Resident Evil 2 Remake and the meaning of terror

Horror is not dying, it was lurking in the shadows all this time.

Another positive article about the industry? It’s Ray dying or something? Well unlucky you Internet, because I’m more alive than fascism nowadays! And speaking about fascism, let’s talk about horror and the sense of familiar fear returning once again to our world. Granted, Resident Evil 2 doesn’t have anything to do with fascism (aside from the fact that both things are returning and everything looks terrifying once again), but I wanted to link the joke with today’s topic so… mission accomplished. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase and start talking about how Resident Evil 2 Remake manages to deliver the spooks once again on its incoming remake. Also spoilers for a game released in 1998, I guess?

There was this incident, involving zombies

Resident Evil 2 was a great game with cheesy voice acting, and whoever tells you otherwise, they don’t know what the hell they are talking about. The essence of the sequel to Jill & Chris’ Sandwich Paradise was upgraded in RE 2 rather than changed. We are still dealing with evil corporations working on bioweapons and a main place that we have to explore in order to get to a secret facility. Does that mean that Resident Evil 2 was scary? Well… Not really.

You had your jumpscares and your moments of tension, but for the most part, it was more focused on action due to the amount of ammo you can get and the variety of weapons you can use. This is something that can be seen in other media like the first 2 Alien movies: the first one isolates Ripley and her crew on a single area with only one threat, while the sequel it’s more action focused but making the number of Aliens bigger to show a sense of escalation in terms of how dangerous can be an entire colony of Aliens. Same thing goes with Resident Evil: we go from a mansion with a couple of zombies inside of it and a final foe that it’s eliminated at the end to a city filled with zombies that makes us travel from the streets of Raccoon City to the Police Station and finally reaching an underground lab where the bioweapons were created. However, this is when Capcom decided to say “f*ck it” and take this sequel back to its roots or, to be more accurate, to the seed planted in Resident Evil Remake.

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So familiar, yet so new

People who love the first entry to the franchise usually enjoy even more its GameCube Remake. But the thing about how Capcom handles these remakes seems to take a different path from what we are used to seeing when we hear that someone is making a remake of a game. Examples like the recent Trilogies of Spyro and Crash Bandicoot (the latter getting also a remake of Crash Team Racing) show how this usually goes: same controls, better graphics and art style but overall the exact same thing. Capcom doesn’t like to go humbly offering the same thing, however.

Like in the first Remake, the upgraded version of RE 2 presents the player an interesting feeling of discovery as well as familiarity. We may know our way through the Spencer Mansion on the original PSX title, but when you start playing Remake you realize some things weren’t like that the first time. New tension, enemies and even new areas are added to the experience in order to keep returning players at the edge of their seat in order to fool their memory about the game they loved so much. This works fantastic, as horror works the best when you use something that you know but change some things to make things more tense for the people who are watching/playing it. In this case, RE 2 Remake takes the concept of old areas like the Police Station or the Sewers and makes them feel more tense with the addition of figures like Mr. X following you around and walking slowly towards either Leon/Ada/Claire with an eerie sound of footsteps or zombies needing more than 2 or 3 shots to the head in order to dispatch them. And they showed all this stuff in 20 minutes!

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If there’s something that I’m good at (aside for criticizing everything I see, hear, or taste, of course) is in the field of analyzing every single aspect of a video game. That’s why you have to trust me when I say that the people at Capcom understand what they can and cannot do in this remake. As we can see in this gameplay of Arekkz Gaming, we are going to see old places like the burning area that leads towards Chief Irons’ Office, the sewers and the main hall among others. However, the genius thing comes when you see how everything is structured. Areas rely now on a third person camera rather than fixed angles, making the experience more personal and closer and making the danger closer to our character as well. Even if the latter fixed angles gave a sense of dread and fear towards what could be hiding behind the corner, you can’t deny that defeating foes was as simple as just aiming and shooting (if you had the lock-on feature, of course). Now, the game cranks tension up to 11 due to the fact that you have to manually target which part of the body you want to shoot at. And let’s be honest: those bullet wounds look even more terrifying up close and personal. And all these features are not as new as we may think, because Capcom is not offering new things, but rather perfecting old techniques. And in order to talk about this, I have to address the elephant in the room: Resident Evil 6.

So close, yet so far

Oh, RE 6, how much you’ve been insulted and injured by fans and people… myself included, to be honest. But thanks to this enjoyable yet unfocused mess of a game we have some improved versions of features on RE 2 Remake. Enemies losing limbs? Thank RE 6 for that. Moving while aiming? Same thing. Hey, I didn’t say there were a lot of features carried from that game, okay? But the developers learned as well about their mistakes too, and that’s something important as well. Now they know that constant QTEs are just completely useless and annoying, so it is having enemies poop ammo like they had a bullet factory inside their bodies. And in a way, they also learned and took everything from other titles as well which is something that, you know, not many developers do when they release things with a 2 on it, right IO?

We have things from RE 7 too, like not having a door transition, which will make encounters even more unexpected as no place will be safe. We also have the figure of Mr X, who will act as basically one of the members of the Baker family (or Nemesis, which is a more memorable stalker than Mr X, fight me) but on steroids, as it seems that it will follow us for quite a while. Again, all this article was made with the things that I saw on a 20 minutes gameplay, so you can’t imagine what I’m going to write about once the game comes out next January.

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Overall, I’m positive about how this Remake is taking form. Resident Evil is one of my favourite franchises and I still love and play Resident Evil 2 on my Vita from time to time. Come on I have like, three copies of the Resident Evil Remake and four copies of RE 4, and I can recite the full scene when Leon finds Marvin for the first time. Am I excited for this remake? You bet. Does this mean I’m not going to be so critic about it? Come on, don’t make me laugh, if I can tear a new one talking about Hitman, you know I won’t trouble to talk about a Resident Evil game.

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