Back when it originally came out in 1998, Resident Evil 2 absolutely terrified gamers, masterfully building off its predecessor's survival horror foundation with new creatures and twists. Of special note were the static camera angles, which are best described as a security camera in the world of the game. Though they may not have provided the right angles for modern scares, they were quite chilling back in the day.
Capcom is well aware that times, tastes, and technologies have changed, though, so they modernized Resident Evil 2 for a remake of the classic that hits shelves on January 25. The new version takes the core of what made the original so great — zombies and suspense — and couples it with new mechanics and systems that will hopefully make it work for a fresh audience in 2019.
A ton of demos, from E3 in Los Angeles to Gamescom in Germany, and time with a review version of the game have revealed a cavalcade of changes that make the classic horror adventure feel completely new.
A SEAMLESS, OVER-THE-SHOULDER CAMERA
The Resident Evil series has evolved since its conception in 1996. Each title reflected the technology of its time — the first game introduced static camera angles and the recent Texas Chain Saw-like Resident Evil 7 had an absolutely gut-wrenching first-person view.
While developers considered a first-person approach for the remake, they ultimately decided against it and to emulate Resident Evil 4's over-the-shoulder approach. They exchanged the infamous doors, which hid all sorts of unspeakable horror in the original game, with a claustrophobic long shot that limits your field of view.
The new angle makes attacks-from-behind all the more surprising and the camera reflects that by closing in whenever Claire or Leon get bit. It also emphasizes the series roots in exploration by allowing you to freely wander around all of Raccoon City's zombie infested environments.
EERIE SPACIAL AUDIO
There's nothing more suspenseful in a third person shooter than hearing something that you can't see, especially when you've got to keep your head on a swivel to be aware of your surroundings. The original had a tense soundtrack, as spacial audio didn't really make sense with a static angle.
The remake, on the other hand, features all sorts of footsteps, screams, and creaks from every direction. Some are far off in the distance and some sound as if they are right next to you. While the music from the original will be missed (although DLC will let you use the original soundtrack while playing if you're feeling nostalgic), the new system makes for much tenser situations.
Remakes are great. They recreate classic hits so a new audience can experience a fantastic game they may have missed (or maybe weren't alive to play yet). They can also be predictable — since its the same story and level design for the most part. If you change it too much diehard fans might skip out since it isn't the game they know and love.
It's a delicate balance and Capcom is walking that line delicately by making slight changes to when and how the creatures show up and how levels are designed. While the original may have given you a sneak peek of something through a window or off in the distance, the remake introduces those same monsters at different times to retain the shock factor of the original. Don't worry- the changes aren't major, they're just enough to be appreciated alongside the game design of the original.
A REVAMPED INVENTORY SYSTEM
The remake revamps the inventory system by making it less limited — you can increase your bag's eight-slot capacity several times throughout the game and place additional items in save room boxes. It's not real-time like Resident Evil 7 or Outbreak, which would've been cool, but it is more manageable than the original.
REBUILT AND REFRESHED ENVIRONMENTS
With a fresh, all-encompassing camera comes newly designed environments. The static camera angles left areas unexplored in the original and the new games camera system lets you explore those hidden spaces — meaning Capcom spent extra time bringing everything up to tip-top shape.
They built out levels that weren't realized in the original and recreated scenarios with the new camera angle in mind. The Raccoon City Police Department is the biggest one that's realized in a whole new way — you won't recognize it if you were a fan of the original. And yet, the whole game feels just familiar enough, making it even more thrilling when something unexpected jumps out at you.