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 (x1, ‘A’ Rank), Claire B (x1, ‘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 Battle Mode
- lvl1 complete (Leon)
- Complete Tofu Scenario
I’ll be adding notes to the list above as I compete 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!
10th July – 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.