Tuesday 23 July 2019

Resident Evil 2 review: Turning up the terror

PS4/XO/PC ★★★★★ Age: 18+

Resident Evil 2 (2019): The remake follows the story from two perspectives, including Claire Redfield seen here
Resident Evil 2 (2019): The remake follows the story from two perspectives, including Claire Redfield seen here
The other Resident Evil 2 protagonist is Leon Kennedy
New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Reflecting on the pixellated state of graphics 20 years ago, it's difficult to realise how scary Resident Evil 2 was in 1998. But Capcom's zombie-outbreak masterpiece was filled with horrific imagery - the cadaverous lickers, the merciless Tyrant, the grotesquely mutated William Birkin - and our imagination did the rest in the semi-darkness.

This remake, two decades on, has the advantage of vastly updated visuals that hammer home the horror. But its true strength still resides in the carefully crafted sense of dread that permeates every corner of the game.

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For those too young to remember the original, RE2 drops you into Raccoon City after an evil pharma corporation's experiments go awry, turning the population into zombies and mutants. The remake lightly remixes the locations, positions the camera over the shoulder and sharpens the terror. Everything else - the giant alligator, the super-hard tofu mode - seems to have made it intact.

The real monsters are obviously the humans behind the experiments - witness a chilling turn from the chief of police - so much so that it's almost possible to feel sympathy for the shambling undead (just before you shoot them in the head, obviously).

Resident Evil 2 leans too heavily on old tropes (the fetch and carry quests, the backtracking, the endless inventory management shuffling). But Capcom has modernised its classic and amplified the terror in myriad delicious ways.

New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe

Switch ★★★★ Age: 3+

Another former Wii U release to pad out the release schedule, NSMBUD confirms the adage that a middling Mario game rates more highly than many rivals' best efforts.

This 2D platformer harks to the classic Mario era, a world of carefully timed jumps, moving platforms and slow-moving enemies. It's not that NSMBUD lacks for playability or indeed value for money, given the sheer number of levels. But we've undoubtedly been spoiled by the sheer brilliance of newer Mario designs found in 2017's Odyssey, which took the platforming to giddy heights of invention.

The rather pedestrian running/jumping loop of NSMBUD gains fresh impetus, however, with the addition of more players, whereupon a sort of chaotic fusion sparks into life.

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