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SummaryMore and better! One of the best sequels to any game ever.
The GoodImproving the original on just about everything, Resident Evil 2 became another source of respect for Capcom after the release of the original (which proved that they could do more than just 2D fighting games and MegaMan sequels) by not being a louder and flashier remake of RE1, but by completely overhauling the game and introducing hundreds of great additions to it.
The game is not a direct sequel of the first, you take the role of two new characters, a rookie cop just transferred to Raccon City, and the sister of one of one of the main characters of RE1 who comes to the city looking for him. After an amazing intro sequence both characters come to the realization that the city is completely overtaken by zombies and from that point on is survival-horror bonanza as both characters scramble to find a way out of the city, survive the madness, and hopefully find out what the hell just went wrong in this place.
The first real change in the game becomes obvious as soon as you start playing. Following the rules written in "the big book of sequels", RE2 doesn't make the mistake of trying to re-capture letter-by-letter the mistery formula of the original, (since we are all already aquainted with the zombies and co. and the trick wouldn't work again) so the developers wisely expand the scope of the adventure and focuss on quantity as a means to achieve the same level of quality without the originality. If you don't understand what I mean just think of Alien vs Aliens, or Terminator 1 vs 2. Just like those movies, Resident Evil 2 knows that it cannot recapture the same level of originality, so it compensates by overachieving on sheer chaos and proportions! While on the original you started alone on a mansion and after exploring a bit you had your first meeting with 1 zombie (which was a major event and even triggered an fmv clip), this one starts you off in a fiery car wreckage with a mob of zombies around going for your throat as soon as the game starts!! The atmosphere of RE2 is MUCH more chaotic than in the original. Running from enemies instead of shooting becomes much more common and instead of facing off against 1 or 2 critters at a time you'll be faced against veritable mobs of creatures all hungry for your blood.
Sure, some elements of the formula are still there, like the "sidekick" sequences and interaction for each character, the two-sided approach to the plot (though in this case each character's story overlaps each other and ends up forming "the big picture" instead of being an alternate version of the same storyline), the "jack-in-the-box" idea of horror etc. etc. And the gameplay concept remains the same: (go around solving dumb-as-doorknob puzzles while battling horrific creatures in the middle and trying to survive the whole thing since you are out-numbered, out-gunned and scared shitless)... But overall the game expands in such proportions from the original that it almost seems like a whole new thing! You have brand new weapons, including specific ones that need to be assembled appropiately, new (and more locations) such as city streets, a police station, an underground complex, laboratories, etc... and most notably a much more extensely cinematic feel to the game. The game has lots more character interaction, and much more scripted sequences than in the original, still weaving a simple storyline mind you, but doing so with many more peripheric elements that enhance it and make it much more engaging and thrilling than your regular cheap gore b-movie with zombies and gun-toting 20-something supermodels in it. These elements include everything from the occasional subplots introduced by survivors (such as a slightly deranged police chief and the major's daughter), conspiracies and corporation cover-ups, references to the original game (that both expand and connect the plots), the aforementioned "sidekicks" as well as other extraneous elements such as a fantastic "Terminator" touch which involves a seemingly indestructible and unstopable foe that pursues you throughout the entire second part of the game and forces you to be constantly on your toes (an element so good that was fleshed out as the main gameplay concept behind RE3).
Technically speaking the game does make some advancements, mainly in the graphic arena, with far more detailed textures, animations and character models (gone is that single suit-wearing, broad-shouldered zombie from the original), as well as new and absolutely amazingly done pre-rendered fmv cutscenes to replace the live action ones from the original. These cutscenes deserve special mention as they are absolutely incredibly animated (take a look for the crisp motion capture in the character animations) and incredibly detailed, leaving all competition in the dust even if they don't have that cheesy charm the ones in the original had... Heck, it may not have some thumping "epic" lyrics or a videoclip pace, but I still think the intro for RE2 is miles above the way overhyped intro of Final Fantasy 8!!
Oh! And the voice acting has been definetively improved!
The BadThey still use that sorry-ass savegame system (I don't care it's checkpoint-based, I just hate having to manage those stupid ink ribbons!), and there are a series of elements that seem rather off now with the wider scope of the game. For instance, we could buy the idea that we had to solve stupid statue-pushing puzzles and crest-collecting pixel hunts in the original since it took place in some kooky mansion, but it gets kind of silly here. I mean, I can only imagine the amount of free time the RCPD had if each cop had to find the four crests of life, get the key of spades out of the cu-cu clock and solve the puzzle of the statues of Kukhulu and Khakhata just so they can go to the toilet!
The control is still love-or-hate, Oh... and there's also the matter that just like with the original, this is a very... shall we say..."pop" game... The premise is pure shlock, and the whole thing can be missed by some people. I always find it amusing when those people say how the story in RE is stupid and bla, bla, bla as if they had discovered america. These types of games are SUPPOSED to be like that!! Sure, there's oversexed comic-booky characters, predictable "Oh! you betrayed me!!" plot twists, un-necessary gore and violence, etc. etc. But that's what makes it so good!! I could never understand how some people can... say, appreciate the serious Final Fantasy games as well as the ridiculously inventive Monkey Island games and still not be able to understand that the middle ground between "ridiculous" and "serious" is a category on it's own, and that there is such a thing as "so bad it's good" (especially when it's as well produced as these games!) If you don't get these types of games do yourself a favor and don't play them! Do ourselves a favor too and just shut the fuck up whenever you want to feel smart and blabber on an on about how these games are for retards or adrenaline junkies and are beneath your mighty anal-retentive intellect....'kay?
Oh, and shoot yourself too. The world doesn't need any more arrogant bourgeoise wanna-be jackasses screaming about how they don't like zombies, gore and anything that's remotely cool.
The Bottom LineIncredible sequel to an established survival/horror classic that manages to upgrade just about everything and remain a kickass contender in the series as well as being one of the best games ever made for the genre and a inductee on the "best sequels ever to any game" Hall of Fame.
Besides it's got Zombies, Babes and gore!!! How can you not love that????:))