Resident Evil 2 introduced us to the young police officer Leon Kennedy during his first day on the job in Raccoon City. Unfortunately for him, his arrival was preceded by a zombie outbreak caused by the vicious Umbrella Corporation. Twenty years, nearly a dozen sequels, and a bunch of movies later, Leon is about to have the worst day of his career again in Capcom's upcoming remake of Resident Evil 2. It'd be a real shame if this game weren't so darn pretty.
Picking up at Leon's arrival at Raccoon City Police Department, the demo for Resident Evil 2, which we played at New York Comic Con, threw us right into the thick of everything that made the original game so iconic, but with a modern perspective. Instead of relying on the awkward fixed camera, this Resident Evil opts for an over-the-shoulder look. Built on the Resident Evil 7's RE Engine, it makes for a much more impressive visual spectacle, immersing players in this world like they weren't before.
With such beloved characters like Leon and Claire, it also made sense to feature the improved, and lived-in, character models. If it were in first-person like RE7 was, we would have been robbed of seeing these zombie-fighting legends with all the gritty, grimy detail the RE Engine provides.
The core of Resident Evil 2 remains, which is a good thing. The maps and rooms feel just as claustrophobic, and perhaps even more so now that you can only ever see what's in front of you. The sense of depth provided with the camera change amps up the tension too, as now you can see exactly how far a zombie has to travel before it snacks on your neck. The puzzles present in the original iteration are also there, with Leon having to scramble to find clues how to unlock a hidden passage in the lobby to escape.
But really, it's all about those zombies. Resident Evil 7 was creepy and mysterious, but it had a tremendous lack of zombie foes. This turbo-charged remaster brings the undead to life in grisly detail and shambling glory. The monsters are more believable than they've ever been, and the tension of slowly creeping through the police station's darkened halls is exacerbated by those guttural moans coming at you in surround sound. It feels like Capcom has finally remembered how horror doesn't have to be action-packed to provide thrills.
Not that RE2 doesn't lack action. While the demo featuring Leon was a more measured take on Resident Evil's puzzles and exploration, it wasn't lacking for gruesome violence. Breaking down a zombie is as brutal as it is beautiful, and Capcom doesn't shy away from gore in the least. No, really. If you are the least bit squeamish, this game is going to test your limits almost immediately. It's awesome.
We also tested out a small sliver of Claire's campaign, though it was honed in on giving us a boss battle experience. If you can remember at all the frantic feeling you had the first time you fought against William Birkin, this game certainly captures that again even with the modern advantages the camera provides. Death came easy for Claire, however, as she ran out of ammunition well before Birkin ran out of anger. That said, both of the instances gave us a good glimpse into what lies ahead, and how well it tickles that part of our brain that was devoted to figuring out all of Resident Evil 2's secrets when we were still in high school.
Our time at Capcom wasn't just limited to taking a trip back in time, we also had a chance to reconnect with some old friends on new adventures in Devil May Cry 5. The demo was rather brief, but the time we got to spend with Nero and his Devil Breaker arms brought back some fond memories. The Devil May Cry series has aged well, with the combo-centric combat still feeling fresh after all these years. That's probably because DMC as a series has never taken itself too seriously, and longtime director Hideaki Itsuno has no trouble pushing the envelope with ridiculous weapons, situations, and characters.
Sword- and gunplay return as expected, but Nero brings some funk with the many Devil Breakers he can wield during the game. The ability to utilize the Breakers' specific powers, like boosted uppercuts or a rocket-propelled flying fist, add a nice wrinkle to the traditional combat styles. Those arms also have some nice feedback in the controller, which is different from that of the sword and gun, giving players an unexpected tactile sensation when fighting.
We quickly ran through some bug-inspired monsters occupying the Victorian streets Nero was exploring before coming across a gigantic big bad holding court near a church. All that Gothic beauty was rendered to dust throughout our fight, which was full of bombast and cringe-worthy one-liners. Though the fight was of the standard three-stages variety, it was still enjoyable, with the Goliath testing Nero's combat acumen with a number of heavy attacks, and a massive lava blast from the center of the mouth in his stomach. Devil May Cry 5 is nothing but inventive in its monsters.
There are still a lot of elements in Devil May Cry 5 we haven't seen in action, like Dante's ability to use a motorcycle in combat, but if this short burst of Nero is any indication, fans will be right at home in this latest sequel.