Thursday, December 2, 2010

Resident Evil 2 (Playstation)

All this talk of zombies while watching The Walking Dead gave me a craving for a good old-fashioned zombie shootout. I've been feeling a bit under the weather this week, and there's nothing like sickness to foster a good opportunity while sitting at home in bed to throw in a video game and waste hours of the day away on some interactive entertainment. So I walked over to my shelf and dusted off Resident Evil 2 (being that the emphasis is slightly more on action than suspense compared to the first Resident Evil), one of the great classics of survival horror video gaming.

The first thing that comes to mind when I play a Resident Evil game is to compare it to another beloved horror series - Silent Hill (my personal pick between the two). The games are similar in structure and format, but they have a fundamentally different approach to horror. Being zombie horror, Resident Evil has a more playful aesthetic, whereas Silent Hill is deeply disturbing on a psychological level. Not to say that RE isn't scary, but it's a much better game to play when you just want to have some fun, as opposed to those times when you feel like gazing into the abyss of demonic insanity.

Resident Evil 2 takes place largely in Raccoon City's police department, and the secret underground laboratories located under the sewers. I have to say, it must suck having to trek through the sewers to get to work each day. But I guess when you're developing a top secret bio-organic weapon, you have to go to lengths to keep it under wraps. This game introduces the G-Virus, companion to the original T-Virus that created Tyrant. Where the T-Virus rejuvenates dead tissue, the G-Virus seems to encourage uncontrolled growth and mutation - you'd think that after it keeps coming back bigger and stronger (and uglier) after each time you kill it, you'd get the hint and stop encouraging its growth!

I like the way the two scenarios weave together. I had forgotten, but you can play either scenario with either character (you should have seen my face when I tried to load Claire's data for Scenario B, and it refused, until I finally remembered that the game has two discs, one for each character!). There's just enough variation in locations between the scenarios (front vs. back door to the police station, different paths through the sewers, different areas of the laboratory) to keep it fresh and exciting, with enough overlap to make it feel like just a different side to the same survival experience.

The great thing about Scenario B is that, in addition to the new G-Virus monster, you are stalked throughout the game by a Tyrant in a trench coat. He's not quite a boss, just a big bad that shows up at the most inopportune moments to scare your pants off (or in Claire's case, those hot pink denim cut-offs). The one time (well, twice) he busts through the wall feels like a total slasher moment (like Rob Zombie's ten foot tall Michael Myers), with the invincible killer who just won't die, and keeps coming after you no matter how many times you manage to drop him to the ground. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis takes the Tyrant-stalking idea and builds a whole game around it, but here, it's just part of the overall experience.

...An experience that introduced the legendary Licker - talk about creepy! (The breathing noise they make is positively bone-chilling).

NECA Resident Evil Archives Series 1 Action Figure Licker

Classic game. Recommended for horror gamers, required playing for zombie aficionados.

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