Saturday, June 11, 2011

RESIDENT EVIL 2



Resident Evil 2
Developer - Capcom
Publisher - Capcom
Release date – January 21, 1998

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.


Story

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 after some zombies attack, Leon/Claire make it to the Police Headquarters. The player discovers 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.


Gameplay

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.


Development

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.

Music

The music for Resident Evil 2 was composed by Masami Ueda, Shusaku Uchiyama and Syun Nishigaki, with one song (The Underground Laboratory) composed by Naoshi Mizuta. The compositions were meant to convey "desperation" as their underlying theme. In his role as lead composer, Ueda provided the motifs, while Uchiyama was responsible for the horror-themed music used for the investigation and movie scenes. The main theme of the score, a versatile three-note leitmotif, appears several times throughout the course of the story, being included in compositions such as "Prologue", "Raccoon City" and "The Third Malformation of G". Various musical styles, ranging from ambient horror music to industrial pieces, are used to represent the different environments of the game. For example, the streets of Raccoon City are emphasized with militaristic percussion-based music, while the police department features ominous piano underscores. Key events of the story are supported with orchestral and cinematic compositions – a move that was inspired by blockbuster films.

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