Top positive review
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The best in the series, and one of my favorite PSX games
on July 21, 2004
Resident Evil 2: Greatest Hits (2000). The re-release of the 1998 blockbuster sequel to Capcom's survival horror series.
When the Playstation first started out, one of the first games to put the system on the map was Capcom's first foray into survival horror games, Resident Evil. Aside from the earlier series Alone In The Dark, Resident Evil was the first game of its kind to really bring the survival horror genre to life, complete with various puzzles and zombie blasting action. Since RE1 managed to build up a solid fanbase, Capcom was soon called to make a sequel the following year. Initially, they had 60% of the game completed and it was supposed to be released in early 97, but the creators weren't satisfied with the way it was going, saying that "it needed a huge overhaul". So the original plans were scrapped, forcing the fans to wait longer. But come early 1998, the wait was well worth it when Capcom unleashed the new and improved sequel, THE must-own PSX game of 98.
RE2 was the first title in the series I played, and from the get-go, I was hooked. When I say that it's the best RE title to date, I'm not joking, as just about everything from the first game went through a MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT. I'm very glad that Capcom ditched their original plans so that a better sequel could be made. Now I'm not trying to turn this review into just gushing praise, but honestly there's so much to like about this game that beats out the original.
For starters, the graphics are VASTLY superior to the first-generation visuals of the previous game. The character models are much more detailed, the still-screen environments are more vibrant (but dark and pale enough to convey the game's atmosphere), and the crappy B-movie quality intro of the original is gone in place of excellent CG movies. The characters and monsters, while still somewhat blocky, are all brought to life much better now with numerous animations, such as head tracking, and physical gestures during cutscenes. Also, when your character takes damage, you can now tell how hurt they are by the way they walk. If they hold onto their side and limp on one foot, you know that they're close to death. In addition, the newer game engine allows many more creatures to be in the area at one time, like when you stumble into a room with 7 zombies.
Secondly, the sound is brought more into the front this time, with howls and screams of the monsters standing out more so than in the last game. It's especially noteworthy when something suddenly jumps through glass or breaks a wall. When this happens, you'll definitely jump out of your seat. As far as scares go, it'll certainly keep you on the edge until the end. Same thing with the musical score. Compared to the last game, the music is quite a bit more chilling and it seems to know just when something will come out after you. And most importantly, the voice acting is thankfully much better this time around. It's not perfect, but the dialogue and characters are very believable. For instance, Leon's character shows real determination, Claire is quite sympathetic yet assertive, and Chief Irons comes off as just plain creepy. These traits help distinguish the characters.
The story is also brought out very well. Just a few months after the events in the first game, Raccoon City is overtaken by the T-Virus, and nearly every citizen has been turned into a zombie. Two outsiders, a rookie cop named Leon Kennedy, and Chris Redfield's (from the first game) younger sister Claire, wander into the monster infested city. The two get split up from one another only to end up in the police station. They soon find more characters and monsters to contend with, and discover the deep secrets of the Umbrella Corporation as the game goes on.
The controls for the most part remain the same as in the first game, as do the menu options. You still have to backtrack often to "item boxes" to store items you can't hold in your limited inventory menu. This grows tedious, but oh well. I did find that the controls are a bit more responsive this time around. The characters have plenty of differentiation in gameplay, such as how Leon starts with the lighter, whereas Claire can open locks. Plus, both feature different weapon arsenals, so there are plenty of guns.
Perhaps the best aspect of the game is the alternate scenario options introduced for the first time. What this means is that if you started and beat the game as Leon, you then play through the same story through Claire's perspective, and vice versa. The alternate scenario takes place in most of the same areas as the first time, but this time you have to contend with the menacing 7-foot, trenchcoat wearing Neo Tyrant. The idea is that he's constantly stalking you and could appear at any time (this idea was perfected with the Nemesis in RE3). The scenario features might make the game feel shorter than the original, but technically you'd be beating the game 4 times to see all the different endings. There's also a few cool mini games and sidequests to unlock, so you've got plenty of replayability here.
About the only bad thing I can say about RE2 was the fact that the puzzles were a lot more simple and not very challenging compared to the others in the series. It's a minor flaw though and doesn't take much away from the game.
Overall, RE2 is an excellent addition to the series, and expands the original game to new heights. Since it's available on multiple platforms now, it's very easy to come across. NEW FANS SHOULD START HERE, OR ALSO THE GAMECUBE REMAKE, THEN MOVE ONTO THE OTHERS.