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BIOHAZARD 2 (PS3/PSP)
BIOHAZARD 2 Digital Download from the PlayStation Store

While western gamers have yet to receive Resident Evil: Director's Cut for the PlayStation Network, in December Japanese owners received a second helping of portable PSone Biohazard over a year following the debut of the original. Capcom and Sony have brought the original Biohazard 2 over to the PSN, so for a quick download at a low price of 600 Yen (cheaper than how much used game stores in Japan sell Biohazard 2 for as of 2008), gamers can enjoy Biohazard 2 from their PlayStation 3 systems or on the go with the PSP via system connectivity.

Believe it or not, as of January 2008, we're a mere month shy of the 10th anniversary of Biohazard 2's original launch on the PSone. In the last ten years, we've received plenty of Biohazard games of differing kinds. Directed by Hideki Kamiya, Biohazard 2 tends to hold a special place for many fans, and with good reason. With a memorable cast, atmospheric settings, a (relatively) simple plot, and solid, innovative gameplay systems, Biohazard 2 was the last we'd see of the series' simplicity during its onset. Future Biohazard games, perhaps with the exception of the GameCube remake, would never be this straightforward again. And so, most fans tend to like the first two games the best, although more recently Biohazard 4 has been considered the series' best by fans and outsiders alike.

The core gameplay of the original Biohazard, which is the killing and avoiding of zombies while solving bizarre puzzles in an effort to look for an escape route, was kept for the sequel, but Capcom improved on the aiming, animation and pace. The control style is the same as the original, so if you dislike the tank-controls, you will not like them for this release. Everything is smoother on the gameplay perspective, from the navigation of menus to the assault on the zombies and other monsters. The original, which took place in a giant mansion, had many moments of nothing but moving around between rooms, but Biohazard 2 tends to have less of that and more frequent tasks. A few monsters from the original return, while Biohazard 2 introduces a few new iconic enemies, such as the Licker. Biohazard 2's boss design do not derive from animals like the original; they are more akin to difficult-to-describe mutated freaks of nature.

The original Biohazard featured two different scenarios, and Biohazard 2 takes that system and expands it further. While the original would have one character complete the entire adventure (the other would play a minor role only), Leon and Claire each play equal roles, hence the dedication of a disc to each character (although the PSN version is a single download). From the start, there are two routes (route A and route B) to the end of the game, and two characters. Whoever you play as first will be given route A, and after you finish that route, you'll be plunged into the opposite character with route B. You'll view the whole storyline from two viewpoints. However, with two characters and two routes, we get four possible ways to play the game (Leon A, Claire B, Claire A, Leon B). The two routes are about 80% identical in between characters, but they're still not exactly the same, so the game's content is meaty. There are two sub-games to be unlocked after fulfilling achievements in the main scenarios.

The plot has become a bit more complicated, although things are still relatively simple for Biohazard 2. Leon and Claire, for their own reasons, have arrived in Raccoon City, which is now infested with zombies. They meet up, and part ways shortly after, as they explore the Raccoon City Police Department for clues to the incident as well as a way out of town. They meet a slew of characters with their own secrets and agendas. Not everyone is an ally.

The pre-rendered visuals are from the middle of the 32-bit generation. They're games environments and character models looked solid in 1998, but a decade later, they're pretty archaic. On the PS3, especially on an HDTV, they obviously do not look like anything remarkable. They are more acceptable on the PSP screen, but still not up to par with average looking PSP games. The audio composition is still very good, consistent with the series in general, although the audio quality doesn't benefit from larger disc capacities and better composition technology introduced in the last ten years.

The emulation quality is on the PS3 and PSN is perfect. No glitches were noticed throughout gameplay. Everything runs at 100% on standard settings (Normal disc speed for example), modifiable from the menu. You can switch discs by using the Quit Game function. There's nothing to complain about regarding how Biohazard 2 runs on the PS3 and PSP that is a result of poor emulation. All the flaws of the game are resultant from the game's design itself.

Because Capcom did not opt to create a DS version of Biohazard 2, the PSN edition is the only version of Biohazard 2 officially portable (ignoring that unremarkable Game.com version). So unlike the first game, this one has no alternative and thus no handheld standard to match. Still, it should be noted that this isn't the Dual Shock Version of Biohazard 2, which contained extra gameplay modes and an extra minigame aside from Dual Shock support. Since the PSP has no rumble functionality and only one analog nub, Capcom and Sony opted for the basic version of Biohazard 2. Ironically, the Dual Shock modes filled with powerful weapons from the onset would have been a good match for the on-the-go nature of the PSP, so it's too bad it wasn't the version released for the PSN. Also, given the handheld nature of the PSP, skippable cutscenes and door sequences introduced in the GameCube port of Biohazard 2 and Biohazard Deadly Silence for the DS would have been nice, but since this is an emulation, it just is not going to be done. No N64, Dreamcast or PC extras were included with this release, either.

Overall, for less than $6 USD, you really cannot go wrong with downloading the game and playing Biohazard 2 on the go. The game is considered by fans to be the height of the series pre-Biohazard 4, and there's enough content to justify the already low price. You won't get a better deal for the PSone original, in Japan or elsewhere.
 

 



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