A Resident Evil Retrospective Part 2: Resident Evil 2 (PS1)
With Resident Evil 6 only about a month and half away, once a week I'm going to be taking a look back at all the main Resident Evil games, leading up to the October 2nd 2012 release of Resident Evil 6. The Resident Evil series is arguably one of the greatest video games series ever, and its influence can be seen, and played in movies and games ever since the release of the first one.
Last week focused on the game that started it all, Resident Evil. This week A Resident Evil Retrospective will focus on its sequel, and my favorite video game of all time, Resident Evil 2. We will also take a brief look at Resident Evil 1.5, the game that was originally supposed to be Resident Evil 2 but was scrapped.
Resident Evil 1.5
Development on a sequel to Resident Evil began in 1996, just one month after its release. The game was to feature two separate stories, one following Leon S. Kennedy and the other following Elza Walker. The game would have taken place two months after the events of the first game, with Raccoon City under a viral outbreak, turning the citizens into flesh eating zombies. The Umbrella Corporation had been shut down due to their illegal viral experiments.
The stories of Leon and Elza would not cross over, or come together, in this initial version of Resident Evil 2. Their stories were set to be completely separate, with each character exploring the same areas, but their stories, as well as the help they would receive, would differ. Throughout Leon's story he would receive aid from Police Officer Marvin Branagh and a scientist/researcher Linda, while Elza would receive help from Sherry Birkin and a man named John.
The police station was designed with a modernized look, and would contain many, non-infected, police officers that Leon and Elza would be able to talk and interact with. Throughout the game Leon and Elza would have been able to equip armor and protective clothing in order to lessen the damage received from various attacks.
About 3 months before the games expected release, production on it was shut down. The game was cited to contain "dull and boring" settings, undesirable gameplay, and had just not achieved the quality they had hoped for. The story was criticized for having an ending that did not allow further Resident Evil sequels to be made. The game was around 60-80% completed before it was scrapped. The producers of the game hired a new writer to rework the story, changing aspects of the initial version as well as adding in completely new aspects. Production on the Resident Evil 2 that we know today began.
Resident Evil 2
After a long delay in production, Resident Evil 2 was released on January 21st 1998 to wide critical acclaim, receiving many accolades for its atmosphere, setting and graphics. It is widely considered the best Resident Evil, but on some lists it falls to number 2 behind Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil 2 takes place 2 months following the events of the first game. Almost all the residents of Raccoon City have been infected with the T-Virus, a virus created by the Umbrella Corporation. Resident Evil 2 follows Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they search for survivors and a way out of Raccoon City. Leon is a rookie cop who shows up to Raccoon City for his first day on the job. Claire arrives in town looking for her brother Chris, one of the main characters from the first game. The game is broken up into 4 main stories and two minor, side stories. The 4 main stories, Leon's A game and B game, and Claire's A game and B game, follow Leon and Claire through the Raccoon Police Department, underground sewers, and a secret Umbrella laboratory. Once you beat Leon's A game you get to play through Claire's B game, and once you beat Claire's A game you get to play through Leon's B game. Sounds confusing?
If you play through Leon's A game, you then get the opportunity to experience what Claire was going through during the same time in her B game, and vice versa. It's quite genius, allowing for a truly complete, and enjoyable game. The 2 side stories, Hunk's story and Tofu's story are playable only upon beating certain stories.
Gameplay begins with Leon and Claire meeting up in a alleyway, with zombies coming from almost all directions. They hop into a police car and drive off thinking they are safe. A zombie in the backseat attacks them causing them to crash the car, killing the zombie in the process. Depending on whose A game you are playing, the police car with either crash with the head of the car or the rear. They are then separated when a tanker truck comes barreling towards them, crashing into the police car, and blowing up. Over the crackling of the flames Leon tells Claire to meet him at the police station. Leon makes his way into Kendo's Gun Shop, grabbing some ammo and a shotgun before being forced to leave by attacking zombies. After dodging zombies in the city's streets Leon finally makes it to the entrance of the police station. At the same time Claire ends up entering through the back of the police station, witnessing a helicopter crash into the second story of station.
Leon and Claire, now both in the police station make their way room to room searching for survivors, finding clues, and searching for a way out of this nightmare. Claire begins to get stalked by a B.O.W. (Bio Organic Weapon) known as Mr. X. While searching through the police station Claire finds out that her brother Chris has left town, so now her main goal is survival. As she continues searching through the police station she encounters police chief Brian Irons who has been bribed by Umbrella to keep his mouth shut on their activities, and also runs into a little girl Sherry Birkin who is hiding from a giant monster. Leon makes his way into the basement of the police station and encounters Ada Wong in the parking garage.
Chief Irons attempts to kill Claire, but is instead killed by a creature. Claire and Sherry escape into the sewers, the same as Leon and Ada. Claire and Sherry become separated, with the same Leon and Ada again. After making it further into the sewers Leon reunites with Ada. They come across a middle aged woman who shoots at them, hitting Leon in the shoulder. Ada chases after the woman, finding out that she is Annette Birkin, mother of Sherry Birkin and husband to William Birkin. Annette reveals to Ada that Umbrella came to take away her husbands G-virus, his life's work, and instead of allowing them to take it he injects himself with the virus, becoming the giant creature that has been following Sherry.
Claire eventually meets back up with Sherry, realizing that Sherry has been implanted with embryos by her mutated father. Claire and Sherry make it out of the sewers, through an old factory, and into an underground lab right behind a patched up Leon and Ada. After Ada is wounded by William Birkin, Leon searches throughout the underground lab in hopes of finding medicine for her wounds. Along the way he runs into a Annette who explains to him that Ada is an Umbrella spy, sent in to retrieve the G-virus. They are attacked by Birkin, who injures Annette. Leon runs but is attacked by Birkin again, but this time Ada is there to save his life, sacrificing hers instead.
Claire stumbles upon an injured Annette, and before she dies she tells Claire how to create the vaccine for Sherry. Claire hurries to create the vaccine for Sherry. The self destruct system is activated and Leon and Claire, still separated head for the emergency evacuation train. Leon is forced to face off against William Birkin while waiting for an elevator, which proves to be a difficult battle. Claire, while activating and preparing the emergency evacuation train, is attacked by a mutated Mr. X. After a long, difficult battle Claire defeats him. She starts the train and begins to depart. After defeating Birkin, Leon catches the elevator and makes it down to the train platform just in time to catch the train.
They administer the vaccine to Sherry and are just about home free when something happens in the back of the train. Leon decides to go check it out, leaving Claire behind to protect Sherry. Leon finds William Birkin, still alive, now as a giant blob with teeth. Leon fights it, but its too strong. The self destruct for the train is activated, and Leon, Claire and Sherry barely escape before the train cars explode, destroying Birkin once and for all, as well as taking out the tunnel. Leon, along with Sherry, aim to take down Umbrella, while Claire continues her search for Chris.
Resident Evil 2 remains my favorite video game of all time and arguably the best Resident Evil game out there. Just as they did with the first Resident Evil I would love to see them do a remake of Resident Evil 2. If any game was deserving of it, this would be it. Thank you for reading!
Resident Evil 2 is currently available at the Playstation store for the PS3 and will be bundled in the Resident Evil Anthology which comes out October 2nd 2012. If you still own a PS1 or PS2 Resident Evil 2 is available for sale on Amazon and Ebay.
Thank you for reading! Check back next week for A Resident Evil Retrospective Part 3: Resident Evil: Nemesis!