Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Resident Evil 2

I'm sorry I didn't get this out in time, but I had a lot of other reviews to write and videos to make.
Resident Evil 2 was originally released in January in Japan and North America, and in the PAL regions in May of 1998 for the Sony PlayStation, and was then re-released, and was re-released in August and November of the same year in Japan and North America respectively with Dual Shock support.
It was also released exclusively in North America for the Tiger
Yes, Capcom canceled the Gameboy version of Resident Evil, but made a version of RE2 for Tiger's not-quite DS, not quite-Game Gear.
The game was then released for PC in February of 99 in North America and Japan, and April of the same year in the PAL regions.
Later on that same year, it was released for Nintendo 64 in North America. In January and February of 2000 that same version was released in Japan and the PAL regions respectively. That's the version I'll be reviewing today, as it's the one I played for YouTube. It included some extra background documents that helped link it to the then upcoming N64 version of Resident Evil Zero.
At the start, the game lets you set the violence levels, which I naturally set to maximum. It also had an option to change the blood color from red to either blue or green. Naturally, I chose red because this is neither the planet of the horseshoe crabs, nor Vulcan. It also had higher-definition backgrounds despite storage limitations, in addition to smoother character animations, sharper models, and better textures.
It also had higher-definition music and sound than the PlayStation version, thanks to utilizing a higher sample-rate for the audio.
Resident Evil 2 also saw a Dreamcast release in December of '99 in Japan, April of 2000 in the PAL regions, and December of the same year in North America. That version was based on the higher-definition PC port, that sadly none of the other console releases were based on.
Three years later, it saw a release on the Nintendo GameCube, based on the Dual Shock version. The backgrounds appear to be at about the same resolution as their PlayStation counterparts. It doesn't include any of the Ex Files from the Nintendo 64 version, for instance.
There was an updated version released in '06 for Windows XP with higher-definition FMVs and higher-definition backgrounds. Unfortunately, this version was exclusively released in Japan and has never seen a release outside of the land of the rising sun.
The Dual Shock version saw a release on the PSN in December of '07 in Japan, November of '09 (What...) in North America, and February of '12 (Wow, seriously?) in the EU. It's based on the Dual Shock version, and also was included as a voucher with the PS3 Limited Edition of Resident Evil 6.
I'd love to see it in a Resident Evil collection as a physical release, but that's probably not going to happen. Least I have the N64 version.
There was also talk of a REmake of the second game for the Wii a few years ago (At least five and counting) but that doesn't seem to be happening. The original REmake was/is being re-released recently (Not physically except for PS4, and only in Japan) for everything except Wii U (Which makes no sense considering that's the system the game was made for) so maybe there's hope.
Anyways, the game started development as Resident Evil 1.5, and was apparently at about eighty-percent completion when it was scrapped after Shinji Mikami determined it was too dull and boring.
Resident Evil 1.5
The original protagonists of Resident Evil 2 were Elza Walker, a college-student and motorbike racer vacationing near Raccoon City, and Leon S. Kennedy. Leon was pretty much unchanged in the final build of the game, and Elza was turned into Claire Redfield, with very few changes applied to her back-story, except that her name was changed and she was given Chris-like features.
Sherry Birkin was in the original version of the game, I'm pretty sure she hasn't changed since the first version.
Apparently Resident Evil 2 was originally supposed to be the last game in the series, but for better or worse they scrapped that part of the story and made it more open-ended.
Personally, I like that they didn't close it off at RE2, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten Resident Evil 3, one of my favorite games in the series, or Resident Evil 4. Or for that matter, REvelations, which is turning out to be a great game.
Or any of the other games. Again, for better or worse.
Other characters also appeared in various capacities. There were originally two support characters for each of the mains. In addition to that, the main characters never had intersecting storylines. It was similar to the original Resident Evil in that way.
But they wisely revised the story to have the main characters actually meet each other and interact.
Leon is a rookie-cop, straight out of the academy on his way into Raccoon City to start his rotation in the RCPD.
While driving his Jeep into town, he notices a person lying on the road. He stops, and checks it out, being a cop and all. After that, some zombies come up on him and force him away from his Jeep, and towards a diner/truck-stop.
Meanwhile, Claire Redfield has come into town looking for her brother. She's had no word from him for quite a while and decided to come check out the situation and make sure everything was alright.
Claire gets ambushed by a zombie in the truck-stop and flees from it, opening an outside door to find a man pointing a gun at her.
That man is Leon, and he kills the zombie that was following her.
They get away from the truck-stop, and manage to find an RCPD Crown Victoria Police Cruiser with the keys still inside. Claire finds a handgun inside the cruiser, and they manage to get away from the undead.
They take that and make their way to the police-station, only to find that there was a zombie in the back-seat of the cruiser, and that forces Leon to take evasive action to keep it from killing them. Unfortunately, that causes them to crash into a pole and become stuck.
And a zombie driving a sixteen-wheeler (A trucker who was infected earlier in the opening) then comes barreling down the rod behind them, forcing them to leap out of the police-car to safety. The fuel-tank catches fire in addition to the semi-trailer exploding, causing them to become separated.
Claire and Leon wind up taking different paths to the police-station, but wind up in the STARS Alpha room anyways. They find out that Chris and the other STARS members went off to Europe to take out the Umbrella HQ over there.
Leon and Claire determine that it's best they find a way out of Raccoon City ASAP.
On the way, Leon runs into Ada Wong, a mercenary looking for her boyfriend, John.
There was a character named John in Resident Evil 1.5, who turned into the gunshop owner that either Claire or Leon run into earlier in the game.
Which was just damn confusing. I know John is a common name, but there was a character named John in the original Resident Evil, and I'm glad they changed those details to tie in better to the original game.
Leon also runs into Marvin Branagh, who was supposed to be one of Leon's supporting characters in the original version of the game. He dies after telling Leon to look for survivors.
Claire runs into a little girl names Sherry Birkin and the chief of police, Brian Irons.
Fun fact, Leon Scott Kennedy was modeled after Isao Ohishi's bloodhound.
Yes, bloodhound the dog, not something else.
Anette Birkin was modeled on Jodie Foster apparently. Interesting, considering Ellen Page once sued for unauthorized use of her likeness in a game.
Which begs the question, did she license her likeness to Capcom for this game?
That aside, here we go.
The graphics are pretty sweet for fifth generation limitations, both the pre-rendered backgrounds and the real-time renders. There are jiggle-physics applied to both Claire's hair and her breasts, which is something I was startled to discover. And pretty good jiggle-physics I might add. Better than some I've seen in some games that followed it.
They limited the number of zombies in a single area to five, allowing them to go for a much higher polygon count on all of the real-time 3D models.
In Resident Evil 1.5, the characters originally had modifications applied in real-time to their models when they became injured. This, however was scaled back to decreasing their walking and running speed when they received damage, as well as making them clutch their stomachs, which wound up being more practical for the hardware limitations of the existing consoles.
I have to say, some of the ideas that went into Resident Evil 1.5 were far ahead of their time. That thing about the models changing in real-time as a reaction to damage and their environments, that's pretty cool. I don't know if Capcom used that idea in any later games, but I'd feel safe saying that I doubt it.
They also had ideas to make real-time changes to the pre-rendered backgrounds, an idea that would be put into use later on in Resident Evil Zero and the GameCube remake of the original game, to great effect.
So, the plot seems to be pretty cool, but DEAR GOD is the final boss a tough nut to crack.
And the final boss is VERY story related.
So all in all, the game seems to be a very good port. Granted, the FMVs look atrocious. And the audio in said FMVs seem to have been encoded with a lemon.
But the other voice-clips are encoded very well. As are the pre-rendered backgrounds.
And in addition to the backgrounds holding up, so do the 3D models. They're much better than say, a typical early PS2 game.
Something else I feel I should mention is that this is one of the only games in the series with analog movement control. Yes, it exists. Which begs the question, why wasn't it included in later games?
Well, this might just be due to the fact that the joystick on my controller is shot to hell, but I don't think that it was very good. It doesn't really work, and I wound up using the d-pad almost exclusively throughout my entire playing time.
It's a little awkward, to say something about it. Again, it might just be muscle-memory, or my crappy joystick to blame, but I didn't like the analog control very much.
Now, while we're on the subject of the Nintendo 64, and how impressive this port was...
Well it raises some...
Let's say... Troubling questions.
Considering how they managed to cram two 700MB CD's worth of data onto a 512MB N64 cartridge. That's compressing about a gigabyte's worth of game into a space less than half of that.
Which begs the question, what ever happened to Resident Evil and Resident Evil 3? They both came on a single 700MB CD, and that's not a whole lot more than 512. Especially considering they managed to fit the original game onto a single 128MB Nintendo DS card.
And the last time I checked, I think that the PSN version of Resident Evil 3 was around 300MBs.
Yeah, the size is exactly 365MBs.
And the PSN version of Resident Evil is 299MBs. Yeah, it's that small!
And on top of that!
Resident Evil 2 on PSN is 757MBs.
So yeah, that's a major little thing right there. For everyone who says that they couldn't fit the game onto an N64 cart, they obviously could.Yeah, they could!
What even happened there? It was just a single, random, one-off port of Resident Evil 2 for a console that didn't get either of the games sequels, much less the original game!
I don't have any single clue what held them back from that. Nintendo had already repealed its North American content filtering policies in the late SNES era, (Which begs the question, where did the color options for the blood and violence come from?) so that option flies right out the window. Especially when it's got an option for red-blood and ultraviolence.
Size? That option goes out with the trash. From what I can tell it's entirely possible for Capcom to have fit the first and third games onto a single N64 cartridge each. Maybe even both of them onto one if they compressed them a little bit. Hell, what could have been eh?
Was it too difficult to port? Okay, I could believe this had Resident Evil 2 not been ported by a team of about twenty people on a budget of a million dollars over the course of a year. And had Resident Evil 2 not had much better graphics and sound on the N64 than on the PlayStation. Could they have made the money back?
Who knows. I would hope so. It would at least be very interesting. Hell, they were planning to make a version of the original Resident Evil for the GameBoy Color, and they actually went through with making a handheld version for the Game.Com! So stranger things have happened, certainly. The fact that the GameBoy version was practically finished by the time it was canceled just tells you how bloody determined Capcom was to push the limits of the technology they had access to back in the 90s. And I have to say that I support that.
So all in all I would have to say that Resident Evil 2 is well worth your time. I mean, I had a decent amount of fun with it, and it was well worth the price I paid for it.
In the end I give it an 8.6* rating. Sorry again for not getting it out four days ago, I had a lot of things I needed to get done, and this review has been kicking around in my head since I finished the game in January.
I'll see you next week with Transformers!