15 - Resident Evil 2 (Playstation)

I still think Capcom got their survival horror series bang-on with this installment. It's perfectly paced, atmospheric and genuinely scary. It offers great replay value and has a great schlocky plot.

I love this game so much I pretty much forced it on a friend who isn't a fan of scary movies or games, because I was so convinced the sheer quality of the game would compel him to play and love it too, and I was right. I had played Resident Evil but it never quite clicked with me the way 2 or 3 did. I found it a little too clumsy, a little too difficult and unforgiving. When the second one came out I bought it because of the hype and, well... it's placing here speaks for itself.

The visuals have a grimy roughness necessary to the limits of the platform but also perfect for the visual style of the game. I think it still looks tremendous. The music and effects totally draw you into the world. The constant wind blowing through the streets contrasted with the eerie silence of the police station, punctuated by that classic piano piece. The voice acting is a little on the stiff side, but it's leaps and bounds over the terrible effort on the first game. It's cheesy but fits perfectly with the B-movie atmosphere.

I used to be able to ace this game, I unlocked everything and was pretty much always able to get through the whole thing without using more than a couple of health herbs. That's how much I played it. I loved the fact that it's possible to learn it in that way. There's no randomness to trip you up and frustrate you.

The thing I like most about it is the pacing. It's spot-on. The early parts of the game are pretty quiet, punctuated with action moments but on the whole it's more of a sedate puzzler. Once you get out of the police station things ramp up a little, until the finale at the lab where you're toting all kinds of firepower and running against a clock. The whole A and B scenario is a valiant idea, but it's not quite executed perfectly (some things overlap inconsistently). Still, it adds a nice twist to the game and gives at least another reason to play though it again.

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