It looks as though you’ve stumbled in to my own self-imposed Resident Evil 2 (’98) challenge! It’s something I decided to undertake around July (you can find more details in July’s Editorial) and involves completing a silly amount of Resident Evil 2! … but let’s cut to the chase, what’s this all about?
I’m a huge Resident Evil 2 Fan, but I’ve never unlocked or completed the final challenge – that Tofu Scenario, so I’ve decided to do just that, from scratch, but also taking in some of the sights along the way!
Small Print: Ok, there’s a little more to it than that. I’m also undertaking this on a newly acquired GameCube copy of the game as I’m going to take on Battle Mode too (also new to me). In total I plan to do the following:
- Leon A & Claire B – 3 completions; A rankings
- Leon A (x2, ‘A’ Rank), Claire B (x2, ‘A’ Rank)
- Claire A & Leon B – A rankings
- Unlock All Special Weapons for Leon A
- Unlock All Special Weapons for Claire A
- Play using Leon’s alternative costumes
- Play using Claire’s alternative costume
- Unlock 4th Survivor
- Unlock Battle Mode
- Unlock Tofu
- Complete the 4th Survivor
- Complete Extreme Battle Mode
- lvl1 complete (Leon & Chris)
- lvl2 complete (Claire)
- lvl3 complete (Ada)
- Complete Tofu Scenario
I’ll be adding notes to the list above as I complete goals and also keeping a sort of running play diary below if you want to know any more of my thoughts as I play. Also there may be some streaming over on my Twitch Channel!
20th September 2019 – Claire B (2nd time through…)
So there’s been a bit of a hiatus since my last RE2 run, but I’ve been back on the challenge this week, and over two evenings I gently took in the sights of the 2nd of the Claire B runs I need to complete on my way to Tofu glory. I think I’ve covered most of my plot thoughts about this particular B-scenario and unlike the last two B-scenario runs I’ve done this one was much more leisurely as I allowed myself to save (given that I didn’t need to do the ‘no save’ gattling gun unlock). It was all shaping up to be a pretty straightforward by the numbers run through…
… but then I found something… something new that I’d never found before…
Ok, so don’t get too excited because it’s not that interesting to non-RE2-obsessives, but it ties in super nicely with something that I want to talk about anyway. It all revolves around my favourite room in the game…
… the B4F Culture Room… aka, the ‘fingerprint’ room. The reason that this room is my favourite, and I suspect other RE2 fans must also enjoy it, is because it’s probably the most awkward room to reach in the game and yet Capcom went to town on a beautifully intricate pre-rendered background, especially considering it is entirely optional (and there are only a handful of rooms that are entirely optional for all scenarios, so you know they’re going to have good stuff in them if you’ve taken the time to check them out). Now, I have certainly mentioned the fingerprint room somewhere further down this page in previous runs, but this is the first time in this challenge that I’ve actually made it there The reason is that you can only access this room in the B-scenario and because it’s optional (and both other B-scenario runs I’ve been tight against the clock) I skipped it on the previous 2 runs in favour of making the sub 2:30 mark. To get into the B4F culture room you need to first register your character’s fingerprint in the A-scenario. This involves heading in to the B5F computer room, typically killing the giant moth, and then using the computer (register as ‘guest’). Then head to the B4F culture room door and verify the fingerprint. This is the first half of getting in to the room. In the subsequent B-scenario you need to then do exactly the same, but this time (because the first verification has already been done) the door can be opened and you’re privileged to go inside… and kill a few evolved lickers…
… so yeah, getting in involves making sure that you take a bit of a detour in both scenarios and represents one of the few really interactive moments between the A and B scanario where A actions influence the B playthrough… the other of course is what you decide to leave behind in the RPD armoury, but I’ll come back to that…
Once inside (as I was in this latest Claire B run through) you get treated to a lab full of experiments in tubes, very similar to that of the Tyrant in the the original game. Infact, the photo on film roll C appears to show the tyrant in an identical tube to that seen with some failed G-virus experiment (a more mutated film roll A?). So if you ever make it there, take some time… like I did last night, as it’s been a while… to walk around and appreciate the horiffic lab scene and background music that only plays in this room.
One other fun fact about this room is that in the N64 version it also features the body of a hunter (an enemy from the original game) which is the only time you’ll see a hunter in RE2…. I also really want to play the N64 version of the game…
… ok, so the reward for doing all of this is a sub-machinegun. It’s the 2nd place that the S.Machinegun can be found in the main game – the other being the armoury in the RPD basement (of course you can also unlock the infinite ammo version as a special weapon). It’s one of the best weapons in the game, each shot isn’t that powerful, but it can throw them out at such a pace that you can pretty much take out anything with it. It doesn’t have a specific ammo count, rather it just has a percentage ammo remaining in the clip, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Head around the corner in the room and you’ll find a broken tube (luckily no sign of its occupant) and the body of one of the Umbrella Special Service members with the S.Machinegun next to it; that’s your prize.
… except that’s not what I found this time! You see, normally I take the machinegun in the RPD armoury during the A scenario and leave the side-pack (a couple of extra inventory slots) for the B scenario character to pick up. This playthrough I’d left both items for the B-scenario player because I sort of felt like the B was trickier and I was storming through the A. So by the time I got here, Claire already had a S.Machinegun in her item box so instead I found…
… a fresh clip of ammo for the S.Machinegun! Ok, so I know that none of you are that impressed, but this is an item I never knew existed in the game. As far as I was concerned the machinegun always came loaded with 100% ammo that couldn’t be restocked, but in this runthrough, for the first time, I found ammo for it and reloaded it. The weird thing is, as far as I can tell, this item only exists in this location under this set of circumstances, meaning that you not only have to go through the hassle of unlocking the B4F culture lab door across 2 scenarios, you also have to leave the machinegun for the B scenario player in order to ever find it. The only other situation I could possibly imagine that it might also exist is playing as Ada Wong in extreme Battle mode and heading to pick up the the machine gun in the power room (as she already has the gun it might … I guess… also spawn a fresh clip)… and you know that I’m going to have to go and look for that now.
Ok ok ok, so I know to non RE2 addicts this isn’t exciting, but heck, if you’re still reading then you must be at least vaguely interested. I was so surprised that I checked out the OFFICIAL PRIMA STRATEGY GUIDE… yeah! remember those?? that sits on a shelf in my house to see if this ammo refill is listed and it’s not mentioned at all; not in the walkthrough, nor in the item listings
So yeah, I got pretty exciting finding out something really minor, but heck, that’s what having a favourite game is all about right?? Being irrationally excited by it no matter how many times you’ve played it or think you know it inside out. Each new crumb of discovery is an event.
Anyway, I did hit the A ranking which polishes off the 2nd Claire B scenario. Only another full Leon A/Claire B before I unlock the Tofu delight!!!
18th August 2019 – Leon A (Round 2)
With 4th Survivor completed, I’m back on the main event and dashing for that Tofu scenario unlock; this ‘just’ needs two more completions of the Leon A/Claire B scenario set… which I guess shouldn’t make the most stimulating of playing given that I’ve already completed it once in this challenge and countless times, but honestly I still enjoyed this playthrough.
I guess I’ve already rambled on about my thoughts on this scenario in general and I’ll admit that by this point I’m skipping all of the cutscenes because I know them almost word for word. Actually the GC version is really good for that, there are a few animations that grate on me… the worst is that bridge in the sewers moving positions… it just takes soooo long….
So instead of going on again how I got tagged in the autopsy room, or how the crows in the upstairs corridor managed to get a few pecks in this time. I thought I’d focus on a few things that I reflected on whilst playing.
First up; the opening. Resident Evil 2 has a pretty hard opening… actually kind of unfairly hard. The player is dropped immediately in to an area with a number of zombies to either try and shoot or run past, and for the total newbie to the game the would be without having had any time to even work out how to move or fire the gun. I guess what I’m trying to say is that RE2 shows its age in this respect; there’s no gentle tutorial section, nothing guided about it just car crash and off you go… good luck. Things don’t really calm down until you hit the police station and get the chance to grab some health. In that short dash through the streets there is the debacle in the gun shop, being forced to fight past the zombies blocking the entrance to the basketball court and in the final run for the police station gate a section of I still managed to get grabbed in even on this my Xth run through the game. The weird thing is that even though it’s kind of unfairly hard, it perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the game; keep moving, run, survive. From a plot point of view it kicks things off in a memorable way and hammers home the point that Leon and Claire really can’t head back out of those safe iron gates in to the street. From a gameplay point of view it’s likely to set the new player back, possibly more than once, but at this stage there is very little at stake – you can just restart, yet, it does immediately introduce you to basically all the things that you’re going to need to play the rest of the game; understanding the enemy movement, controlling your character, combat, and evasion. The difficulty is the right price to pay for the sense of panic. The only slightly weird thing is that from this point the game really doesn’t ramp up in difficulty; sure there are ‘different’ enemies introduced, but even at the end of the game the player is basically still doing that some thing; fighting through or running from zombies. Look at a game like Devil May Cry; by the end of the game the combat is pretty brutally difficult compared to the beginning; there is a slow and gradual ramping of the challenge, but here the focus is much more on the plot an exploration of the map… I’ve said it before, but in some ways these early Resident Evil game feel more like point-n-click adventures than action games… and I’m totally ok with that.
The other thing I mulled over whilst sprinting through those familiar halls was the ink ribbon save system.
For anyone who maybe didn’t pay this game when it was current, in order for the player to save they needed to be at one of the typewriters scattered around in game which acted as save point and have an ink-ribbon to use to save; so there are two things happening there: Save points and limited saves. If you’ve only been console gaming in the past few generations (or hey, maybe you’re a PC gamer) then the idea of save points might seem a little foreign, but it’s good to set the game in context. This title was released in the first generation when widespread saving in console games was a ‘thing’. Yes, there were some games that had battery backup saves in the 8 and 16 bit eras, but it wasn’t until the PS1 that memory cards became ubiquitous. even then they were severely limited in capacity; a standard PS1 memory card had 15 save slots and only 1Mb of storage… that gives 60 – 70 kb of data per save slot (some of which was used up in the little graphic that displayed in the memory manager). With such little storage available it wasn’t really feasible to take a memory snapshot of the game in progress; instead these games would save a whole load of variables and essentially reconstruct the game in play (ie. what you were carrying, what was stored in the item box, which enemies you’d killed etc.). Save locations were necessary to reduce the amount of storage saving took as the player location was now severely limited and it didn’t matter when you reloaded exactly which spot in that small room you were stood in. In RE2 there are only 14 typewriters, so only 14 possible locations you could be in when you save.
Limiting where and how often the player can save feels like a dated concept, but one of the things I realised when playing the remake was how much I enjoy this mechanic. The current trend of being able to save (or autosaving) every few paces diminishes the sense of danger with each excursion away from a typewrite. Likewise being limited by the number of ink ribbons forces the player to ‘push their luck’ or… (as I remember from my first run through the game) create a nightmare scenario where the player is forced to push on in order to find the next ink ribbon just so that they can switch off the game! I don’t want to sound too “things were better in my day” about it, but I do kind of miss that leap in to the known after saving and the corresponding sigh of relief when you entered a new room that contained a typewriter rather than more of the undead.
… anywho, I’ve digressed for way too long already. How did the run go? … well, pretty good! Whilst I’m not speed running, I’m certainly tweaking my route and routine each time I play to shorten the scenario time. Especially as I’m no longer sightseeing. There were no big upsets in this run and this time I will go and visit the fingerprint room in the Claire B scenario so I stopped in to do Leon’s registration.
So well under 2 hours makes this the fastest run yet!
16th August 2019 – 4th Survivor
After a few failed evenings of play, I finally completed the 4th Survivor scenario. It’s something that I have done before, but probably not for the best part of 20 years, so it felt pretty good to finally cross the finish line…. but let’s back up a minute and cover the basics for anyone who has bizarrely embarked upon reading this and doesn’t know what the 4th survivor is all about.
Unlocked upon completion of a B-scenario, the 4th Survivor is essentially an extra mode or minigame, but unlike Extreme Battle Mode it was included in the original PS1 release and is a canon addition to the Resident Evil World. I remember the first time I ever unlocked it – that red smeared “4” on the title screen fading in before the rest of the 4th Survivor title-card, that creepy music… it gave me chills…
The scenario opens in the small sewer area just past the chess-puzzle-door. Slowly a figure stands up from the murky water – it’s one of the umbrella squad sent to retrieve the G-Virus from William Birkin that had been apparently wiped out after he injected himself and went on a rampage. After a few seconds the masked figure radios to Umbrella headquarters stating that he has the G-Virus sample and is instructed to head for the rendezvous on the policed station roof. After the location is indicated on the map (the crashed helicopter rooftop) the player is given control and a quick look in the inventory will show that you are indeed carrying a G-virus sample and the character name is listed as ‘Hunk’ – a character that will return in later Resident Evil titles.
… one slight difference in the GC version compared to the original PS1 release is that there is an onscreen timer throughout the scenario allowing the player to see how long the run is taking. This determines the grade at the end of the scenario. Apparently this has been in every version since the Dual Shock release…
From here the goal is clear – get to that rooftop. Unlike EBM there is only one path and there are no superfluous unlocked doors. There are also no pickups so Hunks meagre starting rations (Pistol and about 10 clips, 20 shotgun blasts, 16 D-Eagle rounds, and two green + blue mixed herbs) are all the player has to make it up through the police station. Aside from the starting room, the downstairs main hall, and the library, each room is populated by a specific enemy type and unlike EBM the enemy type, numbers and positions are always the same. Essentially it’s running a gauntlet with the player gradually working out an appropriate tactic for each room. Some you can just dash through if you know a safe path between enemies and some it’s better to stop and do some shooting, but invariably it’s a bit of a struggle…
… and actually, now that I’ve experienced EBM I think I prefer its brand of gameplay to the 4th survivor, but let me qualify that a little…
There is a slight problem with the 4th survivor – mainly the zombies… and yes, I know that’s a eye-rolling statement considering it’s a Resident Evil game, but hear me out. All the enemies apart from the zombies appear much as you would expect them to and cause very little trouble: Dogs are in predictable groups of three as are lickers; spiders scurry around in pairs as do the Ivys, and good ol’ Mr X can be found pacing down the odd corridor. In short all these enemies are as the player might encounter them in the main game, and a competent player will know favourable ways to take them out or scurry past without too much bother. The zombies appear as the enemy in 8 of the 21 populated rooms on Hunk’s route and at least 4 of these cause big problems. I guarantee that if you’ve played this mode you will curse these rooms. Here the player is immediately surrounded by zombies as soon as the room fades in to view – something that rarely happens in the main game. Sure there are areas with big groups of zombies, but I can’t think of a single example where you are surrounded with several Z’s only a step away in multiple directions. To compound the problem, when a character is grabbed by a zombie the struggle animation takes a good few seconds to play out, during which time other zombies will be waiting right beside you to take their mouthful of flesh and there is literally no time to shoot/heal between the end of one struggle animation and being caught up in the next. To make matters worse when the player pushes zombies away after being grabbed they only shove in the direction of the zombie that grabbed then which means Z’s in other directions are still free to grab and bite. To summarise, in these rooms you’re not only likely to get grabbed, but if you do then there’s a good chance you’ll be bitten 2, 3, or 4 times before you can even think about fight or flight.
The waiting room is particularly unfair being almost shoulder to shoulder with Z and if you are not running forward immediately upon entering then it’s likely game over (very frustrating as it’s one of the last rooms Hunk has to battle through).
Now, this is part of the scenario – I guess the idea is that the player just needs to know the route and the rooms inside out and have chipped away to establish a strategy for each encounter… and that’s fine, I enjoy a challenge, but EBM was also a challenge. The difference is that in EBM the player always has a chance to assess to the situation… even when the enemies are brutally hard and numerous, there was never a time when I felt a room was a cheap trap.
Luckily it is possible to come up with strategies for these difficult rooms, and often the best idea is actually to fight for space rather then toward the exit. Fighting away from the door you need to go through generally leads to areas with no enemies allowing Hunk to fight back at the horde… sure, you’re not winning points of time, but this is survival horror and really I was just pleased to be making progress.
I guess with all that being said, the slightly odd thing about 4th Survivor is that the enemies that you are ‘supposed’ to be most nervous of turn out to be the easiest to deal with. Mr. X can just be barged past, the lickers go down with a few D-Eagle shots, and Ivy can be picked off using a pistol at range in most instances.
After charging down that final corridor, usually taking a clothesline to the face courtesy of that casual tyrant, Hunk emerges of the rooftop and sets off a flare before an Umbrella Helicopter picks him up and flies off in to the moonlit sky.
The player is left with one final parting message…
… and I guess that’s really the point of the 4th Survivor. Sure, it’s one final challenge for the committed player. One mad dash back through the police station. But it also serves as an epilogue to the main plot and it’s a pretty neat one at that. Throughout the entire game the player has seen Umbrella’s desire for the G-Virus; the failed recovery attempt, the lengths William Birkin went to in order to protect his work, the unstoppable Mr. X sent to recover the sample Sherry had, and finally the game puts the player in charge of making that final recovery – in the end playing the villain rather than the hero. enabling Umbrella to carry on their work. It’s like some tantalising post-credits scene … years before that was a common thing, and in that respect it works superbly.
Soooo.. how did I do? Well, not great. I did scrape through, but it wasn’t a neat run, and I took my time… but I did complete it so can tick 4th Survivor off on my list. Now all I need to do it unlock the Tofu survivor (still need a few more completions) and beat that one….
7th August 2019 – Leon B
With another spare evening I decided to undertake Leon B.. without saving. As with the first run of Claire B, in order to unlock the gattling gun the player needs to complete under 2:30 without saving which is certainly doable, but I don’t like not have the safety net of the odd save to go back to, so it always makes me a little nervous.
To add to this (as I said with Claire A), this is easily the main scenario that I’ve played the least, so it was interesting to see how the plot varied from the other Leon and B scenarios. Much of the stuff involving Ada is the same, however Ben (the journalist) is just straight up mauled by Birkin rather than being implanted with an embryo (as you face Birkin V1 in the B scenario rather than the lesser-G boss). Luckily (as planned) Claire left me both the sub-machinegun and the side pack which made the run much smoother, quicker, and ultimately flush with ammo; also since playing lvl3 of EBM none of the main game challenges seem quite as tough. Where things start to really deviate from the other scenarios is during the closing stages of course; I like Leon having to go back for Sherry and carrying her to the train (awaiting the antidote from Claire), but Ada’s demise from the showdown with the Tyrant in the Power room is quite nonsensical and cements my belief that this scenario ‘set’ is non-cannon compared to Leon A/Claire B. When you meet the Tyrant in the power room he comes after Leon and then Ada shoots him to distract at which point they scuffle, she’s thrown in to the control panel (which start the self-destruct), and he falls in to the vat of metal. Now, all this is … fine… but it’s pretty nonsensical. In Claire B (by comparison) the Tyrant is specifically after the G-virus sample in Sherry’s locket which she throws to Claire to draw the Tyrant away; this makes a lot of sense and explains why the Tyrant (Mr X… I tend to use the 2 names interchangeably… sorry) is there in the first place – he was sent by Umbrella to recover the sample from Sherry. In Leon B thre isn’t that motivation which leaves him as a bizarre unknown element without any plot resolution…
… which brings me on to a side rant about Mr X in the Resident Evil 2 remake. In the remake he turns up in both scenarios but without any announcement. In the original you see him dropped in by Umbrella in a pod making it clear that he’s been sent for some purpose. He’s also never really explained in the remake, he just keeps chasing the protagonists… for no apparent reason. This all raises the question “why is he there in the remake?” It’s not like Umbrella know that Leon and Claire are in town, and it’s not like they’re specifically fighting Umbrella, they’re just two people trying to escape the city, so why would Umbrella send in this monster to hunt them down? I guess the best explanation in that game would be that the Tyrant is there to clear up the mess (ironically) and just eliminate any survivors… he just gets fixated on Leon and Claire; this is supported somewhat as he also kills Ben in the jail cell. I guess this is ‘fine’ as an explanation, but looking back at the original games it’ not quite as satisfying. In Resident Evil 3, Nemesis (who fulfils a similar role), chants STARS, he has obviously been sent to eliminate the team who have information on Umbrella, this makes sense! In Resident Evil 2 Mr X doesn’t really pursue the protagonists… sure they run in to him a lot, and he tries to take them out when he sees them, but he doesn’t give chase when you leave a room generally and there are times when he just happens to be walking down a corridor towards you. At the end of Claire B you see that he’s trying to get the G-virus from Sherry and as she is essentially taking the same route out of the police station it makes sense that you’d keep running in to him as he is looking for her. It’s a much more satisfying explanation – once you (Claire) push him in to the molten metal he comes back for you as revenge in the final showdown…. Sigh, sorry, side rant over…
Leon B also sees Ada die slumped on the floor rather than the dramatic falling into the abyss moment from Leon A. Again it just feels like the less dramatic moment and the point where she throws the rocket launcher to Leon has much less impact as it happens only moment later (whereas in Leon A you see her fall and you have to wait until the end of Claire B to see her reappear in a shock twist). So overall I kind of agree with the conventional take that it is the weaker of the scenario sets.
Overall however the run went very smoothly. The final tyrant battle is always a little bot of a struggle, but I had heaps of health and ammo to give a solid buffer to make space and grab the rocket launcher. I fired off the last few rounds into the heaping pile of William Birkin and wrapped things up with the A rank & weapon unlocks in just over two hours.
So what’s next? Well that finishes off that Scenario set so I still need two full runs of LeonA/ClaireB to unlock Tofu. I also need to take on the 4th Survivor (it’s been a long time since I completed that, but I have done it before)
6th August 2019- Claire A
After the mayhem of EBM it was back to the standard game and a run through the Claire A scenario.
As with EBM, doing a Claire A/Leon B run isn’t necessary to unlock Tofu, but the point is to fully explore the game and in truth Claire A/Leon B is certainly the less completed of the scenario sets, so I was looking forward to reminding myself of the differences in thistake on the plot.
So, as with all the scenarios, Claire A as many of the same puzzle repeated, but in terms of plot mixes things up…. quite significantly. In this version of events Sherry gets implanted with a G-virus embryo by William Birkin and during the final stages of the game Claire must run around the lab creating a antidote to give to Sherry. In some ways this makes lots of sense, but I got the impression that Anette Birkin’s character suffers a little as she tends to swing wildly from concerned parent to paranoid obsessed scientist. I don’t know for sure, but I always kind of felt like this is the non-canon version of events… anywho, whatever. One of the big things that I felt playing this scenario was a reinforcement of my opinion that the remake really missed out on having a more intertwined plot between the two characters; the original (whilst not perfect) did this two scenario/character structure so much better whereas it felt like such a token effort in the remake with many strange and nonsensical moments.
The run itself went very smoothly, by this point I’m pretty much back in to the swing of the game and definitely doing what I can to keep runs short and sweet. With that in mind I did notice a few redundancies in my ‘standard’ route around the police station that I’ll try to keep in mind for future runs. Heck, I’m not trying to speed run, but challenging myself to this many completions certainly means I’m trying to be efficient and despite being a lesser known scenario the overall route is always pretty much the same. One thing that is apparent is that Claire (and specifically A) is a slower scenario. Most obviously there is more to do in the lab as you need to descend to Birkin’s lab to collect the key card, go back up to the vaccine synthesis lab to collect the base vaccine, and then go back to Birkin’s lab to actually create the antidote for Sherry. I remember the first time I ever played this something in one of the ingame documents says something about the vaccine being unstable so I walked the entire time I was carrying it…. that isn’t necessary… There’s also a second short section playing as Sherry in the sewers that I’d forgotten about and Claire can’t use the dust chute to get back down from the clocktower which means extra running around the police station. One of the bigger hitches in playing Claire is that she doesn’t have the lighter as a standard item; her lockpick is only used for opening a few drawers in the police station and a ‘Claire-specific’ locker in the evidence room to collect the explosive. By contrast the lighter is used in two puzzles that both characters need to do, and three optional points (the weapon locker flare gun, lamps in Leon’s warehouse, and burning the plants in the lab to climb through a vent). To add to this she also generally has fewer spare inventory slots due to the three different grenade launcher ammo types (yeah, you don’t have to carry all of them, but you know that whichever one you are carrying you’ll find a different type)
I was actually trying to keep the Leon B run in mind whilst playing – as with my last Claire B run, I want to complete in under 2 hours with no saves (and unlike Claire B I’m only planning on having one shot at that). I decided to leave Leon both the sub-machinegun and the sidepack to make his life easier… and even so I finished with a shedload of ammo (I never even touched the sparkshot!). The only slight stumbling point was the final boss against Birkin; it’s been a while since I took him on with Claire’s weapon set and I’d forgotten how awkward he can be when you can’t just mow him down with the modified D-Eagle. Even so it didn’t take too long and I actually finished in under two hours.
… and of course the Rocket Launcher unlock…
4th August 2019 – Extreme Battle Mode; Finishing up…
After another failed few attempts to get any further earlier in the weekend, I sat down last night with a slightly different mindset to pushing through level 3 of EBM with Ada. It’s pretty clear that this is the trickiest combination of the mode (as I mentioned in my last update) and I really hadn’t made that much progress on finding the bombs other than realising that there is one in the bunkroom and that the locations of the bombs don’t vary each time you load a game in progress.
With that in mind I decided to push forward throwing caution to the wind slightly and trying to just start either confirming or eliminating some of the possible bomb locations. At least this way I could begin to plan my route through the police station to be as lean as possible, even if I spent several live just checking each place. My first plan was to dash to the main police office (something I was getting pretty competent at without really spending ammo) and instead of heading upstairs to the waiting room safe zone, heading through to the blue corridor to make my way to the press-room. This is one of the locations and I worked out one of the closest to the basement entrance, although I’d been avoiding it because it’s not en route to anywhere. So I popped out the double-doors only to find ol’ Birkin himself charging up and down the hallway so I dashed out in to the main hall of the RPD… great… off script already…
Since I’d stumbled out this far I decided to push on and explore the other wing of the precinct so charged on in to the downstairs corridor and was rewarded with my second bomb in the briefing room. Re-energised I undertook some glorious licker dodging to make it up the stairs (via the darkroom) and was again rewarded with the third bomb in the STARS office. With three under my belt I was on fire and miraculously ran past all lickers in the vending machine corridor before heading up to the clocktower. Sadly my luck started to waver and I didn’t find one there which also ticked off the last possible location on this side of the station, forcing me to return to the other wing.
I decided to head around the balcony to the waiting room, but knew that two Mr X’s would be patrolling. Luckily I started to realise that really they’re not that bad; yes, they clout you as you run past, but their hit in’t nearly as powerful as the licker swipe in this level of EBM and they’re so slow that generally they’ll only get the chance to do that once so long as you’re passing through and on’t panic. Now I had a tricky choice to make with three locations remaining. I decided to check out the guard office near the B-scenario entrance to the station; it was one of the further away locations, but if the previous modes had taught me anything then there wasn’t too much to worry about and as I was dashing for the final bomb I wasn’t about to scrimp on shooting things. This time however I was ambushed again by Birkin at the bottom of the outside staircase and was forced back past him when the bomb wasn’t in that location.
By this time ammo was running thin so I was unlikely to be able to try both of the final locations. I punted for the cog room (the one I’d failed to make it to before). At least I know there were only three rooms with enemies (and the first had Birkin who I was just going to blunder past anyway). With barely any bullets left in the machine gun I found the final bomb in the cog room to complete the scenario with Ada… phew!
So this had all been great training – after all I have a load more completions of the main game (which shouldn’t be anywhere near as difficult as this), the 4th survivor… and of course Tofu!…so I really feel like my time with EBM has worked out the kinks I was having early on with the GC controller.
Feeling like I was on a bit of a roll I decided to do try out the final character on EBM, Chris Redfield, and (in accordance with my own rules!) having completed the mode on level 3 it didn’t matter what level I went for… so, I made it easy and went back to level 1 of EBM…
… and wow! what a difference that made after playing it on level 3… so many fewer enemies, sooooo much ammo, and the enemies barely hurt you at all!
So Chris is a pretty good hidden character, keep in mind that you have to be pretty committed to even unlock this (2 completions of EBM which in itself is a bonus mode) it’s quite cool to see one of the protagonists from the first game in RE2… that being said, he does look kind of odd… I feel like they upped the detail on his face, but it makes him look… weird… he’s also clad in a green top with the same emblem on the back as his sister which I think is unique to this game. As far as weapon set goes it’s also pretty cool, and a crazy step up from Ada! The 5 rocket launcher shots are impressive… but next to useless aside from being able to stop Mr X in his tracks it just clutters up two slots in the inventory. The upgraded shotgun however is very useful and essentially the go-to weapon for Chris able to down most enemies in one of two blasts (although watch out for that lengthy firing animation). His pistol is a very neat bonus to the set, the Beretta-M92FS is the special edition pistol that features in the Director’s Cut (Advanced Mode) version of the original game (so it’s a little obscure in itself). Having played the DC version recently I was excited to see Chris kitted out with it as the gun was a lifesaver in that version able to randomly headshot standard zombies from time to time. That feature is maintained here (along with occasional insta-kill of dogs), although I kind of feel like the odds have been wound back as it certainly didn’t feel like I was getting the popped head nearly as often as in RE:DC.
With a decent weapon set, and the relative ease of level 1, I breezed through this run making it a neat way to round off Extreme Battle Mode and a nice relax after the stress that Ada had caused!
So with Chris running in to the sunset that is Extreme Battle Mode Complete for my challenge and now I’m winding up to return to the main game for my next run. I think I’m going to hit up Claire A/Leon B next – sure, it’s not really on the path to Tofu, but I need to tick it off the list and whilst I can remember the vaccine synthesis ending to the Claire A scenario, I really don’t remember too much about the differences in Leon B…
29th July 2019 – More … Extreme Battle Mode
… but no cigar….
Sticking with the EBM theme I decided to push on; sure I’ve got a load more completions of the main game to undertake, but I feel like I’m finding my form with this mode now so why stop? Sadly this theory hit a small snag by which I mean ‘level 3’… but hang on, let me backtrack for a second.
Having made it through level 2 with Claire it was now my chance to try the first of the two ‘new’ characters, Ada Wong, and as I mentioned before my ‘goal’ for this mode is to complete each level at least once and have at least one completion with each character, so the idea was to take on a new character with each level (and I’ll need to go back and re-do a level with Chris because I’ve discovered that there are only 3 levels to EBM). Playing as Ada has ramped up the difficulty in her own right because even though I’m not a huge fan of Claire’s Grenade launcher, Ada’s loadout isn’t just a little awkward, it’s downright challenging. She’s equipped with the Colt S.A.A. (Originally the gun Claire finds in the costume locker) which is probably the best thing about the weapon set. Whilst it’s just a simple pistol it can unload all 6 shots at a blistering pace which means that a standard zombie can be floored even when it’s almost on top of her…. assuming that you keep the thing loaded of course. Next up we have the bowgun which lets rip with three bolts each pull of the trigger. The good news is that they do sort-of ‘home’ to a target (meaning that if there’s only one enemy on screen they will generally all hit, but for multiples they fan further and will make multiple strikes) unfortunately the fire rate is pretty slow and even with hefty pickups it chews through ammo. It’s not bad at clearing groups of zombies and for taking out the slower enemies (or dogs at a distance), but taking on more than a solitary licker seems to always end up with me being hit at least once. Finally Ada has the sub-machinegun … great right? Well… yes… and no… the machine gun is one of the best weapons in the game; each shot does relatively little damage, but the rapid fire means that you can generally halt most enemies and even spray side to side to keep groups at bay. The problem is that you start with 100% ammo and there are no ammo pickups for it, also it takes up two inventory slots which means that most of the time I’ve been too cautious to use it, but have been forced to on several occasions.
The upshot of all this is that there isn’t a ‘go-to’ solid weapon in the group. With Leon I’d keep the shotgun handy and switch it up to the D-eagle, or down to the pistol depending on what appeared in each room. Likewise with Claire the standard explosive rounds were generally a solid choice which could be switched up depending on the occasion. For Ada none of the three weapons feel like great choices. I’ve generally opted for trotting around with the bowgun equipped, but it’s underpowered and slow.
So how did all of this go down with level 3… not great… not great at all. Level 3 is a huge jump in difficulty compared to 2. First up you’re only given a single ink ribbon; that’s one save for the entire run. Secondly the enemies do a devastating amount of damage; three bites from a zombie, dead; two swipes from a licker; dead… it is seriously brutal. To add to this the ammo drops are fewer and further between… oh, and now William Birkin (G4) is merrily trotting around certain locations.
I guess this is the challenge that I’ve been looking for, but my progress was slow and despite putting in a few hours of play I still haven’t completed the run. I decided to use my solitary save upon hitting the final stage (ie. the police station).. honestly I don’t know if that was the right call or not as I’d have to find all of the bombs in without saving… but it seems better than getting sent back to the start after finding one or two. Getting out the lab was tricky enough, with a few fails right there. In the previous two runs I’d taken some minor detours to pick up ammo, but I found that they were becoming too costly in health so I basically dashed to the train elevator. Even with this tactic I still had to break out the machine gun once as I had no ammo in anything else and I needed to clear some of the enemies. Likewise the sewers caused me to fall a few times despite being a relatively short run. The T-junction (where Leon gets shot in the main game) is populated with lickers and a combination of awkward camera angles and two possible directions of attack finished me off more than once. Finally I made it to the warehouse safe rooms and restocked a little. I also decided to enact my original plan and enter via Leon’s route to the Police Station… again I’m not sure if this was the right move. On the plus side it’s a much shorter dash from the start of stage 3 to a safe room and I did some (pretty impressive) dodging to hop in to that storeroom and save. The downside is that it’s a real battle to get to the Police Station proper from here, and I can’t work out if the bomb locations are fixed for the run, or if they’re randomised each time I re-load the game (this would really help as I could start eliminating places and plan the route better). So far it seems as though they’re fixed as I haven’t yet found a bomb near the cells, but truthfully I don’t know. The aforementioned William Birkin is running around the Parking Garage and there are two tyrants in the main basement corridor…. which I really don’t have the firepower to take out (I basically empty my machinegun if I try).
So that’s where I’ve made it so far. The furthest I’ve managed in to the station is to the main police office (where a dog instantly killed me) having found only one bomb in the bunkroom.
… I’ll just keep chipping away at it!…
28th July 2019 – Extreme Battle Mode
It’s been a busy few weeks, but I finally got back to chipping away a little more of my Tofu extravaganza!
… actually, I did start this EBM run sometime last week but the heat in my lounge made the whole thing an uncomfortable effort and I found myself making silly mistakes so decided to shelve the run until I could actually think straight… I don’t do so well in the heat…
Last night’s effort was another Extreme Battle Mode run, this time featuring Claire Redfield taking on level 2 of the mode. As I mentioned in my last update, the criteria I’ve set myself for ‘completion’ of this mode is to tackle all the levels and having at least one completion (of any level) with each character. Obviously one of the draws for a RE2 geek such as myself is the ability to play as Ada Wong and Chris Redfield, but it’s also good practice for the vast amounts of scenario completion I’m taking on here so none of it is wasted experience… especially considering that I’m going to have to take on 4th survivor and the final hurdle of Tofu.
Out of the two main protagonists of the story, Claire is probably my favourite; I just always felt like there was a little more to her than Leon. Her ‘Big Sister’ relationship with Sherry felt like the more developed and believable compared to Leon’s brief romance with Ada Wong. However much I like her as a character though, I’m much less of a fan of her weapons set and in EBM all she has is the grenade launcher… this is both a blessing and a curse; It’s just fiddly to use. The standard explosive rounds fragment and fall which severely limit its range and tend to cut the standard zombies in half leaving an awkward torso dragging itself around the floor for you to step on later. Acid rounds and flame rounds improve things by flying in a straighter line, but in this combat heavy environment I found myself getting menu fatigue switching between the different ammo types.
For anyone expecting something dramatically different in level 2 then you’re going to be disappointed. The overall structure is the same with the same enemies generally populating the same rooms. Having had a few failed attempts I did start to work out where the randomisation comes in as it seems as though the enemy numbers can vary and even the type in certain rooms. There is also randomisation to where and how many supplies you are likely to find… and of course the bomb locations in the police station. Level 2 seems to up the enemy count and I had to deal with ol’ Mr. X way more often in this outing than in level 1.
The downside was that I discovered that the basement is a viable region for the bombs to appear in. After my level 1 run I developed a working theory that the bombs would only appear in the police station proper, but here I found a bomb near the cell where Ben meets his grisly end and one in the remote guardhouse near the B-scenario entrance to the police station. Armed with this knowledge I should be able to take a more educated run through the police station in the future, but I’m disappointed that I really can’t cut any regions out of the search; I guess intentionally they’ve put possible spawn points in literally all the far corners of the building.
… talking of order, I’m still trying to work out the best way in to the police station. The dash from the lab, through the factory and sewers is pretty linear although I’ve taken to jumping in to a few convenient side rooms to grab ammo if it spawns. At the end of the sewer section however you encounter the double-lift corridor, each with a safe room at the top. In both runs I’ve explored both of these because the respective warehouse rooms are typically thinly populated with zombies and rife with loot so it’s a great stopping point to restock. So far however I’ve taken Claire’s route back in to the precinct as it leads to Brian Irons’ Office and a more central location (also handily near the waiting room for a quick save before the bomb searching really begins). Now that I know the basement is a viable bomb spawn area however I’m considering mixing it up and heading in via Leon’s route which should let me search the entire basement before I step in to the main precinct corridors. The upside would be a slightly streamlined search route, the downside is that the best save location is the storeroom near the chess door which is pretty far out of the way if I have to reload and start again.
I did complete the run… injured and poisoned… but completed nonetheless!
From the time you can see that level 2 actually sped me up, but I think much of that was because I actually knew what to expect in terms of finding the bombs and honestly I threw caution to the wind a little more often which did backfire once or twice.
This run unlocked Chris Redfield an level 3 of EBM… looks like I’m going to be seeing a bit more or Mr. X!
10th July 2019 – Extreme Battle Mode
… and here’s me just calling it battle mode when I should have realised that the Capcom law of naming things wouldn’t allow it. It’s actually EXTREME Battle Mode… hyper, super: X edition Y… dash…
This was the first ‘new’ Resident Evil 2 experience I’ve had so far in the challenge. It’s basically a key reason that I wanted to play the GC version of RE2 rather than the PS1 release; so what is Extreme Battle Mode?
On starting the game the player gets to pick a character; ultimately there are four possibles, but initially the player only has Leon and Claire unlocked. Then we’re treated to a vague ‘plot’ that supposedly follows directly on from the end of the game – this is entirely non-nonsensical and certainly non-canon which raises the question, why bother with the screen of text trying to explain the story? Anywho, it turns out that there was a viral contamination in the train you were escaping on (you know, the one that you have already blown up) so you need to travel back to the Police Station to find 4 special bombs to put on the train to destroy the virus once and for all. The player then sets off from the lab, travelling back through the game locations to the Police Station. Nominally this process is split in to three stages roughly: Lab, Factory & sewers, Police Station, but there really only serve to give split times and work as points-of-no-return. I believe that the locations of the bombs in the police station are randomised (but I won’t be able to confirm until my next playthrough) and essentially the only scoring criteria is completion time. Once you’ve grabbed the final bomb and left that room (even if the other three bombs are safely stowed in your item box) the player gets to see a cutscene showing them being laid in the train and that final explosion before being told you are the single greatest person alive… or words to that effect.
This whole process actually turned out to be quite time consuming and not entirely what I was expecting. Each room (aside from safe-rooms) is populated with a specific enemy type, usually large in number, which makes it quite similar to playing the 4th survivor. The main difference is that although the player starts with a specific loadout depending on the character, there is health and ammo to be found around the map. There’s also not just one route through the map with most (if not all) doors unlocked and the player can explore, often rewarded for heading off-task with hefty ammo or health pickups. This is all very generous, an although I began the game being overly coy about shooting enemies, I eventually found myself just clearing rooms as a matter of routine and even finished with well over 100 handgun bullets. Not really knowing what I was doing, I ended up exploring almost all of the police station, including the basement that had two tyrants roaming it before finding the final bomb in the last unexplored room of the game (up in the clocktower) so I certainly got my money’s worth from the run through, although I’m not about to win any prizes for completion time. Based on the bomb locations from that run, I suspect that they always appear in the police station ‘proper’ rather than the subterranean area, but I could easily be mistaken.
I managed to complete the run using Leon without dying, which unlocked Ada Wong as a playable character and level 2 of the game. It’s a bit unclear how many levels there are, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just the two as there’s only one other character to unlock. I think for the sake of the challenge I’d like to do at least one lvl 2 run and a completion with each playable character before I’m happy that I’ve fully explored it.
Setting the bizarre plot to one side, it’s a pretty cool mode for people like me who love the game. It’s little more than a chance to blast more enemies without any of the pacing, puzzles, or plot of the main game. A final reward for full completion. It’s kind of like an extended 4th survivor experience, but without so much of the tension and more exploration. These two modes would essentially evolve in to the Mercenaries mode of the 3rd game which involved both limited resources and exploration to find survivors i that case.
9th July 2019 – Claire B
… oh no Sherry, don’t worry about the upper torso of Chief Irons lying next to the hatch we’re about to go down… – actual unused game dialogue… I assume
Having some quiet evenings this week, I was able to undertake the next run through of my challenge last night… and it was a stressful event.
I picked up the save from my last game to give Claire B a go and to add to the mayhem I decided to try and pick up not only an A rating, but the Gatling Gun special weapon. This is the hardest special weapon to pick up in the game; you need to have a sub 2:30 run (as with the other two special weapons) and you need to do it without saving.
… aiming for the A ranking doesn’t give you that many opportunities to save. In my last wrap-up I linked to the ‘scoring’ system used to calculate RE2 grades, but as a rule of thumb, for an A you want to save 2 – 3 times maximum; this still gives you a little wiggle room on time or possibly emergency first air spray use. Whilst I’m pretty confident at most of the game, I do like to save before the final encounter (especially for the B scenario as that tyrant moves quick and can drain health even quicker) and before the cargo elevator ride down in to the lab. All battles that take place on that elevator are tricky, the camera angles are awkward, and there’s not much room to escape Dr. Birkin. Failure really is a possibility at that point….
To add to the difficulty, I’m much less familiar with the B scenarios in general, especially at the point where the player has to abandon the cargo elevator early and starts messing around in the power room area. Luckily I’m much more familiar with Claire B than Leon B (I still have that fun to come) so the opening of the game went pretty well. I also managed to take out Brad Vickers… again and picked up the spacial weapon key to use Claire’s alternative costume and grab the Colt S.A.A. pistol from the locker. The colt uses the standard handgum ammo, but Claire quick-draws and fires from the hip able to unload all six shots incredibly quickly; I’d forgotten just how nice this weapon is to use.
As with the last run, the basement did cause some problems. I remembered to pick u the lighter and run to the cog room (unlocked by the club key) to face Mr. X as he bursts through the wall (twice… that scared the heck out of me the first time I played it, it’s just so unexpected!), but completely forgot to pick up the crank from the parking garage area. I rushed back downstairs, but wasn’t really prepared in terms of weapons or ammo for the dogs. This whole excursion was messy and cost a fair chunk of health and time.
… and a side note here; whilst I’m a big fan of Claire as a character, her weapon set really isn’t as useful as Leon’s. Whilst all of Leon’s normal weapons are hitscan, Claire has a very projectile focused array with the bow gun and the grenade launcher. The former is tricky to use effectively at range because of the three bolt spread (although you can get lucky and hit multiple targets), and the latter varies depending on the ammo you load; acid seemingly the best and explosive rounds fragmenting and having limited range. Even the sparkshot feels under-powered considering it’s a two-slot weapon…
After that things got back on track and I breezed through the sewers. Looking back on the first times I ever played this game, I would spend ages in the sewers, and I can’t work out why. The biggest stalling point is forgetting to leave inventory slots for the two medals, but other than that it’s pretty straightforward. By this point in the run I was feeling the pinch of time and I skipped using the flare to get the weapon locker key as I didn’t have the lighter with me, instead I pushed on to the factory and despite being tense, the Birkin elevator battle went pretty well.
Once in the lab things started getting awkward. I did manage not to mess up that tedious crate pushing exercise near the power room and flicked on the powder to activate the elevator. I picked up the fuse, but forgot to actually use it when I passed back by the ‘hub’ which meant I had to backtrack in order to activate power to the area. With the lab swipe card in hand at this point I decided to pop in to the vaccine synthesis lab as I couldn’t remember if it had critical items in this scenario or not… it did not, but it did have two poison Ivy’s which … well, poisoned me so I had to go back to the breakroom to grab a blue herb. Urgh! such a waste of time!
Once down the ladder I made better progress and even did the 2nd fingerprint registration, but got poisoned AGAIN on my way back up and had to go straight to the breakroom to pick up the only other blue herb I’d stashed there. Now I had a minor conundrum; I didn’t have to go back in to the lab, but I wanted to check out the fingerprint room. Ultimately I skipped it, knowing how tight time was getting, but pretty annoyed that I’d done all the work in the two-scenarios but wouldn’t get to my favourite room in the game… oh well, lots more chances!
Heart racing I took on the Tyrant for the final time; it’s a battle you can never take for granted. He’s powerful, moves quick, and can do some major damage. Luckily it only took two acid rounds before Ada appeared and, after struggling to pick it up, I grabbed the rocket launcher to finish the job. After that the final Birkin battle is little more than pulling the trigger and then the credits! So…..
9 minutes to spare, but I made it. Final two special weapons for that scenario set unlocked along with the next A raking and unlocks of 4th survivor and Battle Mode!
8th July 2019 – Leon A
The monsters have overtaken the city. Somehow I’m still alive… no, wait, that’s the wrong date, and the wrong game!
Kicked off the challenge last night as my brand new filthy (thanks Cex) GameCube controller arrived and I finally had all the pieces in place to make a start. It took about an hour to get a cable combination that let me stream from the Wii and after all of that I just wanted to sit down and play so forewent the extra hassle of setting up a mic and checking that sound levels were all good.
I decided to start with Leon A; after all, I have to complete that scenario set three times in total and it is undoubtedly the scenario that myself and many fellow RE2 players know the best. I decided to up the ante even further and pick up the special key from Brad Vickers on my way to the police station to complete the ‘alternative costumes’ goal of the challenge for Leon. Unfortunately that took a nosedive and an early ‘You Died!’ screen when Brad made light work of my inept knife handling skills – luckily there weren’t too many people on stream to witness it. Aside from my ineptitude and rustiness, the big problem I was struggling with was one that I’d not even considered; the GameCube controller. Now, I’m a big fan of the GC joypad, but playing RE2 with an analogue stick and not a d-pad is an entirely new experience. I’m used to a very mechanical and digital style of movement that you tend to develop being restricted to the 8-possible directions of the original PS1 controller and I kept finding myself not running in a straight line as I couldn’t quite gauge exactly where ‘up’ is. Luckily things did pick up and, despite not being smooth, I took out Brad and got the key which gave me access to the alternative costumes once I reached the darkroom. I’d completely forgotten than in Leon’s ‘cap & vest’ combo he holds the pistol sideways… which is actually pretty cool… and I switched it up to the leather jacket part-way through the police station to grab my first win of the challenge.
Of course I’m aiming for straight A-ranks with the added kicker of the weapon unlocks, so I was pushing pretty hard for a sub 2:30 completion. I’ve done it before, but that was about twenty years ago.
…for anyone interested, the ranking system, and even the exact criteria for unlocking Tofu, are delightfully vague and appear different in different FAQ’s on the subject. I’ve seen lots of variations, but the most complete ranking guide (which is the one I used to use as a teen) is the scoring system which can be found over at IGN. The sole inaccuracy there is that it’s only using the SPECIAL weapons that drop your rank (ie. the infinite versions gained from completing the game with certain conditions) normal ‘2-slot’ weapons found ingame (machine gun, flamethrower, spark shot) can be used without penalty…
The combination of the new controller, pushing for a good time, and the significant ammo loss that I’d felt by not picking up any on my way in to to the Police Station (necessary to find the Special Key) meant that I was actually struggling early on more than I would have wanted to and performed a number of ugly pushes past enemies rather than engaging. Things got really sketchy when I got to the basement with the encounter in the autopsy room leaving me on ‘Danger’ for the only time in the run. Luckily my ranking plan had allowed for a little extra wiggle room; I was originally only going to save twice (before the cargo elevator and before the final boss), but I added in an extra save before the pre-sewer-boss as I didn’t want to throw it all away.
The sewers however marked a turning point and I found myself more comfortably flush with ammo and health for the remainder of the game. The final half breezed by and I even registered my fingerprint so that I can check out the fingerprint room in Clare B (It’s like my favourite room in the game!). Final Marks:
I guess the only thing to wrap up now are some initial thoughts on the GC version. Weirdly one of the first differences I noticed was that the voice-over on the opening screen that says “Resident Evil 2” is different… no idea why… maybe the original wasn’t gravely enough. In general the polygon models felt a little smoother in rendering and animation; not sure if they’re actually more detailed or if the hardware is just better at rendering without all the scratchy edges. The thumb-stick definitely allows for more subtlety in control and the rumble function is a nice touch; I particularly liked the gentle vibrations from the spider’s footsteps. Of course these would have been present in the Dual-shock version, but that wasn’t released in the UK. I’m also not sure, but I think Ink Ribbon quantities have been wound back, but I wasn’t picking them up generally so maybe I’m mis-remembering the original amounts.