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.