I must admit, I wasn’t sure I’d be into the concept behind Capcom’s ‘1-Shot’ demo for the upcoming Resident Evil 2 remake. A one-off 30-minute taster of the game where once your time was up, that’s it. No replaying, just a thank you for playing and a new trailer for the game (which is a great one for fans of the original game).
Yet it’s actually the perfect sell. It’s just 30 minutes and you may not see the endpoint (I just about did) in that time, but Capcom really has packed a fair bit into that short time period, and it has the desired effect of leaving you hungry for more.
The demo begins with Leon freshly arrived in the Raccoon City Police Department station after surviving the opening onslaught of the city streets. The lobby of the station is staggeringly familiar to a long-term fan of the original game. Technology may have moved on rapidly in the 21 years since the original came out, but it’s the most immediate sign that Capcom has managed to retain the very spirit of a beloved classic and make it fresh.
Even though the layout of the few rooms you come across in the demo has changed a bit since 1998, each recreation is almost instantly recognizable whilst being peppered with new little touches. The station really does look like its been under siege, with shutters and barricades blocking the way to certain areas, stretchers and ammo cases lined up in the lobby, and signs of struggle splashed all over the walls of every dark and desolate corridor. You’ve clearly missed the party, but there’s still plenty of gruesome guests hanging about. With how tight and close everything feels now, you’re sure to meet them sooner rather than later.
In an age of sprawling open worlds, the confines of the RPD feel more claustrophobic than they ever did. The undead are greater in number than before and there’s an air of panic whenever you hear the crash of glass as you trundle down a long, dark hall. They’re fairly easy to dispatch, and it’s almost satisfying to see them fall apart as you target limbs (a shotgun to the face ends in dazzlingly grisly fashion), but you get the sense that you could easily be cornered if you let your guard down, and that perfectly epitomizes what makes the classic zombie experience tick. You certainly have better control of Leon these days, but the reworking of the controls falls in line with a reworking of the dangers you face, and it recreates the intensity of combat that made the series great, but in a totally different way. Again, the game manages to get that balancing act of nostalgia and modernization just about right.
It also helps that blood and guts is very much on the menu in this taster, as it shows off the game’s brutal and gory mean streak. A cop gets pulled apart, revealing his blood-slicked innards, the jaw of another almost slops off its face, and damaged zombie limbs dangle from threads of muscle. Resident Evil 2 is not fucking about when it comes to gore and it puts Resident Evil 7‘s admittedly great efforts to shame.
Resident Evil 7 has had a big hand in making the remake go smoothly though. Interaction, menus, and certain prompts all carry over from that game, which is itself, a fine update of Resident Evil’s survival horror roots. There’s no doubt Resident Evil 2 plays a lot closer to the original 90’s selection of Resi games, but it’s by integrating aspects of the 2017 title that it feels like a perfectly-revised throwback.
Now, there could well be issues in the full game. As far as obvious problems go, I’d like to see the interaction simplified a bit as currently, the inventory menu comes up for literally every instance, whether it’s needed or not. A relatively small grievance thankfully. Otherwise, my expectations for the full game are higher than they’ve ever been.
This 30-minute demo gets across exactly kind of remake we’re in for, and by denying you repeat bites of this tasty morsel, Capcom has done just the right thing to ensure people are hankering to grab the full feast at the end of the month.
Have you played the demo? What did you think of it? Let us know.
The Resident Evil 2 ‘1-Shot’ demo is out now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Resident Evil 2 is out on the same formats from January 25.