Would you like some leftover brains, madam?
A foul aroma permeates the streets of Raccoon City as zombies shuffle their clumsy feet in search of Zombie Chow, er, brains. It seems that after six years of infestation by the undead, Raccoon City's zombie population has reached a critical mass. With fresh brains as hard to come by as electricity in California, a few undead pioneers packed their bags and headed off to Capcom HQ.
After a glorious feast, the overstuffed zombies fell asleep watching reruns of Welcome Back Kotter and left the development staff at Capcom to get back to work, sans cerebellum. The mindless development team put all three of their remaining brain cells together and collectively came up with a brilliant idea. Brilliant, considering the smart one was in a corner drooling on himself and moaning.
They began talking about taking a game that was great on the PSX and re-releasing it on the Dreamcast. "Our hard work will pay off twice as much", one said. "No one will remember the Playstation version, since they'll be blinded by the amazing power of the Dreamcast!"
For those of you who have never played Resident Evil 2, it takes place a little while after the original. Claire Redfield, our heroine, is searching for her lost brother Chris, who was a member of the team that stumbled on the whole zombie fiasco in the first place. She hooks up with another rookie cop and heads out to Raccoon City to find out why most of the population is rotting from the inside out and craving brains.
To resolve the whole situation, players are pitted against tons of zombies, a few scavenging crows and this big monster called Tyrant, who seems to always show up right when your ammo is running a little low. You are also solving little puzzles to find keys, unlock doors, and discover new weapons.
If this is all news to you, then come out from under that rock. The Resident Evil games have been around forever and you really should know all this stuff by now. You should stop and smell the roses, even if they're rotting.
As it turns out, the foul aroma is actually the bad ideas festering in undead minds at Capcom. That has to be the explanation, because I am having a hard time understanding why, after the brilliant presentation of Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Capcom continues to hang on to the threads of old PSX titles. Resident Evil 2 was a success on the PSX, and for good reason. But even filet mignon doesn't taste very good after a few weeks.
In terms of graphical improvements, they simply aren't that impressive. The rendered backdrops in the original were already hauntingly beautiful, so not much was needed in the translation. The characters are a little sharper and more detailed, but that's about it. The brightness also seems to be turned up a notch or two, but like turning on the lights in a horror movie, this detracts slightly from the dark, eerie atmosphere.
The major improvement that I noticed was in the sound quality. The rhythmic sound of the Zombie Shuffle has never been clearer and when glass breaks, you'll find yourself looking around to see if the zombies started playing baseball in the police station again.
Capcom tries to spark new interest in a rehashed game by offering the "Arrange" and "Extreme Battle" modes right from the get-go instead of having them as unlockable secrets. A nice idea, but it ends up taking away some of the replayability, eh?
In the end, it's the same linear puzzle-solving, zombie-stomping, suspenseful game it was on the PSX. But at this point, that's not really enough. There is nothing special at all to be found in this port. All you really get is an improvement in the sound quality and the character models.
If you are a fanatic of the series who can't get enough, this version will fluff your collection and offer some brief amusement. But even though Capcom tried to bring the original build up to speed with the next generation, the game feels dated. There's just not enough innovation to bring this stale serving of grey matter to the table for a second helping.