After 18 years of waiting, it’s finally possible to experience the Raccoon Police Department in high definition, totally 3D glory, with more accurate lighting and “better” controls. Well, sort of. Capcom released the “One-shot” demo for RE2 on Friday, the 11th – so named because you can only play it once, and it’s over.

Technically. Although on PC it was only a matter of a couple of  hours before someone found a bypass for the timer. Meaning unlike console players, we’ve had hours and hours to check the demo out (not that there’s much to see.)

As someone who waited eagerly and begged for this to happen for over a decade – literally since the day REmake 1 came out (because RE2 was the better game) – I couldn’t have been more displeased when Capcom made it obvious they were listening to RE4 fans. It started when they cease and desist ordered the amateurs who were remaking it on their own – which is a foregone conclusion no matter what when  you try to remake a developers property – and invited them to have serious input on the game. I knew then that whatever came out wasn’t going to be Resident Evil 2. When the game was finally revealed, they just piled on more doubts. Whether it’s the needlessly redesigned characters who look nothing like they have looked for the past 25 years, the terrible chromatic aberration and unnatural way everything in RE Engine is lit, the fact that they didn’t even call the voice actors who have voiced these characters for 25 years (The voice actors strike was underway when this was in development but there’s more to it), or the blatant button prompts over every interactive object, I had every reason to doubt this game.

I wish I could say that all those fears have been put to rest. They haven’t, but, what this demo shows is a game that might have some promise.

One of the most peculiar things in the demo is that unlike RE7, the first game to use the RE Engine, this game has a far more robust level of graphical options. What’s odd is that, putting this game on high (not even ultra) allegedly requires 8 Gb of VRAM. There’s no way that’s right. Something has have been screwed up here.

The graphics options all include a preview of the difference between turning them off, or on, or adjusting them. Each also contributes to a set of quality sliders and shows how much RAM will be used. so you can fully visualize not only what each setting will look like, but how it will eat your computers resources like the shambling dead. It seems from the demo that, even if the memory usage shows in red – which the demo warns you will impact performance – it doesn’t actually have a performance effect. I never once had any framerate issues except for one stutter, and I’m more inclined to believe it was because my hard drive space dropped low.

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Additionally there are more expected options, such as allowing you to choose your reticle color and “dot” color – which I assume means there will at some point in the game either be a gun with a laser sight like RE4/5/6, or it means a red dot sight and you can change the color of the dot itself.

The demo itself is nothing new. It’s the same section of the game we’ve seen since E3 over and over again with almost nothing new. Even if you use the trainer to reset the timer every couple of minutes, there’s a point after you get the spade key where you have no choice. As soon as you talk to Marvin again, the demo ends – there’s no way around it.

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Combat is sort of a mesh between RE4 and RE6. You  aim in third person, but your gun fires slowly and your accuracy decreases immediately after the first shot, as indicated by the crosshair going wide. However you can aim at and move at the same time so you can pretty safely back up and get some distance between you and the enemy. Some features, like above, seem to have found their way into the game like “draw + fire” which I believe means you can draw and fire immediately without aiming for an emergency shot, like in 6. Fortunately, there is no karate chopping and tatsumaki here. Thank god.

On a critical note, it seems Capcom has found arbitrary (and bad) ways to translate the original combat difficulty to 3D. It took 9 or 17 bullets to kill a zombie before because you didn’t have any control over where the bullet actually hit. Sometimes you would headshot a zombie at random. Well, now you have control and it takes multiple headshots – sometimes three, sometimes six, to kill a basic zombie. I didn’t actually read the gunpowder tutorial, but I don’t think the heavy bullets from RE7 are in this game so it just seems you’ll be shooting zombies in the brain repeatedly. Something which blatantly flies against the lore that you can kill them by destroying the brain.

Speaking of that, the gunpowder mechanic from RE3 found its way into this game as well. You will pick up either bullets, like can be expected, or you can pick up gunpowder and then depending on what type of gunpowder you mix together, you can make different ammo. Chalk up another positive decision for Capcom.

The survival daggers from REmake 1 make their return, but unlike the remake of the first game, the combat knife now serves its titular function. You can actually use it as a weapon, just like in every previous RE title. Additionally, if you get grabbed, you can hit the appropriate button to shove the knife in the enemy. Sometimes this will be in their head and kill them, sometimes it is just a stab so you can push them away. Either way, every hit with the knife counts towards  a durability meter and once that meter depletes, the knife either breaks or it gets stuck in the last enemy you plunged it into. You can pick up more, but unlike REmake 1, these knives don’t stack and each takes its own inventory slot.

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On the subject of inventory, the system used in this game is directly from Resident Evil 7. You get a limited set of tiles in which you can store things, which can be expanded by picking up leg pouches and probably other items. Accessing the inventory is done in real time, a feature from Resident Evil 5 and 6 that made its first appearance in the genre in Dead Space. Just like RE7 again, when you get to a door or keycard reader or whatever that requires use of a special item, it will not automatically use – you have to know what item to use and then do it. This is a welcome departure from RE4 and 5 and a return to form, although obviously the original games paused every time you went to the inventory.

Capcom seems to have taken a lot of guidance from Dead Space in the design of this game. One of the things DS was innovative and popular for was its HUD design – essentially, it didn’t have one.  The diagetic HUD meant Any information you needed to play the game was on the character or gun model itself. Nothing obstructed your view of the action and the game world (and it made it easy to take screenshots). Capcom went a step farther, or perhaps a step back – there is no HUD in REmake 2, except when shooting. This is more in tune with the original games where your health state was indicated by the way your character moved, and you had to actually count the bullets you fired.

Really, the only thing I can complain about is the sound, and that this isn’t 1998 RE2. That’s what it boils down to – it’s different. The gameplay seems the same so far. You still have to backtrack (albeit this never happens in the demo) to get items from item boxes or solve puzzles you couldn’t before because you didn’t have items, etc. If there could possibly be a mod that restores the original inventory sounds, that would be ideal. The other thing is that the game doesn’t have a photo mode, to my knowledge. It seems like they would have gone to the effort of including one, after all the effort that went in to recreating RE2 with a new aesthetic. It was pretty much 1 of the 2 reasons that existed to remake the game.

Thinking about it rationally, with the Deluxe Edition being $51.25 with Greenmangaming’s VIP pricing, I’m swaying on the side of purchasing the game. If you’re on the fence, I recommend checking out the demo.