Resident Evil 2s Second Run doesnt live up to the originals four playthroughs, but it does make replaying the game a fresh experience nonetheless.
The original Resident Evil 2 underwent a number of changes between Leon and Claires playthroughs. Beyond this, the Zap System allowed choices made in a first playthrough to impact the next. In total, Resident Evil 2 featured four unique campaigns: Leon A into Claire B, and Claire A into Leon B. The general level design and core gameplay loop always remained the same, but RE2s changes from playthrough to playthrough help make it one of the most replayable and evergreen games in the franchise.
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While Resident Evil 2 (2019) is an excellent remake, it doesnt quite capture the spirit of Zapping. Leon and Claires actions no longer influence one another's playthroughs. Even worse, all four playthroughs are even more identical than they were the first time around now sharing near identical story beats. That said, Resident Evil 2 Remake isnt worse off for it. Resident Evil 2s Second Run doesnt live up to the originals four playthroughs, but it does make replaying the game a fresh experience nonetheless.
On a first playthrough, players need to cut through Raccoon Citys streets before they arrive at the RPD. From there, Leon/Claire explores the West Wing of the Police Station and barely makes it out alive only being saved thanks to Marvin. A 2nd Run notably trims all the fat off of the opening.
The opening of a 2nd Run now happens entirely outside the Station and very quickly transitions players into the RPD to explore at their own leisure. There are also more enemies during this early section, prompting combat that could be easily avoided on a first playthrough. As a result, a 2nd Run is arguably the better choice for speed running.
Interestingly, both Leon and Claire get new starters weapons for their 2nd Run. Leon gains access to the M19 Handgun, a firearm he holds vertically with one hand. The M19 doesnt hold as many rounds as the Matilda Handgun and cant be upgraded, but it does deal more damage than its counterpart while also having a higher tendency for headshots.
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Claire gets the Quickdraw Army, a revolver that packs a punch at the expense of very slow reload time. If its chamber is completely emptied, the Quickdraw Army ends up one of the slowest Handguns in the game. If nothing else, players who reload their guns between every shot wont have to deal with the whole animation.
While most puzzles reappear as is in a 2nd Run, there are often minor changes in place to throw off player familiarity in-between campaigns. The Officers Notebook isn't as easily decipherable, the Chess Pieces have been rearranged, and most puzzles have been revised to be harder on a whole.
The 2nd Runs puzzles are all familiar and players wont need to track down new Safe or Locker codes, but the small reinterpretations peppered throughout do a good job at reusing pre-existing content. It is disappointing that the 2nd Run isnt as in-depth as Zapping, but the changes to puzzles go a long way in giving Resident Evil 2 longevity.
Beyond just revised puzzles, the RPD shuffles almost all of its enemies and items between playthroughs. Where a fresh playthrough lets Leon or Claire explore most of the RPD in relative peace (allowing you to unlock a better weapon relatively early), the 2nd Run forces players to ration their ammo and carefully avoid enemies even more so than usual.
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Anyone expecting a 2nd Run to be exactly like the first is setting themselves up for tragedy, as several rooms have been tweaked to feature dangerous enemies while some of the best items in the game are even harder to track down.
One of the largest consequences of the 2nd Run condensing the opening is that Resident Evil 2 inadvertently introduces Mr. X much earlier. Not only is the amount of time spent in the RPD pre-Mr. X far shorter (to the point where a Leon 2nd Run basically always has Mr. X present), the rearranged item layouts mean players will need to contend with Mr. X to explore most of the Police Station. Revised enemy placement also makes it much harder to lose Mr. X in the heat of a chase.
Claire at least has the benefit of Mr. X permanently dying in her story, but Leons 2nd Run becomes far scarier thanks to the increased screen time. The tension of knowing Mr. X can always be around the corner is palpable, and having to solve puzzles while actively avoiding him adds an important layer of strategy to the gameplay.
On a standard playthrough of Resident Evil 2, Leons final boss will be Mr. X while Claires will be a mutated G. Both characters share a final boss at the end of the 2nd Run: a fully mutated William Birkin. This showdown is a spectacle fight above all else, however, with the first playthroughs final bosses remaining the hardest challenges in the game. All the same, the 2nd Run final boss brings Resident Evil 2 to a tense close.
The final battle also resolves a cliffhanger from the first run where G is shown alive on the train. While players can get the meat of Resident Evil 2 from a single playthrough, its abundantly clear that the game isnt actually over until the end of the 2nd Run (even if the overlapping stories dont make much sense).
Next:Resident Evil 2: Every Safe Combination In The Remake
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