Retro Review: Resident Evil 2 (PSX)

Retro Review: Resident Evil 2 (PSX)

Ah, I remember getting this game from Santa Claus when I was 9 years old. I remember thinking later on that he must have hated me; this game scared the heck out of me, along with my other Christmas present, Clock Tower. Later on, however, I grew to absolutely love this game. Resident Evil 2 is one of the main reasons why I’m going to school for Game Design right now. I used to make maps of my house after becoming obsessed with the levels of this game, drawing imaginary secret passages to imaginary secret labs. You can say that this game has influenced my life, but the question is, how does it stand up today?

The story isn’t half bad, keeping you interested throughout the entire game. As you make you way through the game, trying to make it out of the city, you’ll come across a lot backstory in the form of files. These provide a wonderful insight into what happened prior to your arrival in Raccoon City. Even the environment shows backstory, with barricades everywhere and memos written on blackboards. The dialogue is still cheesy at times (“It looks like your party…has been cancelled”), but nowhere near as bad the original Resident Evil. In fact, there are no live action cutscenes to be found (Hooray!).

The graphics themselves haven’t aged so well, however. Everything is blotchy and sometimes things are hard to distinguish. The cutscenes are either CGI (which doesn’t look too bad, although it feels off) or they use the in-game graphics. One thing I must praise, however, is the fixed camera angle system. It may be a product of the times, but it works very well, providing a suspenseful air. You may be able to hear an enemy or be able to target them, but you sometimes can’t seem them, adding to the already terrifying atmosphere.

This game was incredibly horrifying when I first played it years ago. Enemies jump out at you when you least expect it, and the suspense when you hear a strange noise is unbearable. Some of the monsters in this game are truly horrifying, especially the first boss monster. The game itself also has quite a chilling atmosphere, created in part by the nerve-wracking (in a good way) soundtrack. In fact, the soundtrack for this game is probably the best in the entire series. The eerie ambience when you step outside, the clunking piano of the police station, the industrial groan of the factory and lab, the haunting air of the police station basement; it all adds to create a uniquely horrifying atmosphere. Then there are the unique sounds that each creature makes; be prepared when you hear the menacing sigh of a Licker or the dull thumping caused by the multiple appendages of a giant spider.

The gameplay itself is solid, leading to a true survival-horror experience. You will struggle to find ammo and health along with managing your limited inventory space. There are also those suspenseful moments when you’re low on health and ammo and you run into a strong enemy; sometimes, it’s just best to flee. The controls, however, are quite clunky, and the analog controls (which were introduced after the game’s release) are not perfect. The control scheme will take some getting to used to, but it works well enough to still enjoy the game. The Rumble feature, which was introduced along with the analog sticks later on, works nice; if you play a version released before the Rumble implementation, it just won’t be the same.

I’ve got to say, some of the features in this game are just great. Besides having a near perfect example of level design, the enemies are well designed. One thing I love is that a puddle of blood appears under an enemy after it dies, letting you know that it’s down for good. Some of the puzzles don’t make sense, though, but it doesn’t really matter; without them, the game would be a lesser experience. Although, you have to wonder how the janitors get around. I guess they all have random spark plugs and jewels on their key rings. One of the biggest things about this game is one that adds a ton of content to this relatively short game: The Zapping System (this is what the creators call it). There are four different scenarios in this game, each with differences in characters, areas, puzzles, enemies, weapons, etc. In certain scenarios, a decision made will affect a different scenario, like an option to either take a sub-machine gun or increase your inventory. It’s really brilliant, in my opinion. It gives players a reason to play the game three more times, each time giving a player a different experience.

In conclusion, Resident Evil 2 is a wonderful PlayStation game, worthy of the title “Survival-Horror.” It improves on many of the features present in the original Resident Evil and has plenty of replay value. The graphics are not very pretty and the controls aren’t the best, but it isn’t bad for a game for it’s time. I would recommend this game to anyone wanting a scary, atmospheric game

Release Date: January 21, 1998


Deserving of the title Survival-Horror
Amazing atmosphere
Brilliant gameplay designs
Very interesting story
Plenty of backstory available to hunt down
Graphics haven't aged well
Controls are somewhat unwieldy
Dialogue is cheesy at times, but not too much
87 out of 100

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