Saturday, 31 October 2015

Resident Evil 2/ GameCube



Hmmmmm 1998. It seems like light years away since Resident Evil 2 was first released....Can you remember demo disks? Those things that you used to get with a magazine when the PS1 was the console that chewed up your spare time and often your school time (either late in or sick). I had the demo for Resident Evil 2, possibly months before I actually borrowed a copy of the full game from my friend Alan's dad...yes his dad. (I had considered stealing my step-brother's copy first). That is how popular this game series had become and this is partly why I have chosen this now ancient title as my second game to review, with my twisted take on how I view it today.
(Plus the hype that a remake is in the early stages of development).



The demo was enough. Maybe around 10-20 minutes of total play. (the only other demo with this type of playability was GTA). This was at a time just before copied disks around my way. I was skint with no income for buying titles that had just been released. So I played the waiting game, knowing that at some point someone would complete it or get sick of it and hand me a copy. That day was the end of my weekends playing football for a little while..Well a large part of it anyway.

I couldn't wait to get the disk into the PS1. It had two and not just for loading time. Oh lord! The anticipation that it was going to be the best game ever. The demo, on constant replay had set me up nicely and the full game did not let me down. 

'What I remember from those days spent playing the demo, which gave you control of rookie police officer Leon S. Kennedy, is that Capcom hadn't just made another Resident Evil title, they had completely changed the setting and how I would play survival horror games forever.' 

Poor Leon, first day on the force and me at the controls. Not even cops in Compton have it that bad. 
You could get as far as the police station in the demo, where you meet up with a soon to turn police officer (who I convinced all that would listen, was none other than Will Smith) and then not much further. You were playing from scenario a. So your first interaction with another human, is the gun shop owner, who staring down the barrel of a very square looking pump action tells you to freeze. 'I love this part.' After an exchange of pleasantries and a little look around for items, zombies burst through the front window of the gun shop and begin munching on the owner who helplessly fires off a round as he regrets having hit on Claire previously. 'At least that's my version if I had written the script.' From here it's off to the police station where the game really begins, with a format that is similar to that of Resident Evil; puzzles, finding things, shooting or avoiding new and improved zombies in terms of looks and not so much in movement and stupidity. Newly mutated monsters, as well as occasionally bumping into the other characters. Once I had the full game, I could really begin to explore the massive maze of the police station, which thankfully isn't just another mansion (If you forget about the fact that you still need key sets and gems) and thankfully not as it was originally intended in Resident Evil 1.5, the initial version of the game, which was scrapped in the development stage, due to producer Shinji Mikami, being disappointed and labeling it 'dull and boring'.

Still fairly new to survival horror at this point and overly excited at the prospects, I set out in full on rampage mode wanting to kill everything in sight. It probably wasn't until after the first completion of a scenario, of which there are four in total, that I figured that it was wiser to be more tactical with my approach to the process of surviving another attempt at completion. The fact that there are two disks, two characters and four scenarios to complete is also one of the reasons that this game is a classic and still worth playing today; there is so much to do. If there is to be a remake, it will only make this game even more classical, as has the HD remake of Resident Evil, which can be downloaded for PS4.  'Now available on the Origins disk bundle.' I have played and completed this title too, it was like playing it for the first time again. More on that another time though.


Plot

In brief. Rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy, bumps into Claire Redfield (Chris Redfield's sister), before the game begins, as he heads towards his first day on the job. After almost shooting Claire in the head, they both realise that something isn't quite right with Raccoon City. After some zombie avoiding and explosions, the pair are separated and the game begins with whichever character disk you have chosen to play first. RE2 tells the story of how the viral outbreak that was confined to a creepy mansion that not even Luigi would enter, has now infected the majority of the population of humans, dogs and the odd plant and crow of Raccoon City. Choosing a character to play out the main story with, you embark on a mission to find out what the hell is going on.


Gameplay

It pretty much has it all in terms of survival horror and zombie horror in particular; that which we have come to expect today. There are zombies of course. There are twisted stories that don't quite add up until you get closer to the end of the game, but of which there are clues throughout indicating that the terror is far bigger than an isolated incident in a woodland mansion. There are kick ass characters, as well as slightly naive characters, who don't tend to last too long; plus the odd psychotic one just to make sure that you are truly on your toes. There is also the introduction of Ada Wong, who becomes one of those characters that you just expect to show her face in every new release of the main game series. You also get to play as Ada in Leon's scenario, bringing more than just single character control into the plot. It isn't difficult to survive on normal setting, but in the style of survival horror, you have to locate items and often avoid just shooting your way out, to reserve ammo for a later encounter that could prove to be more difficult to run away from. (I've made the mistake often of just shooting wildly, only to be left short at key points in this type of game). If you really want to be in a nail biting, hair pulling, survival mode (without the use of stocking's and a whip), then it is best to knock the difficulty up a notch or two.
The game gives room to either absorb it like a movie, enjoying the cutscenes as a breather in between the odd killing, plus surprise or two or to really get involved in a fight to the death as you make every decision count. This is another reason that Resident Evil in general is a classic survival horror. There are often moments when items will become scarce, health will become low, leaving every room that you enter a hope that you can locate what you need in order to feel safe momentarily.

  
The scenery is fresh and still crisp looking today (3d rendered, they tend to stay this way), with sight after sight that delights the eye, whilst the characters although square looking, at the time where a vast improvement on the first game, look outdated today. On the downside, at times your character's hand or foot may disappear into the environment as you are interacting with it. The voice acting is as cheesy as ever, but to be fair it adds to the style in which a lot of early zombie films were made. The music is brilliant and sound effects comical if not sounding realistic. I just love this game throughout and it is hard to fault it, unlike some of the titles that have come afterwards. 

The mutations this time around are brilliant. Cue licker....

Which you see for the first time shortly after arriving at the station. 
 As if having normal zombies wasn't enough (T virus), some of the strands of the virus responsible for the outbreak in Raccoon City have the ability to mutate the host and the mutations can be anything from flesh dropping off, to more arms and eye's than a Hindu God. There are plenty of challenges as far as big bosses are concerned and the puzzles as always can sometimes be testing, but never too complicated; if I am honest though very samey as Resident Evil, a theme that continued throughout the first few titles.

Looking back, the controls were simple and I like to keep it simple when it comes to gaming controls. (I cannot stand shiz like Street Fighter and the like, battering buttons).
The movement of Leon and Claire, still has that slow paced look about it that was present with Jill and Chris in Resident Evil and the camera is very static. In recent years we have been spoilt with 360 degree movement and the freedom to go almost anywhere in our chosen fantasy worlds; but back then it was often the case that you had to follow the script as it was scripted. Having said that though, the script was pretty awesome for Resident Evil 2 and I didn't mind going where it ended up taking me. The hope of a remake would be that it included updated camera and character movement as well as a HD overhaul; plus I might add, no effing loading every time that you open a door. The one thing that I always didn't like about those early days. (Open a door walk through. Step onto stairs, walk up). The only pleasing break from this type of screen loading, is the beat of a heart that sometimes accompanies the process, indicating that you may be about to encounter a fate worse than death.

Overall there is much too keep you entertained. Hours of sleepless night's and possible sick days.


So to close the door on this review, which I will come back and add to as I revisit the game in the near future, adding a separate review for the updated game if it reaches completion, I will say this. 'If you haven't played this game yet, for one reason or another, go play it.'
The fact that a demo was enough to have me playing a short version on repeat speaks volumes in itself. It plays like a zombie movie. Better than the Resident Evil films. Period. I have played it on a number of consoles and I am excited beyond belief that there is a remake in the pipeline. Let's hope that it isn't just a pipe dream.
Resident Evil 2 scores an 8 out of 10. 
Score based purely on the game's playability and appeal that it still has today.  


Fan of Resident Evil 2? Let me know in the comments your memories of this game.