Nintendo 64 owners have reason to be scared as Resident Evil 2 sinks its teeth into the system. With a high graphic violence quotient and chilling zombie horror reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead, Resident Evil 2 is not for the faint of heart. Rather, it is for the survival-horror enthusiast with a taste for action and blood.
The game puts you in the role of either Leon S. Kennedy, an idealistic rookie cop, or Claire Redfield, a modern (i.e., wild, self-confident, and intelligent) woman of adventure, who is in search of her brother, Chris. Both characters are unleashed into the heart of Raccoon City, a formerly peaceful mid-western town that is now surrounded on all sides by evil mutants and zombies.
Resident Evil 2 is divided into several segments. You'll begin your exploratory zombie-killing adventure on the city streets. From there you'll enter a massive police station, maneuver through a vast network of dark and dangerous (not to mention smelly) sewers, finally ending up at zombie central, the Umbrella Laboratory on the outskirts of town. You will find grenade launchers, shotguns, pistols, high-powered Uzis, crossbows and other weapons for use in battling the various zombies and bosses. Corpses, drawers, lockers, and other areas are searchable for ammo and other useful items.
In addition to all the mutant mayhem, Resident Evil 2 is replete with puzzles you must solve. You'll push items, inspect objects, talk to characters, unlock doorways, decipher notes and messages and perform various other feats of mental daring do. A mapping system is provided so you can keep track of where you have been and where you need to go.
After you complete your mission with one character, you can play the game again as the other character, this time with different game paths and alternate endings. Situations that you encountered the first time through have a bearing on what will happen the next time you play. There are specially hidden modes as well, in which you can play the 4th survivor or as the hidden character, Tofu.
Before starting the game, you'll need to decide what color of blood you prefer: green, blue or red. Also, you are given two difficulty levels to choose from (easy or normal) and three levels of graphic violence: low, middle or high.
The first Resident Evil, which never actually made it to the Nintendo 64, was much more limited than this game in terms of areas to explore. Whereas the first game is set in a haunted house, Resident Evil 2 takes place in many locations throughout Racoon City. And while the puzzles are more puzzling in Resident Evil, there are more weapons and smarter zombies in this sequel. The backgrounds in Resident Evil 2 are also highly detailed, extremely well rendered and match the foreground objects and items better than those in the original game. Resident Evil 2 is not necessarily a better game than Resident Evil, but it is just as good (although nowhere near as innovative).
How does this port stack up against the PlayStation version? Exceptionally well, especially because the PlayStation game spans two CD-ROMs and the Nintendo 64 version is on a single cartridge. The controls aren't quite as sharp in this game, but the full motion video (FMV) sequences are intact, the bonus Hunk and Tofu missions survived, and the Expansion Pak-enhanced graphics are fantastic.
Resident Evil 2 is a great game, whether you play it on the Nintendo 64 or the PlayStation. It's scary, exciting, challenging and rewarding (in a good horror film kind of way). It won't take you forever to beat as would a Donkey Kong 64 or a The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but if you are interested in playing through as both lead characters, the game does offer a fair amount of replay value. ~ Brett Weiss
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