The second Resident Evil was more than just an improved sequel to continue the lust gamers had to kill zombies it was considered one of the best games of the fifth generation of video games. 1998 was considered by many to be one of the greatest years in video game history and this game was defiantly an immense contributor to it. The game is still considering by many to this day to be one of the series best and one that defined survival horror. So we continue the Resident Evil Twentieth Anniversary Series Review by looking at the highly popular second installment.
It was revealed that the mysterious pharmaceutical corporation giant Umbrella had been the catalyst behind everything and the monsters were byproducts of an artificial virus the company had been developing. Albert Wesker who was secretly working for the company and was one of their head researchers had lead the STARS members into the mansion in order test the abilities of the monsters spawned from the virus. Luckily both Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield managed to successfully escape the monster infested mansion by the destroying the ultimate creature known as Tyrant and blowing up the entire mansion to prevent the virus from spreading any further.
Unfortunately though blowing up the mansion also destroyed any evidence of the events that followed and so the people of Raccoon City did not believe any of the claims the surviving STARS members made that was until it was too late. Now through an unfortunate series of events the virus has now contaminated the once small quite mountain town and has turned many of its residents into zombies with many other deadly creatures are also on the loose. And on top of that the Umbrella Corporation has purposely unleashed to ravage the city in search of something that is critically connected to the viral outbreak.
Like the previous installment the story centers around two main characters Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Leon recently joined the local police department and has just arrived in town for his first day on the job while Claire has come to the city to find her younger brother Chris who when missing after the events of the first game. Both of them run into each other and find themselves smack dap in the middle of the zombie outbreak they both escape to the local police department as they begin to unravel the events that led up to this tragedy.
Leon meets up with an enigmatic women named Ada who claim she is here in the city to find her boyfriend and Claire befriend an alarmed child named Sherry who is the daughter of one of the top scientist with Umbrella. Sherry for mysterious reasons is also contently being chased by an unknown shape shifting monster who Claire must protect from. And also the humanoid monster that Umbrella unleashed also seems to be targeting both Leon and Claire for unknown reasons.
The story more fleshed out this time around with certain elements from the previous game being explained such as the Umbrella Corporation and their involvement with the mansion incident. Although like the previous game many of the background elements are only explained in files found through the game so if you want to know everything you got to spend some time reading. None the less the story is pretty good and has many interesting moments to keep you hooked and is overall an impressively worthy follow up that helps answer questions about the events from the previous game.
The core gameplay has not changed and is the same as its predecessor but with some needed improvements that make the whole experience much better. Despite still having tank like movement overall control is smoother than before which makes moving around feel much better. Although manually aiming your weapon still feels stiff all weapons have auto aim like before which works fine however it be nice if the game would automatically alternate between targets.
Just like before conserving ammo for your weapons and herbs to heal yourself is still the priority and as long as your search places thoroughly you will have more than enough to make it through. Although it would be nice if the game did not limited the amount of times you can save your progress with the ink ribbon system which for some could still be an annoyance. Of course the ability to save wherever you want would also be nice and would help cut down on backtracking.
Other new elements added to the game include character movement being slightly slower than usual when your health is low and when they are close to death they will begin limping. And whenever you put certain items in storage such as ammo and ribbons they will auto combine. Despite the gameplay being the same as before the amount of polish in the controls and new minor game additions make the overall experience much more enjoyable than its predecessor.
When it comes to weapons there is slightly more variety than before with new toys such as the multi shot crossbow an automatic machine gun and even an odd weapon that shoots electricity. Although some of these new special weapons do not have extra ammo available for them and once they run dry they are done for good. Certain weapons such as the handgun and shotgun can now be upgraded with custom parts that can be found that increase round bursts and firepower.
Zombies are given some variety this time around with zombies wearing different types of clothing and showing traits of both male and female. Of course like before zombies are not the only creatures you have to deal with and some of these other creatures include new additions like the tongue slinging lickers and living plants that shoot acid at you. But the biggest menace you will encounter is the large humanoid beast only known as Mister X who you will run into multiple times throughout the game and you can choose either to avoid him or fight him.
Like previously part of the survival horror experience is exploring areas thoroughly to find items of importance and then figuring out their use. And also solving many simple puzzles along the way will keep you busy as you venture through the monster filled environments. Overall the design just like the gameplay although remains unchanged and certain areas of the design such as the fixed camera angels can still be annoying it just fells greatly improved over its predecessor.
Of course gameplay and design are not the only improvements made even the overall presentation have been enhanced. Graphics are much better with everything from the different environments you will explore to characters models look great. And the game even ditches the full motion video based cutscenes for computer generated ones which are also better presented.
Voice acting while not great is better than before with actors like Alyson Court and Sally Cahill who continued to voice their characters in sequels and spinoffs. The writing is also slightly better this time around but there is still plenty of cheesy stuff that even good voice acting cannot fix. Although despite the cheese there is nothing that is quite as memorable or meme worthy as Jill Sandwich or Master Of Unlocking.
The music is once again pretty good and pretty memorable and sets the tone and atmosphere just right even when you are just saving your game. In fact is one of those games where you might want to get your hands on the soundtrack and put it on whatever device you now use for music. Hell some of these tunes would make some pretty good ringtones as long as you smart enough not to pay for them.
Resident Evil 1 as mentioned earlier helped establish the survival horror genre although it had many flaws it was an interesting game that played an important role for that gaming generation. Resident Evil 2 while the same game greatly improved on the formula despite having many of the flaws from its predecessor and created one of the best games in both the series and the genre. It is defiantly worth checking out and is an absolute prime example of the gaming greatness that made up the year of 1998.
Review By: Aaron "Aeecee" Clark