E3 2018: Resident Evil 2 was my biggest surprise at the show

Among the many games that I played during my appointments at E3, getting the chance to try out the new Resident Evil 2 remake was perhaps my biggest surprise at the show. Sure, the existence of this new version of the 1998 classic wasn’t much of a secret, but to find out just how far the game was in development during the Sony press conference was only the beginning of what turned out to be one heck of an E3 showing.

In fact, it’s safe to say that this year’s E3 was one of Capcom’s biggest. While they didn’t show a whole lot of brand new games to show, their line-up was excellent, with Mega Man 11 and Resident Evil 2 occupying most of their booth’s space, alongside the Switch port of Monster Hunter Generations, the preview of Cody for Street Fighter V, and multiple stations featuring the upcoming Mega Man X Collection.

It’s become a tradition for Capcom to feature an elaborate display for Resident Evil games at E3, and this year’s was especially so. In order to reach the demo stations, show attendees had to walk through a small, twisted dark corridor made to resemble Raccoon City PD’s station from the game, while holding a flashlight and stumbling into a really neat and totally in character zombie actor. Capcom really played up the atmosphere, and it helped set to mood for the demo to Resident Evil 2.

The 20-minute session had us visit the iconic RPD police station as the then (in RE’s convoluted storyline) rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy. Straight away, it felt like this remake aims to go much further than previous re-releases of Resident Evil games like Resident Evil Remake and Resident Evil Zero Remake, by ditching the fixed camera angle in favor of a third-person perspective, much like the still fantastic Resident Evil 4.

It made for a much more ‘in-your-face’ experience, especially when it came to fighting the series’ trademark zombies. They somehow have managed to become scary again, thanks to improvements to their slow, deliberate movement, and their behavior. When they’re shot, they don’t merely step back automatically or just brush it off with cheesy blood gush like in the original version. There are now actual reactions to them being shot, like limping back, limbs backing out if hit, with pieces of dead flesh flying out due to impact, exposing bone and muscle. And then there’s how sometimes zombies even pop back up after being “killed”, sort of a callback to RE Remake’s crimson heads. It made for a tense experience for sure, since shots to the head didn’t necessarily mean a sure way to drop these guys.

Resident Evil 2 is definitely not a game for the squeamish. Aside from the obvious gore effects from combat, the ambiance and cinematics also provide plenty of pretty brutal imagery. The original version of RE2 was no slouch, but thanks to the incredible amount of graphical detail now being put in this new version, Capcom is pulling no stops. During one of the cutscenes during the demo, for instance, where Leon frantically attempts to save a fellow cop from being attacked by opening a security shutter and pulling the guy free by the arms, things don’t go too well, and… well, you can imagine the scene if you’ve ever watched Day of the Dead — just think of Cpt. Rhodes. Bloody detailed.

But not all is pure violence in this new version of Resident Evil 2. Just like the original, there seems to be plenty of puzzle solving to be done, as the demo showed. One of Leon’s companions, Marvin, another RPD cop who survived the outbreak, helps him solve one of the classic conundrums from the original version, now dressed up in the remake, the one involving a statue, three symbols and an opening to a possible escape route. I managed to find a notebook with some notes during my exploration, which allowed me to flick the symbols into place, slowly revealing that passage, before my demo time ran out.

Even the little sleuthing I did during my time with Resident Evil 2 helped show that Capcom is really going for it in this remake. People who have tirelessly combed every inch of the original game since its release 20 years ago are such to have a blast figuring out how much of it remains in this new version. For me, it’s been quite a while since I’ve touched the original RE2, and since then I’ve played countless other bona fide Resident Evils and others inspired by them.

Thanks to that, details about the story and gameplay bits from that classic are close to forgotten to me at this point, so it’ll be really cool to get to explore this new and (to all indications) incredible take of Resident Evil 2 once it’s out in January. Hopefully that release window will give me plenty of time to play through it, because boy, if this year’s E3 is any indication, February 2019 is set to be one of the busiest months in gaming in quite a while.   

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