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The Best and Worst Changes in the Resident Evil 2 Remake

Home » Features » The Best and Worst Changes in the Resident Evil 2 Remake

For better or for worse

The Resident Evil 2 remake is utterly brilliant, and without a doubt the best thing about it is that it captures the blood-crawling terror of the original while feeling brand new.

It feels like an enigma of nostalgia and surprise; the halls of the RPD feel all too familiar, despite a myriad of changes. Any changes made to the original have been made with survival horror at heart, but there are still a few that had us scratching our heads.

Here we go through the changes to Resident Evil 2 that stood out to us most, both for better and for worse.

This article contains spoilers for Resident Evil 2. Proceed at your own risk!

The Best: Mr X/The Tyrant

The one thing I was hoping that the new Resident Evil 2 would recapture was the sense of uneasiness and fear that the original game produced so well. Later entries in the series lost some of that (save for Resident Evil 7), shifting the focus to action and thrills from fast-moving abominations rather than the stalking horror of the original Resident Evil games.

Nothing personified this dread more than the unstoppable Mr. X who would enter into your nightmare out of nowhere and cause you to panic. If he didn’t catch you himself then he led you directly into the jaws of a zombie. He was so terrifying that Capcom used a carbon copy of him as the premise to the sequel, in the form of Nemesis. I have never been more scared of a videogame character than I have been of Mr. X  in my whole life. Until now.

I tried to go into this remake blind, without watching much promotional material, so I had no idea what form Mr. X would take. So when he first appeared, after making light work of that helicopter, I knew I was in trouble. Did I have to stay and fight in this new version, or was it best to run? I simply had no idea and ended up caught between two minds. He grabbed me immediately as I stumbled in uncertainty. Then, I decided to fight, mainly out of curiosity but also due to a twitchy trigger finger. I watched him go down on one knee, thinking that may be the end of it for now. No such luck; he quickly got up as I dithered around. I ran, I didn’t know where, but I was too far gone into flight mode to care. I was unsettled. I had seen the horror that stalked my early gaming days in stunning detail get up after several shotgun blasts to the face.

The way he then continues to stalk you throughout the police station, doors no longer being his enemy, is truly frightening. It adds so much tension to these parts of the game, making you forget what you are doing and offsetting any rhythm you’ve managed to get into.

The Best: Motives

“Why, in all that is good, are we heading down here?”, I remember asking myself several times when playing the original Resident Evil 2. Yes, I know something horrible is going on, but I’m a rookie cop and there is no guarantee that going into the sewers will lead to survival. Just because there was a brief mention of some secret organisation on some terrible written note isn’t cause for me to jump headfirst into alligator-infested waters.

It was all a bit silly, and in the original Resident Evil 2, the motivations for you to head to one place or another relied on a meta-understanding of the game wanting you to go there.

That’s not the case in 2019’s Resident Evil 2. We now have more understanding as to why the characters want us to head in directions X, Y and Z. Even from the very beginning it is made very clear why we are heading to the police station, why we are randomly collecting medallions and how we are trying to escape this crazy situation. It makes the game a lot more believable and takes it away from that B-movie vibe it had back in the 90s.

Though I do miss Chief Brian Irons’ over the the top monologues…

The Best: Leon’s Hair

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One of the most ridiculous things about the original Resident Evil 2 was Leon’s bright orange hair. Not ginger, but bright orange. It was as if Leon wanted to run around the police headquarters with a traffic cone on his head, shouting “look at me!” to all the zombies that would munch him up. But the hair colour wasn’t unique to him, oh no: seemingly half of Raccoon City had gone to Boots and bought the same orange hair dye just before the zombie apocalypse broke out.

It slightly takes you out of the moment when you see so many redheads in an apocalypse. You feel like you are fighting a horde of zombies at a Weasley family reunion. Leon’s more subtle hair colour in the remake is far more suited to a rookie cop and the story is better for it.

Though Capcom could’ve given him a pointier chin and bright orange hair for an alternative costume.

The Best: Character and Enemy Detail

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Simply said, Resident Evil 2 is beautiful. Not in a gorgeous landscape kind of way, but in a gore-tastic wonderment kind of way. This is especially true of the monsters that linger around the police station; every zombie has a real look of decay and a sad loneliness. Even the lickers, who looked grotesque in the original, have found a new level of graphical menace. Every dismembered arm, disfigured neck and blood-splattered wall is made to look as creepy as possible in this terrifying game.

Let’s not forget this graphical update extends to the human characters as well. Claire and Leon are amazingly rendered in great new detail and look genuinely human juxtaposed amongst the hordes of undead that lay in wait. I even love Leon’s little bum chin.

The Best: The Orphanage

How could you make Chief Brian Irons and the Umbrella Corporation look worse than they did in the original? Throw in some child test subjects!

Exploring the orphanage as Sherry and Claire allows you to learn more about the evil tendencies of the corrupt city officials. The fact that you visit and rescue Sherry from a children’s orphanage that has recruited orphans as subjects and mercilessly killed them off and covered it up is simply horrific. It gives another horrifying twist in the history of Raccoon City.

The Best: Annette Birkin

From playing the original Resident Evil 2, I already knew that Annette Birkin was a witch with a capital B, but the remake makes that feeling all the stronger.

She is personified perfectly as a character that puts her research before anything else in her life, including her daughter. She has no remorse for doing what needs to be done for the sake of her studies – and the fact that she’s voice acted really well by Karen Strassman makes her character even more realistic and detestable.

The Best: Chief Irons

I found Chief Irons’ changes to be a really great part of the Resident Evil 2 remake. He just wasn’t quite menacing enough in the original. Don’t get me wrong; he was definitely freaky (I mean, you literally run into him in his office with a disemboweled woman laying on his desk right in front of him), but there’s actual real motivation behind new Irons.

After reading a few emails in his office it becomes clear that he was being bribed or possibly blackmailed by William Birkin as well as forced into keeping an eye on Sherry. When things started to go absolutely insane, everything caught up, making the already unstable police chief go off the deep end.

During the brief section where players get the chance to control Sherry, Irons is as creepy as they get. Chasing Sherry around in a “here’s Johnny” kind of way while all you she do is hide and hope he doesn’t see you – it’s the stuff of nightmares. Chief Irons felt like a pretty insignificant character in the original, but he’s become a real villain in the remake.

The Best: Updated Outfits

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As much as we all love the classic outfits from Resident Evil 2, there was definitely the need for an update. This became evident to me when I finished my first playthrough and the alternate outfits were unlocked. I immediately equipped Claire’s original outfit and it didn’t take long for me to realise that some things needed to change.

The new outfit for Claire is practical and still has a hint of the old Claire in there with the red leather jacket, and Leon’s outfit feels much less 90s and more Practical Police Officer. Oh, and it’s not a blinding bright blue anymore. We’ll always love the classic outfits, but this time around the change was a very good thing.

Worst: Outside R.P.D

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Time to get onto the bad stuff.

The start of the original Resident Evil 2 takes you on a tour of Raccoon City as you look to find the police headquarters where the brunt of the game takes place. However, there is still a significant time spent outside in the zombie-ridden city that gives you a full understanding of what has happened to the place.

I didn’t get the same feeling in the remake. While the prologue serves as way of showing you what is happening and how everything has gone arse-over-tit, it merely tells you this rather than letting you experience it for yourself. Yes, you do get to go outside again later in the story but it feels like a barren wasteland rather than a city that has monsters inhabiting every corner.

The Worst: Ada’s Batman Gadget

Ada is the complex side character to Leon’s campaign that shows up every now and then to provide him with clues – and misdirection – as to what is going on in the city. You get to play as Ada at some parts in the original Resident Evil 2‘s campaign too, but this time you have to utilise her Batman-like hacking tool.

The game at this point starts feeling more like Arkham Asylum than Resident Evil and is very out of place. Where I enjoyed the change of perspective in the original, playing as Ada in the remake feels too jarring. It gets better when Mr. X turns up to scare the bejeezus out of you, but otherwise you feel far too slick to be stuck in a zombie apocalypse.

The Worst: Less Ambiguity

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One thing I loved about the way the original Resident Evil games were told was the ambiguity that plagued the story. You had no real idea what had happened and had conflicting evidence telling you one thing or another. If you were shrewd enough to pick up enough files, you’d likely piece together the truth, but even then you’d still have more questions than answers.

While it’s great that 2019’s Resident Evil 2 provides more exposition and a greater understanding of characters’ motives, it also means there’s far less ambiguity to the story. There are no real big secrets to be revealed late on, and this does hurt the story a tiny bit. I even get frustrated by the little bullet-point tasks given to the player. That said, I suppose it’s a fair exchange for our heroes actually having a reason to go further into the hell they find themselves in.

The Worst: Ada’s Outfit

As I’ve mentioned already, we all know that the Resident Evil 2 characters were in need of an outfit update. So my question is: why didn’t Ada get one?

Leon isn’t bright blue with his carrot top hair anymore, and Claire isn’t wearing her pink onesie with booty shorts – so why is Ada still wearing her stripper dress? I suppose if Ada had been getting sweaty at the club or something at the time of the outbreak, it might be understandable – but I’m pretty sure she knew exactly what was going on and would have had the time to throw on a pair of trousers or at least a longer more realistic dress. Even a tracksuit. It’s Ada; she’d look good in anything.

Sorry Capcom, but you can’t just throw a trench coat over that red dress and call it a day. Don’t even get me started on how impractical those shoes are.

The Worst: Sherry Birkin’s Gameplay

I totally understand why this change was made. In 2019, it is no longer acceptable to see a young schoolgirl get murdered by the undead. In the original game that was something that could happen as you had to use Sherry’s small frame to explore and unlock new areas of the police department, evading the horrors that lined the hallways. It was totally frightening; you were powerless from attacks and relied on hiding and evading the creatures that didn’t care for your age.

In the remake, you no longer can be attacked by the undead. Instead, you’re pursued by the equally evil Brian Irons. He even has a disfigured face to frighten you more. However, nothing will be nearly as scary as playing as a child who is in real danger of being eaten alive. It may just be a step too far in this day and age.

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