The Resident Evil franchise has cemented itself into video game culture as the very mother of the survival horror genre. Its lineage has spanned six core games, as well as dozens of spin-off titles. Whether or not you support the current action trend the series has been following, there’s not denying that Resident Evil has earned its tenure.
There have been many remakes of Resident Evil titles. The fourth game alone has been ported to several different platforms, and it’s been remastered in HD twice. The first game, originally released on the PSX in 1996, was remade for the GameCube in 2002, and there is even a Remastered version of that version due out in 2015.
With all of these remakes, there is one title in the franchise that has mysteriously been left out. A game that fans have been clamoring over for a long time. This title, of course, is Resident Evil 2.
Released in 1998, Resident Evil 2 was one of the best selling video games of its time. It sold nearly six million copies on the PlayStation, received critical acclaim, and is the best-selling game of the franchise on a single platform.
So why hasn’t Resident Evil 2 ever been remade? Why have several of the other titles been remade not only once, but multiple times? Only one explanation makes sense: Resident Evil 2 is perfect just the way it is.
If you go back and play the original RE1 on the PSX, you can see right away that it doesn’t hold up. The graphics are minimal, the cut scenes are laughable, and it has a lot of pacing issues. The GameCube remake fixed everything; It looked amazing, had better voice acting, and the gameplay was far superior.
The point here is that RE1 needed a remake. You can argue that, like the original, RE2 would also need a fresh polish in order to fix any shortcomings it has, but that’s just it – it doesn’t have any. The original Resident Evil, while still an enjoyable game in its own right, was completely eclipsed by its sequel. Resident Evil 2 did exactly what a sequel is supposed to do: take the original concept and improve on it. If you go right now and play Resident Evil 2, it’s clear that it still holds up.
The story drops you right into the nightmare of Raccoon City, and doesn’t let up until the very end. As a kid who hadn’t played the original, I still felt comfortable jumping right in. The story wasn’t muddled with complicated story elements like more recent entries. By their very nature zombie stories aren’t terribly complex, but it definitely says something when you can play the second game first and not be lost.
The visuals are great for the PSX era, the pre-rendered backgrounds being a big reason for this. Character models are a bit blocky, but nothing compared to titles like Final Fantasy VII. While the graphics in RE2 are obviously sub-par by today’s standards, graphics do not make a game great. If this were true, no one would remember the NES, or the Atari 2600. The visuals are clear, you know what’s going on, and that’s what matters.
Resident Evil 2 has some of the strongest and most loved characters in the franchise. Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop in RE2, goes on to star in Resident Evil 4, which is hailed by critics (” target=”_blank”>us included) as one of the best games of all time. Claire Redfield is a fan favorite, and has appeared in arguably some of the best titles in the franchise, RE2 and Code Veronica, and she’ll be returning for Resident Evil: Revelations 2 next year. Alyson Court has performed the voice for Claire for every title she’s appeared, even the film Resident Evil: Degeneration. That’s some staying power right there. The voice acting in RE2 overall is a bit silly, but is much stronger than its predecessor.
What really sells Resident Evil 2, however, is its gameplay. From the moment you put the disc in, no matter which character you start with, the game just sucks you in. The beautiful minimalistic score and haunting atmosphere keep you on the edge of your seat, setting the tone perfectly. You feel completely helpless navigating the Raccoon City Police Station. Go in guns blazing, and you’ll quickly be restarting the game. Every dodged enemy is a victory; every bullet saved is a treasure. Survival horror was born on the first game, but the sequel raised and molded it. It’s truly one of the best games in the series, striking that perfect balance of action and terror that has become a staple of the franchise and the genre itself.
So will Resident Evil 2 ever be remade? Capcom has gone on record as saying they would consider it if demand were high enough. There have actually been rumblings that they are using the new HD version of the first Resident Evil to test the waters and see if there is enough interest for an RE2 remake as well. This is just speculation, however, as there is yet no evidence to support this claim.
Simply, Resident Evil 2 is an experience every horror game fan should have. It is, in fact, an experience every gamer should have. It’s fun, scary, and still plays very well after all these years. So dust off your old PlayStation, turn out all the lights, and prepare to enter the world of survival horror.