Resident Evil 2[b] is a survival horror game developed and published by Capcom for the PlayStation in 1998. The player controls Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, who must escape Raccoon City after its citizens are transformed into zombies by a biological weapon two months after the events of the original Resident Evil. The gameplay focuses on exploration, puzzles, and combat; the main difference from its predecessor is the branching paths, with each player character having unique storylines and obstacles.
Resident Evil 2 was directed by Hideki Kamiya, produced by Shinji Mikami—director of the first Resident Evil—and developed by a team of around 50 over 21 months. The initial version of the game, commonly referred to as Resident Evil 1.5, differed drastically and was canceled when it was around two-thirds complete after Mikami decided it was inadequate. The final design introduced a more cinematic presentation.
Resident Evil 2 received critical acclaim, with praise for its atmosphere, setting, graphics, audio, scenarios, and overall gameplay, as well as its improvements over the original game, but with some criticism towards its controls, voice acting, and certain gameplay elements. It has appeared on a number of lists of the best video games ever made. It is the best-selling Resident Evil game for a single platform, shipping 5.77 million copies on PlayStation, combining its original release on PlayStation with the DualShock release. It was ported to Windows, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and GameCube, and a modified 2.5D version was released for the Game.com handheld. The story of Resident Evil 2 was retold and built upon in several later games and has been adapted into a variety of licensed works. It was followed by Resident Evil 3: Nemesis in 1999. A Resident Evil 2 remake was released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows in 2019.
A survival horror game, 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 game uses tank controls, meaning that pressing up moves the character in the direction they face, down reverses them, and left and right rotates them, regardless of the perspective of the camera.
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 are 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 later versions (except the Nintendo 64 version) add a third minigame, "Extreme Battle", which consists of four playable characters and three stages.