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‘Resident Evil 2’ Turns 19 Today!

resident evil 2 anniversary

Video games have evolved so much ever since Capcom’s original Resident Evil was released on PlayStation nearly 21 years ago. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but it has. The game was such a success that Capcom rushed a sequel into production almost immediately. Resident Evil 2 was released less than two years later on January 21, 1998 which means it turns 19 today! Help us celebrate one of the best video games ever made on this very special day.

The reason that most sequels fail to surpass the quality of the original is because they take things that made the original so special and try to replicate them. “More of the same” is not always a good thing. The best sequels expand upon the mythology of the original and try to improve upon it while still maintaining a certain amount of reverence for the source material. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk but it has been done before (AliensThe Godfather Part 2, and Scream 2, just to name a few). Resident Evil 2 may be “just” a video game, but with it Capcom managed to craft one of the best sequels ever made.

Picking up just two months after the events of Resident EvilResident Evil 2 introduces players to two new protagonists in rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, sister of the first game’s Chris Redfield. In the game’s opening moments it becomes readily apparent that the T-virus has escaped the confines of the Spencer Mansion and Raccoon Forest. The game brings players to Raccoon City itself and hits the ground running. The slow-mounting dread of the first game is replaced with a visceral assault on the senses, dropping players into the zombie-infested streets of Raccoon City. Rather than replicate the feel of the original, Capcom opted to shift the style of its franchise into a new direction, something that it would repeatedly try with subsequent sequels to varying degrees of success (Resident Evil 2 falls in third in aggregate critic scores, just behind Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica). The player eventually makes it to the Raccoon City Police Station, but quickly learns that the street may have been even safer. One of the most notorious moments in the game is the initial confrontation with the Licker.

Resident Evil 2 kept the basic gameplay the same, but introduced the “Zapping System” that allowed players actions to affect future playthroughs. For example, unlocking a door while you were playing as Leon would enable you to get into the room that the door leads to when you play as Claire. It was a novel approach to gaming that helped Resident Evil 2 stand apart from its predecessor.

The game took 21 months to produce, but the initial concept of the game was actually much different than the version that was released (example: the female protagonist was a college student named Elza Walker, rather than the now iconic Claire Redfield). The production team, which comprised of almost 50 people, completed nearly 80% of the game before the producer declared the game to be too monotonous. The concept was scrapped and a near-complete overhaul was made.

Thank [insert name of a higher power here] for that! The game that was eventually released is, as previously mentioned, spectacular. It earned critical acclaim upon its release and to this day remains the highest selling game in the franchise for a single game console. It was also the fastest-selling game in North America at the time. In an interesting bit of trivia: it sold 380,000 copies, earning $19 million in revenue. That is more money than every single Hollywood movie the weekend before earned except for one (that exception was Titanic, which earned $25.2 million the weekend after Resident Evil 2 was released).

I was unfortunate in that I was not able to play Resident Evil 2 when it was released. You see, I was a mere eight-year-old when the game was released. I wasn’t able to play Resident Evil 2 until it was ported over to the GameCube (What? I was a Nintendo kid.) in 2003, almost exactly 5 years after its initial release. While I still maintain that the 2002 GameCube REmake is the definitive Resident Evil game, I still enjoy Resident Evil 2 immensely.

When did you first play Resident Evil 2? Where does it sit in your ranking of the video game franchise? Share your thoughts and memories of this quintessential game with us in the comments below!



  • CrazyCanuck

    If CAPCOM actually released a RE2 remake in the vein of RE HD, I would have no issue giving them my wallet with my credit cards and a piece of paper with the pins written on it.

    • SpacemanSpliffz

      you’ll be happy to know that the RE2 remake got green lit by Capcom last year, and will be released sometime this year. And I stress: it is not a remaster, but a remake as in they are rebuilding the entire game from the ground up. Can’t wait for that shit

      • WALKTER

        I really doubt we’ll see it this year. Game development isn’t a very speedy process, we don’t even know how they’re approaching it, or what engine they’ll use, probally a couple more years atleast.

        • SpacemanSpliffz

          oh don’t be such a pessimist!

  • Matt

    Resident Evil 2 was my introduction to the series. Back in ’98, I hadn’t heard of the first entry. I saw the TV spots for 2 though, and I was blown away. Already having been a zombie lover at the time, I knew I had to get it. I don’t know how many 10 – 12 hour marathons I did playing this on the PS1. Ah, good times! Great game, easily the best in the series.

  • Blade4693

    I was young too at the time. I want to say 6/7 ( It has to be one of these 3 based on where I was living at the time lol) and while I did not have the guts to attempt to play it myself, my dad did and I would watch him play it all of the time. It scared the hell out of me lol

  • SpacemanSpliffz

    Time to bust out the Gamecube!!!

  • Rocky

    And still so hard to make a movie version of this and first game it seems.
    Not the unrelated crap films that used the title, but a genuine movie interpetation would be great. Sigh.

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      is not hard, the srcipt practically writes itself, you can easily make any of the first 3 games into two hours movies

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      is another thing is that they dont want to or they dont have the talent and brains

    • Santiago Vásquez

      The funny thing is that George A. Romero finished the prototype script for the first RE movie and was writing the script for the second one, but Capcom kicked him from production. He once mentioned that he wanted Leo DiCaprio to be Leon S. Kennedy in the second installment.

  • Rocky

    For me 2 is the best in the gaming series. The eerie atmosphere is right up with Silent Hill… esp in the morgue…. you wonder what horrors are waiting in there.
    And when that giant crocodile makes its appearance… shudder.

    • PsychoMantis18

      Atmosphere up there with the Silent Hill’s – Ha! Laughable man.

      But yar… RE2 is sweet.

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      you are not really comparing a cheesy B movie giant cocodrile cheap jumpscare to the hellish instropective psychological existencial horror of SH right? lol

  • Flu-Like Symptoms

    I remember this being the first game I encountered that made me woefully regret being a Nintendo fanboy at the time and passing on a PSX. Even though the N64 did finally get a port of RE2, I had already borrowed someone’s Playstation and played through it three times by then.

  • jasonlives1986

    Trace has a weird obsession with birthday post.

    20 I understand? 25 or 30.. but 19? … lol ok

  • DD-Indeed

    I bought the game back in 2000 from gameshop as used one. I was 12 years old back then and I had serious nightmares because of it. It has gone deeply into my mind and I’m still thrilled to play it even till this day because of that.

  • GODSON83

    Resident evil 2 ff7 and megaman X4 and castlevania symphony of the night best ps1 games ever.

  • Louise Clair Barker

    there used to be clips of this game in a uk comedy called spaced my mum said your not playing that it’s violent,2 years later i did i got it second hand from game lol.Ahh the birth of Leon Kennedy.

  • richp_91

    I was about 10 years old when I watched my sisters boyfriend play RE2. It scared me so much, that whenever my sis was gone, I would go into her room and play it. I didn’t get far, but I loved it. Also after the release of RE3, me and my sisters boyfriend would play it, and he would be like “okay now take a right and go through the door.” Bc I still sucked but I had to play. He was like my personal walkthrough.

  • I love Resident Evil but I’m ashamed to admit I still have never played 2 or Code Veronica.

    I was the same, playing the classics on Gamecube, but I missed the opportunity to get 2 and 3. By the time I decided to go for it, the preowned value had skyrocketed. I guess at this point I’m holding out for the remake of 2!

    • zombie84_41

      Code veronica is awesome.

    • Mace Elliott

      You listen to me, dammit. You can acquire the HD version of Code Veronica on Playstation Network for download. It’s probably like, 10 fuckin’ bucks by now. That game is awesome, and extremely underrated. But before you go and play it, you need to go and play RE2, which is also on PSN. I’d recommend waiting for the remake of 2 first, but I don’t know if they’re going to turn it into a complete shit show or not. So, just to be safe, get a copy of the original RE2 and dedicate a lazy weekend to it. It’s still a great game and you’ll love it if you liked the original. You’ll probably like it even more than the original, which is a feeling that many will sympathize with.

      • Haha I am listening! Yeah I will be getting all the HD remasters soon, been craving RE and 7 coming out has me all excited, might download them tonight!

  • zombie84_41

    I need a fucking HD remaster of this game and 3 so damn bad. I don’t like RE-0 as much though.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    dirst 3 RE are perfect, then is all just to MEH to terrible, we really need this games remade with better graphics, dont touch anything else, just the graphics

  • rafael diaz

    First time I played RE2 was 2 months after released. Needless to say it got me from the first second: amazing story line, decent graphics, addictive action, challenging puzzles, etc. This game has it all.

  • Bran

    First time I played RE2 was when it came out. A friend introduced me to it. I was fascinated by the commercials for it, and after playing (and dying) I was hooked. Fun fact: I had to have my friend get me to the precinct so I could play it. After my 4th start, I finally did it myself and felt triumphant.

    And while the RE2 is a great sequel, the cancelled version (1.5 as they call it) doesn’t play that bad either.

  • gabriel

    Resident Hill 2 and Silent Evil are awesome. Not quite as good as Duke Skywalker Dinosaur Hunter though.

  • Grimphantom

    This brings memories. The first time i played it was from a friend who wanted me to play the game, at first i was terrible at playing since the way to play it was so different from other games and didn’t get to the police station.

    I don’t remember how i got my own game but since my brother new i love horror i believe he bought it for me and i was hesitate since i remember how i played it for the first time but gave it another chance and got the hang of it later on.

    This game was amazingly terrifying, i did get scared on some of the scenes like the Licker or Mr. X which the last one was freaking terrifying when he breaks that wall and shows up all of sudden. I do feel this game made me dig zombies more, especially when i watched Night of the Living Dead remake and the Return of the Living Dead sequels which i feel those had more Resident Evil feeling than the official movies. I even both the comics and tried to buy other related zombie stuff, good times.

    98 and 99 was a great time for videos games for me since aside of RE2 i also played Metal Gear Solid, Crash Bandicoot, Twisted Metal 3 and Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time……honestly i only had the 64 just for Mario and Zelda, had more games on the PS

  • Ollie Long

    for my top list of games i have to put resident evil 2 number 1.. i loved that game the story gameplay everything was fun enjoyable mit be old 19 year but it beats alot of recent games now for story alot more.. i go on forever but a remastered resident evil 2 i buy it the day it releases for ps4 or xbox one hope it happens

  • bob king

    re 2 is the resident evil game that made me love the franchise greatly… its what started it all… i remember when i picked it up for the nintendo 64 at an old pawn shop i went to with a friend… only payd 8 bucks for it and it was and is still in great condition cleaned the contacts on the game cart with 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip put a few drops on the q-tip to clean the pins properly (blowing into it damages it) then i put it in and got hooked… playd it for hours… apon hours… until now i can beat it… best re game ever created hope they make the remake for pc

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