Words and Photos Courtesy of Bleeding Cool’s Hilton Collins:
Fan-favorite zombie fighters Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield are coming back! The playable protagonists or Capcom’s 1998 survival horror hit Resident Evil 2 are returning to consoles and PCs when the Resident Evil 2 remake drops on January 25, 2019.
But many eager fans didn’t have to wait that long to learn about the new game’s development—or even play it.
On Friday afternoon, attendees visited the game’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con to hear behind-the-scenes news and see promo material.
The panel comprised producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi; communications director Ted Tsung; Mike Lunn, Resident Evil brand manager; and Peter Fabiano, Resident Evil 2’s promotion producer. They gave a brief overview of the original Resident Evil 2 game before delving into the remake’s development.
For the uninitiated, original Resident Evil 2 for the first PlayStation was the follow-up to 1996’s Resident Evil, the game that started it all. In the first playable adventure, Raccoon City police officers Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine investigate grotesque murders in the woods and discover that the Umbrella Corporation created a virus that turned people into zombies and mutated animals and insects into monsters. Resident Evil 2 took place two months after its predecessor In the sequel, Chris’s little sister Claire came to the city to find him, and rookie police officer Leon Kennedy traveled there to start his first day in city law enforcement. To their horror, Claire and Leon discover that the outbreak has spread, and the have to fight to survive.
Resident Evil 2 sold 380,000 copies in North America the week of its release and grossed $19 million, a ginormous hit at the time. Capcom remade the first Resident Evil in 2002 for modern consoles and computers, but fans have clamored for part 2 to get the same treatment. Today Capcom has finally given them their wish, but the brand new version of Resident Evil 2 won’t just be an exact copy of the original with better graphics. Panelists promised that quite a bit has been changed.
“This isn’t just a remake. It’s a reimagining,” Fabiano said.
There are new puzzles, enemies spawn in different places, and some memorable objects and features have shifted locations. The entire gameplay experience has been overhauled, and players will have to behave differently than they remember. “We wanted to change it to make it better for the player experience,” Fabiano said.
They kicked the panel off by playing a trailer for the remake that debuted last month.
“This is not how I imagined my first day,” Leon says by voiceover. Then seconds later, the macabre action unfolds in the roughly two-minute long clip. Viewers see beautifully rendered environments and characters in scenes that focus on Leon’s campaign. His face model and hair style is drastically different from the one he had in 1996, and the photorealistic graphics feature darker lighting than before, as well as more realistic gore. When zombies open their mouths to moan or bite, exposed innards, sinew, and blood looks more real—and more disgusting—than players remember.
Hirabayashi discussed the update to Leon’s appearance. He spoke in Japanese, and Tsung repeated his words to the audience in English. According to Hirabayashi, the design team dressed a live man in an actual uniform and photoscanned him to create 3D models. The design team took the photogrammetry and modified it from there.
“We want to make sure Leon fits what you would imagine him to be now,” Hirabayashi said.
They used the same process to redesign Claire. Unfortunately, they didn’t reveal any gameplay footage of Claire’s campaign—likely because they haven’t finished enough of it yet—but they did show stills of her in her new outfit and her new ride.
They ditched her hot pants and switched them for actual pants, and they partnered with Harley Davidson to render an actual bike for her to ride in the game in her full-motion video sequences. Redfield will sport a shiny 1998 Harley Davidson FXSTB Nitrane when players meet her next year.
The remake uses the same in-house RE engine that powered Resident Evil 7. This allowed them to add mood-enhancing atmospheric elements, like rain and environmental moisture, to heighten the dark, uncomfortable setting.
“It really adds to the characters, creatures, [and] zombies,” Fabiano said.
Hirabayashi said that Leon and Claire are the game’s two main characters, but the zombies are really the third. He wanted each individual zombie to feel like a real threat, though he didn’t say how his team achieved this. It was obvious, however, that the zombies would at least look magnificent, as the trailer showed.
The Resident Evil 2 remake’s Standard Edition will sell for $59.99 for PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. The Deluxe Edition will be $69.99 with extra content, including more costumes for Leon and Claire. A special Collector’s Edition for $199.99 will have even more extra features, including a 12 inch Leon Kennedy figurine and an artbook. The game is currently available for pre-order, and deluxe weapons like the Samurai Edge are a pre-order bonus. (The panelists didn’t explain exactly what the Samurai’s Edge is, however.)
If Comic-Con attendees want to play the game right now, they can visit Capcom booth 215 on the Exhibit floor.