‘Resident Evil 2’ remake offers classic gameplay, new content

Everything I knew about “Resident Evil 2” wouldn’t help me here. Although the upcoming remake brought me to familiar territory, everything about the game was different. It’s not just a visual upgrade with an updated combat system.

Every element of “Resident Evil 2” seems to have been redone. That was immediately noticeable when I picked up the demo and found Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong teaming up to escape the Raccoon City Police Department. After seeing the impact of the zombie outbreak on the populace, the two go into the sewers looking for a secret underground Umbrella lab. It’s a classic premise for the series and one that puts players in a labyrinthine level where they have to fend off zombies while trying to Annette Birkin and her lab.

With Leon Kennedy in the lead, the gameplay is focused on the classic survival-horror mechanics. Players have to shoot zombies in the head before they reach players and chow down on them. If they inch closer to them, they could run away and start again. The undead are surprisingly tough and it take several bullets to put them down.

Furthermore, he’ll encounter a horrifically mutated creature that spews out poisonous tadpole creatures. It’s a type of monster to give players nightmares and it almost requires players to use the blue herbs they find scattered throughout the stage. Players can defeat it if they arm Leon with enough grenades, but it’s nerve-wracking fight.

Players have to equip the grenades as a subweapon, which removes a knife or other weapon. A nice wrinkle in the gameplay is that if players have a grenade or knife equipped and they are attacked by a zombie, they can stuff the zombie’s mouth with an explosive or stab it in the head with the knife. It uses up the grenade or damages the durability of the knife, but it’s often worth it to conserve health.

Partway through the Leon chapter, he is injured and Ada takes over. This part of “Resident Evil 2” highlights the differences between the two characters’ playstyles. Whereas Leon was reliant on gunplay, Ada uses a gadget that lets her track wires through walls and find power conduits. It’s a puzzle-oriented element that quickly ramps up as players have to scan walls and hack conduits so they can exit rooms full of zombies or avoid a seemingly indestructible monster called Tyrant.

One of my favorite parts of previous “Resident Evil 2” is how the game intertwines the actions of the characters. For example, players can open doors for one hero but that would close it for another in a second playthrough. In another instance, taking a machine gun or sidepack as Leon would mean leaving the other for Claire Redfield.

“Resident Evil 2” retains this quirk as players will find themselves in the same place Leon and Ada started in the demo, but this time, they take on the role of Claire Redfield. She’s with Sherry Birkin when the Raccoon City police chief Brian Irons kidnaps Sherry and leaves Claire alone in the police station.

This part of the “Resident Evil 2” remake reminded me most of the original. Claire has to explore the police station and find a way to get a keycard that would open the door of the underground garage. That takes her through a morgue and the mansion-like police station. Players will have to find keys to unlock certain doors that have locks based on card suits. An important practice to keep in mind while finding items is that players should always examine them because they could hold important clues and items. Also reading materials offer important clues on where Claire should explore next.

Another “Resident Evil” gameplay mechanic that players must deal with is inventory management. This immediately becomes a problem with Claire as players need to carry several keys and puzzle items with along with ammo and weapons. Players have to shuffle their gear around constantly while exploring the expansive police station.

The “Resident Evil 2” remake seems to hit the right balance between giving players a touch of nostalgia with the setting and classic gameplay, but Capcom introduces a large amount of new content to make the entry feel new. It appears to be the right combination that series fans should be eager to pick up.

“Resident Evil 2” comes out Jan. 25, 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

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