Resident Evil 2: Gameplay impressions and more

One of the most iconic horror games of all time is getting a big makeover. Resident Evil 2 is a top-to-bottom remake of Capcom's 1998 survival horror staple, trading tank controls and pixelated polygons for an immersive third-person action experience that's dripping with gory detail.

Ready for a scare? Here's everything you need to know about one of 2019's most anticipated games.

When does Resident Evil 2 come out? And which versions can I buy?

Resident Evil 2 launches on January 25, 2019 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Resident Evil 2

The base game will be $60, though you can spring for a $70 Deluxe Edition that gets you a few extra weapons and costumes.

If you really want to go all out, you can splurge on the GameStop-exclusive $200 Collector's Edition, which includes all of the extra content of the Deluxe Edition as well as a 12-inch Leon Kennedy statue, a collector's artbook, a digital soundtrack, Raccoon City Police Department blueprints and a special RPD-themed collector's box.

How is the Resident Evil 2 remake different from the original game?

Unlike 2002's remake of the first Resident Evil, which featured all-new visuals and cutscenes but kept the same core gameplay of the original, 2019's Resident Evil 2 is a top-to-bottom reinvention. Gone are the janky tank controls from the 1998 classic -- this time, you'll be fighting your way through Raccoon City in a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective a la Resident Evil 4.

The game runs on the same new RE Engine that powers the terrifyingly immersive Resident Evil 7, so you can once again look forward to lifelike character models based on real actors as well as some of the most grotesquely detailed zombies and monsters we've seen in a Resident Evil game to date.

There will once again be dedicated campaigns for main characters Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. But unlike the original game, which had two different playable scenarios for each character, the Resident Evil 2 remake will have just one definitive storyline for each hero. Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi confirmed this in an interview with Rely on Horror, stating that "by stretching it across 4 scenarios the story gets spread a little thin and [creates] a sense of repetition."

What's the story of Resident Evil 2 all about?

After Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield survive the zombie-infested mansion of the original Resident Evil, a biological weapon called the T-virus spreads into the nearby Raccoon City, turning nearly the entire population into a horde of undead.

Rookie cop Leon Kennedy, who's on his first day on the job as the outbreak occurs, runs into Claire Redfield, who's looking for her brother Chris, and the two must fight to survive zombies, undead alligators and massive monsters as they uncover the sinister machinations of the Umbrella corporation.

How does Resident Evil 2 play?

We've gotten our hands on two different Resident Evil 2 demos so far, and both are extremely promising.

At E3 2018, we played the Leon demo, in which we experienced Leon's horrifying first arrival at the zombie-infested Raccoon City Police Department. Just like in the original game, the demo has you solving medallion puzzles, finding keys and backtracking to locked rooms, and, of course, trying not to get eaten by some of the scariest zombies to ever grace a Resident Evil game.

We also got our hands on the Claire demo at New York Comic Con 2018, where we got to experience Capcom's new take on the heroine's iconic boss battle with the grotesquely mutated, eye-on-his-arm William Birkin. The battle takes place in a maze of corridors in a basement, which makes it extremely hard to see where the lumbering mutant is coming from at any given moment.

The whole thing was a deliciously tense scramble for ammo, herbs and safety, and jump scares were frequent. If you remember the Jack Baker boss fights from Resident Evil 7, expect a similar level of intensity.

While Resident Evil 2 recreates the original game's key beats, the new visuals and gameplay make it feel like a truly new game. It essentially feels like Resident Evil 4 but with the tighter, more streamlined mechanics of Resident Evil 7. That said, this is still very much a survival game, and you'll have to conserve ammo, pick your battles and aim carefully if you plan on getting out alive. And I can't stress enough just how great Resident Evil 2 looks -- character faces are strikingly realistic-looking, and the level of gory detail on enemies (particularly Birkin) is as impressive as it is unsettling.

What are Resident Evil 2's PC system requirements?

Looking to explore Raccoon City on your gaming PC or laptop? Here's what you'll need, according to the game's Steam page:


OS: Windows 7 or newer
CPU: Intel Core i5-4460/AMD FX-6300
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760/AMD Radeon R7 260X
DirectX: Version 11


OS: Windows 7 or newer
CPU: Intel Core i7-3770/AMD FX-9590
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1060/AMD RX 480
DirectX: Version 11

Does Resident Evil 2 have PS4 Pro and Xbox One X enhancements?

Yep -- if you own a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, you can look forward to crisper graphics and better framerates. According to GamingBolt, both consoles will allow you to play the game in 4K at 30 frames per second, or at a lower resolution at 60 frames per second (Capcom hasn't confirmed whether this lower resolution is 1080p or 720p).

Credit: Capcom

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.