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Review by: David Laprad
Published: April 7, 1999
It goes without saying that the original Resident Evil defined a genre with its unique brand of survival horror. It gave birth to more than grotesque monsters, it created a new style of gameplay through its unique blending of adventure, action and dreary, gore-drenched 3D graphics; when it was ported to the PC, it even converted some non-console die-hards because it was so innovative. When the sequel was unleashed on the PlayStation with a stronger emphasis on action, it was widely acclaimed as a dazzling heir apparent to the original. However, porting this iconic brilliance to the PC does not guarantee the same success; as a PC game, Resident Evil 2 Platinum must stand on its own.
Overall, there is little difference between the sequel and the original classic. Once again, an unfortunate cast of characters is trapped inside an evil-infested compound, and to escape, gamers must progress room to room solving traditional adventure puzzles and using conventional weapons against monsters who come in varying stages of putrescence. The graphics are as artfully dismal as the predecessor and the gore has been upped a notch to coincide with the stronger emphasis on action. Although gamers must remain diligent about not wasting ammunition on creatures who are already dead, there is more of a shooting gallery feel to the game since the supply of ammunition has been increased, eliminating one of the frustrations of the original. The camera is still third-person static, and although it accepts this role with cinematic delight, indulging in clever angles and well-timed cuts, it has a tendency to obscure the action.
The game is once again set in a doomed metropolis called Raccoon City, a town victimized by depraved chemical experiments conducted at the Umbrella Corporation. In a bad public relations move, the research group unwittingly emancipates its zombies and other decrepit nasties, littering the streets with hungry undead and the lethal “G” Virus. To reinforce its ebbing numbers, the police department hires newbie cop Leon Kennedy, who uncovers the infestation his first night out when he investigates a routine traffic accident. Slavering creatures abound, and he commences a violent crusade. He soon meets up with the sister of the main character from the original, Claire Redfield. Other characters appear, including Ben, a brazen reporter, Ada Wong, a professional spy who brings a surprising emotional element to the ensemble, and still more who aid in the zombie-cleansing quest.
As with the original, the adventure can be completed using a different character. This time, second billing goes to Claire Redfield, whose progression through the game differs slightly from Leon’s. People will find that completing the adventure as one character, then approaching it as the other instigates even more changes. There are two missions to complete, and beating them both with each character unlatches secret mini-games. There is a wealth of secrets and mini-games to uncover, though only the most ardent players will locate them all.
The reason is not because the secrets are all that tough to unearth; it has more to do with each gamer’s endurance than anything else. Succinctly, Resident Evil 2 is both exciting and tedious. The excitement derives from the satisfying combat, which has people both blasting through creatures and determining creative ways around them to preserve ammunition. The cures for spider bites and health deficiencies are also creative and require a bit of puzzle solving. However, the combat soon becomes repetitive, and although I anticipated this would be balanced with unique puzzles, that is not the case. The puzzles are standard, with people activating pressure plates, collecting medallions and locating access cards to open doors. Getting out of the police station in which most of the game is set remains a persistent goal, though escaping requires considerable patience.
So what is the “Platinum” appellation all about? There are some PC-exclusives on the disc, though I am not certain these are enough to attract dubious consumers. In the gameplay column is Extreme Battle, a variation that enables gamers to play through the quest in reverse, and Arrange, which is different in content and arrangement than Leon and Claire’s standard adventures and includes tougher creatures. Those who dig around on the CD will find a movie and 3D model showroom, some interesting concept art and a Windows theme. Still, the things that matter are those the developers bundle within the blood-drenched halls and renown gameplay.
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