Resident Evil 2 is a remake of the original PS1 Resident Evil 2 first released in 1998, with characters and settings retained but with major gameplay changes throughout. It follows in the footsteps of the 2002 Resident Evil remake which itself did a lot of restructuring with the original Resident Evil.
Resident Evil 2 sees student Claire Redfield and rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy reach Raccoon City just as it is being overrun by a horde of citizens infected by the T-Virus, turning them into ravenous zombies and other monstrous creatures. Both have their own routes through the city as they attempt to escape the infestation, occasionally intersecting and meeting with one another. Depending on the order the player chooses to play the two stories, a character's second route ("Route B") will be different than if the player had selected that person first (their "Route A") due to actions the player may have made as the first character chosen. Thus, the player can either follow Leon A/Claire B or Claire A/Leon B.
Demand for a remaking of Resident Evil 2 has existed ever since the original 1996 Resident Evil was remade from the ground up for the GameCube in 2002. However the remake's poor sales cut short any possibility of Resident Evil 2 or Resident Evil 3: Nemesis receiving such treatment; the poor sales is also what ultimately lead to the series adopting a more action-orientated focus with Resident Evil 4.
As the series continued onward, the cries for an RE2 remake went unabated. In 2012, Capcom producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi stated that they would consider remaking Resident Evil 2 if there was enough demand from fans. Though despite this claim, it would take until 2014 for any further hints of the possibility of an RE2 remake to surface. On August 5th, 2014, a remastering of the original remake was announced for PS4, PS3, 360, XB1, and PC. Within the same timeframe was a listing of a ''Resident Evil 2 HD'' being briefly shown up on Amazon.com for a release date of September 29th, 2015. Capcom offered no such comment to the listing.
On July 30th, 2015, a member of Capcom's R&D division took to Facebook to inquire interest about an RE2 remake and what ''the brand is all about'', while also expressing concern with the fan-remake that was in development, titled ''Resident Evil 2 Reborn''. Another developer calling himself ''H'' then took to Facebook, providing an update about how his bosses perceive the idea of an RE2 remake.
On July 31st, ''H'' posts again, now showing off the logo for an official Biohazard 2 (Japanese title for Resident Evil) remake document and how he was planning on bringing it to his higher ups. Finally, on August 12th, 2015, ''H'' revealed himself to be Capcom producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi and officially confirmed the development of a Resident Evil 2 remake via a YouTube video.
When the original director of Resident Evil 2, Hideki Kamiya, was asked in an interview about wanting to work on an RE2 remake, he said no. He further explained that he prefers working on action games and doesn't actually enjoy horror, that he gets scared too easily.
Before Capcom began officially acknowledging the possibility of remaking Resident Evil 2, an Italian development team called Invader Games started work in 2011 on their unofficial Resident Evil 2 remake, called Resident Evil 2 Reborn. It was built from the ground up in Unreal Engine 4 (originally Unity), with assets taken from other official Resident Evil games, such as Darkside Chronicles in particular, with many sound effects being ported from the original Resident Evil 2. The gameplay was primarily shown utilising the over-the-shoulder perspective of Resident Evil 4, though there existed a classic fixed camera angle alternative. The remake was to be completely free and was to release in August, 2015.
On August 17th, the fan remake was officially cancelled. However Capcom simultaneously cancelled the project while still also inviting Invader Games to speak with them to ''further development''. In response, Invader Games made a Facebook post:
First of all we want to thank all of you for the passion and the attachment that you have daily shown us. We'll be always grateful.
Today we want to join us of a very special day for InvaderGames. After the official announcement of the Resident Evil 2 remake by Capcom, we officialise the end of the works on Resident Evil 2 Reborn.
Contrary to what might be thought, this is wonderful news for us and, as fans, we're so happy that Capcom has decided to take the lead of the project and to develop the remake awaited for years by everybody (nobody could bring back to life the masterpiece of 1998 better than the creators themselves). Meanwhile as developers, we're honoured to announce that we've been officially invited to meet Capcom.
Capcom called us up in advance of the announcement and asked us if we would mind stopping the project as they had longer term plans for a Resident Evil 2 Remake. They have invited us to a meeting to discuss further ideas.
Even though we cannot complete the project of Resident Evil 2 Reborn, we're happy that what we've shown has achieved consents from worldwide fans and especially has been noticed from Capcom itself. We promise that the work done until now will be useful for future projects, we won't disappoint your and our expectations.
Thank you again for letting us to be where we are now in spite of the long way that remains to be walked through, we hope to focus soon on the biggest professional chance that we could get. Once more, we're very grateful to Capcom for having noticed our work and having appreciated as much the love we feel about the Resident Evil saga as developing videogames. It's very rare to find such a leader company in the industry so much open minded and sensitive to the work of a growing studio like ours, guided by passion and competence.
News available soon, stay tuned!
On February 26th 2019, Capcom released the first part of a YouTube series called Roundtable, serving as a celebration of the Remake's release and success. It aims to gather all of the key developers for the remake, to discuss how the remake finally came together as well as revealing early concepts, and ideas that never made it into the game.
Topics included the surprise and glee that came with the overwhelmingly positive metacritic reception for the game, which most of them had not seen coming. As well as sharing early images of the game's UI, bearing a striking resemblance to that of the classic Resident Evil UI.
The 1-Shot demo was a proposition that met with a lot of divisive reactions from fans, but also the developers. Director Yasuhiro Anpo elaborates that the gap between the release of the demo and the game, was too wide for him to see a 30 minute demo as being anything but a negative. Ultimately, it didn't hurt the excitement for the game. The developers also expressed how scary the game ended up being, the zombies are tough, but as long as they appear to be damaged by the player's attacks then it wasn't that big of deal. Also how much discussion went into the design of Ada's disguise, like her sunglasses.
In Part 2, there are talks of which Easter eggs to include in the game, like stuff from the original, or things relating to the development and marketing of the remake. One interesting little detail is the picture of a dog on Jill's desk, the developers wanted her to have one. They also decided to make more interactions between Leon and Ada, making their romance feel more grounded, and not as corny as the original, like not having Leon scream her name as she falls. Some felt it was bit out of place with the more modern graphics, as opposed to the original, others still have a lot of fondness for how it went about in the original game.
The most noteworthy though were canned ideas, like the pitch of making the railcar that Sherry and Claire uses to get to the NEST be something that would take them up the Arklay Mountains into a remote Umbrella Factory.
Other ideas included making the Sewer Alligator be a bit more of an involving boss fight rather than a Crash Bandicoot 2-esque escape section. Something that would revolve traversing a larger area, using cranes to defeat it, as well as a more fleshed out fight with Birkin's second form.
Regrettable omissions like a new enemy type called "Condemned" that would be unique to the new Orphanage area in the Remake. There were even talks of adding an optional "fixed camera angle" mode in line with the original games though they went with over the shoulder to make it complement on how scary the new zombies were even with the Resident Evil 4 camera. They were proud enough to at least try all of these different things, instead of just brainstorming them and then throw them way.