Friday, May 4, 2012

Game A2 : Resident Evil 2 - Final Rating

Here goes the first tryout of the brand new PICASO system (ok, granted, it's nearly the exact same system than before with new names, but you can't blame me for trying to make it sound exciting). It's been nearly a month since I started the game (and more than one month since I last applied a rating), so I'll try to be as accurate as possible...

But first of all, the MAMA goes to... (drum rolls)...

Yeah, I know, you probably saw this one coming, but she deserves it. She is annoying, she is slow, she is the personification of what is wrong in protect missions. Get away from her and she curls in a shivering ball of fear on the ground, waiting for the zombies to bite her head off, and she spends the majority of the game running away from Claire (or falling into holes), making her scenario revolve around the idea of "get Sherry back". To add insult to injury, I consider her responsible for the lack of multiple endings in this game because, eh, you can't let children die in video games so you have to save her (no choice here). And I don't even want to google her name, because I can't imagine how many sick fan porn pictures she starred in. She'll be back in Resident Evil 6, so let's hope the fact she has grown up makes her less irritating...

But now for the grades :

P for Pleasure/Enjoyment
Resident Evil 2 is a great game. It's known as one of the best games of the series, and has been ported to a high number of platforms (including the Tiger version that I'd love to play if it wasn't so expensive or so badly emulated). Like I've said before, the game is a great blend between action, cinematic moments and puzzles. However, everything is not perfect. The game alternates between excellent sequences and a few boring ones, for example. The endgame is pretty excellent in both stories, but there is a long part of the game which is kinda slow. Add to this a few frustrating points, mainly thanks to the really problematic inventory (for chrissakes, why does a lighter take as much space as a shotgun?) and some "run into corridors shooting zombies" sequences. The puzzle sequences are somewhat bland too, especially if you compare them to the Silent Hill or even Dino Crisis ones. Overall it's still a great game, so I'll go for a 7, which is my highest grade in this category so far.
Rating : 7

And the modified shotgun adds one full point to the "Pleasure" factor

I for Intelligence
Is this game a clever one? Tough question. On one side, there are a few nice ideas concerning the Zapping System and the "scared shitless" moments. This game really knows how to keep you on edge, and knows when a player feels safe in a RE game. After all, the huge Mr X is the first RE enemy to follow you in another room, and after going through Resident Evil 1, you tend to think just changing room is enough to keep you safe. Added to that, the fact that you can cross the same corridor two or three times before seeing something leap out of the window to eviscerate you is a enough to avoid making you fall asleep during the long back and forth moments. On the other side, the Zapping System is a bit faulty, with some moments where you feel plain silly to do the same things twice, while two seconds ago, the presence of the other character was reminded to you... Well I guess it has built up on the first game template, but not enough to grant another point. The fact that it's a more straightforward game than the first one doesn't help either in this category. 5 it was, 5 it stays.
Rating : 5

And pushing blocks got old in 1972.

C for Controls / inventory
The controls are on par with the first game, even if it's less bothersome this time around. I think the enemies are bigger or slower, like if the developers' answer to the control complaints of the first game had been, not to tweak them, but to make the game easier to manage despite them. I actually managed to kill a crow this time! The fact that there is no "quick-turn" option (I actually remembered otherwise... I guess it started in the 3rd game) is difficult to overcome too, even if the characters turn around a bit quicker. One last issue is that if your health is really low, your character starts moving at a snail's pace. It's a nice idea, but if you're short on healing items and have to cross ten corridors at this speed, it can make you want to hit your head against the nearest wall. Concerning the inventory problems, not much to say (I already said enough). It's bothersome but it's part of the experience. The adding of a "permanent" item slot (the lighter for Leon and the pass for Claire) is great, but the fact that some special weapons now take two spaces is hard to bear. There seem to be more "magic boxes" this time around, but it doesn't avoid the necessity to really manage your inventory at all times if you don't want to stumble upon an item you can't take if you have too many healing herbs in your pockets. I'll add one point to the RE1 grade, but it's still far from ideal.
Rating : 3

Come on Claire. Turn around. Turn arouuuund!!! Arrrrrrrgh!!!
A for Appeal
The same mash-up of techniques than in the first game is used, with real-time 3D characters and rendered backgrounds. Of course the game is much prettier than the first one, with actual nice-looking character-models, but considering the two years separating the two titles, it's the least Capcom could do (and 2 years of 3D video games evolution in the 90s is worth 5 nowadays). The voice acting is on the level of a good B-movie, and while it's nothing worth an Academy Award, it's far from the "80s porn movie" feeling of the first game. When Capcom released the Resident Evil Rebirth remake on the Gamecube, everybody was wondering if all the other games would be given the same treatment. Capcom then chose to release RE2, RE3 and Code:Veronica with no modifications. It seemed revolting by the time, but when you compare the first two games, you have to admit this one is still highly playable nowadays while the first one kinda smells like old clothes. Add to this the excellent cinematic cutscenes (of course, they're ugly by today's standards, but it was kind of a big thing in 1998), and this game gains two points in this category compared to its older brother.
Rating : 6

And the Hunk cutscene is great. What? Did I already tell that?
S for Storytelling
Here again, it's sort of a mixed bag. The Birkin's story is really nice, especially when you compare it to video game writing of the time. Even if Annette is a weird character, alternatively a poor widow or a psycho with a gun, and even if Sherry should be killed or eaten alive (yeah, I love kids), the drama is pretty well done for a game of this era. Of course, the game has some moments where you can't help to laugh (the "death" of Ada is the scriptwriting equivalent of a few Steven Seagal movies), and the plot has a few holes larger than Texas, but it's nice to follow anyway. The documents sharing the lives of the former workers and civilians (and now probably zombies) are still there and it all adds to the overall ambiance.
Rating : 5

Ooookaaay... We met two hours ago, but I appreciate the feeling.

O for Optional Stuff
Sure, there is a lot of stuff to find if you like searching around. The special weapons and weapon modifications are all optional, and I guess it's perfectly possible to finish the game without them (of course, probably more difficult). The problem here is that you spend a lot of time running into various walls and mashing the A button to be sure you don't forget a magnum round or a first aid spray somewhere, because nothing shows an item is to be found here. A little light glint like in the first game would sometimes have been nice, but it's overall not a big deal. Concerning the post-game content, ok, the Zapping System is overrated and playing through the game twice is not really an "all-fresh, all-new" experience... However, the ability to tackle the game in two different orders is excellent for replay value. Once you've beaten the game once, you have the mandatory new costumes to unlock, but you can add the inclusion of a mini-scenario involving Hunk, one of Umbrella's soldiers, and his mission to deliver the G-Virus. It's an ancestor to the future installments "mercenary mode" where you're given grades depending on how well you perform. There is another character to unlock, Tofu, who is, as his name implies, a big tofu block... and you have to play the game several times while under different handicaps to unlock it (no first aid sprays, no special weapons, etc...). So, we have to admit Resident Evil 2 is packed full with content and, should you consider playing the game again (and again, and again) without getting bored to death, you have plenty of value for your money. As far as I'm concerned, though, I never unlocked the Tofu guy mainly because I didn't find enough incentive to play through the story six times in a row...
Rating : 7

Here comes the Tofu hero : Healthy and a good example for your kids. Don't eat it after it went in the sewers, though.


Strange, I would have thought this one could beat even The Legend of Zelda. Well, we'll see if it's a good news for the PICASO system (meaning the games have plenty of room to improve) or bad news (meaning no game will ever go over 70). Well I really enjoyed going through this one again (twice!) and it's time to move on. On Zelda II we go! And please let me know your thoughts about the new rating system.


  1. I think the rating system is perfectly solid - it touches on a lot of good elements. As you pointed out - it should be interesting to see how these scores come out for you overall with more reviews, but I thought this was a very good write-up.

  2. I like the PICASO system better than the old one, if only because it's much easier to understand. :)

    Nice write-up indeed. I can't believe the Tofu character!

  3. Thanks guys, I'm glad you liked the rating, especially as it's a game I enjoyed going through. I like the PICASO system too (so far, maybe I'll want to change it again in a few weeks, who knows?).

    About the Tofu character, it (rightfully) got a cult following, returning in Resident Evil 3 and The Darkside Chronicles. I'm pretty sure he's done one or two cameos in other capcom games as well. It's like the monkeys in Metal Gear Solid 3, it makes one wonder what japanese game developers take between work hours, but I think it's hard stuff...