Since E3 I have been watching trailers of the Resident Evil 2 remake on loop, devouring any content like a cerberus around an unwitting corpse.
The original may well be my favourite game of all time with its cryptic puzzles, grave suspense and shocking jump scares. Two decades later, Resident Evil 2 draws me in just as much as it ever has, and the promise of this remake has me more excited than an evil scientist in front of a tyrant.
But this is not a remaster; this is not a simple graphical update with some tweaks like we have seen with the original Resident Evil. This is a full-on remake, a reimagining of the original game with a revamped set of mechanics and its own way of telling the story of Raccoon City’s downfall. So what can we expect and what can we hope for in this newly told chapter? Here are some ideas!
1Two Full Campaigns
Resident Evil 2 had four separate campaigns to play through, a scenario A and B for both main characters. Ah, those were the days. We cannot really hope for that kind of treatment anymore – its 2018 and we are lucky to get even one single player campaign.
What we can hope for is a full campaign for each of Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Playing the original was great as the two characters had dense and exciting stories set in the same location, yet they’d only occasionally meet – often across an impassable load of flaming debris. Playing through both characters’ stories would inevitably reward you with a ‘a-ha!’ moment when you recognised the scene you were at from the opposing character’s perspective.
Capcom has already confirmed that we will get to play as Claire, so hopefully we will see this recreated in the remake It would be a real shame if the two separate stories were exchanged for one joint campaign. It wouldn’t ruin the game outright, but it certainly would put a dent in the replayability and enjoyment we got from the criss-crossing stories of the original.
2Some Cheesy Bits
The first three Resident Evil games, while being extremely terrifying, also functioned like a set of B-movies. The acting was over-the-top and the motives of some characters were out of this world. I am thinking especially of the infamous Barry Burton ‘Jill Sandwich’ scene from Resident Evil 1 or the absolutely insane Brian Irons, chief of Raccoon City Police Department, who sadistically kills off his staff for his own enjoyment and personal gain.
Playing through this game at university, my friends and I would often quote these ridiculous moments to each other at the expense of our other flatmates. This tone in the remake has to be notched down for obvious reasons – it is very hard to build suspense when you are laughing every five minutes. However, I hope Capcom doesn’t forget to add a few bits of hilarity into the story. It wouldn’t quite be Resident Evil 2 without them. Besides, I’ll need them to calm my nerves after every scrape with Mr. X or William Birkin.
3A New Old Police Department
I will not be the only one who knows Raccoon City like the back of their hand. As much as would love to see the place lovingly remade pixel for pixel in 4K, I hope Capcom changes the locations up a little. Why? Because Resident Evil 2 is as much a puzzle game as it is a survival horror. The success of the franchise relied as much on decent brainteasers as it did jumpscares. Resident Evil 2 had me jotting every piece of information down in a trusty notepad in case any fleeting description of a painting was required to open a overly complicated locked door.
You will not be able to keep returning fans’ brain cells firing if every location remains exactly the same. Whether that is as big as changing the plot so Leon and Claire explore the station in totally new ways, or as small as moving the location of some choice items, something will need to be done to keep us on our toes. I hope the most iconic areas are recreated in new state of the art visuals – we have seen this already in the entrance hall – but the Resident Evil 2 Remake equally needs some new touches, too.
4A Lisa Trevor
Lisa Trevor was a new character added into the remaster of Resident Evil. She was the daughter of architect George Trevor who designed the Arklay Mansion where all the evil Umbrella shenanigans went down. Lisa was abducted, abused and tested on, while also infected with the Golgotha virus. She suffered a poor fate that you can explore in the remake through a whole new set of files, monsters and areas. Essentially, the addition of her character opened up a whole new section of the game as well as an unwilling boss in the updated Resident Evil. The real genius of Lisa Trevor, though, was how well her inclusion was weaved into the base game. It seemed like she had always been there.
The addition of Lisa Trevor and the new areas added extra reasons for seasoned veterans to come back for the remake, without disrupting the balance and tone of the main game. Resident Evil 2 needs its own Lisa Trevor. If we don’t want the police station to be the same, then one way to change it up is to add a new figure like Lisa that adds depth, mystery and horror to the world we know and love.
Resident Evil 4 was the first game in the franchise to sport an over-the-shoulder perspective. It was brand new, it was exciting and the game was flawless. But it was different. Different to the slower paced, more suspense-driven original games that focused on survival rather than action. Different doesn’t always mean better, though. Although I wouldn’t change an inch of Resident Evil 4, I would hope the remake of the Resident Evil 2 stays true to its roots, despite going to an over the shoulder perspective.
I don’t want to see Claire and Leon kicking zombies to death like there’s no tomorrow. This is supposed to be the story of them being thrust into a horror they have no training for. The game should represent the feeling of our characters being overwhelmed in this desperate and horrific environment. We should feel our hearts stop in time with our characters’ when they run out of ammo in the midst of a horde of the undead. I would hope Capcom has tried for a new way to replicate that survival horror vibe that was synonymous with the series in the late 90s.
It has already been confirmed that the much-loved minigames ‘The 4th Survivor’ and ‘The Tofu Survivor’ are back. We will be able to control Hunk and, er, a large chunk of… tofu in a survival mode at the end of the game as we try escape the city with a hidden objective. But what I want to see is the less well-known ‘Extreme Battle’ mode. This mode worked in a fairly similar way as ‘The 4th Survivor’, as you essentially run around with limited ammo and healing items, instead this time looking for anti-virus bombs. They vary in location and so you must battle your way through hordes of enemies in order to find them. It was the action-packed condensed version of the more tense-toned main game.
Extreme Battle mode also boasted the inclusion of unlockable characters Ada Wong and Chris Redfield – especially cool, considering Chris doesn’t feature in the main game whatsoever. Each character had different starting items, which added to the replayability of this crazy gorefest. It seems like it should be a simple mode to bring back as there isn’t much in terms of new content that needs adding, so I hope that Capcom will allow us to run around the RCPD one more time. We could have our Resident Evil 4 experience without having to disrupt the uneasy tone of the base game.
Looking at all of the pre-order deluxe editions of the game, there is an easy pattern to spot: alternate costumes. There is already a lot of announced alternate costumes for our two protagonists, including an Elza Walker skin for Claire. (Elza’s the original, blonde haired, motorbike-racing female protagonist from an early (nearly complete) build of Resident Evil 2.) All of these costumes are fairly interesting and will have their suitors (if you pardon the pun) – but there is one skin that is missing.
What is missing is a low-poly, retro skin that resembles the original game. We have seen this cool bit of nostalgia work before for Lara Croft in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. I would love to see the new and improved doughy-looking Leon S. Kennedy being replaced by a sharp polygon-suited man with outrageously orange hair. As a fellow ginger, we need the representation!