Arts

Games: Resident Evil 2 re-made for 21st century

Neil McGreevy

Resident Evil 2 (Multi)

By: Capcom

In 1998, at the arse-end of my student years, I was finally seduced by survival horror's come-on with Resident Evil 2 – booting up a sticky PlayStation from the bowels of my student grief hole.

It was a foreboding, sickening world, full of the godless howls of the near-dead. But I was soon transported from Belfast's Holylands to the grim thoroughfares of Racoon City.

It's easy to forget that the first Resident Evil, though beloved, was a creaky, cheeseball horror set in a sub-Hammer haunted house. That all changed when, halfway through sequel's development, director Shinji Mikami pulled the plug on its more-of-the-same malarkey for a legendary zombie-buster set on mean, modern streets.

Gone were fusty alcoves and cobwebby candelabra, replaced by trucks, motorbikes and all-out action – and that was before you even reached its police station setting, home to one of horror gaming's true highlights when players first stumbled upon The Licker.

Sure, the interminable door openings, clumsy item management and anchored angles remained. But with different endings, bonus missions and even more varieties of hellspawn to empty your barrel into, Resident Evil 2 would go on to become one of Capcom's most acclaimed and best-selling games.

While the original and its prequel are raw from remake, oddly the sequel remained untouched – until now. Finally succumbing to fan pressure, Capcom are deep in development with a reimagining of Resident Evil 2, built from the grave up to take advantage of modern grunt.

Featuring a Resi 4-style over-the-shoulder viewpoint and running on the engine developed for the incredible RE VII, it's their best looking game yet.

Fantastically detailed zombies shamble through the streets of a near photorealistic Racoon City in a cutting-edge mix of horror and camp – though by retaining the original's '90s setting, its fax machine-era technology lends a retro vibe.

The aforementioned Licker is now a grisly marvel while the unstoppable Mr X, who looked like a grey sausage in 1998, has scrubbed up beautifully.

Including campaigns for both rookie cop Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, the game is also much longer than the original, with puzzles and scares remixed for maximum fright.

While deep-pocketed Japanese fans can blow over £500 on a special edition that includes a vintage Bluetooth keyboard inspired by Resi's typewriter save points, Irish gamers with a money-sense imbalance can avail of a collector's edition for a mere £230.

Containing a poster, police station keys, art book and DLC goodies, the set is topped off with a figurine of Leon hewn in brooding plastic. Though at an eye-watering 12 inches, you may be hard pushed to find somewhere to put it.

Resident Evil's sketchy history only recently regained its feet with the glorious seventh entry, and this remake of the series' sophomore effort is a halcyon reminder of what made the zombie-busters so legendary.

It will bring the horror home to a whole new generation of schlock-fans when it's finally unleashed on January 25.

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