Resident Evil 2 on the PS1 was a classic of its time, but how does it fare 25 years later? Watch our video retro-spective or read the transcription below and let us know what you think:
Resident Evil 2 PS1 (1998, not the also-amazing remake) was one of the first games I ever saw running on a PlayStation and it blew me away. 25 years later I’m still feeling the effects.
Gaming sequels tend to be pretty good – Sonic 2, Streets of Rage 2, er, Zool 2 – and Resi 2 is no exception. I actually played Resi 2 before the original and needless to say it improves on its predecessor on every level. But, as we ask in this series of retro-spectives, how has it stood the test of time?
Worst first day at work ever
The game focuses on Leon S Kennedy’s first day on the job at Raccoon City PD. Now, I’m sure a lot of you have had bad first days at work, in fact, I remember being completely hammered on the first day of my first ever job but dealing with slightly miffed hotel guests while heading to the toilet every 30 minutes to chunder doesn’t really compare with having all your colleagues turn into zombies. Who then try to eat you.
You’re also introduced to Claire Redfield, sister of Resi 1’s Chris Redfield, who’s looking for her brother who’s gone on a bit of walkabout. And of course we find out how much of a walkabout in later Resi games. Playing as either character in each scenario adds a lot to the package and I’ll cover that facet later in the video.
Blocky as hell, but still gorgeous, Resi 2 4 Eva
Graphically, Resi 2 is one of the best-looking games on the PlayStation. Yes, the sprites (and they’re still sprites) look really blocky by today’s standards, even PS2 standards, but at the time they were groundbreaking and have a lovely nostalgic charm. And I still have nightmares about sewer alligators and big bloody spiders! Thanks a lot, Capcom.
Where it really hasn’t aged graphically are those pre-rendered backdrops especially the epic Police Station. PlayStation games that chose this direction as opposed to fully 3D have aged a lot better – more on Dino Crisis later in the series.
The musical score is incredible and still enjoyed by millions of gamers today. CD-quality soundtracks were one of the coolest things about the PlayStation. I had an Amiga A1200 and Sega Mega Drive at the time and don’t get me wrong, both of those systems are full of games with amazing soundtracks but Resi 2 was the start of a movement towards a proper cinematic, immersive way of gaming and the soundtrack coupled with those sound effects was a big part of that.
Resident Evil 2 > Resident Evil 4
I really enjoyed doing the capture for this video as Resi 2 is a whole lotta fun. It’s not just the popping off zombie heads, or the running for your life – it’s the balance of those things coupled with lateral thinking, simple puzzles, nursing your inventory, upgrading weapons, having a read, unlocking hidden modes, There’s a great sense of satisfaction to be found with the game.
Tank controls were a staple of PS1 survival horror games and I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get the hang of it after all these years and the placing of doors in particular, come on man! It’s not a system for everyone but I definitely prefer it over something like Silent Hill 4’s 360 degree control (inadvertent teaser for another future episode, I do love a horror game).
I remember smashing this game on Normal mode back in the day, unlock the Hunk mode, no problem, Tofu mode, no problem. Now with old age setting in and my reflexes noticeably getting worse, I’m quite happy to start with a million bullets and ploughing through the hordes on Easy mode.
Zap zap zap
Resident Evil 2 PS1 has two scenarios as I mentioned before, but the way they interlock and intertwine is ingenious. Dubbed the “zapping system” you’ll play the first scenario as either Leon or Claire and have a fairly easy ride. Then you’ll start scenario B, have to follow a similar path, seeing all the gaps the story explained, all the while being stalked by Mr X. Get to the end of this and you’ll see the absolute ending and will hopefully unlock a thing or two. You can leave things for the character in the second scenario, or set this bit up for the sub machine gun to make life even easier. The thought put into this game is off the charts.
Resident Evil 2 PS1 is a masterpiece
Downsides? Well, there aren’t many to be honest. The plot is nothing out of the ordinary – evil, and I say evil in the mildest possible sense, scientist furthers virus, has to inject self with said virus, becomes main villain while the evil corporation behind the whole thing get away with it. Couple this with two almost pointless sub-characters in Ade and Sherry and you really start to wonder whether they should have chosen a different approach. It all just about holds up.
Gameplay-wise, the only thing I can fault is the boss fights. I never fancied these back in the day. They tend to be a “unload all your strongest ammo as fast as you can” fare on every occasion. But it’s such a small proportion of the game you can easily forgive it.
And that’s it.
By far my favourite Resident Evil game and I enjoyed the remake too, also well worth a play if you haven’t tried it. It’s a fantastic game that’s still fun to play all these years later and one worthy of any gamer’s collection.