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Expert Tips Resident Evil 2 Doesn't Tell You

From the day Capcom dropped a dark, moody remake for the very first Resident Evil onto the GameCube, fans have been clamoring for them to give Resident Evil 2 a similar treatment. Well, it only took 17 years, but Capcom has delivered. Resident Evil 2 is reborn in gory glory. There's no George Romero-lite, B-movie cheese to be found here, just a nerve-wracking zombie apocalypse, and just maybe enough bullets to deal with it.

There's a lot of little complexities to be had in this reimagining of the classic, however, and the game leaves quite a bit up to the player to discover along the way. That's all well and good if you're prancing through fields playing Minecraft, but in a situation when you're staring down a guy who just took five headshots and is still coming, you best have your wits about you and a full grasp of everything that you're capable of, and you can't rely on the game itself to be forthcoming about it all. We've got you covered, however, with a few tips that'll hopefully get you out of Raccoon City alive.

Turn and face the strange

Resident Evil 2 less resembles its blocky PlayStation forebear, or even that lovely surprise of an N64 port, than it does the unholy hybrid of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 7. As such, while veterans may have a vague idea of what to expect going in, there's a few little touches from the latter two games that you should definitely avail yourself of.

The most vital, however, is the simple fact that yes, just like those two games, you can do a complete 180-degree swivel by pressing down on the analog stick, and the cancel button ("Circle" on PS4, "B" on Xbox One). With Resident Evil 2 taking an over-the-shoulder point of view this time around, you're gonna find yourself staring down horrors you shouldn't be staring at more often than not, and whatever pea-shooter gun you have to point will not, we repeat, not be enough. There is no shame in turning tail and running like hell, we assure you.

Wake me up inside

It's the zombie apocalypse, so one would expect more than a few random corpses lying around the place, but that presents a serious problem in a world where the dead don't die. There are corpses everywhere in the Raccoon City Police precinct, and from a distance, it is impossible to tell which ones are down for the count, and which ones are just waiting for their next meal to come casually strolling by.

So, it's up to you to not take chances. The only bodies that stay down in the world of Resident Evil 2 are corpses without a head, and corpses you've burned. Anything else, you wanna make damn sure. Even as scarce as ammo can be and with knives that wear down, it's worth spending a bullet or a slash as a wake-up call to any body you're not sure about. If they stay down, you're probably good to proceed. If not, at least you can easily get out of biting range while the zombie in question has a stretch and a yawn.

You shouldn't have gone for the head

What do you do when you have to face down an active zombie, though? Well, years of experience tell you to go for the blessed headshot, and then life (or undeath) will go back to normal. Not so much in Resident Evil 2. Zombies take headshots like champs in this game, and unless you're using some of your precious high-powered ammo, or you randomly score a critical hit — which actually causes zombie heads to explode — they're far from a surefire kill. Since ammo is scarce as it is, you NEED a sure thing.

Well, here's a tip for you: go for the legs instead. Capping zombies in the knees may still take two or three shots, but they're easier targets than the constantly swaying zombie heads. Once a zombie falls, you've got a few safe seconds to make a move, either to pass them, or to go in for the kill, preferably with the knife to save yourself some ammo. More often than not, though, it's better just to get zombies out of your way than get them out of this life.

Hey! Listen!

In the options menu, there's a sound setting for simulated 3D binaural audio. Now, obviously, audiophiles with a kickass sound system don't really need to turn this on, and folks using headphones or cheap speakers may have issues with the hollow echo reverb that tends to come with that setting in other titles.

In Resident Evil 2, however, this setting may just save your life. Beyond the fact that the game has a genuinely fantastic soundscape across the board, the nature of said soundscape allows you to hear dangers that may be happening rooms away. If a zombie's on the other side of a door, you'll hear how close it is, so you can decide if you want to go in hot. If you're trying to drop a zombie for good, their breathing and the ambient score will reflect if you're in the clear, and both are more subtle than they've been in previous games. The most useful tool in your arsenal in Resident Evil 2 may just be your ears.

A quiet place

Lickers are as deadly as always in Resident Evil 2, but while your first instinct might be to either run or fire at will, there's a more subtle way to deal with these fiends than before.

See, more than ever before, Resident Evil 2 works off of the fact, established in some of the later sequels, that Lickers are completely blind. However, they can absolutely hear you, and if you think that obnoxiously loud footsteps are a flaw and not a feature, you're dead wrong. Lickers will come for you if they hear you running, but you can just as easily sneak up on or past one by going easy on the analog stick, to the point that your footsteps are silent. Walking while aiming helps with this since you're already slowed down to an extent. As long as you're more than about six feet away and keep your cool, the Licker's not coming after you.

Blue is the warmest color

Herbs are your best friend in Resident Evil, and while any veteran can tell you the more herbs you can combine together, the merrier, Resident Evil 2 tells you early on that there's additional benefits you can concoct by messing with them. Problem is, the game is really ambiguous about telling you what those are until you've made them. Let's clear that up right now.

Greens pretty much speak for themselves. The more you can combine, the more health you can recover at once. Alternately, a green and a red together heals you entirely, no matter how much damage you've taken. Things get cooler once you start adding blues to the mix. One or two greens and a blue will simply do exactly as advertised: heal you and cure poison. A blue and a red, however, will cure poison, plus make you immune to it for a short time, noted with a little icon in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

If you combine one of each, however, you create a super medicine that heals you, cures you of poison, and also raises your damage resistance for a short time. While the poison resistance comes into play once you're in the sewers and you should be stockpiling blues early on for that exact purpose, we highly recommend holding onto a couple of green/red/blue combos specifically for boss fights. You'll thank yourself later.

Burning down the house

Naturally, if you hand someone a flamethrower, it's time to literally cook some fools while you laugh the laugh of the gleefully insane. But hold your horses, Ellen Ripley. While it's tempting to just lay on the trigger until it's "ashes, ashes, we all fall down" time, flamethrower fuel is — like all the other ammo in Resident Evil 2 — a precious thing, and even compared to Claire, Leon has some serious problems he's gonna have to deal with that the flamethrower's gonna come in handy for.

The important tip to remember is that while, yes, you can do increased damage the more you hold the trigger, enemies take damage from actually being on fire already. If you're gonna re-enact Aliens, remember the part about short, controlled bursts. Save your fuel for when it matters most. Unless it's a much bigger enemy that doesn't freak out about being on fire, let the flames do their job, and only if the baddie's still standing when the fire goes out should you hit him again.

Oh, and P.S., technically that applies to Claire's grenade launcher too, since the flame rounds set enemies on fire as well. But the actual explosion from the grenade does so much damage that, unless it's a boss, one shot's usually all you need.

Hold the door

More than ever before in this series, Resident Evil 2's map is your best friend in the world. Besides being, well, a map, it will also note whether there's still items to be found in a room, what those items are, and where exactly they're located, and then turn the room from red to blue when you've found everything. That's a quality-of-life improvement the series has needed for years, and the game proudly flaunts it right at the beginning.

The benefits go even further than that, however. If you're thorough, you might've noticed that the card-suited doors actually show up on the map. What you might've missed is that the game does this for every locked door in the game. Highlight a locked door with the cursor, and a little label pops up telling you how, exactly, it's locked, and what implement you need to open it. If a door is simply marked "Locked door," all it means is that it has to be opened from the other side. This takes a ton of the guesswork out of backtracking to a place, only to find that no, you don't actually have what you need to open it. Now you can focus on other things. Like, say, what horrors are waiting on the other side of those doors.

I'm not locked in here with you, you're locked in here with me

Boards seem like they're the answer to all your prayers at first, allowing you to permanently seal up any window a zombie might conceivably come crashing through in the future. But while you might be tempted to board up every window you come across that gives you the option at first, it's not until later that you realize that might not be the best idea.

There are not a whole lot of windows in the RCPD that can be sealed up, but most of the ones you come across are lining hallways on the first floor. Typically, you'll get one or two zombies that crawl in through those, and it'll cost some extra ammo to deal with them. The real problem is when you have a room full of important supplies, a few zombies in a room, and an open window. New zombies will flood through that window throughout to make your life a living hell unless you make a beeline for the window and plug up that hole immediately. Pro tip: those are the situations you need to hold out for. As for the others, just like with the rest of the game, you'll be happier later if you can find a way to avoid a fight instead of throwing bullets at the problem.

X gon' give it to ya

Even for the folks who played the original Resident Evil 2, there is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for dealing with Mr. X now. He's not just an occasional boss encounter like he was on PS1. He is to RE2 what the xenomorph was in Alien: Isolation. He is constantly moving. He can be slowed down, but there's no way to kill him until the end of the game. He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and he absolutely will not stop, ever, until — well, you know the rest.

Really, the game doesn't need to tell you that the best way to deal with this guy is to run like absolute hell, but there's a few things they're less clear on. For example, does it seem like the guy just shows up right when you're having zombie problems? That's because the dude actually tracks you if he can hear gunshots. So, if you hear the heavy boots of lead, maybe stick to the knife for a few. Later on, there's a silencer you can use which also keeps you off his radar.

Speaking of the boots, this is another reason why the 3D audio is important, since you can hear X's precise location from rooms away, and you can decide whether it's clear to get rowdy.

Safe space

On a related note, thankfully, there is only one rule that enemies in the game — yes, even Mr. X — still adhere to, no matter what. Though normal locks won't hold zombies at bay for long anymore, safe rooms are still safe. If you need to duck an enemy, they won't cross that threshold, no matter how close they are. Once you're in, enemies will generally just wander off aimlessly, leaving you plenty of space to get your bearings, unpack some stuff into the trunk, and plot out the next move.

There is, however, one major exception: the Raccoon City PD's Main Hall. Once you've encountered Mr. X the very first time, the Main Hall is officially free game, and no longer safe. You can still use the trunk and the typewriter, of course, but maybe don't save if you have Mr. X on your heels.

Oh, and, trust us on this one: once Mr. X shows up? Give Marvin Branagh his space.

S for effort

Resident Evil has always blessed those who play with speed and style, and RE2 is no different. In this case, getting an S grade at the end of both your first playthrough as well as the 2nd Run — and remember, you specifically have to select 2nd Run, not just start a new game — is how you unlock the goodies: the legendary Samurai Edge infinite ammo pistol on Standard difficulty, and the LE-5 infinite ammo SMG on Hardcore difficulty.

Here's some even better news, though: even though the stat is tracked, unlike previous games, a normal S rank isn't contingent on how many times you save. It's solely based on your playtime (1st Run under 3:30; 2nd Run under 3:00). Meaning, by all means, save to your heart's content. That's even the case on Hardcore mode, just with a 2:30/2:00 time limit, respectively.

Now, of course, for the pros out there who really want to press their luck: yes, there's some serious heavy weaponry waiting for those who can nab an S+ rank on both playthroughs — an infinite ammo rocket launcher, and an infinite ammo minigun. Those require not just beating the game in under two hours, but doing it on Hardcore difficulty, using no more than three saves. Good luck.