Resident Evil 2 | Should I play the original?

With the release of the remake, the question of whether or not you should play the original Resident Evil 2 is likely on new fans’ minds. The remake is gorgeous, hits the plot points of the original (albeit with some changes), and is technically superior in every possible way. Additionally, the Resident Evil 2 remake is the new canon, so even that aspect of the original has been superseded.

The twenty-one years between the release of Resident Evil 2 and now haven’t been terribly kind. It’s low-res, controls like an Abrams tank, and lacks many conveniences modern players take for granted. However, it remains one of the best games ever produced, even after the advent of the remake.

We’ve put together the reasons why you should replay the original Resident Evil 2, especially if you love the remake. OG Resident Evil fans already know the value of the original game, so, this article is mostly for people who got into the series recently.

Why you should play the original Resident Evil 2 | You’ll miss out on the original story.

Resident Evil 2 Original Main Hall

While the remake hits a lot of the same points, pretty much every character has been changed in some way. Robert Kendo, for example, is the first character you meet in the original Resident Evil 2, and he has a much different look and attitude than he does in the remake.

All the characters you’ve come to know and love (or hate) in the remake had much the same roles in the original, but their locations, events involving them, and even the order you meet them have changed. If you loved the remake, it’s just as much of a trip seeing all the differences in the original as it is for a long-time series fan.

Why you should play the original Resident Evil 2 | Everything is different, even when it’s the same.

Resident Evil 2 Robert Kendo Original vs Remake

The remake of the original Resident Evil was much closer to the source material. It added a few things and bumped things up graphically, but it’s close enough that you don’t miss much if you don’t go back and play the PlayStation original.

The Resident Evil 2 remake, on the other hand, contains a ridiculous amount of changes. Items, ammo, weapons, and enemy locations have all changed significantly. The environments themselves have gained new areas, and they’re visited in a different order.

Even somewhere as familiar as the RPD has gained a new floor, doors are locked by different keys, and the route you take through the station to complete the game has changed.  It’s worth playing the original RE2 after the remake just to see an alternate version of the game.

Why you should play the original Resident Evil 2 | It’s the best jumping off point for the rest of the series.

Resident Evil 2 Original Umbrella Lab

Even though the Resident Evil 2 remake supersedes the original in the canon, at least for now, none of the other games besides the first have been remade. Even the remake of the original is 15 years old now, and if Resident Evil 2 remake is your first RE game, you’ll likely find it hard to jump in right at the start of the series.

While we have a recommended play order, I think that if you’re coming fresh off Resident Evil 2 remake and you want to keep the journey going, the original RE2 is the best place to start. It’s challenging, but not nearly as hard as the original Resident Evil remake is, and gives you a chance to get used to the way the older games play in a somewhat familiar environment.

The original RE2 also does a better job of giving you a look at the world of Resident Evil and how Umbrella corrupted and destroyed Raccoon City than the original game does. Once you’ve finished that, you’ve got an excellent opportunity to go back and look at the initial outbreak in Resident Evil with a new appreciation.

Why you should play the original Resident Evil 2 | It’s still scary.

resident Evil 2 Original Licker-edit

Don’t let the PlayStation-era graphics fool you. Though the character models have aged, the pre-rendered backgrounds still look great, even if they’re a bit blurry on modern displays. The music and sounds of the original Resident Evil 2 are still top notch and work together to make the stark, lonely halls of Raccoon City terrifying.

While there are quite a few cheesy moments in the original, your meeting with Robert Kendo being a big one, I still get chills while playing it. The RPD basement is especially creepy to me, and the fixed cameras give a sense of claustrophobia that the remake just doesn’t quite capture.

While the remake shows plenty of gruesome stuff on screen, the original RE2 is creepy for what it doesn’t show you. The forced perspectives leads you to often hear enemies before you see them, and it’s nerve-wracking to try and either run past them or fight with such a limited viewpoint. The tank-style controls add to this since it’s not always the easiest task to dodge a zombie, and since there are limited save points, something that only the hardcore mode in the remake features, you’re usually gambling with losing a good chunk of progress if you mess up.

Why you should play the original Resident Evil 2 | It’s historical.

Resident Evil 2 Original Helicopter Crash

Without Resident Evil 2 there wouldn’t be a remake. That’s a no-brainer, but it’s important to find an appreciation of the older Resident Evil games if you want to enjoy the newer ones to the fullest. Many started the series with Resident Evil 4, and have only played the more action-packed titles. While that’s well and good, I think if you don’t go back and play the original trilogy then you’re missing out on the game’s survival horror roots.

If you played Resident Evil 2 remake and loved it, then playing the original can only help your understanding of how much effort and love went into the game. It would have been much easier to just update the backgrounds and models and called it a remake, but the team behind the reimagining of Resident Evil 2 really went the extra mile and made it something extraordinary. Playing the original and seeing the source material is a great way to see just how far they went in bringing the game up to modern standards.

If you loved Resident Evil 2 remake, you need to check out the original.

The original Resident Evil 2 is still an absolutely great game, and even though it’s no longer canon, it’s far from irrelevant. It’s an awesome gateway to the other classic entries, and anyone who enjoyed the remake should get a kick out of the vast of differences between the two.

Do yourself a favor if you’ve never played the original RE2 and put it on your to-do list. It’s still one of the greats, and in my mind, the remake compliments its great design and gameplay instead of overshadowing it.