Out of all the Resident Evil sequels, Resident Evil 2 is the closest to the original in terms of structure. There are two separate ways through the game with two different characters, and most of the game is spent within a single huge building. In this sense Resident Evil 2 delivers an excellent feeling of deja-vu, in that the player is stuck in a huge, desolate, creepy building (in this case the Racoon City Police Department) and has to solve a series of puzzles and combat an onslaught of zombies and other virus-infected creatures. There are also a fair few "shock" moments which will make you jump when something unexpected happens. Whilst Resident Evil 3 is definitely the best in the series for these kind of moments, Resident Evil 2 still manages to lull you into a false sense of security at the worst of moments.
Nice town. Wouldn't want to live there.
The design behind the enemies in this game is excellent, with different types of zombies and T-Virus-created monstrosities painstakingly created for your killing enjoyment. The quality of the designs is evident from the gallery pictures which can be unlocked, which show early pencil sketches of the game's heroes and villains. Pity the final polygonal realisations of these characters were limited by the PlayStation's lack of raw processing power, and don't seem to have been improved on the Dreamcast.
The classic survival-horror weapon, the Shotgun, thankfully appears sooner rather than later a la Code Veronica, and is very satisfying. The rest of the arsenal consists of standard Pistols, Machine Guns and the obligatory Rocket and Grenade Launchers. Personally, I found it very disappointing that the zombie decapitations weren't present in Code Veronica. In fact, the potential for blood splats on
In true RE fashion, the police station is completely, absurdly, unrealistically gothic.
the polygonal walls and proper 3D heads bouncing about was completely neglected. The fact that the zombies' refusal to be blown into pieces spoiled the atmosphere somewhat, in my humble opinion. Thankfully, RE2 has left the decapitations and removal of zombie limbs fully intact. A well-timed shot with the shotgun pointing upwards will bring a zombie to his/her knees sans head, which is bound to bring a smile to your face.
The game's soundtrack must be commended, despite not being quite up to the production standards of Code Veronica's. This series has a habit of keeping you on the edge of your seat, largely contributed to by the incredibly ambient soundtrack, and RE2 is no exception. The sound effects are a step backward from Code Veronica, although this is to be expected, but the weapon sound effects are still suitably meaty and the zombie noises equally haunting.
The game comes on two discs, but can be started from either. Disc 1 sees the player taking control of Leon, a rookie cop, the character whom Claire sends an e-mail to at the beginning of Code Veronica. Disc 2 puts you in control of Claire herself. Once one disc is complete it opens up an alternate route through the opposing disc. This really adds to longetivity, especially good news for those who were disappointed that once Code Veronica ended, there was not really much else to do.
As Resident Evil 2 is set before Code Veronica, Claire is only at the early stages of her search for her brother Chris Redfield, trying to find him in Racoon City itself. The other lead character, Leon, is having probably the worst first day imaginable for a rookie cop, with the city being infected by the lethal T-Virus and undead monstrosities running rampant. Resident Evil 2 is definitely a lot easier to get into than Code Veronica, as it doesn't throw puzzles in your face straight away. It also, unlike the PSX version, offers a selection of difficulties from the outset, making the game a lot more approachable for those who found Code Veronica or the PSX original a difficult affair. The extra difficulty settings also ease the tension created by the original's save system, by giving you more typewriter ribbons. (One ribbon is required each time you save your game.)