Retro Rocket: Resident Evil 2

In all the years I have been playing games there has not been a game I anticipated more than Resident Evil 2. I was a big Nintendo fan back in the day and did not immediately buy into the PlayStation when it first came out. After a few late night sessions with the original Resident Evil at a friend’s house though, I worked my butt off at a crappy retail grocery job to save up the funds to get a PS beforeĀ  RE2 came out. I actually remember reading gaming magazines on my breaks at work that talked about the game and just dreaming of what it would be like.

When it finally came out I went to Wal-Mart, money in hand, and then walked out with a brand new PlayStation and the game. It is one of my happiest gaming memories. I remember rushing home and hurriedly ripping open the box to hook up everything up. I had even made sure to schedule the next day off so I could have maximum time with the game. I put a lot of effort into getting to play RE2 and oh…oh how I was not disappointed. I can never tell you the sheer amount of hours I have put into RE2 but I can tell you that all you have to do is mention the game and I can hear various pieces of the soundtrack in my mind.

What set RE2 apart from it’s previous game was scale. Everything was bigger in this game. In RE1 you fought your way though a mansion, in RE2 you fight your way though a city, a police station, a sewer, and more. The police station alone was easily as big if not bigger then the entire mansion. Instead of two or three zombies on screen you could have huge packs of them. You can get backed into a corner really quickly and the game likes to keep the pressure on. Unlike the first game you discover VERY early on there is more to the outbreak than zombies and you are kept on edge with fewer breather moments. The best example of this is the very beginning of the game. Rather then place you in a safe mansion hall, you start on a burning street in the middle of a pack of zombies.

RE2 also differs in tone from the first game. While both are video game equivalents to B-movie or George Romero type zombie movies, the first game is more like a mystery while this one is more of a thriller. That tone is set from the start as the goal quickly becomes just to find a way out with all other goals fading to the background. In every room you can see turned over furniture, strewn papers, phones off hooks, and other signs that only a short time ago horrible things were happening as people faced their end.

The music in this game also adds a layer of tension. It is somber, disheartened, and sad. It enforces the tense and desperate situation your in. It only lets up rarely when you meet with your comrades again, but the dark atmosphere ramps back up when your forced to go it alone. Sound actually plays an important role in the game. Each enemy has it’s own distinct sound so if you listen you can tell what is around the corner..and shudder in fear when you realize your dealing with a huge pack of zombie dogs. I can remember climbing down a ladder and walking a bit, then hearing the pitter-patter sound of paws and cursing.

RE2 delivered on every level for me and to this day stands as the benchmark game of the series. Every other game has had to compare itself to this one. You will not find more game for your money then or now. Thanks to it’s “zapping” system each character had their own disc. Depending on what order you played them in significant elements in the story would change. Leon A / Claire B would be a very different experience than Claire A / Leon B. Also, playing Leon first and making certain decisions could help or hinder Claire during her game and vice verse. While each character’s B game sent you to basically the same places but in a different order, it added a new boss and quite a few totally new areas. Actually, only by playing though an A then B scenario could you even see the true ending of the game. In addition to that there were two unlockable mini-games you could play if your game Ranking was high enough. In later versions a third mini-game was even added.

Resident Evil 2 was one of the best looking games during the original PlayStation era. I know it does not hold up against the newer games but if you have never played it, please find a way to. It is a very important game in the history of gaming and one you should say you have played.