Why Resident Evil 2 Was the Perfect Sequel

We’ve all suffered by sequels made by individuals who clearly did not care, however the fact is that there are few jobs in leisure extra thankless and daunting than attempting to ship a sequel that really manages to satisfy, and even exceed, expectations. 

Resident Evil 2’s activity was particularly daunting: it needed to construct upon a sport that modified the whole lot. The unique Resident Evil wasn’t the primary horror sport, but it surely was the primary that popularized the survival horror style. It not solely proved that survival horror was able to creating wealth, however that these video games could possibly be as terrifying (if no more terrifying) as the best horror movies. You can draw a line on Resident Evil’s 1996 launch date and group collectively each horror sport that got here earlier than and has come after. 

Imagine making a sequel to a sport like that, and attempting to dwell as much as the expectations of followers of the unique in addition to studio overlords who wished one other blockbuster. The path of least resistance would have virtually actually been to ship “more of the first game.”

Perhaps that’s why Resident Evil 2 started life as a sport supposed to defy the expectations of those that wished extra of the primary sport. The unique construct of Resident Evil 2 featured ideas corresponding to dynamic music, character customization, many extra zombies on-screen, branching narrative paths that might result in character deaths, and different fascinating concepts. It additionally featured boring, industrial environments, scaled-down visuals, and was a narrative that was reportedly supposed to finish the Resident Evil collection simply because it was getting began. 

Had Resident Evil 2’s unique construct really made it onto retailer cabinets, we don’t know what the response would have been. However, it’s straightforward to think about that this sequel would have been divisive. There would have been those that revered its makes an attempt to do one thing totally different, however there would have additionally been many followers who felt the sport had tried too exhausting to subvert expectations. Fortunately, two selections have been made that might take 

The first resolution was made by Shinji Mikami who took on the position of producer of Resident Evil 2 after directing and basically creating the unique Resident Evil. While the sensible Hideki Kamiya remained the director of Resident Evil 2, Mikami reportedly determined to take a larger hand within the sequel’s growth within the months main as much as its deliberate launch. In the method, he in the end determined that the primary construct of the sport (now often called Resident Evil 1.5) was merely “dull and boring.” Kamiya was even much less sort to that construct of the sport and would later describe it as a “piece of shit.” The pair determined to scrap virtually your entire challenge although it was, by all accounts, virtually completed and able to be shipped. 

Such a transfer is virtually unprecedented on the planet of sequels. Most sequels (even good sequels with good intentions) are by their very nature money grabs. Aliens is without doubt one of the best sequels of all-time (and impressed components of Resident Evil 2 Remake), however the pitch assembly for it consisted of James Cameron merely strolling as much as a chalkboard and writing “Alien$.” The concept {that a} producer would take a sequel that’s serviceable and able to go and declare that it isn’t ok although that very same producer had beforehand supposed for this to be the top of that collection is just loopy. 

It’s actually not that loopy when you consider it, although. Somewhere alongside the best way, Mikami determined that he was going to be the one to find out what the expectations of a Resident Evil sport have been. After all, Mikami had handled Resident Evil like a ardour challenge. The sequel may have gone in a special path within the palms of one other producer, however Mikami was not keen to ship a sequel that didn’t match his personal expectations for what a Resident Evil sport needs to be. 

The second resolution that formed Resident Evil 2’s future was a company name which may make many followers and creators cringe. It got here within the type of a directive from Capcom supervisor Yoshiki Okamoto, who stated that the sport’s story ought to “create a proper link between the two games” with a purpose to open the likelihood for future initiatives. It’s an order that many movie followers (particularly horror movie followers) are little doubt all-too-familiar with. The “save something for the sequel” directive has ruined many initiatives that in the end put the franchise cart earlier than the plotline horse. They’re sometimes given by keen executives who see challenge {dollars} and don’t perceive that the nice franchises sometimes start with works that, in some ways, stand tall on their very own.

The purpose why that call didn’t damage Resident Evil 2 is that Okamoto had little interest in deciding how the creators ought to do their jobs. Instead, he acquired in contact with an out of doors screenwriter named Noboru Sugimura who had some fairly fascinating concept about how issues solely hinted at within the first Resident Evil sport may turn into the premise of a bigger story. He then put Sugimura involved with Mikami and Kamiya in order that the three may work collectively to make sure their visions and requirements not solely matched however that their shared imaginative and prescient could be used because the core of the sport’s rebooted growth.

By doing so, Okamoto helped encourage certainly one of Resident Evil 2’s defining qualities: the best way it successfully builds a universe. The sport doesn’t force-feed the bigger Resident Evil universe on followers of the unique sport by exposition or lengthy monologues. It as an alternative finds methods to organically flesh out the universe by its characters and plot. In Resident Evil 2, we really get to go to Racoon City, which was solely talked about within the unique. One of the playable characters is Claire Redfield, the sister of Resident Evil protagonist Chris Redfield, whereas within the unique construct, the second character was a feminine drifter with no obvious ties to this world. The Umbrella Corporation remains to be lively within the sequel, whereas the unique model of the sport would have instructed they shut down following the Spencer Mansion incident. 

More essential than the finer particulars of the universe is the truth that lots of them, very similar to within the unique sport, actually solely exist within the periphery of the primary plot. Resident Evil 2 by no means looks like a sport that’s in a rush to get to the following chapter of its story. It as an alternative permits the straightforward, intimate story of two survivors in a damned metropolis to regularly reveal the solutions to questions it’s possible you’ll not have even identified you had. It made the whole lot that occurred within the first sport appear extra fascinating and essential whereas discovering a voice of its personal by the sport’s improved presentation and larger cinematic high quality.

In phrases of the sport’s presentation, a lot of the credit score there has to go to Resident Evil 2’s sensible “Zapping System,” which permits gamers to expertise 4 barely altered variations of the sport based mostly on which character they select to play as first. Certain occasions, merchandise placements, and puzzles are barely altered based mostly on what the character you beforehand performed as did throughout their journey.

Inspired by the time-traveling story in Back to the Future Part II, this technique not solely provides gamers a purpose to expertise the sport a number of instances, however it’s yet one more means by which the writers and builders have been capable of slowly develop the sport’s world. While there may be now a usually agreed upon “correct” path by the sport, on the time, followers amused themselves by discussing the implications of the assorted routes. Zapping made individuals excited concerning the concept of a Resident Evil universe as a result of its compelling variations on particular person tales instructed that there have been many extra to expertise. 

While components just like the zapping system have been actually formidable, the considerably uncomfortable fact is that Resident Evil 2 in the end grew to become a beloved sequel as a result of it was made by individuals who accepted the inevitability of the sequel and the whole lot that goes with it. Remember that the unique construct of Resident Evil 2 was additionally formidable. It was arguably much more formidable than the sport we in the end acquired. However, it was additionally a tough sport that seemingly favored ambition for distinction’s sake over bettering upon the unique sport that followers beloved within the first place. 

By comparability, Resident Evil 2 is without doubt one of the extra polished sequels of its period and maybe of all-time. Its voice appearing was an amazing enchancment, its environments have been stunning and foreboding, characters and occasions felt like they’d logical ties to the unique sport, there was a larger emphasis on motion (however not a lot motion that it ruined the horror), and the sport at all times discovered a means to offer that at all times essential sequel high quality of “more” to the participant. You may virtually name it a predictable sequel if it weren’t for the truth that these in cost decided that assembly fan expectations is not nearly giving them extra. It’s generally about difficult your self to ship one thing that’s each acquainted and undeniably new. 

It’s straightforward to admire the formidable sequel that re-writes the e-book of the unique and defies all expectations (corresponding to we noticed in Resident Evil 4) simply because it’s straightforward to admire the unique concepts. However, in a world the place sequels are inevitable as a result of there may be at the least a small a part of all of us that clamors for extra of the factor we love, respect should be given to a sport like Resident Evil 2. It is the uncommon form of sequel that recreates the sensation of an unique expertise with out replicating it. 

Matthew Byrd is a workers author for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days attempting to pitch deep-dive analytical items about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an more and more perturbed collection of editors. You can learn extra of his work right here or discover him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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