The first game I played on the E3 2018 show floor was the Resident Evil 2 Remake that had been revealed in spectacular fashion the night before. After making my way through a haunted house setup to get the mood down, I sat down and began the demo. Here’s my Resident Evil 2 Remake impressions.

Resident Evil 2 Remake Impressions

The demo opens with Leon taking refuge in the police station, away from the teeming hordes outside. Armed with only a handgun and a few rounds of ammunition, I made my way through the seemingly empty halls, gathering bullets and green herbs, cautiously creeping around. Encounters with zombies are scarce and the building tension works wonders. This has not been turned into an action game; for the first half of the demo, there were no enemies in sight.

The first major thing that’s important to note is that this is a full remake, not a remaster. Everything has been rebuilt from the ground up, reimagined in the RE engine that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard uses. As a result, I’m very happy to confirm that the infamous tank controls are gone. Instead, the Resident Evil 2 Remake opts for third-person controls in the vein of Resident Evil 4. The strengths of the RE engine are shown here in full force: wet surfaces where blood or water have been spilled reflect and refract lights in realistic fashion. Animations lack any major or noticeable jank and the zombies look gory and gross. Finally, there’s no more fading to black when you open a door, which makes for much more immediate jumpscares if a zombie happens to behind a door you just opened.

The sound design is also on point, with eerie creaks and groans echoing all throughout the police station. Generally, the soundtrack itself is extremely subdued, with sharp notes to punctuate fake-outs or sudden enemy appearances. The music starts to pick up the moment you’re being chased however, with frantic chords nearly screaming at you. Less is more appears to be the convention the soundtrack follows, at least for the demo I played.

Using third-person controls, the gunplay feels tight. Mild sway adds tension when zombies are clambering towards you, and since body shots do practically nothing, you’d better pick up the art of an adept headshot quickly. Even that isn’t always a guarantee, as I’d often shoot a zombie in the head, removing a chunk of its skull and brain, only for it continue staggering in my direction. Another great feature is the wooden planks. By gathering these planks, you can board up different windows, blocking zombies from crashing through them and taking you by surprise. You’ll have to bear in mind though that you won’t have enough boards to block every window, so pick carefully.

The demo ended just as I got my hands on the shotgun and I was feeling far more confident in taking on the infected hordes. All in all, this remake is shaping up to be more than any Resident Evil fan could have hoped to dream for. The Resident Evil 2 Remake releases on January 25th, 2019 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.