Summer Of The Dead – Resident Evil 2
2 years after the first game, Resident Evil 2 was released in 1998 on the Playstation and later the N64, Dreamcast, PC and Gamecube. The game itself however only took place 2 months after the first. Resident Evil 2 took place in Raccoon City, the industrial town under the thumb of Umbrella and close to Raccoon Forest and the Spencer Mansion, where the first game was set. It would become the location for quite a few Resident Evil games and a memorable location in gaming.
This time the outbreak occurs when sewer rats become infected with the T-Virus and it doesn’t take too long for the first zombies to appear and spread the infection throughout the whole city. (Fun fact: The N64 version had more files and also referenced RE0, as RE0 was originally meant to come out on N64 before it was switched over to the Gamecube)
As for the game itself, it refined the mechanics and fixed most of the problems that were present in the first game. For starters, FMVs were taken out and replaced by CGI, which was more appropriate and looked alright for the time. Graphics got a major lift, with everything looking much more detailed and they do a good job at standing the test of time, at least for a Playstation game.
The horror was also increased, as while not having as memorable bosses as the first game, being set in a city meant that there were a lot, lot more zombies amongst other creatures, some new and some old. Couple this with improved AI (so that you couldn’t just run past zombies) and limited ammo and weapons (unlike later games in the series) and you had a pretty scary, if not tense game. On the other hand, weapons could be upgraded this time around, although you had to find those upgrades, which added another sense of exploration.
With a new setting brought new characters and we got two new playable characters. We got Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop who’s first day working for the RPD (Raccoon Police Department) was the day of the outbreak. The other character was Claire Redfield, who came to Raccoon City to search for her Brother Chris (of RE1). There were also supporting characters such as the mysterious Ada Wong, who was supposedly searching for her Boyfriend, although later on in the game you found out her true motives.
Unlike in the first game though you chose a difficulty instead of different difficulties based on the two protagonists and this time their stories actually intertwined, with each character facing different obstacles. It encouraged multiple playthroughs and gave you some variation in each playthrough. There was even a little cameo from Brad, the wimpy pilot from RE2, who you could find as a zombie. His demise would be explained in Resident Evil 3.
So after the game took through parts of Raccoon City, the police department and a sewer, you would eventually end up at Umbrella’s main lab, located secretly under Raccoon City. It would be here that you (SPOILER WARNING) thought Ada had died (she later came back in Resident Evil 4), and face either a tyrant or finish off William Birkin once and for all, who had become a monster after injecting himself with the G-Virus.
Que a rocket launcher to the face and an explosive finale and Resident Evil 2 was over. After you finished the game, you unlocked the next scenario (aka an alternate scenario for the other character) and there was also a short mode where you could play Umbrella agent HUNK’s mission to get the G-Virus sample safely to a helicopter while fighting off all of the creatures that were still around. If you did enough you could even play this mission as a piece of tuna.
While it was more refined than fresh, Resident Evil 2 was still a scary yet fun game and it remains one of the best games in the series, or at least arguably the best of the tank controlled Resident Evil games. It’s well worth picking up if you don’t already have it. I think it’s on the PSN store but don’t quote me on that one.