Resident Evil 2 (or Biohazard 2 globally) is a survival horror shooter game and a remake of the 1998 classic. The 1-Shot Demo released on 1/11/2019, allowing a limited 30 minute window of play time, although people have succeeded at hacking the demo to remove this. It is available for free on Steam.
I personally played the original Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation in the late 1990s. I kept up with the franchise until Resident Evil 6, the point at which I couldn’t take it anymore. The franchise has undergone genre shifts, going from survival horror starting with pre-rendered environments and fixed camera angles, to eventually becoming third person shooters and abandoning the horror elements (which caused me to become disinterested), and now back to horror with Resident Evil 7 and of course this remake, which oddly does not have the same level of visual fidelity as Resident Evil 7.
The Resident Evil 2 remake however takes the third person over the shoulder gameplay style introduced by Resident Evil 4. It also features various content changes, so that the layout of the game world and the obstacles and encounters are no longer 100% identical. Playing it reveals a faithful remake otherwise, but dare I say too faithful. It reminds us how the gameplay of Resident Evil 2 was outdated even when it released in 1998, having illogical gameplay obstacles showing too much limitation on environmental interaction, and an overly static environment (inherent to the pre-rendered level design however).
Unfortunately, this remake is no less static despite being 3D. Objects in the game world are static and never move, which was immersion breaking back then so even more so now. The first obstacle in the demo is tape. Yes, just tape. An important electrical panel is taped up. For whatever reason the protagonist, Leon (Claire Redfield is not featured in the demo), is too weak or unwilling to tear the tape with his hands or with any other object in the vicinity. Even guns can’t do the trick, you need one knife in one particular part of the game/demo to cut through it.
Such is the nature of the obstacles of Resident Evil 2, then and now. A wooden door is absolutely impenetrable despite obtaining shotguns and explosives, and the list of such examples goes on to include nearly every obstacle in the classic games, and this remake is following the same path. Faithful remake? Yes. At the cost of evolution. This is how console games, especially linear ones such as Resident Evil, are unfortunately designed, a design methodology that PC games avoided throughout the 1990s. Remake or no, when your gameplay design pales in comparison to 20+ year old PC games, it is safe to say we have a problem.
But a free demo is a nice gesture. Download it and experience it for yourself. The retail price for the full game is $59.99, as expected for a mainstream game but a very poor value in general. On a related note, I would like to suggest to Resident Evil fans Underhell, a free Source mod which we have reviewed here. This is perhaps the one game (or in this case standalone mod) I have played that somewhat takes after the Resident Evil survival horror games, but actually demonstrates considerable advancements in game design, advancements that never made their way into the franchise. Chapter 1 sees you trapped in a facility where a zombie outbreak occurs, a setting not completely unlike the classic Resident Evil games, however obstacles impeding your advancement through the game are logical, the survival mechanics are greatly advanced (e.g. the stamina system, bleeding system which is impacted by stamina, flashlights and night vision require batteries), the shooting mechanics are greatly advanced and take after the likes of Rising Storm/Red Orchestra 2 (the creator of Underhell also develops the Insurgency franchise and Day of Infamy), the environment is highly interactive as usual for Source games, and even more. Check out footage of Underhell on YouTube.
Let us know your thoughts on the Resident Evil 2 1-Shot Demo in the comments below!