It's that time of year where we look back up on the entirety of the gaming calendar and reflect on which games stayed with us the most, and the competition was extensive in 2019 to be sure. That said, despite being released earlier in the year, Capcom's Resident Evil 2 is definitely in that upper echelon of 2019 releases, and somehow improved on a game that is already considered one of the best. That's alone is a feat worth celebrating.
Resident Evil 2 wasn't the first survival horror game on the block, but it certainly helped catapult the genre into the mainstream. Even so, 1998 was quite some time ago, but the Resident Evil 2 remake allows the game's strongest points to shine through thanks to the overhaul given to the visuals and control scheme, though the increased presence of tension should also be given its just credit.
Not struggling against the tank controls of the original offers true immersion, allowing the unexpected frights to land with maximum impact. There's no feeling like walking into a darkened room and summoning the courage to walk forward to the sliver of light your flashlight provides, with every step forward raising the sense of unease and tension even more.
That tension gets another welcome boost courtesy of zombies being able to bash their way through doors, meaning you can't just head into another room and expect very long to breathe. Granted, it shocked the hell out of me the first time it happened, as this wasn't present in the original Resident Evil 2. Having zombies be able to not only follow your trail but also move into your would-be safe space makes even the most ordinary of encounters something you have to strategize for.
The game also understands that less is more, so more often than not you'll be facing one or two enemies at a time in any given room. That doesn't mean the game's a breeze though, and Capcom has tweaked the formula a bit to make even those one-on-one encounters taxing to your health and inventory. You'll often have just enough ammo to get you through any one section, but you'll need to book it more than you might think. Luckily you can now make that n effective strategy, as the controls make maneuvering around corners and heading through doors easy.
When things do pop off though, the smooth gunplay is much appreciated. Whether you've got a handgun or a rocket launcher, Resident Evil 4 fans will feel right at home with the modernized control scheme. Some of your favorite bosses are back from the original too, and they all take into account your increased combat prowess and movement, making most of these even better than the fights you remember, though occasionally there's a hiccup or two in difficulty spiking.
In addition to the tougher enemies, upgraded bosses, and smoothed out gameplay, this game is simply gorgeous. The original was an achievement of its time, but so is the remake. From the opening cinematic onward it makes a statement, and every blood-soaked room, hallway, and courtyard dazzles in the most disturbing of ways. The character models deliver a layer of realism that just wasn't present in the original, and the voice acting is a step forward as well.
Resident Evil 2 adds some significant modern touches and flare, but it retains plenty of that old-school Resident Evil magic, including yes, those wonderful typewriters. Resident Evil 2 will delight new fans who want to know what all the hype was about as well as fans of the original who want a fresh twist, and regardless of what camp you call home, this is an instant recommend, and it's why Resident Evil 2 is one of our games of the year.