Surviving in Raccoon City — An Analysis of Resident Evil 2

A few weeks late, I return to the blog to report another chapter of my experience with this great franchise, this time with Resident Evil 2, released in 2019, for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Like its predecessors, RE 2 is a production of the Japanese giant Capcom, developed by Shinji Mikami, the same director from the previous games. The difference here is in its version since the game is a remake of an original released in 1998. Curiously, both games, both the remake and the original, are the result of rather troubling developments.

The ’98 edition had its original version completely dropped, even after nearly 80% of the job completed — a prototype that came to be known as Resident Evil 1.5. And a remake for RE 2 came to be considered there in the early 2000s, after the success of its predecessor relaunch, but due to other titles, the project was postponed and only came to be announced much later, in 2015, with its first trailer only in 2018, during that year E3.

During all these long years the fans were quite restless in awaiting this that would be the best Resident Evil of all time. And, much of this delay, was due to the team itself, which decided to strive to capture the franchise essence (which apparently got lost over the years) and to meet the demands of an increasingly modern market, bringing a series of improvements in aspects like gameplay and graphics, using a completely new graphics engine, RE ENGINE.

Plot

Leon is what we can call a “typical hero”, quite friendly, brave, beautiful, and somewhat naïve. Few is said about his past, but it is known that his interest in becoming a police officer was due to the strange murders that occurred in the Arklay Mountains (the same of RE 0 and RE 1)

The history takes place a few months after the end of the first one, still in 1998. In it, we accompany Leon S. Kennedy, a recruit from the Raccoon City police forces who, after a few days of delay, heads to the city for his first day in the new job. On the way, Leon makes a stop at a gas station and, arriving there, realizes that something is wrong. Several cars are parked on-site and a strange movement is happening at the convenience store next door.

Like every good cop, Leon decides to investigate the place, and there finds a series of zombies. At the same time, Claire Redfield, a college student who is also going to the city, trying to find her missing brother, stops at the same gas station and, moments later, bumps with Leon trying to escape the bloodthirsty creatures that infested the place. After a short sequence of action and terror, they both manage to escape and head to Raccoon City, not knowing that the worst awaits them.

From there the characters are separated by an incident and each goes their way, in which they come within an investigation involving biological weapons, monsters, and the dark and already known Umbrella Corporation which, as in previous games, is “mysteriously” involved with all the zombie appearances recorded so far.

Gameplay

Before we begin to detail the gameplay, I think it’s important to describe some central elements. As in the previous title, Resident Evil 2 has two different campaigns, each dedicated to one of the characters. The two take place almost at the same time, with a few hours of difference, starting and ending jointly, with the characters together.

That said, let’s get to the gameplay. The game still presents itself as a survivor horror, with elements of action, exploration, and puzzles. Unlike the games analyzed so far, which were much older, RE 2 has a much freer camera, framed on the character’s back, also, its movement is quite fluid, abandoning those hard actions of previous games.

With this new camera, the developer's team was able to get as much detail from each of the scenarios as possible. Places as the police station, the sewers, and even the laboratory are extremely rich, full of colors, textures, decorative objects, and, obviously, dead bodies. This detailing, together with the lighting, which is quite dark, creates a very tense setting, able to scare the player at various times.

A highlight here goes to the environment's construction during the gameplay. Unlike what we commonly see in current games, enemies killed during combats do not disappear from the scenarios, quite the contrary, they fall in the same place where they died. This element is quite impressive and contributes unpredictably to the creation of an increasingly tense environment since at any time any of those bodies can rise once again.

Another important aspect of this tension is the sound design, filled with noises, grunts, groans, steps, and a variety of sound effects that can take any player’s breath away.

The combat here is also much better since now we can aim, very accurately, in all combats, which helps the items economy, since we can focus most shots on the enemy's head. The camera also contributes positively to the combat, for being freer, the player can get a better idea of the spaces around him, using movement strategies to dodge enemies or even avoid battles.

Following the previous game's logic, the player can still use medicinal herbs, grenades, and knives, all very limited. A new addition was the gunpowder capsules, which, when combined with each other, creates ammunition for all weapons, ranging from the good old pistol to more heavy weapons, such as the grenade launcher and the flamethrower. Another differential is that throughout the campaign, all of them can be improved with scopes, suppressors, extended combs, grips, and more, the player just needs to find the right pieces for each weapon and the right weapon for each enemy.

Speaking of which, the enemies here are numerous and, unlike RE 0 and RE, much more believable. Capcom’s attempt to make the game more serious is clear, and because of this, all the most differentiated enemies were cut, such as the spiders, crows, and sharks that we faced in the previous game. The focus here is on the classic zombie and its variations, such as the already known mutant dog and the new and dangerous licker, a quadruped creature, skinless and brain exposed. This care was also taken with the bosses, who are basically two; Tyrant (T-103), a rather frightening, agile, and resilient enemy who pursues us throughout the campaign; and G-Type, a violent creature that varies in shape with each new encounter, becoming increasingly lethal and disgusting.

Tyrant (T-103), also known as Mr. X, is responsible for the tensest moments in the entire game. At all times he chases the player, and by being practically immortal, it is almost certain that you will spend countless resources just to stay alive

Leon Kenedy

As stated earlier, the game has two distinct plots, each with its own peculiarities, however, both having the same starting point, following the same structure and scenarios. Considering my playing order, let’s go to them.

After the separation of Leon and Claire, on one of the main city avenues, both are surrounded by dozens of zombies and, moments before fleeing, combine to meet at the police station, the main game scenario. Arriving there, Leon comes up with a completely abandoned building, full of barricades, broken windows, bodies, and of course, zombies. Besides, there are also very few survivors, among them Marvin Branagh, a proud policeman who even wounded does not cease to help Leon solve some of the place mysteries.

It is Marvin who gives the player several details of what happened in the city, reporting a sudden viral outbreak and the appearance of several human flesh-eating creatures. He is also the one who instructs us and gives us details of how we can escape the place, going through a series of tunnels that will eventually arrive outside the city.

At some point, we even came to control the character, which gives a very interesting gameplay variation

During this campaign, we also met another rather mysterious character, Ada Wong, a seductive woman who presents herself as an FBI agent tasked to investigate Umbrella Corp.’s involvement with the disaster that devastated the city. Alongside her, Leon begins to thoroughly investigate the company’s relationship with the development of two biological weapons, the T-virus (already known from previous games) and the G-virus, developed by the scientist William Birkin, one of Umbrella’s leading researchers.

According to the franchise Wiki, these two viruses have specific differences, while T increases human metabolism, compromising the body cells, the G alters them more extremely, to the point of creating a new life form, the so-called G cells, which drastically modify the host’s body, creating rather bizarre and disgusting monsters.

Claire Redfield

Apparently, Claire’s campaign takes place moments after Leon’s, since in some rooms and scenarios we find letters written by the other protagonist, with tips and information. So, while Leon is doing all his research, Claire is looking for her brother, the S.T.A.R.S. agent Chris Redfield, who disappeared after the final events of the first game.

After separating from Leon, she goes to the same police station and, throughout this area, traces almost the same routes as him. Things don’t change until we get to the sewers and come up with Sherry Birki, a frightened little girl who got lost to her parents during the undead uprising.

From there we began to protect the child and help her find her mother, who later we found out to be Anette Birki, an Umbrella’s researcher, William’s wife, and one of the worst mothers in the history of video games.

At various points the game puts us in dramatic situations, in which we need to protect or rescue Sherry while presenting us and exploring certain characters and areas of Raccoon City; as in the case of Brian Irons, a greedy police chief who, at one moment, kidnaps the girl, taking her to the city’s main orphanage. There, we have an extremely tense sequence in which, controlling Sherry, needs to escape the clutches of this detestable character.

From these sequences, the game also manages to create a very good relationship between the characters, almost as if they were mother and daughter, exploring Claire’s motherly instinct and strength and Sherry’s impotence and courage. Speaking of motherly, Anette manages to be the worst of all moms, since, from the first scene in which she appears, she simply ignores the needs of her daughter, leaving to worry about her in the final moments of the campaign, where she is on the verge of death.

Bonus Campaigns

In addition to the main plot, the game also features three extra stories, which present the player with hypothetical scenarios of some of the characters that we encounter throughout the main campaign. They are No Time to Mourn, starring Robert Kendo, owner of the city’s main gun store; Runaway, in which we control the mayor’s daughter, Katherine Warren, and Forgotten Soldier, centered on one of umbrella’s security service soldiers.

For been much shorter, about 20 minutes, they cannot develop the characters in such an efficient way, but they still contribute to the city and its inhabitant's construction, showing other facets of this place so mysterious and interesting that is Raccoon City.

Hunk is also known as “reaper”, his fame is due to his coldness, calmness, and efficiency

In addition to these, we still have The 4th Survivor, a mini-campaign that can only be unlocked after the end of the two main game stories. It introduces us to Hunk, one of Umbrella’s deadlier soldiers. This is certainly one of the most challenging extras, with very limited ammo, we have to get Hunk, safe and sound, to the extraction point, passing through the game’s most dangerous scenarios, such as the sewers and the police station, filled with zombies, lickers and dogs.

Final Considerations

“Exquisite”, I believe it is the adjective that best defines this game. Everything here is perfect, the story, characters, ambiance, sound design, enemies, and especially the gameplay (even the boring and tiring backtracking has managed to entertain me).

Thanks to these qualities, Resident Evil 2 becomes a great title, working well both as a remake and as a separate game, which it possibly is, since in some interviews Capcom’s representatives have stated that this is not a canonical game, pleasing from long-time fans to new ones. And even though I didn’t play the 19998 original and without being a regular fan of the franchise (yet), I felt like this was one of my best experiences within the gaming media, much better than the previous ones, animating me, even more, to continue playing this game series.

I over recommend this experience to all of those who want to meet interesting characters and who dare to venture into the dark and dangerous streets of Raccoon City. So, until next time, when we’re going to look at the controversial Resident Evil 3 Remake.

Did you like the article? Do you have any opinions about the game? So be sure to share them with me here in the comments.

[Some images used in this article were taken from Google or from game community profiles on Steam]

Hi, I’m a Brazilian Journalist and History Student. I decided to make this my space to write about video games, great stories, and, maybe, other things.

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