More than three years later, Resident Evil 2 remains the blueprint for any developer looking to remake a classic title. Successfully modernising the 1998 survival horror game for fans and newcomers, there's no doubting its sustained quality. What we said in our Resident Evil 2 PS4 review rings true to this day, so our new verdict will focus purely on what's new in the recently released PS5 version.
The most substantial of which are two graphical modes: one implements ray tracing and the other boosts the frame rate beyond 60fps. You can't have the best of both worlds, and that's the most disappointing thing about the new native PS5 version: each graphical mode has its drawbacks to the point where there's no definitive option.
Resident Evil 2 was a fantastic-looking title on Sony’s last-gen console and throwing a native 4K resolution and ray tracing on top truly makes the game shine. The main hall of the Raccoon Police Department is staggeringly shiny, with reflections popping off all over the place. In a similar vein, the dark hallways shooting off the famous entrance plaza are still dripping with atmosphere, heightened on PS5 with crystal clear graphics.
The trade-off, though, is the frame rate. Having ray tracing active means the frame rate never remains consistent, constantly dipping and somewhat ruining the immersion. It's not too much of a problem whilst simply walking around the environment and exploring, but the more action-heavy the screen gets, the more the frame rate drops.
If you've no interest in ray tracing, then the other graphical mode is the one for you. Seemingly targeting 120fps (don’t quote us on that, we're not Digital Foundry), gameplay is so much smoother and crisp. Again, however, you must sacrifice something. The visuals take a battering should you wish to double the frame rate, and that goes beyond the general lack of ray tracing. Lighting takes a real hit and so too do the details making up character models and objects in the environment.
Thus, a situation has been created where the game is always having to compromise on one thing in order to enhance something else. Ray tracing makes Resident Evil 2 look better than ever, but it won't be a smooth experience as the frame rate routinely dips. You could instead opt to almost double that frame rate, but then the visuals aren't so hot. It's frustrating not knowing which one's best overall, creating circumstances where you know certain aspects would be better on the other side of the coin.
At least it's fairly plain sailing elsewhere. Lightning-fast load times will have you playing the game in a matter of seconds. After downloading our PS4 saves (and automatically unlocking all the Trophies), we were able to zip about all our save states across different playthroughs as Leon and Claire. It never took more than maybe three seconds from hitting the load button to the title being ready to play once again.
The PS5's adaptive triggers are also taken for a light spin; each weapon simulates resistance on the left trigger slightly differently. It's a very basic implementation, but welcome nonetheless. Haptic feedback is also listed as a supported feature on PS5, although we couldn't feel its utilisation outside of the standard rumble and vibration features.
Taken as a whole, this PS5 version offers some basic upgrades over the original PS4 edition — it's just a shame there's no definitive graphical mode to recommend. The game is still more than worth playing in 2022; its survival horror spark hasn't worn off in the slightest. Fans will love returning to the Raccoon Police Department with an extra layer of shine, and newcomers have the chance to experience one of gaming's greatest remakes. A cheap and cheerful upgrade doesn't ruin any of Resident Evil 2's quality.
Capcom hasn't gone to any great lengths with its updated PS5 version of Resident Evil 2, offering fans and newcomers two imperfect graphical modes to choose from. Very speedy load times will have you immersed in a flash, though, and the support for the PS5's adaptive triggers adds another extra wrinkle on top. Resident Evil 2 is still every bit as good as it was three years ago; this PS5 version simply gives you the chance to experience it all over again with further shine.