Whereas Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil were more or less self-contained zombie outbreaks, Resident Evil 2 goes to a much larger scale, with the T-Virus spreading throughout Racoon City. RE2 built upon its predecessor, bringing back many of the gameplay elements that made the original enjoyable, but also keeping some of the more unfavorable aspects. Like many games in the series, it was ported to several other systems including the N64, Windows, Dreamcast and GameCube.

The two playable characters are rookie RPD officer Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, Chris’ kid sister. They both arrive in Racoon City after the zombie outbreak has begun and take refuge in the police station. Of course it’s not safe there and both of them make their seperate escapes before joining together in the end. They must battle the usual horde of zombies, dogs and giant spiders, but new creatures such as a giant alligator and the Licker, plus a new Tyrant model. The game also introduced the G-Virus, the first in a long line of spinoffs from the original T. Like the original, each character has their own support character as well as a secondary character that they run into several times. Claire spends most of her time protecting Sherry Birkin, while Leon is continually confused by the actions of his on-again/off-again series love interest Ada Wong. The cast is much larger then before, but still retains some horrible voice acting.

Like RE4, this one had an extensive development, with the initial version, dubbed Resident Evil 1.5, being scrapped more then halfway through production. In this version Claire was replaced by another character and the graphics, story and gameplay were very different. It’s good that the development was changed as RE2 introduced several interesting gameplay elements. After playing through the game as one character, you could then play as the opposite from a different perspective and experience the events in a different way. As both scenarios were happening simultaneously, actions taken in the first affect the second. Leon and Claire both had ‘A’ and ‘B’ scenarios for a total of 4 playthroughs, though the Claire A/Leon B path is more interesting due to more subplots and not needing as big a suspension of disbelief to get some story progressions. Another small tweak was the ability to shake off zombies if they grabbed the character. You;d still lose health, but at least you wouldn’t get chomped while other hungry undead waited their turn. There are also several unlockable game modes, including 4th Survivor where you guide Umbrella agent Hunk to safety with limited ammo and no way to gain extra, giving the player a different sort of challenge.

The graphics were given high praise after the release of the original for its detailed backgrounds among others. Keep in mind this was 1998, so the graphics then look ancient to us now. The game also built upon the use of sound and music as a way to create a tense atmosphere. Even with these improvements the game still had some maddening aspects. For one there were those damned block-pushing puzzles. The magically interconnected item boxes are back, though when you consider that they’re a part of a story about zombies and mutant creatures, then they don’t seem so far fetched. The main setting of the police station is even more absurd then the mansion of the previous game. It’s almost understandable that a mansion might have these puzzles and items that are needed to unlock certain doors because it might be home to an eccentric madman, but having that in a police station is even more absurd. For example, you put a unicorn medal onto a pedestal so a statue will drop a key for you. Yes, really. Even the general layout of the station is ripped from the mansion, down to a main hall/foyer with two large wings on each side. In addition to 4th Survivor, there is another mode called Tofu Survivor, which is the same, except you’re a giant piece of tofu with a knife. No, I’m not making that up.

Even with all the absurdities of Resident Evil 2, it’s definitely worth playing. It could be said that it’s universally played and loved because of those absurdities. It also holds a special place for me since it’s the first PlayStation game I ever bought. Next up, Jill returns in her very own adventure, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.