Capcom has been on an absolute tear this generation. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Monster Hunter: World and Devil May Cry 5 filled the PlayStation 4's library with hit after hit over the past three years, but the Japanese publisher's crowning achievement is a step above the rest in more ways than one. Resident Evil 2 magnificently recreates the PSone survival horror classic for a modern audience with a shift in perspective and a visual overhaul that breathes new life into the undead tenants of the Raccoon Police Department. Nail-bitingly intense and supremely terrifying, what was considered to be one of the greatest games on Sony's first foray into the console market is just as good 21 years later. Capcom set itself an almighty task when it promised to bring back the title most fans hold dearest, but it delivered with the very best game of 2019.
Resident Evil 2 is a remake which still allows the original encounter with Raccoon City to shine -- fleshing out its storyline, characters, and haunting environments. Much of what you remember remains intact, save for some minor enemies, and so it's how the game subverts preconceived expectations to create moments of tension and surprise for even the most veteran of Resident Evil players that thrills. Zombies are most certainly back and more frightening than ever with a single stumbling figure enough to cause alarm. When it comes to an entire group of them, however, the best tactic is to simply run in the opposite direction. Combined with limited ammo and healing options, Capcom managed to turn the members of the undead into ruthlessly foreboding terrors all over again.
But then they can't hold a candle to Mr X. The T-00 Tyrant relentlessly stalks either Claire or Leon throughout certain sections of the game, increasing stress levels astronomically. The scientific nuisance keeps you on your toes as the thud of its footsteps draws ever closer, leading you to either evacuating the premises entirely or remaining whisper quiet in the hope it passes by. Genuinely nerve-racking, Mr X has to be one of the scariest video game villains of all time.
At least you'll have more time to appreciate the confines of the Raccoon Police Department when it's not there. The iconic location has been faithfully remade with a huge amount of love, making for a series of three levels and a basement which are truly thrilling to explore all over again. The colossal building always had character, although its 2019 facelift makes it an extrovert more than ever. Dark, chilling hallways keep you on edge just as much as the atmospheric nature of its most famous rooms retain their frightening charm. In contrast, making it to a save room is still an utter relief every time.
That ferocious threat never lets up as you head underground and explore the wider reaches of Raccoon City, proving just how much of an honourable remake Resident Evil 2 is. Without cutting any corners, it brings back every classic location in an incredibly loving fashion. From the sewers and its absurd crocodile boss fight through to Umbrella's seedy underground laboratory, your memories of two decades ago are brought into the present in a very fitting manner. The same can be said of the bonus content which made the original so special. Hunk and Tofu make their triumphant returns in complementary scenarios while Capcom released entirely new stages less than a month after the game's launch focusing on characters we only caught glimpses of back in 1998.
For that, Resident Evil 2 has to be considered one of the greatest remakes of all time. It passionately recreates one of the PSone's most horrifying undertakings to undeniably incredible effect along with extra, original content to keep hardcore players on their toes. The Raccoon Police Department has never been more daunting, the zombies themselves creepier than ever, and the story of Leon and Claire's attempt to escape Raccoon City is just as electrifying.
Virtually flawless in every aspect, Resident Evil 2 already had an enormous chance at major success thanks to its extraordinary source material, but Capcom went above and beyond in every aspect. There's a reason why what worked 21 years ago continues to find success two decades later -- a formula so uniquely retro in its design that it does the business even better in the world of today. An unbelievable game we'll be looking back on for many a year, Resident Evil 2 earns the top spot for 2019.
Resident Evil 2 is our Game of the Year, but is it yours? Do you agree with its positioning? Dodge a zombie in the comments below.
How we decide our Game of the Year: At the end of November, our editorial team creates a list of nominees for Game of the Year based on our own review scores and a number of other factors. After much discussion, we trim the list of nominees down and ask all Push Square staff to vote on their five favourites using a points-based system. The ten games with the most points by the designated deadline are our top ten PS4 titles of 2019. We then use this same order when writing about each game.