Resident Evil 2
By: Tristan Jones on October 18, 2005  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
Also available on: PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, PC CD-Rom and Nintendo 64
Developer: Capcom
Players: 1
Year: 1998
OFLC Rating: MA15+
The best part about video games is that the sequels are usually better than the original. Films tend to fall into traps of wowing people the first time around and then the sequels are more of less of the same thing (of course, there are always exceptions). Video games however go with the technology. Usually video game sequels improve on the original in every way, keeping what works and doing away with what didn't. Sure, originals are originals, but remember how awesome sequels like Super Mario Brothers 2, The Secret of Monkey Island 2 (hands down, my favourite game of all time), Mortal Kombat 2, Super Metroid and Castlevania 2 were when they came out? Resident Evil 2 joins these games in a classic case of excellent original, incredible sequel.

A couple of weeks after the events of the original Resident Evil, Leon Kennedy, a rookie police officer recently transferred to Raccoon City Police Department, arrives for his first day on the job to find Raccoon City decimated, crawling with the living dead. Claire Redfield has also arrived in town in search of her missing brother, Chris (yes, that Chris). As the game progresses, the two encounter a number of survivors of the disaster, shadowy individuals and all manner of grotesque monsters as they piece together what happened to Raccoon City and ultimately try to escape.

Resident Evil 2 is probably the richest of the titles available in terms of story. In this game, you are given the opportunity, as you are in the original, to choose between either of two protagonists, Leon or Claire. Depending on who you choose, you will come across the other character a number of times throughout the adventure. The best part about this is that instead of having only two slightly differing versions of the one game to play depending on who you pick, you get to go back and play as the other character as soon as you finish the main game with your chosen. For example, let's say you chose Leon to play with first (which is recommended), once you finish the game with him, you are shown a brief cut scene and immediately taken right back to the start to play as Claire, showing you everything that went on with Claire while you were playing through it before with Leon. The best part about this is that this 'meanwhile' game is longer than the game you start playing, and also completely different to the one you play if you choose them at the beginning. It really does add a completely new dimension to the playability of the game, and then you've got the Hunk missions once you've beaten it!

You are also given some brilliant insights into the nature of the mysterious Umbrella Corporation, along with the origins of the T-Virus and it's successor, the newer and deadlier G-Virus mutation and the breakout that occurred in Raccoon City. Conspiracies run rife and nobody is really who they seem in this game which makes it all the more fun (something the later title Code Veronica failed abysmally to emulate).

While the first Resident Evil was predominantly zombies in a house with a couple of big monsters, Resident Evil 2 takes a number of different elements from first and presents things a little differently. There's a very definite Cronenbergian body horror thing going on in this game. A large portion of the monsters in this game are grotesque, fleshy mutations made up of skin, eyes, teeth and veins, and all of them rely on intrusive attacks on one's body, those that don't tend to have a habit of spitting. Parasites and infections are key elements to Resident Evil 2's storyline and once the action kicks into high gear, there are some very nice homage's to the Alien franchise (check the chestburster scenes!).

Resident Evil 2 definitely has the best soundtrack out of the lot (sans 4), with a perfectly suited score and sound effects for each monster. Again the voice acting will lean occasionally to the poorer side of things (the police chief is hilarious), but it's a far cry ahead of the rest. The full motion videos will probably also come off a little primitive to today's standards, but still, they heap the poo onto the original's live action festivals of cheese.

With Resident Evil 4, 0 and the remake of the first now available, some people may be put off by the graphics, and those who've played both the remake and 0 will probably be as let down as I was that it wasn't remade as well. The best iteration I've played of this game so far has been the Nintendo 64 version, as it has added files to help link it up with the other games, and better control mechanics, but finding that particular version is like finding a needle in a haystack. Every other version is identical, the GameCube version has a higher graphic resolution than the rest, but whatever you can find to fit your budget is fine.

This game really is a true classic, sitting there with Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill 2, and any true fan of horror would be a fool to miss out on playing this one.
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