The lights are on
I’ve spent plenty of time in expansive worlds like Azeroth, Hyrule, and Final Fantasy VII’s Gaia, but games like World of Warcraft and The Legend of Zelda series come with an expected, lengthy time commitment. The original PlayStation Resident Evil games can be beaten in considerably less time, assuming you save responsibly and know where you’re going. Despite this, I managed to log as many hours in Resident Evil 2’s Raccoon City as many gamers pour into lengthy RPGs. So why return to a horrific zombie outbreak again and again? Let me tell you.
I was a tremendous fan of the original Resident Evil. I survived countless nights in the Spencer Mansion, reliving Jill and Chris’ nightmare like a horrific version of Groundhog Day. I became addicted to conserving ammo, juking enemies, and mastering the flow of the game until I was performing my own speed runs. Resident Evil 2 delivered the same satisfying survival experience at its core, but came with numerous improvements. The tank controls are still in place, but feel less rigid. Greater environmental variety takes players through the infested streets, an elaborate police station, sewers, and finally an Umbrella laboratory. Customizable weapons allow keen-eyed scavengers to boost their damage with found parts (like a beastly shotgun that blasts zombies in half). But perhaps above all that, Resident Evil 2 is built with additional playthroughs in mind.
Leon takes on Birkin's final form while wearing his alternative, super-rad street clothes costume
Capcom shipped Resident Evil 2 with two discs: Leon’s and Claire’s. Popping in Leon’s disc first means you start the adventures as the rookie cop, occasionally crossing paths with Chris Redfield’s sister, Claire. Beating the game as Leon unlocks Claire’s B Scenario – a largely similar playthrough which features new boss fights, characters, weapons, and an extended ending. This means there are four unique playthroughs available: Leon A, Leon B, Claire A, and Claire B.
Except I was an idiot and didn’t understand the interplay between these scenarios. That didn’t affect my initial enjoyment, however. I beat both Claire and Leon’s A scenarios over and over. I had numerous “sick days” home from school where I would blow through the game with the special Arrange Mode, which unlocks rocket launchers and beefy machine guns with unlimited ammo. Repeatedly conquering this tourist mode allowed me to easily memorize key item locations, which helped me for my serious playthroughs.
With all the fun I was having with the A scenarios alone, my mind was completely blown when my cousin showed me how to access the counterpart playthroughs. Being stalked by the B scenario’s persistent Tyrant monster, Mr. X, became one of the most terrifying elements of the game. I had spent weeks believing Claire, Leon, and Sherry Birkin all escaped Raccoon City via the Umbrella facility’s emergency train unscathed. Boy, was I wrong. Finally finishing off the mutated Dr. Birkin on the train as Leon established a new reverence for the game. I immediately started over to see the complementary playthrough that ends with Claire fighting on the train, just to see the little differences.
Meet Tofu. Playing him is about as weird as you'd expect
This then unlocked the urge to unlock the game’s additional 4th Survivor and Tofu modes. I thought the gas-masked Umbrella operative, Hunk, was among the coolest Resident Evil characters, so I made it a priority. To unlock Hunk’s mini game, players have to beat the game four times while earning A rankings. Nailing an A involves beating the game in under three hours, limits your number of saves to five, and prohibits the use of first-aid sprays (which are made by that filthy Umbrella company). Unlocking Tofu requires six As. Sprinting through the game uncertain whether the last few hours will score you an A or not is a stressful experience, but makes the reward that much more satisfying.
I haven’t spent as much time getting hunted by lickers in the Raccoon Police Department as I have playing World of Warcraft, but I feel like I’ve spent a proportionate lifetime in Resident Evil 2. I could describe every screen of the game, the enemies you’d find there, and probably sketch out a map of Raccoon City’s sewer system. Sure, most playthroughs last under 10 hours, but when you repeat the cycle dozens of times, those numbers add up.
Watch us beat the Leon's A Scenario in this Super Replay
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
I've probably devoted more time to RE4 than any other RE game. I played through it first on Gamecube (at least 4-5 times total), then Wii (maybe once or twice), then PC, and again when it was released on XBLA for Xbox 360. My brother has me beat though cause in addition to all those systems he also played the PlayStation 2 version and I'm pretty confident he played through each iteration multiple times.
Replaying and replaying the campaign just to see all the cool little secrets and differences was a stellar experience and the extra Ada Wong campaigns, unlockable costumes, and Mercenaries Mode added even more replayability into the mix.
Funnily enough, after having played through RE4 multiple times, I tried going back and playing through the Gamecube port of RE1 and it was a disaster. I ended up getting like the worst ending because I just wasn't clued in on all the subtle nuances of the original games since until then my only RE experience had been RE4.
I played it first on Nintendo 64. Man, only my brother was able to get Tofu needless of cheats.
Great pick tim, one of my top favorite game series ever, personally I love the entire numbered series (and yes that includes 5 and 6) but there's nothing quite like reliving the raccoon police station, just classic
How about a Claire playthrough?
I only beat Resident Evil 2 once, without really trying Ii got the time of 3 hours and 52 minutes. This disappointed me. I have how ever did beat Resident Evil Remake, Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil 5 three times each, and I beat Resident Evil over 8 times (three on gamecube, 5 on wii) and I mastered the Mercenaries Mode and got all special weapons, and I also beat the game in a speed run of just over 5 hours. I have not played Resident Evil 6 and I dont think I will till its like, 5 dollars.
I only beat Resident Evil 2 once, without really trying Ii got the time of 3 hours and 52 minutes. This disappointed me. I have how ever did beat Resident Evil Remake, Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil 5 three times each, and I beat Resident Evil 4 over 8 times (three on gamecube, 5 on wii) and I mastered the Mercenaries Mode and got all special weapons, and I also beat the game in a speed run of just over 5 hours. I have not played Resident Evil 6 and I dont think I will till its like, 5 dollars.
I played this game multiple times, and I never knew Birkin had another form.
Good read. I really do like these Time Sink articles :)
This and RE 4 were probably my favorites. Not saying I didn't like the other older gen releases but this was the first game that made me want to play it more than once rather than play and forget. Too bad Capcom has totally lost its vision and now making this game as zany and generic as possible.
Man, I can very much relate to that. Resident Evil 2 is my favorite game of all times. I've finished it so many times I lost count. There was a time, when I was at high school, when I knew the game so well, I was able to recite all of the character lines from memory... for all the scenarios. I love that game. I never finished the Tofu scenario though :( I still play this game every now and again.
I have a similar affection for RE1, but not to that degree. Still, beating the invisible enemy mode in Rebirth for Gamecube is my greatest gaming achievement. Even bigger than the platinium trophy I have in Dark Souls :)
Still My Favorite Game Of All Time I Would Do The Same Thing As Tim Only I Didn't Have A Memory Card At The Time So My PS1 Would Be Running Non Stop For Days Ahh Good Times Good Times
Ive watched you play 4 hours of this game
Dang Tim, that is a LOT of RE2.