Resident Evil 2

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Is Resident Evil 2 better than Resident Evil? Is it worth the wait? The answer is a resounding "Yes!" RE2's strong combination of shocks, action, and compelling narrative spawns a fun, fright-filled PlayStation trip that'll keep you on the edge of your seat, clutching the controller for hours.

Scream, Too
Resident Evil 2's bigger, meaner, and more violent than the first game. All of Raccoon City is now overrun with monsters. The game's set in a huge area, but most of the action takes place in a police precinct and an underground chemical factory. Lying in wait in these locations is an enormous variety of monsters, including massive moths, behemoth alligators, poison-spitting plants, mutant dogs, zombies, and something that can only be described as the Terminator wearing an overcoat.

Formidable firepower is on hand to help you in yore war against dead-kind, including tazer shotguns, flamethrowers, machine guns, crossbows, bazookas, and even six-shooters. Some of these weapons can be enhanced with add-ons, too.

Similar to the first game, RE2 delivers a megadose of shocks. You'll flinch as you're munched by a giant alligator, stare in astonishment after blowing a zombie in half only to have the torso crawl after you, and jump through the ceiling when a monster crawls through the one onscreen. When you aren't trying to elude hordes of pursuing creatures, you'll wrack your brain to solve puzzles, like bridging seemingly impossible impassible areas and opening sealed doors.

Perfect controls help you plot your ever move, so guiding your character is a breeze. RE vets will appreciate a new feature, auto-aiming, that's especially helpful for blasting beasts.

RE2's gameplay also vaults ahead of its predecessor with its use of story and characters. As in Resident Evil, you play as one of two characters, Claire or Leon. Each possesses an engrossing and dramatic plot line; however, you must also play as other characters, too. In Claire's game, you control a little girl, Sherry, and Leon alternates with a woman named Ada. The extra characters add variety to the action and enhance the mystery of the unfolding plot, but be advised that one sequence where little Sherry can be easily mauled by dogs almost goes too far.

Ghoul School 101
Excellent graphics heighten the horror in RE2. The pre-rendered environments look cleaner than those in the first game, and they're packed with creepy details, like blood splotches and corpses. The weapons also punch up the visuals by producing huge explosions, raging fires, and splattering carnage.

The character animations are much improved over those of the original game, and they sport superlative lifelike details that affect gameplay. For example, if your characters receive too much damage, they limp and move slower. Conversely, when you're fighting a tough boss, his attacks gradually weaken each time you score a hit.

RE2's audio provides excellent accompaniment to the visuals to create an atmosphere of dread. Poignant voices deliver the well-written, spell-binding dialogue. The music packs a wallop with symphonic orchestrations that make your heart race.

The Fright Is Right
Resident Evil 2 is a sequel that not only meets expectations, but easily surpasses them with ease. Once you begin this game, you're hooked. Once you finish, you'll drool for more. Resident Evil 2 is frighteningly good.

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