WARNING: Mild spoilers for this review.
It’s a faint, hint of a song from long ago, wafting beneath the ambient noises of the RPD Hall as I checked on the storage and looked for bullets the first time around… but it’s there, and it’s says welcome home.
It was the first moment in the game that really brought me back to all those years ago when I had moved out for the first time and played the original Resident Evil 2 on the PSX in the apartment I was sharing with two friends. It was almost startling in how much the nostalgia hit me, once I was past the rush of the amazing graphics, the re-imagining of old characters and settings, and the better voice acting.
That nostalgia remained with me as I walked about the darkened halls of the RPD, taking in the dead bodies, the bloodied imprints of hands and feet on the walls and floor, and my view crossing over the Angel imprinted in black upon the back of Claire’s jacket.
And yet, for as much as this game has brought back all those memories, it’s also done a lot to instill new ones. With the use of the RE Engine, Capcom has realized an abandoned police station that feels like a place of work hastily rearranged into a last bid for survival. People worked here, filed paperwork, ate their lunch and drank coffee, and it’s all been decimated by a zombie apocalypse.
Alongside such stellar graphics, Capcom has wonderfully used the nostalgia of my generation against me, twisting the series of events around and moving items about with all the glee of a playful older sibling who just came out of your room, said nothing, and simply smiled as your paranoia frantically grew.
I’ve only played a few hours of the game, so I can’t say for sure what else is to come, only to acknowledge that things aren’t as they seem. Playing as Claire, I had assumed that my main opponent throughout the game would be the ever mutating William Birkin. After all, this was the A Side play through, so all those videos I’d seen of Mr X stalking Claire through the RPD? I didn’t have to worry about that at all.
Until I suddenly did.
With Sherry kidnapped by Chief Irons, I made my way back to where the helicopter had crashed in order to get the parking pass, extinguished the flames, and started making my way through… and there he was.
Larger than life with a hat I immediately shot off on my first, frantic pulling of the trigger, my blood ran cold as I realized that there would be two large opponents I would have to fight.
A rare thought filtered through my mind as I climbed a ladder to avoid him, and Mr X followed, one I’d not had since my childhood and the days of the NES, facing down a difficult stage:
How unfair. That’s not right.
I started flashing back to my (oh so very) short time playing Alien Isolation, hearing the stepping of feet always around somewhere, and even seeing him march into the sanctity of the main hall.
How dare he. How dare he.
I stepped quietly, even hiding out of his direct sight on the main floor, waited nervously as he stopped and looked around, wondering if I’d be forced to knock him to his knees with five or six well placed head shots, before he finally left through a side door I’d unlocked previously into the west police office.
I’d been armed with my trusty five shooter, knife, and a couple grenades, but knew I’d have to get that grenade launcher, because now I had lickers infesting the hallways, zombies pouring in through smashed open windows, and the ever present stomping of Mr X, so named in SD Perry’s novelization of the game.
It honestly wasn’t until I had the grenade launcher in hand that the knot of tension in my chest finally eased, however only a little. I’d even found a missing key for the keypad of the storage room, so maybe I’d have some time to grab more supplies before Mr X showed up again. Who knows?
I honestly had to take a step back and allow myself some time to catch my breath. Whatever advantage I had with modern controls and the game set in Assist Mode, with the tank controls and fixed camera angles abandoned since Resident Evil 4 came out, would not be enough. I’d need to keep my cool, plan my moves, and conserve my ammo.
To call this game a remake would be to underestimate it, and even undersell it. It’s a re-imagining of a world done pretty well during the first generation of disc games that sets a tension I’ve not felt since wandering the halls of that old space station in Alien Isolation.
Sure, I might be able to fight back this time around, but the zombie hordes are coming in, the lickers are everywhere, Mr X never tires, and I’ve only so much ammunition.
Lock and load, everyone, and be sure to watch your 6.