Review: THE GHOST SURVIVORS - RESIDENT EVIL 2 DLC
As you may have heard, Resident Evil 2 remake was released on January 25th to resounding love from both critics and consumers alike, as well as being deemed a commercial success, shipping 3 million units in its 1st week of release. Hell, it’s even currently the best reviewed game of 2019, topping the likes of the greatly anticipated sequel in the celebrated Square Enix/Disney RPG series, Kingdom Hearts 3 (RE2 has a 92 on OpenCritic vs. KH3’s score of 85). Capcom clearly showed that they are back with a vengeance, as both Leon and Claire’s campaigns felt like great callbacks for the nostalgic fans, but also bringing fresh takes and mechanics to the formula to make it feel new and improved. I would have been completely satisfied with the base package of Resident Evil 2, if that was all that Capcom was going to release, eschewing the need to release any post-release DLC (downloadable content). However, they decided to not only drop some DLC on February 15th, titled The Ghost Survivors, but they drop it on consumers for the low, low price of FREE! I played all of the scenarios, and I am happy to report that this, while it may be too much for some players to handle in terms of difficulty, is an amazing piece of free add-on content to an already great game and solidifies Capcom as the current people’s champ.
Rather than releasing a canonical, story-based add-on piece of gaming content, Capcom’s first (and possibly only) DLC ended being a few more variations on the 4th Survivor mode from the base game. That mode, starring fan favorite Hunk, involved battling a multitude of zombies and other insane creatures, either within a certain time limit/location or a quick jaunt from Point A to Point B. The Ghost Survivors, while retaining that spirit, decided to make these quick scenarios have a tad more story purpose. This DLC has the player venture through three “what if?” scenarios involving three characters that we come across in one form or another during our mainline Resident Evil 2 playthrough. The characters are Robert Kendo, the gun shop owner who we interact with during one sequence in Leon’s playthrough, Katherine Warren, the daughter of Raccoon City’s mayor, who we meet as a deceased victim of the crazed Chief Irons, and Ghost, an Umbrella Corporation soldier who reminds players instantly of fan favorite Hunk. Each character’s section has them needing to escape Raccoon City, which involves moving briskly from a starting point to a defined ending location, whether to catch a rescue helicopter, ride a cable car out of the city, or rescue a boyfriend locked up in the RPD cells. You are given some ammo, weapons and healing items to start, but can only acquire new items via vending machines (where you can pick one of three items only – be very mindful of what you choose) or backpacks that are strapped to zombie’s backs (in Katherine’s case, the backpack contents are necessary to proceed…).
Each of the three gameplay sequences are ranked in difficulty, ranging from two stars (Katherine’s segment called Runaway) to four stars (Ghost’s segment called The Forgotten Soldier). Robert Kendo’s part, No Time to Mourn, is three stars. Despite the appearance that some are easier to complete than others, let me tell you, they are ALL extremely difficult and test your combat and evading skills to the max. That doesn’t mean these are insurmountable, but they will require repeat playthroughs to learn the layout of all the zombies and monsters in each story, to remember where to run, when to conserve ammo and when to waste something, etc. Each of the three stories can take anywhere between 8-20 minutes, depending if you are trying to learn the layout or have mastered the playthrough and are trying to complete it as quickly as possible. So far, I have been able to complete Katherine’s Runaway segment (which took about five attempts) in around 9 minutes and Kendo’s No Time to Mourn section (which ended up at around a dozen or so attempts) at around the 11 minute mark. I attempted Ghost’s campaign The Forgotten Soldier twice over the weekend and three times last night, and I keep getting hammered in one zombie infested (plus one plant monster) section, however I will be making this my mission over the weekend to complete. It is clearly the most difficult due to tight corridors and litany of zombies, including one big baddie from the main game making a cameo. A rad addition to these sequences is that each story has an exclusive new zombie type associated with it, and in-game memos when you start each playthrough specify what they are and how to take them down. Runaway has regenerating white skinned zombies which have a heavy Guillermo Del Toro vibe, No Time to Mourn has zombies that emit purple poisonous gas, which can infect you either by bite or when they are killed and explode, and The Forgotten Soldier has zombies that have varying degrees of body armor attached to their body, making them harder to take down in the quick succession you need to persevere. Each of these new zombie types is a welcome addition and adds an extra layer of difficulty and memorization to survive the ordeal and escape this cursed town. As a bonus after beating each scenario, you unlock a variety of absurd and heavy fan service headgear that can be worn on subsequent playthroughs, and some of them are truly amazing for any RE fan.
The Ghost Survivors is the best kind of DLC. First off, it’s free of charge, so there is no harm or foul if it ends up being something that’s not exactly your cup of tea after a few minutes of gameplay. Second, it expands upon the main game by introducing new enemy types and gameplay modes that allow you to get better at certain aspects of the core experience (gunplay, evading) that can be carried over into the main game. For me, Ghost Survivors is a welcome addition to the overall release of RE2, providing what could be hours of gameplay (if you attempt multiple playthroughs to beat older completion times, find the hidden raccoon statues, etc.) and is a true test of your RE2 mettle. Any Resident Evil fan owes it to themselves to try this out, and hardcore shooter fans will appreciate the challenge that these situations present. Continue the fight and survive the night!