I am a coward. When Capcom asked me if I wanted to go through their haunted house experience at the 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) before my demo with the Resident Evil 2 remake — which is coming out on January 25 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC — I laughed. Then I politely told them no.
I’m more of a sunshine-and-rainbows kind of guy. I’m un-ironically wearing one of my many Mickey Mouse shirts today. I was able to handle Capcom’s horror franchise when it took more an action turn with Resident Evil 4. Last year’s Resident Evil 7 was scary again, so I avoided it.
Well, not entirely. I played that one at E3, too. It was in VR, and the poor PR people at Capcom practically had to hold my hand to calm me down. I don’t like knowing that something is probably going to jump out and scare me.
So I was apprehensive about playing the Resident Evil 2 remake. I did play the original on PlayStation back in 1998. I mean, for a bit. I was 10 then. I was even more of a coward.
But this remake grabbed my attention. My memory of Resident Evil 2 is fuzzy, but its police station setting was iconic enough to stick with me. And this new version looks incredible. This is the most impressive Capcom game I’ve seen. The characters look realistic, and the lighting and shadows do a great job of making the station creepy and immersive.
Even though it ditches the tank controls, the remake stays pretty faithful to the original’s mechanics. This is an old-school survival horror game. Resources — including ammo — are scarce. You spend as much time (if not more) hunting for keys and solving puzzles than you do fighting.
Maybe I’m just a little burned out on the traditional, action-heavy focus of modern triple-A games, as Resident Evil 2 feels like a refreshing change of pace. Zombies would come at you slowly and in few numbers. But with your limited ammo, you need to make each shot count. I had to stop myself from panicking and try to carefully aim headshots. But since every enemy is a threat, it’s hard not to panic.
That’s where a lot of the tension comes from. A zombie lumbers it way toward you while you try you desperately make sure you don’t waste your ammo. Although the sound design deserves just as much credit for keeping things tense. All the creaks, growls, and mysterious noises add just as much to the atmosphere as the top-of-the-line visuals.
Resident Evil 2 isn’t a 1-for-1 remake though. It gets rid of many of the original’s more dated and annoying features. Tank-style controls are gone. You can move your character with the stick just like in any other third-person game. This also means no more fixed camera, so it’s much easier to aim your shots. And while you still need to save your game at a typewriter, you don’t need to use an ink cartridge to do it.
But it still feels like a classic Resident Evil experience. You have the limited inventory space. You see key slots everywhere. It’s honestly more of puzzle-solving adventure game than an action title.
That’s why, despite my cowardice, I’m excited about Resident Evil 2 coming back. I was too much of a wimp to play through the whole game in 1998. I’m still a wimp, but ever so slightly less so. And with the incredible new look, I have extra motivation to try to escape from the Raccoon Police Department.