GameTech: Evil returns and it is a good thing

Paying a visit to the gardaí is rarely cause for celebration. It usually means you’ve done something bad, or something bad has happened to you. But at least it’s not Raccoon City police station — where you’re lucky to escape alive.

Resident Evil 2 was a classic upon release in 1998, locking us away in a zombie-infested police station, as mutated officers-of-the-law read us our rites, and giant alligators leapt from nearby swamps to swallow us whole.

The game has been locked away for 20 years, but now a full remake has escaped from Capcom studios.

In a rare moment for gaming, this is a remake that not only matches the original, but surpasses it. Resident Evil 2 (2019) is a simply brilliant survival horror game, a breath of fresh air in a genre that hasn’t seen much

action in recent years. Not only does Raccoon City Station look better than ever, but the controls and added touches to the original elevate it to one of the best entries in the series.

This remake uses the RE engine, which was put to such devastating effect in Resident Evil 7, one of this generation’s landmark games. The Resident Evil 2 remake, however, plays from over-the-shoulder, rather than first person. As such, it’s more reminiscent of Resident Evil 4, widely considered the best of the lot.

So the graphics and controls are completely upgraded, but that doesn’t mean everything has changed. In fact, the structure and layout of the game remains very similar to original, with a few nice additions.

Moments you remember from the first release often play out differently here — subverting your expectations and keeping you on edge at all times. The enemies react and behave differently, with the blood-curdling Tyrant appearing at random throughout your journey, pushing aside the other zombies in a relentless effort to catch you.

Resident Evil often gets overlooked for its storytelling, due to the emphasis on horror and tension. Most of the storytelling is done through environments and exploration.

Reminiscent of the Alien films, the series is at its best when you wonder ‘How did all these terrible things happen?’. The improved production values help the remake succeed even further on this front.

Topping off a great week for fans was news that Netflix are considering a Resident Evil TV series, from the producers of the film universe. While the Resident Evil films have little to do with the games, they’ve nonetheless proven to be a fun night out at the cinema.

Between the remake and the show, there’s certainly enough to arrest your attention.

HEARTS PROBLEMS

Meanwhile, Kingdom Hearts III has finally hit shelves and while it won’t be winning over any hearts, it won’t be breaking them either. The third entry to Disney and Square-Enix’s colourful mash-up delivers exactly what you would expect from the series: fun Disney worlds to explore and terrible, overwrought dialogue for the overarching plot.

There’s certainly no point jumping into the series at this stage — start with the earlier games if you really want to give Kingdom Hearts a chance. For those of you who have waited over a decade for this sequel, there’s plenty to love, with vivid and true-to-form Disney worlds like Frozen and Tangled brought to life for you to run around in while mashing ‘attack’. If you wanted to hear Elsa sing ‘Let it Go’ in a battle with the heartless — then you won’t be disappointed.

For the rest of us, Kingdom Hearts III is somewhat disappointing. It should have reinvigorated what was once a hugely promising series, but instead it feels like an antiquated variety show, an addendum to gaming history.

PRIMED FOR ACTION

Hopefully, Metroid Prime 4 won’t fall to a similar fate. First announced two years ago at E3, the Nintendo sequel has been completely restarted, with the developer changing hands last week.

In a refreshingly frank announcement, Nintendo said Metroid Prime 4 wasn’t meeting its quality standards and that the game would be completely rebooted by Retro Studios. The good news is that Retro are the people who made the original Prime games, so they know what they are doing. Let’s hope that means we’ll see a prime Metroid released in a few years.

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