When There is No More Room in Hell, The Dead...Will Walk the Earth...
I love zombies. Not only are they slow, weak, uncoordinated and durable, but you can also kill them without having any troublesome moral qualms afterwards. They are the ultimate diversion for anyone looking to vent some frustration and have fun while doing it and it is because of this that I am eternally greatful to them.
Along comes Resident Evil 2, the second installment of the famous Resident Evil series from Capcom. Apparently, the T-virus outbreak at the Spencer Mansion from the first game wasn't contained and the virus has now spread to the streets of Raccoon City. Human residents, animals, plants, and virtually any other organism of sufficient biomass have now been turned into flesh eating zombies, monstrosities, and all other forms of nasty. You step into the shoes of two main characters: Leon Kennedy, a rookie police officer who is having quite possibly the worst first day on the job in history; and Claire Redfield, younger sister of Chris Redfield from the first game, who is on a quest to find her missing brother and Raccoon City is her latest stop...talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While the two characters handle exactly the same, both have features that distinguish themselves from one another. Both utilize different weapons, encounter different characters during their respective scenarios, and taking slightly different paths in their quest to escape from the zombie-infested city. A new feature to the game is the ability to play one characters scenario from the eyes of the other character. For instance, if you beat Leon's scenario then pop in Claire's disk, you can play Leon's scenario from Claire's point of view (the same is also true vice-versa)! It's a great addition to the game that adds an entirely different dimension of perception (not to mention some additional elements, though I won't spoil it for you here).
The graphics are even better than their previous installment. Though the polygonal characters still don't look as good as the pre-rendered backgrounds, they are still outstanding in their own right. Zombies move with their trademark shuffle and reek of putrified flesh, bursted veins, and blood-spurting neck wounds. Though FMV is scarce in the movie, it nonetheless manages to shine when it makes a rare appearance.
The control scheme remains unchanged, though it still may present a significant learning curve for newcomers to the series. For you noobs to the series, the control scheme works independently of the area's orientation. If you press up, the character will move in the direction he or she is facing, whether he is facing north, south, east, or west. If you press left or right, the character rotates towards his or her right. Though it may be a bit tricky to the unseasoned, the control scheme will soon become second nature. It's definitely something that can be learned.
The combat itself is a mixed bag. While it's certainly satisfying to land a headshot with the magnum or the shotgun and watch the body parts fly off like a smashed watermelon, the biggest knock I had on the combat in the first game makes a disappointing reapperance in the second installment: the inability to run and shoot simultaneously. Granted that I understand why you can't both run and shoot at the same time (as it stands, the game would be too easy if running and gunning were possible), but that still doesn't mean running and gunning is impossible to implement. Perhaps the enemies could move faster? Maybe they could take more damage? In any case, the bullshit dichotomy of either running for your life or standing your ground and shooting adds an unnecessarily frustrating element to the game and I hope it is corrected in the near future.
That and the bad acting bug that plagued the last game again makes an apperance in the second. Granted that video game voice talent wasn't exactly at a high point when this game was made, that still doesn't change the fact that the voice acting in this particular game just plain sucks. The voices are overly dramatic and high-strung due to overacting on the actors' parts. I've seen better acting in porno flicks than in this game. If you get the chance, save your game after the cut scenes so that way you don't have to sit through them again if you die.
Of course, a game wouldn't be a game without any reason to play it after you beat it. Fortunately, Resident Evil 2 makes good on this concept and offers several fun goodies depending on your performance in the game. There's a survival game, hidden characters, hidden weapons, and all sorts of fun stuff that will keep you playing the game long after you beat it. Hooray for replay value!
Though the game itself is not without its flaws, Capcom serves up a solid sequel to its inaugural Resident Evil game. So, if you've ever got the time and are feeling a bit nostalgic, dust this thing off your shelf, pop it into your console, and enjoy some good old-fashioned zombie bashing...like in the good ol' days.
+ Solid graphics
+ Alternate scenarios!
- Still can't run & gun
- Voice acting is terrible
+ Good replay value