Thursday, November 17, 2011

games of our lives, part 8: Resident Evil 2

As I've said many times before, playing Resident Evil was a watershed moment for me because it turned me into a survival horror fanatic. As soon as Resident Evil 2 was released in 1998, I went to Best Buy and scored a copy.

And as good as the first game was, RE2 surpassed it on all conceivable levels. My mind was fuckin' BLOWN.

RE2 takes place two months after the events of the first game. Raccoon City has been decimated by the T-virus, which has turned the general population into shambling bloodthirsty zombies. Leon Kennedy, a floppy-haired slice of sexypie, has chosen a bad time to start his new job with the Raccoon City Police Department, but he's a dedicated (and sexy!) cop and he's determined to do what he can.

While he's making his way to the police department, he saves a young woman from becoming zombie chow. It turns out that she's Claire Redfield, sister of RE1 hero Chris, and she's come to town looking for her big brother. But when they finally get to the police station, they learn that Chris has left for Europe on a mission to take down Umbrella, the evil pharmaceutical company behind the outbreak. Claire and Leon decide to split up in hopes of finding and rescuing other survivors. They meet different people, too; Leon encounters the beautiful and mysterious Ada Wong, who's looking for her boyfriend, and Claire takes a young girl named Sherry Birkin under her wing.

And here's where RE2 really shines in comparison to its predecessor: you get to play as both Claire AND Leon, and the choices they make affect things for the other character. For example, if Claire leaves a first aid spray behind, then Leon can take it during his playthrough. This led to me being ultra-miserly because I was afraid I'd wind up leaving the other character with nothing, but I actually liked that aspect of it.

RE2's voice acting is also superior to Resident Evil, which frankly wouldn't have been hard. (Fun fact: Claire is voiced by Alyson Court of The Big Comfy Couch fame.) I loved the characters; as I mentioned in my Resident Evil 4 review, Leon is my favorite video game character of all time, and Claire is a close second. If they ever make another Resident Evil game with both of them, I will seriously paste 'em.

Resident Evil 2 has some of the most memorable jump scares in video game history (that 2-way mirror, HOLY FUCK), an indelible foe in the form of Frankensteinian freak Nemesis, awesome characters, a cool "zapping" system, and thrills galore. Any hardcore survival horror fan worth his or her salt needs to stop what they're doing and hunt down a copy immediately. It may be dated, but it's still an essential part of any gamer's library.