Sunday, April 8, 2012

Game A2 : Resident Evil 2 - Zapping System

Leon Kennedy journal entry 1 : I was on my way to my first day as a Police Officer in Racoon City when I discovered something dreadful : the entire city has been overrun by zombies! I met another survivor, Claire, who claims to search for her brother, but we've been separated. We gained access to the RPD Building, which is full of zombies and other monsters. There is a particularly creepy one which is bigger and stronger than all the others who seems to chase me all around the place! I've met a second person, Ada Wong, who is searching for her boyfriend. Thanks to her help, I was able to gather the four chess pieces used to unlock a strange door in the building basement. It's supposed to lead to an Abandoned factory of some kind, I sure hope it's our ticket out of here!

Déjà vu?

Leon's path :
Time played : 2h30 - "You Died" screens : 0

So what does this game look like from Leon's point of view? Well first of all, it starts even faster. Leon gains access to the RPD Building much sooner. A few seconds after his arrival, a helicopter crashes (which explains why it was burning on the roof in Claire's story) and another one drops a huge Terminator lookalike guy (Too bad he doesn't speak, I'm pretty sure he has a german accent) that starts chasing Leon in the corridors. It's a first take on the "Nemesis" template that will be used in the third game of the franchise. The simple fact to have a recurring enemy, who doesn't seem to be stoppable (or at least, considering it's the beginning of the game, you don't want to spend all your ammo on him), does a lot to add to the pressure. Even if his appearances are heavily scripted, it gives you the feeling that he could chase you in all the building.

I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle.
Once again, that beginning is another leap in rhythm. Even if you know about the building, it doesn't prepare you for this guy, and it's another great thought on how to keep the player on edge. Leon gains access to the first three keys really quickly too, and the building opens itself much faster than in Claire's story. Of course, a few spots which were perfectly safe during the first playthrough are now dangerous, just to let you know you can't expect to play the same game twice. I notably think about the room where you have to put the rubies in the statues (yeah, much of the puzzles are the same though, but more about that later). This time, a Licker drops through the window when you're in the room, giving you a good scare, considering it never happened the first time.

Not long after the beginning of your exploration, you gain access to the underground of the building where you meet Ada Wong. Ada is the "Sherry Birkin" of Leon's side of the story. However, she's not nearly as annoying as Sherry, because of a few factors. She runs faster, she has a gun, and, well, she's hot. She wanders around the place in a classy dress like it's a clever outfit to go shoot zombies (granted, Claire wears a minishort, once again proving that character design are made by men). She claims she's searching for her boyfriend, John, who works for Umbrella. Of course, if my memory is right, it's not that simple, and she hides a secret (who doesn't in these games?).

I understand. When I saw your outfit, I thought you were a hooker.
Leon's arsenal, lacking the Rocket Launcher, consists mainly of the gun (which is a different model from Claire's one, having more bullets in the chamber. It doesn't change a lot, but it's a nice touch) and the shotgun. I also have found the always loved Magnum (which I haven't used yet, I'm saving it for the boss battles) and the Machine Gun I didn't take when I was playing Claire's path. The Machine Gun uses two inventory spaces, but holds quite a lot of ammo and is good for dispatching zombies and Lickers (much more useful than Claire's Spark Shot, who also uses two spaces). All of this adds up to make battle a little different than when you're playing Claire.

Now, I have a Machine Gun. Oh. Oh. Oh.

This time, you don't collect stones for the painting behind Irons' desk, you collect chess pieces for an elaborated lock in the sewers, but the places for these pieces are basically the same. And that's with that clever transition (I know, nobody saw that coming) that I'm going to talk about the highly advertised "Zapping System". It's the system that's supposed to give you the feeling that you're making progress at the same time than Claire, and trying to make you believe you're not playing the same game for the second time.

Well, it's an interesting try, but it's obviously not been thought through. I understand the technical limitations of such a system. Making Leon's adventure much different than Claire's would have been too much of a hassle, especially considering the locked doors (Both characters have to find the same keys that open the same doors). However, there are a few times where it's just plain silly. Both have to find a valve and go burst the water tower in order to clear the fire from the helicopter crash. Both have to start the power generator using the exact same puzzle. Both have to put the rubies in the statues to get a key, and so forth... Granted, the storylines highly differ, mainly because of the inclusion of Ada instead of Sherry (who still lurks around the place, so you're not totally done with her), and there is a few places where it's genuinely interesting. The idea of leaving the machine gun for Leon to find it is worth it, and there is a moment where Claire contacts you with the radio to tell you she's blown up a wall in the building, opening a new path (something you did when playing as Claire). But come on, Capcom, you didn't need to give me the exact same puzzle (pushing crates) in the little part where you play as Ada, which happens to be in the exact same place than the little part where you played as Sherry in Claire's path.

Weird. I'm pretty sure I've seen the same item some place else...

Well, enough babbling. The game feels different enough to keep me going. I've cleared the RPD Building and found the four chess pieces I needed to unlock the basement door. It's time to progress to the Abandoned Factory, then the Laboratory. I've not died once yet, and I intend to keep it this way to the end (hoarding Magnum bullets will help me achieve this, I think). Let's kick some more putrefied arses.


  1. Saving the magnum bullets is a really good idea. If I remember correctly, you can even upgrade it, and (though I think it's a waste of this particular type of ammo) you can kill multiple zombies per shot if they're lined up, or grouped together.

  2. Whoa, this game is a pearl in my memory. I played it a lot of times, it was very good at that time. Really, the two scenarios were very similar, but the dynamics, and the late game scenario changes a lot, and Mr. X makes a lot of the difference.

    You made the right choice, it makes more sense start with Claire and play with Leon after.

    I look foward to your comments about the endgame!

  3. Hey, welcome Torneco. If I'm not mistaken, it's your first comment around here and it's always great to see more people showing interest for what I'm blogging about!

    I'm sorry about the slow posting these days guys, but I'm literally drowning in my real-life work these days! I'll try to play a few hours (and hopefully finish the game) tomorrow. I'll give you my comments about the endgame and final rating about the "zapping system" idea...

  4. Hey, no sweat. We all have lives. I've been slacking on reading all the game blogs lately, going through a nasty breakup and trying to stay out of my place for the time being. I'm still following!