Resident Evil 2, known in Japan as Biohazard 2, is a 1998 survival horror video game originally released for the PlayStation. Developed by Capcom as the second installment in the Resident Evil series, its story takes place two months after the events of the first game, Resident Evil. It is set in Raccoon City, an American community whose residents have been transformed into zombies by the T-virus, a biological weapon developed by the pharmaceutical company Umbrella. In their escape from the city, the two protagonists, Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, encounter other survivors, and are confronted by William Birkin, the mutated creator of the even more powerful G-virus.

The gameplay of Resident Evil 2 focuses on exploration, puzzle solving and combat, and features typical survival horror elements such as limited saves and ammunition. The game’s main difference from its predecessor is the “Zapping System”, which provides each player character with unique storylines and obstacles. Developed by a team of 40–50 people over the course of one year and nine months, Resident Evil 2 was directed by Hideki Kamiya and produced by Shinji Mikami. The initial version of the game, commonly referred to as Resident Evil 1.5, differed drastically from the released product and was scrapped at a development stage of 60–80 percent, after being deemed “dull and boring” by the producer. The resulting redesign introduced different settings and a more cinematic story presentation, supported by a soundtrack that employs “desperation” as an underlying theme.

Resident Evil 2 was widely acclaimed by critics, who praised its atmosphere, setting, graphics and audio. Its controls, voice acting and inventory system garnered some criticism, however, and certain reviewers disliked its puzzles. The game has become a million-seller, and is the franchise’s most successful title on a single platform. Years after its first release, Resident Evil 2 was included in several lists of the 100 best games. Following its initial success on the PlayStation, it was ported to Microsoft Windows, the Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and GameCube, and was released as a modified 2.5D version for the Game.com handheld. The story of Resident Evil 2 was retold and built upon in several later games, and has been adapted into a variety of licensed works. A remake is currently in development.

This commercial was directed by the one and only George Romero!
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As a survival horror title, Resident Evil 2 features the same basic gameplay mechanics as its predecessor, Resident Evil. The player explores a fictional city while solving puzzles and fighting monsters. The game’s two protagonists may be equipped with firearms, but limited ammunition adds a tactical element to weapon use. On the status screen, the player can check the condition of the protagonists, use medicine to heal their wounds, and assign weapons. The characters’ current health can also be determined by their posture and movement speed. For example, a character will hold their stomach in pain if wounded, and will limp slowly if on the verge of death. The protagonists may carry a limited number of items, and must store others in boxes placed throughout the game world, where they may later be retrieved. Each protagonist is joined by a support partner during the course of the story. These characters accompany the player in certain scenes, and occasionally become playable. Certain rooms contain typewriters that the player may use to save the game. However, each save expends one of a limited number of ink ribbons, which the player must collect in the game world. The graphics of Resident Evil 2 are composed of real-time generated – and thus movable – polygonal character and item models, superimposed over pre-rendered backgrounds that are viewed from fixed camera angles.

The main addition over the preceding game is the “Zapping System”, by which each of the two playable characters is confronted with different puzzles and storylines in their respective scenarios. After finishing the “A” scenario with one protagonist, a “B” scenario, in which the events are depicted from the other character’s perspective, is unlocked. The player has the option of starting the “A” scenario with either of the two protagonists, resulting in a total of four different scenarios. Actions taken during the first playthrough affect the second. For example, the availability of certain items may be altered. After each game, the player receives a ranking based on the total time taken to complete the scenario, and on the number of saves and special healing items used. Depending on the player’s accomplishments, bonus weapons and costumes may be unlocked as a reward. The original version of Resident Evil 2 contains two stand-alone minigames: “The 4th Survivor” and “The To-fu Survivor”. In both of these minigames, the player must reach the goal while fighting every enemy along the way with only the default item loadout. All the later versions (except the N64 version) add a third minigame titled “Extreme Battle”, which consists of four playable characters and three stages.

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Plot

The game is set two months after the events of the first Resident Evil, in the Midwestern American mountain community of Raccoon City. Nearly all of its citizens have been transformed into zombies by an outbreak of the T-virus, a new type of biological weapon secretly developed by the pharmaceutical company Umbrella. The game’s two protagonists are Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie police officer on his first day in the local force, and Claire Redfield, a college student looking for her brother Chris. Having just arrived in the city, Leon and Claire make their way to the Raccoon Police Department, seeking protection from the mutated population. However, after a runaway truck crashes into their police car and they are forced to split up (in the game, you choose to play as Leon or Claire) after some zombies attack, Leon/Claire make it to the Police Headquarters. The player discover that the police station is abandoned and that most of the police officers have been killed, and that Chris has left town to investigate the Umbrella headquarters in Europe. With no remaining motivation to stay, the two protagonists split up to look for other survivors and flee the city. While searching for an escape route, Claire meets a little girl named Sherry, who is on the run from an unknown creature, and Leon encounters Ada Wong, who claims to be looking for her boyfriend John, an Umbrella researcher.

It is revealed that Leon’s superior officer, Raccoon City police chief Brian Irons, had been bribed by Umbrella to hide evidence of the company’s experiments in the outskirts of the city. He also concealed their development of the new G-virus, an agent capable of mutating a human into the ultimate bioweapon. Irons tries to murder Claire but is killed by a G-virus mutant in the police department. Then, Claire and Sherry escape through the sewers and become separated. After splitting up with Leon, Ada comes upon Sherry and picks up a golden pendant the girl loses while running away. Further into the sewers, Ada reluctantly teams up with Leon again, after he insists on his duty to protect her. They encounter a middle-aged woman who fires at Ada, but Leon dives between them and takes a bullet himself. Ada ignores the unconscious Leon and follows the woman, who reveals herself to be Sherry’s mother Annette and the wife of William Birkin, the Umbrella scientist who created the G-virus. In an attempt to protect his life’s work from special agents sent by the Umbrella headquarters, he injected himself with the virus, which turned him into the malformed creature that is now chasing Sherry. Annette recognizes her daughter’s pendant and attempts to take it from Ada. A fight ensues, during which Annette is thrown over a railing. Ada learns that the golden locket contains a sample of the G-virus, and later – taken over by her emotions – returns to Leon, tending to his bullet wound.

Meanwhile, Claire is reunited with Sherry and discovers that the mutated Birkin has implanted his daughter with an embryo to produce offspring. Leon, Ada, Claire and Sherry advance through an abandoned factory connected to Umbrella’s secret underground research facility. An attack by Birkin leaves Ada heavily wounded, and Leon explores the laboratory to find something to treat her wounds. He is interrupted by a psychotic Annette, who explains to him that Ada’s relationship with John was only a means of getting information about Umbrella: Ada is a spy sent to steal the G-virus for an unknown organization. Just as Annette is about to shoot Leon, a Tyrant monster appears, and she is forced to retreat. Ada returns to save Leon and defeats the Tyrant seemingly at the cost of her own life. She confesses her love to Leon, who leaves behind her motionless body. Meanwhile, Annette tries to escape with another sample of the G-virus but is fatally wounded by her mutated husband. However, before she dies, she tells Claire how to create a vaccine that will stop the mutations caused by the embryo within Sherry. After preparing the cure, Leon and Claire reunite at an emergency escape train and inject Sherry with the vaccine, which saves her life. Birkin – now mutated into a large agglomeration of flesh and teeth – follows them, but is destroyed when a self-destruct system causes the train to explode. After escaping from the city with Sherry, Leon intends to take down Umbrella, while Claire continues to search for her brother. Ada is implied to have survived and to have made away with the G-virus in the pendant. The minigame “The 4th Survivor” depicts the successful G-virus retrieval mission of Hunk, one of the special agents sent by Umbrella. “The To-fu Survivor” and “Extreme Battle” are stand-alone missions that are unconnected to the plot of the game.

History of - Resident Evil (1996-2013)
Vid Source - Tofig Shamkhalov
 

Development

Development of Resident Evil 2 began one month after the completion of its predecessor in early 1996. The first footage of the game was shown at the V Jump Festival ’96 in July. This early build, later dubbed “Resident Evil 1.5” (“Biohazard 1.5” in Japan) by producer Shinji Mikami, differed drastically from the released version in its scenario, presentation and gameplay mechanics. Its plot followed the same basic outline as that of Resident Evil 2, and featured a zombie outbreak in Raccoon City two months after the events of the first game. In this version of the story, however, Umbrella had already been closed down as a consequence of their illegal experiments. The development team sought to retain the level of fear from the original game, and thus introduced to the narrative two new characters who lacked experience with terrifying situations: Leon S. Kennedy, largely identical to his persona in the final build, and Elza Walker, a college student and motorcycle racer vacationing in Raccoon City, her hometown. Unlike the final version, the story paths of Leon and Elza did not cross, and each playable character had two support partners instead of just one. Leon received help from fellow police officer Marvin Branagh and a researcher named Ada, while Elza was aided by Sherry Birkin and a man named John, whose design was used for gun shop owner Robert Kendo in the released Resident Evil 2.

Real-world influences had an impact on several character designs by artists Isao Ohishi and Ryoji Shimogama. For example, Ohishi based Leon on his bloodhound, and Annette Birkin was modeled after actress Jodie Foster. The police department in which Resident Evil 1.5 began had a more modern and realistic design, and was smaller than the final building seen in Resident Evil 2. There were more encounters with surviving policemen, such as a superior officer of Leon called Roy. The number of polygons used for enemy models was far lower than in the released version. This allowed many zombies to appear on the screen, a method of invoking fear in the player that recurred throughout Resident Evil 1.5.Furthermore, the game employed dynamic music, and frequently applied alterations to the pre-rendered backgrounds in response to events during the gameplay. The playable characters could be equipped with gear, such as protective clothes that enhanced their defense and enabled them to carry more items. The characters’ polygonal models were altered by costume changes and by damage received from enemies.

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Final version

The development was carried out by a 40- to 50-person group that would later be part of Capcom Production Studio 4. Director Hideki Kamiya led the team, which was composed of newer Capcom employees and over half of the staff from the original Resident Evil. In the initial stages of development, producer Mikami often had creative disagreements with Kamiya, and tried to influence the team with his own direction. He eventually stepped back to an overseeing role as producer, and only demanded to be shown the current build once a month. Believing the game’s assets to be good individually, but not yet satisfactory as a whole, Mikami expected that everything would coalesce in the three months leading up to the projected May 1997 release date. Shortly thereafter, however, Resident Evil 1.5 was scrapped at a development stage of 60–80 percent. Mikami later explained that the game would not have reached the desired quality in the aforementioned period, and especially frowned upon the gameplay and locations for being “dull and boring”.
The story of Resident Evil 1.5, with which Mikami planned to end the series, was criticized by supervisor Yoshiki Okamoto, who found it to be too conclusive to allow for future installments. Instead, Okamoto proposed the creation of a fictional universe that would turn Resident Evil into a metaseries – similar to the Gundam and James Bond franchises – in which self-contained stories with common elements could be told. During a period in which the team made no progress rewriting the scenario, Okamoto was introduced to professional screenwriter Noboru Sugimura, who was enthusiastic about the first game’s story. Sugimura was initially consulted on a trial basis, but Okamoto was impressed by the ease with which the writer came up with solutions to the problems that plagued the script, and soon asked him to compose the entire scenario for Resident Evil 2. One fundamental modification to the story was the reworking of Elza Walker into Claire Redfield, in order to introduce a connection to the plot of the first game. To fulfill Capcom’s sales plan of two million copies, director Kamiya tried to attract new customers with a more ostentatious and Hollywood-like story presentation. As Okamoto did not want to simply enforce the new direction, he had Sugimura discuss the plot revisions with Mikami and the development staff. The planners redesigned the game from the ground up to fit the changes, and the programmers and other remaining members of the team were sent to work on Resident Evil Director’s Cut, which was shipped with a playable preview disc of the new Resident Evil 2 version in order to promote the sequel and to apologize to the players for its belated release.
Only a few assets from Resident Evil 1.5 could be recycled, as the principal locations in the final build were made to look more extravagant and artistic, based on photographs taken of the interiors of Western-style buildings in Japanese cities. These environments were created with a software program called O2, and each background took two to three weeks to render. The maximum number of zombies displayed on the screen at one time was limited to seven, making it possible to use 450 polygons for the comparatively detailed models of Leon and Claire. The protagonists, instead of being given visible wounds, were made to limp slowly upon receiving heavy damage. Apart from the graphics, one of the most important new features was the “Zapping System”, which was partly inspired by Back to the Future Part II, a time travel-themed film sequel that offers a different perspective on the story of the original film. The voice-overs by the all-Canadian cast of Resident Evil 2 were recorded before the actual cutscenes were completed, with each of the actors selected from a roster of ten people per role. Thereafter, the full-motion videos (FMVs) were created by filming stop motion animations of action figures, which were then rendered to completed pictures with computer graphics (CG) tools. Ada’s movie model could not be finished in time. Thus, she is the only main character not to appear in a pre-rendered cutscene.
Several changes had to be made between the regional releases of Resident Evil 2. The North American version contains more violent “game over” screens, which were removed from the Japanese Biohazard 2. Resident Evil 2 was also made more difficult than its Japanese equivalent to prevent rentals from affecting U.S. sales.

Original RE2 Commercial
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