A History of Resident Evil – Part 2 Resident Evil 2
1997 was the year the horror continued and spilled onto the streets of Raccoon City with Resident Evil 2, the follow up to the successful Resident Evil. It had TV adverts, magazine space and it was going to be big. Survival horror had taken off and Capcom used a lot more of their budget to ensure that this was going to be a popular series and that Resident Evil 2 was going to be a must have game. The zombie wave had begun.
The plot carried on almost immediately after the events of RE1 and the T-Virus has spilled onto the streets of Raccoon City and there we find Claire Redfield the sister of RE1’s Chris and Leon S. Kennedy, rookie police officer of the Raccoon Police Department.
The plot of RE2 is slightly different to RE1 in the sense that if you’ve played RE1 you know where the zombies have come from and that Umbrella is responsible so the main goal is to get out of the situation alive.
There are plenty of things keeping you guessing like who is Ada and what is she doing there, who’s Sherry, why is this laboratory here and so on, but in terms of misery it did lack where RE1 excelled at, but there was still enough reason to progress in the game plot wise.
What RE2 did do, though, is ask more questions that it answered for the series. Questions that couldn’t be answered in this game, ensuring enough material to be able to make more sequels to carry on the story. RE1’s storyline could have ended there at the end, but not RE2 – there had to be a sequel to finish the story.
There were a few “Oh, really?” moments but not so much “NO WAY!” as RE1 did. All of this is not to say the plot was poor, it was good, but it built up at an even pace, with no real build up and no climax at the end; it was more about the action than any Oscar winning script writing here.
The game uses two discs one with Claire and one with Leon where they both have a scenario that happens coincidentally with another; unlike RE1 both characters did experience the nightmare, just slightly different. When you complete Leon, you will then have to complete Claire’senario to fully finish the game and see the full ending. It doesn’t change much in terms of gameplay, but it does add a little of a change and the second scenario is the one that’s the toughest to beat and the furthest plot.
The game is so much more action orientated than RE1 with more enemies, more weapons and bigger boss battles. You can have up to 10 zombies in one room and they’re all coming for you straight away in stead of the creepiness of just one solitary zombie in a corridor from RE1.
The bosses are bigger on a Hollywood scale, the tyrant from RE1 would be a normal boss in this one, and you’ve got giant crocodiles, an unstoppable tyrant, a “thing” and a giant blob, so there’s much more of a presence around the game, but because things are so big and obvious it’s difficult to be that scared about them.
Controls wise there’s nothing different, the controller has been mapped out the same way. Auto aim has been included by default now, although that reduces the annoyance of missing shots, but it does make things a lot easier and with it, a lot less tense because as soon as you aim and change direction you know you will hit a target.
There are a few extra additions to end game content – you can get a rocker launcher, gatling gun and a submachine gun for a good finish time, you can also unlock a mini game called the 4th survivor starring Hunk, one of the people sent to retrieve a valuable item and finally Tofu…a tofu trying to get out. In the late 90’s that was a lot of end game stuff to do.
The graphics had been given a boost. The inventory screen had been given an overhaul and how it works and it looked a lot more modern and accessible. Pictures for examining items were no longer in 3D.
Character graphics had been improved a lot, and were a lot more animated. If Leon or Claire were in caution or danger then they would hold their injury or even limp all over the place. In RE1 a character could be dying and you were none the wiser unless you checked at the status screen, so this was a big improvement.
The unfortunate enemies got an upgrade as well and you could now snap them in half or shoot an appendage off and they received the same graphical improvements as the characters did. Although, now the enemies could have a bit more animation and looked a little more grotesque, nothing major, but updated.
The background were pre rendered again but with a lot more detail with better lighting than its predecessors, nothing too flashy but looked very good. Everything looked like its purpose; from the grand main hall, the dark sewers to the sterile labs it all looked pretty good.
Use of CGI was back with a vengeance and used a lot more for cut scenes and environment changes, it was good to see some decent graphics to be used to tell the story behind the scenes, and it wasn’t overdone as there was a good mix of CGI and using the game engine for storytelling.
Overall the graphics were updated across the board to great effect much like a sequel should have. RE1 wasn’t the poorest looking game at the time but it did need an update.
With Resident Evil 2 Capcom brought an orchestra with them. During big boss battles there were massive tracks and a general theme in the background throughout, very well done but it all seemed over cooked for me. Although the songs demonstrated the fierceness and the sheer size of the battle, it retracted from the fact that it was meant to scare you.
The creepy sounds were back again and with a few updates, enemies were now much more vocal and with the addition of the licker could be much more creepy if you couldn’t see anything. There wasn’t much of an upgrade in terms of sounds, as RE1 couldn’t have improved much on them.
RE2’s impact was a big one, it was a blockbuster game of blockbuster proportions, it scored very highly in publications and from critics alike with its accessible horror partnered with great action sequences and an easy to follow plot, you didn’t necessarily need to play RE1 to get the story so people who missed the first could just jump straight in, which helped its commercial success.
It didn’t particularly push any boats out as it wasn’t anything groundbreaking over RE1 bit what it was was a polished game with plenty of action, suspense and horror, it was just a very, very good game.
Like the previous section, RE2 didn’t start any trends but it did become an integral part of the RE storyline and everything that happened that night, it was also remade (sort of) in Operation Raccoon City and Umbrella Chronicles. Some of the creatures also featured in the RE films directed by Paul W.S. Anderson,
However, as it was a commercial success it’s argued this kick started RE dominance in action games. Resident Evil 3 and Code: Veronica came after this, as well as Resident Evil: Survivor which used the RE2 engine, so although not groundbreaking the commercial success allowed Capcom to expand the brand further than what RE1 ever could, if it wasn’t for 2 maybe Resident Evil may not have ever taken off properly.