that acts as a welcome change of pace for modern audiences.

Its sound design and gameplay is  where the real meat of the game is. The music and sound of “Resident Evil 2” is hair-raising to say the least. The game’s score is nicely done, where one moment the game can switch between moments of quiet tension to an explosion of oppressive electronica that will send chills down your spine in an instant. Sound helps tie the gameplay together too, as every tiny sound could strike anxiety in players about what be behind that next door, and the shrieks of the undead and other monsters can put terror in the most brave of gamers.

The gameplay gives this remake a modern uniqueness with its over-the-shoulder, third-person camera and shooter mechanics that acts as a welcome change of pace for modern audiences. It is true that the fixed-camera angles and tanks controls of the original “Resident Evil 2” is part of what made that game so scary, but it’s also important for a remake to not stay too faithful to the source material. In terms of flaws, the game does have them despite how good it is. In the game’s “hardcore” mode, enemies can be unpredictable. Tough enemies don’t necessarily make a game bad (i.e. any From Software game ever made), but it would be good to know exactly how many headshots a zombie can take before it stays dead for good, where it can vary from three to 10 shots from your pistol.

This is to say nothing of the other more challenging enemies in the game, especially the bosses, which on hardcore mode are about as tough as brick wall. One other problem that the game suffers from is a way to dodge enemies’ attacks, which was a feature in other “Resident Evil” titles. I know some gamers out there might disagree with this, saying something to the effect of, “Well, that would make enemies less threatening,” but I am sure they would also understand that in most video games, especially survival horror games, you need every advantage you can get. Holding down on the analog stick to run at a jogging pace doesn’t always help when you’re trying to stay out of a boss’s attack range.

There is one question left to answer though: how scary is “Resident Evil 2”? Plenty scary, to put it mildly! I can’t even count on both hands how many times I got the living daylights scared out of me. Examples include enemies jumping out of nowhere, a zombie I thought to be dead suddenly attacking from behind, trying to run away from Mr. X or trying to sneak by a licker without getting swiped. This is where the game hits its most important mark: being actually scary every time you play it and  something that other would-be horror games have slipped up on.

Overall, the remake of “Resident Evil 2” is definitely worth your time if you’re in the mood for a good scare or are just looking for something new and refreshing to play. One could even say it’s a good bang for your buck.   

Kelly Baker is a fourth-year student majoring in English with minors in journalism and film criticism. KB819687@wcupa.edu

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