Resident Evil 2 review – genre-defining horror, loaded with dread

Capcom’s survival horror classic returns with improved visuals, new controls and a whole host of monstrous surprises

Let’s get this out of the way: Resident Evil 2 is the best game in Capcom’s long-running survival horror series and possibly the greatest example of the genre ever produced. Released in 1998, two years after the agenda-setting Resident Evil, it introduced the iconic characters Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield and Ada Wong. It had wonderfully horrible monsters (the tongue-lashing Lickers, the hideously mutated William Birkin, the indomitable Mr X), and it boasted a brilliant set-piece location, the Racoon City police department, housed within a scary old art gallery.

Now, 20 years later, Capcom has taken the game by the scruff of its neck, fully updated the visuals and controls, and reshuffled the narrative structure to deliver a contemporary horror experience that plays like our blood-tinted memories of the original. There’s been a zombifying outbreak in Raccoon City and two characters, rookie cop Leon and student Claire, find themselves trapped in the seemingly abandoned police station, trying to work out what has happened while fighting off the greedy and persistent undead. As we encounter reams of mutated scientists and endless documents about synthetic viruses, it becomes clear that local employer Umbrella Corp has been a very naughty pharmaceutical megacorp.

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