Resident Evil 2: 5 Things The Remake Does Better Than The Original (& 5 Things It Does Worse)
PostedAt: Sat, May 8, 2021 12:42 PM
While Capcom's remake of the Resident Evil 2 game proved to be a hit with fans, there were one or two elements that failed to surpass the original.
It's safe to say that Capcom's Resident Evil 2 remake was a huge success. The game was favorably received among audiences and critics alike, and sold enough copies to prompt Capcom to continue remaking classic Resident Evil titles (with a remake of Resident Evil 3 already available, and a remake of Resident Evil 4 revealed to be in development).
One of the hardest demographics to please when it comes to any remake, let alone one of a beloved survival horror classic, is the fans of the original product, who come to the remake with a critical eye for whether or not this new title is a worthy successor. Although the remake improves on the original in a number of ways, there are a couple of elements that it just doesn't quite top.
10Better: Boss Fights
The boss fights in the original Resident Evil 2 were certainly memorable: seeing Birkin morph into ever more grotesque forms and then blasting away at him was impressive for the time. Unfortunately, classic RE games had control schemes that lent themselves better to tense exploration and puzzle-solving than to action-heavy boss battles.
The remake's new aiming and movement, generally speaking, allow the developers to be more creative with boss fights. In the original, the player tended to just stand in one spot and shoot a boss until they died. However, in the remake, Capcom was able to explore ideas like weak points and environmental hazards.
Resident Evil 2's soundtrack has a number of iconic themes that really elevated the experience, especially tracks like the "save room" theme that was able to perfectly convey to the player that they were safe (for now). The soundtrack in the original game was instrumental in setting the mood, and it seems likely that without the great soundtrack, stepping into the R.P.D. for the first time wouldn't be quite so memorable.
While the remake's score takes cues from the original game, Capcom appears to have opted to take a more laid-back approach to the soundtrack in general. While the player can hear familiar notes, the soundtrack is, overall, not as noticeable, and takes a back seat to things like ambient environmental noises.
Part of the reason players loved the original Resident Evil 2 so much was its sense of campy charm. The goofy dialogue, outlandish enemies (like giant crocodiles), and nonsensical puzzles imbued the game with a sort of B-horror charm that was as corny as it was scary.
Or, maybe it was a little bit more corny than scary after all. The remake opts to do away with a lot of the sillier elements of the original game, choosing instead to present the Racoon City outbreak as a much more grounded survival scenario. The result is an overall scarier game, where the stakes feel much more real.
While the shift from fixed camera angles in the original to a third-person over-the-shoulder shot in the remake appears to have gone over well with modern audiences, there are some unfortunate casualties of the change that give the original an edge over its successor.
Part of the reason the environments in the original game felt so imposing was because of the fixed cameras. The developers carefully decided how each room would be viewed by the player to inspire very specific feelings about the environment. The police station's claustrophobic hallways are made to feel that way in part because of the camera, and the same environments don't feel quite as memorable in the remake.
6Better: Mr. X
Coming across Mr. X in the original game was certainly shocking and scary, and when playing the game for the first time, it can feel like he appears seemingly at random (bursting through walls to attack the player, and always seeming to come around the corner at the worst possible time).
When replaying the original, though, it becomes clear that his appearances are generally scripted. Mr. X is only ever going to burst through that one specific wall in future playthroughs, which makes running into him less tense. Compared to the original, the remake has Mr. X constantly pursuing the player with his own set of rules, which makes him far more intimidating.
The original Resident Evil 2 had an extremely innovative approach to the game's different characters and routes. Leon and Claire would regularly cross paths in the story, and playing the other character's route after finishing the first playthrough would reveal the context behind those meetings.
The player could also make choices that would impact the other character in a future playthrough, such as which items to pick up and which to leave behind. This is far more robust compared to the remake, which only has Claire and Leon interacting a handful of times, which in turn decreases a player's incentive to complete multiple playthroughs.
4Better: Voice Acting
While Resident Evil 2's voice acting was a cut above the hilariously goofy dialogue and delivery of the very first game, it still isn't quite up to par with the voice talent available to modern titles. Developers had less to spend on acting back in the day, and while the dialogue of the original game has a campy familiarity to it, it can't really stack up to the remake.
The improved voice acting in the remake makes everything feel generally more serious, and the characters more believable, which helps the developers establish a bigger sense of dread.
The pre-rendered backgrounds that made up the environments in the original Resident Evil 2 don't look quite as realistic as their counterparts in the remake. After all, there is a gap of decades between these two games, and the processing power available to modern consoles allows them to render nearly photorealistic environments for characters to traverse.
It's hard not to feel like there's a little bit lost in translation, though. The environments in the original game oozed character, with earthy tones in some contrasting with harsh concrete in others. It seems that a side effect of making the environments feel more realistic in the remake is that they also feel more generic.
Engaging a zombie in the original game was interesting in large part because it forced the player to think about what the most efficient way to stay alive was, while also conserving as many resources as possible. While certain weapons like the shotgun were fun to use, the game lacked the sophisticated hit registration and 3D animation available on today's platforms.
The remake gives players more options when engaging an enemy than simply shooting them until they drop: shooting a zombie in the leg might inflict a stagger, a headshot might momentarily stun them, and defensive items can be used to escape grabs, which makes the game's combat encounters feel more sophisticated and involved.
1Worse: Limited Saves
Part of the reason that the original Resident Evil 2, and all classic RE titles, was so tense was because the player had to expend resources to save their game. This forced the player to be strategic about how much progress they thought they could make before needing to save, which was especially interesting because it wasn't always clear what threats were lying in wait.
The remake does offer the option to play with limited saves, but only on hardcore mode. This is ideal for RE veterans looking for a challenge, but it's a shame that players who opted to play the game on lower difficulties are going to miss out on such a big part of what made the classic games unique.