Retro Review: Resident Evil 2 (1998) – BagoGames

It is no secret that I’ve played the Resident Evil games multiple times; all the ports, the remasters, and so on. I just can’t get enough of these games, I started off with Resident Evil 0 in November, beat the REMake and Resident Evil 2 1998 very recently.

I plan to continue my adventure with Claire, then hopping into Jill’s shoes to fend off Nemesis. It has been a least a decade since I plodded through Capcom’s seminal 1998 adventure, and I dusted off my PlayStation Vita so that I could play it more at ease and with less uglification on a big screen. I probably will still play it on the GameCube, and PS1 when I have the time, but the Vita was the most viable option for my schedule at the present time.

For the late comers to the series who only have played the remakes, coming back to the original tank controlled goodness might pose an issue. The Resident Evil 2 Remake was perfection, the controls, the atmosphere, the tweaked story; I loved ever minute with that game. After beating it several times I knew I had to go back, I wanted to see if my memory of the game, the game itself and skills held up against a decade of absence. Well, one of the three held up and it was the game itself.

The core story from the Remake is still there, obviously it isn’t as fleshed out seeing the technical difficulties back then, but it’s still enjoyable. Just a note, on the Vita version you start off with Leon’s A scenario, you can’t pick Claire’s for some reason. After beating Leon’s first scenario I discovered how to “switch” discs on the Vita, so you actually can start as Claire as you like. Hold the blue PS Vita button until settings comes up, then chose “reset game.” This will allow you to chose between disc 1 and disc 2. Disc 1 is Leon and Disc 2 is Claire, so you can start as Claire if you like from the get go.

You meet Claire at a gas station and attempt to get into Raccoon City; a flaming truck separates you both and you run to the safety of the police station. Leon has his challenges and Claire has hers, the stories differ much more in the 1998 version. Leon never meets Mr. X, he’s Claire’s problem the whole time. I think that’s neat, it saddens me a bit that Capcom made both campaigns in the remake so very similar.

Controls for the original Resident Evil games are ROUGH! Not going to lie, I died a few times just trying to get into Kendo’s gun shop because I didn’t want to waste my ammo on zombies I would never encounter again. I had to teach myself to use the D-pad on the Vita because using the control stick was certain death. If you’ve never played a tank controlled game let me try to explain it to you as simply as possible.

The direction you’re going on the D-pad doesn’t change even if the fixed camera angle changes so you’ll find yourself turning around on instinct. I hope that makes sense, that is the biggest challenge in the game if you want to dodge the zombies to save precious ammo. The rest of the controls are pretty standard, Right Trigger and X is fire, X alone is interact and Circle is menu where you can use herbs, reload you weapon and check out the map.

For the time the graphics were amazing, I would play in my room on my inflatable chair and my Dad would walk in and watch me play for hours at a time. He would say that these are better than movies nowadays, something that he would continue to say up until his death.

Had I not played on my Vita I would probably have been a bit more disappointed in them because they would have been stretched onto a 42 inch screen. The Vita’s screen is about as big as the new iPhone’s which makes it perfect for playing older 3D games. The cut-scenes are still a sight to behold though, and I can’t wait to see them playing on the GameCube on 480i.

When I first started my trek back into Raccoon City I was generally concerned that my love for this game came from all the nostalgia that my life connected to it. I can happily say that I was not blinded by nostalgia. This game is genuinely great, and even though it is a tad ugly from what we are use to today it still shines. The controls, once mastered, are easy to use. The story is just as epic as it was when I was nineteen, and even though the scenarios are short, you can play them over and over again to unlock cool treats. I was not mislead by nostalgia like some, including myself, have been recently.

If you’ve played the Remake of this title and not the original you owe it to yourself to track down a copy and enjoy it. Yes, you may think it is ugly and that the controls are a bit tough at the beginning, but seeing the police station in all it’s pre-HD glory is something to behold. I can’t impress upon you enough that you NEED to play this piece of history. It’s so wonderful and amazing to go back, and as you play to get excited for the next remake, Nemesis.

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