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Explainer Video Games

Resident Evil 2 remake: What you need to know

Capcom revealed the packed European collector's edition on Thursday.

"This is not how I imagined my first day."

It's about to get a whole lot worse for rookie cop Leon S Kennedy and a whole lot better for Resident Evil 2 fans who've been dying to go back to Raccoon City for some zombie killing.

Sony's E3 2018 press conference included a surprise reveal of two trailers for Resident Evil 2 Remake, along with gameplay footage and something even better: a confirmed release date. We'll see the game on Jan. 25, 2019, on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

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Leon S Kennedy better be ready to return to the zombie-infested Raccoon City Police Department in the Resident Evil 2 Remake.

Capcom

The cinematic trailer starts off from the viewpoint of a rat (presumably one of the vermin that spreads the zombie-creating T-Virus throughout Raccoon City) as it watches a man being killed by one of the undead. The zombie is then shot by Leon, one of the game's two heroes.

In a nice nod to the original game's roots, the rat crawls past an original PlayStation prior to the gore.

The trailer then flashes to various familiar images including Claire Redfield (the game's other hero), a horrifying Licker, Officer Marvin Branagh (offering advice on zombie killing), lost child Sherry Birkin and possibly the relentless Mr. X (who hunted the heroes in the original game).

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The box art for the Resident Evil 2 remake was shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2018.

Capcom

According to Capcom's press release, the "game has been completely rebuilt from the ground up for a deeper narrative experience. Using Capcom's proprietary RE Engine, Resident Evil 2 offers a fresh take on the classic survival horror saga with breathtakingly realistic visuals, heart-poundingly immersive audio, a new over-the-shoulder camera, and modernized controls on top of gameplay modes from the original game."

The company offered further details in a blog post.

"If you know the classic Raccoon City Police Department like the back of your hand, some parts of the station might look familiar, but don't let the similarities fool you. While many of the locations may look similar in design to the one in the original game, this museum-turned-police station is full of surprises for both seasoned veterans and newcomers alike," wrote social media specialist Kellen Haney.

"Various puzzles to solve and completely new areas to explore await those who dare to set foot inside the expansive building. With a new over-the-shoulder camera offering a different perspective on the cramped passageways and massive foyer, you'll need to keep your wits about you if you want to survive the nightmares that lurk around every corner."

The second trailer showcases the over-the shoulder camera as Leon faces off against the zombie hordes of the RPD. We know that Claire will have her own separate campaign that will intertwine with Leon's, but we haven't seen gameplay footage from it yet.

The game was playable on the E3 show floor, with a demo that showed Leon's first steps into the RPD. The action seems like a cross between the beloved Resident Evil 4 and the generally disliked (but more modern) Resident Evil 6.

We see Leon exploring the police station's main hall and east wing, some nasty encounters with zombies and an unlucky fellow cop, as well as his first meeting with Marvin (who's more active than he was in the original game).

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Claire Redfield rides a 1998 Night Train Harley Davidson.

Capcom

Capcom showcased Claire's new character model in some key art at its San Diego Comic-Con panel last weekend, revealing that she'll wear a jacket with the classic "Made in Heaven" slogan and logo.

She'll also ride a real 1998 model Harley-Davidson Night Train into Raccoon City, with license plate that reads "J2198," representing the original game's Japanese release -- Jan. 21, 1998. The remake arrives 21 years and four days later.

Developers Yoshiaki Hirabayashi and Tsuyoshi Kanda said they considered cutting one of the original game's most iconic moments -- the sewer encounter with the giant alligator.

"Trying to make a convincing scene where a human-sized character -- a guy with a knife -- is taking on an alligator... that's really silly," Hirabayashi told the Daily Star during Comic-Con.

"People don't remember it as silly because the whole game was groundbreaking at the time, but that moment was ridiculous. It was a difficult process for us, making that work today."

In the same interview, they also noted that the game won't support VR.

"We're not thinking about VR support currently, given that the camera perspective and the over-the-shoulder choice would mean that VR is not the best way to present the game," said Kanda. "VR doesn't match the vision for us."

The pair previously confirmed that the infamously difficult extra modes of the original game, The 4th Survivor and The Tofu Survivor, will be returning

The former saw players taking on the role of Hunk, an operative of the evil pharmaceutical corporation Umbrella, as he tried to escape the city with limited ammo and hoards of monsters in his path. The latter re-used Hunk's scenario, but as a large chunk of bean curd armed only with a knife.

Do we know what actors will be in the game?

Leon and Claire's updated faces are based on those of models Eduard Badaluta and Jordan Mcewen, while Marvin's look is based on that of music producer Patrick Levar.

We don't know anything about the game's voice cast yet, but Matthew Mercer (who played Leon in Resident Evil 6, as well as the CGI animated movies Resident Evil: Damnation and Resident Evil: Vendetta) confirmed via Twitter that he and longtime Claire voice actress Alyson Court aren't involved.

Court played Claire in the original version of Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, in addition to the CGI animated movie Resident Evil: Degeneration.

Paul Mercier, who played Leon in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, hasn't ruled out his involvement.

"Thanks for all the msgs. I can neither confirm nor deny my involvement #ResidentEvil2 #residentevil VivA #leonskennedy," he tweeted on June 22.

Do we know the PC spec requirements?

We sure do. According to the Steam preorder page, the minimum requirements are:

  • OS: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (64-BIT Required) 1
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4460, 2.70GHz or AMD FX-6300 or better
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM 
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 or AMD Radeon R7 260x with 2GB Video RAM 
  • DirectX: Version 11

Expect some pared-down visuals at that level. For the full visual experience, Capcom recommends:

  • OS: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (64-BIT Required) 1
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3770 or AMD FX-9590 or better 
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM 
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 with 3GB VRAM 
  • DirectX: Version 11
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The zombies of Resident Evil 2 will be pleased to meet you and pleased to eat you.

Capcom

How will it run on PS4 Pro and Xbox One?

Players on the souped-up consoles can enjoy 4K visuals, but only at 30 frames per second, Capcom's Mike Lunn told Comicbook.com. If they turn down the resolution, the game will run at 60 frames per second.

Lunn said developers are aiming for a stable frame rate on both consoles, regardless of players' settings.

Are there different editions of the game?

Yes indeed. In addition to the standard edition, there's an impressive Collector's Edition (which Capcom revealed at San Diego Comic-Con 2018).

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This collector's edition is exclusive to GameStop and will be available only in the US, for $200, and Canada, for $240.

Capcom

It includes the game, classic Resident Evil item box-style packaging, a 12-inch Leon figure, a 32-page art book, a 25-track digital soundtrack, a poster designed to look like the blueprints for the Raccoon City Police Department redesign and all the digital extras found in the deluxe edition.

This version of the collector's edition is exclusive to GameStop and will be available only in the US, where it's $200, and Canada, where it costs $240

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The European collector's edition comes with even more stuff.

Capcom UK

The European collector's edition is similar, but also comes with a steelbook for the game, limited edition replica RPD keys (like those found in-game), a soundtrack CD and a "Made in Heaven" pin badge (based on the slogan on Claire's jacket), Capcom revealed Thursday. 

In the UK, it's exclusively available from Game for £230 and is exclusive to GameStop in Ireland for €250.

There's also a deluxe edition, which is $70 on Amazon and contains digital extras (the standard edition is $60) . These are also available in a digital equivalent -- seen on the PS4 and PC preorder pages:

  • Leon Costume: Arklay Sheriff
  • Leon Costume: Noir
  • Claire Costume: Military
  • Claire Costume: Noir
  • Claire Costume: Elza Walker
  • Deluxe Weapon: Samurai Edge - Albert Model
  • Deluxe Weapon: Samurai Edge - Chris Model
  • Deluxe Weapon: Samurai Edge - Jill Model
  • Resident Evil 2 / Biohazard Re:2 Wallpaper Pack
  • Original Ver. Soundtrack Swap

The most striking item on the list is the Elza outfit for Claire -- Elza was the original female protagonist before Resident Evil 2 was scrapped and restarted (more on that below).

The Samurai Edge is a custom handgun used by members of RPD's Special Tactics and Rescue Service (STARS). Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield were the heroes of the first Resident Evil, while Albert Wesker was their treacherous captain -- his weapon was also usable in Resident Evil 7.

It would also seem that the Original Ver. Soundtrack Swap is an option to change back to the iconic music of the 1998 Resident Evil 2.

The basic digital preorder comes with Chris and Jill Samurai Edge weapons, as well as the wallpaper pack.

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The typewriter keyboard is available on its own or with the game, but only in Japan.

Capcom Japan

Japanese fans can spend even more money to get a keyboard modeled after the in-game typewriters (traditionally used as the series' save points), as noted by GameSpot. On its own, the keyboard costs 75,000 yen (approximately $675). The working keyboard is compatible with your PC, Mac or tablet, and can be connected via bluetooth and USB.

The keyboard retails for 75,000 yen (approximately $675 USD) by itself, and is compatible with your PC, Mac or tablet. With a copy of the game and an ink ribbon prop, it costs 82,800 yen ($750).

The ultimate version costs 99,00 yen ($900) and includes the typewriter keyboard, four ribbons and the other items found in the US collector's edition of the game. There's no indication that the keyboard will be available outside Japan, and only the PS4 version is available as part of the packages.

What's so great about Resident Evil 2 anyway?

"Who are ya? What're ya doin' here?!"

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The original Resident Evil 2 hit the Sony PlayStation in 1998.

Capcom

If you remember Robert Kendo threatening Claire or Leon when they stumble into his gun store from Raccoon City's ruined streets, then you might recall that Resident Evil 2 -- the second entry in the long-running survival horror franchise known as Biohazard in Japan -- first hit the original PlayStation in 1998 and sold 4.96 million copies. (The franchise as a whole has sold 83 million units.)

Since then, Resident Evil 2 has been rereleased or ported six times, with additional features like the Extreme Battle Mode, support for analogue controllers and slight graphical enhancements.

GameSpot gave the game 8.9 back in 1998, and the game carries an average rating of 89 on Metacritic.

Resident Evil 2 tosses players into the middle of Raccoon City as hordes of virus-infected zombies take over. The players must try to survive the madness by fleeing to the city's massive police station and escaping while uncovering the mystery of how it all went down.

It might not be clear now, but Resident Evil 2 was more ambitious and had more unlockable content than most games of the era.

Leon S Kennedy takes out a Licker -- one of the game's most memorable monsters -- in the original version of Resident Evil 2.

Leon S Kennedy takes out a Licker -- one of the game's most memorable monsters -- in the original version of Resident Evil 2.

Capcom

Players could choose between biker Claire and rookie cop Leon. Each had a distinct path through the game's locations. And an unlockable second scenario offered an alternative story for each. In all, there were four different ways to play through the main game.  

Astoundingly, producer Shinji Mikami decided to cancel the original version of Resident Evil 2 when it was about 70 percent complete, citing general dissatisfaction from the development team. 

That version -- since dubbed Resident Evil 1.5 -- featured Elza Walker in place of Claire, a very different police station and a host of different enemies and bosses.

Why bother with a remake?

The series has a history of excellent remakes and rereleases.

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The remake's box art mirrors this key art for the original game.

Capcom

The first Resident Evil was remade for the Nintendo GameCube ($529.99 at Amazon.com) in 2002, and an HD remaster of that remake hit the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One ($449.98 at Amazon.com) and PC in 2015. It remains a visual masterpiece to this day.

Since Resident Evil 2 is more ambitious than its predecessor and the series has evolved hugely since 2002, a remake is a fascinating prospect.

We got a pseudo-remake in on-rails shooter Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, which came out on Wii in 2009 and included a streamlined retelling of Resident Evil 2 as one of its scenarios, with more-realistic graphics.

It's even getting the tabletop treatment from Steamforged Games. Resident Evil 2: The Board Game got more than $1 million in pledges from its Kickstarter campaign, far exceeding its $200,400 goal, and it's due for release in September.

What should I play before the Resident Evil 2 remake?

Resident Evil 2 works as a standalone experience, but the remake of the original game is widely available and absolutely excellent.

If you want to see how the series has evolved, 2005's Resident Evil 4 and last year's Resident Evil 7: biohazard are the big milestones.

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Leon returns in Resident Evil 4, one of the best gaming experiences you can have.

Capcom

Resident Evil 4 saw the viewpoint change from fixed camera angles to an over-the-shoulder style (like that of the RE2 Remake), and the gameplay became more action-oriented than survival horror. 

It's among the best games ever made, earning 9.6 from GameSpot and holding an average of 96 on Metacritic.

It also came out on just about everything after a nine-month stint as a Nintendo GameCube exclusive, hitting the PS2 ($196 at Amazon.com), PC, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 and Xbox One.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard shifted things back toward survival horror, with a first-person perspective. It's terrifying, and the truly brave can play through the entire game in VR. It got an 8 from GameSpot and sits at 86 on Metacritic.

You can get it on the PS4, Xbox One and PC. In Japan, Nintendo Switch owners can stream it.

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The Baker family can make Biohazard a truly terrifying journey.

Capcom

What did we know about the Resident Evil 2 remake prior to the E3 reveal?

Virtually nothing. The 2015 announcement video saw Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, producer at Capcom's R&D Division 1, revealing the remake's existence in a shirt that read "WE DO IT!"

However, he also warned that we wouldn't be hearing anything about this project for a while... and he wasn't kidding.

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Better get off the streets of Racoon City quickly, lest the zombies overwhelm you.

Capcom

In January, the original Resident Evil 2 director, Hideki Kamiya, tweeted his faith in his counterpart on the remake.

"I heard that my friend is directing RE2 remake. Let's trust him & wait for a new information," he wrote. "I went drinking with him last year & told him 'Do as you like'. That's the way directors should do. I trust him & his team."

We'll find out if Kamiya's faith was well-placed when the Resident Evil 2 Remake arrives Jan. 25, 2019.

First published, June 7 at 2 p.m. PT.

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