I know Resident Evil 2 Remake is old news by now. It’s a game that was released at the start of the year and we’re already in July. A whole 6 months have passed and so many games have been released since then. But I can’t stop playing Resident Evil 2 Remake once in a while. It’s like a palette cleanser for me now and I try to beat my time with each run. I would play a game like the new Samurai Shodown, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy and Sekiro. But I would still take a break from playing them to just go through a quick 3-4 hour Resident Evil 2 Remake sabbatical.
Anyway, after numerous playthroughs of the game, I noticed something weird about my playing habits. I will still gather all of the items strewn across the levels, even though I know all that backtracking will hurt my overall time (which is definitely why I haven’t been awarded an S+ Rank on Hardcore difficulty). I have made it a habit of killing off all of the zombies I run across because I just love roaming freely without the fear of some undead guy or gal trying to bite me unexpectedly.
But the strangest thing I noticed about my playthroughs is that I enjoy playing as Claire Redfield more than Leon Kennedy. Come to think of it, I play using Claire Redfield more often as well, in both 1st and 2nd runs. In retrospect, it’s not surprising why I don’t play as Leon Kennedy as often. Claire Redfield’s campaigns are just way better overall, whether it be on the 1st and 2nd runs.
First off, Claire’s scenarios are just easier to complete. I’m not against games trying to challenge a player but there has to be a balance between punishing and easy and Claire’s campaigns strikes a delightful balance between the two. It’s not too difficult nor is it too easy and Resident Evil 2 Remake does this by the slight deviations between hers and Leon’s gameplay specific moments.
For one, Claire’s maps or, more specifically, the way they’re laid out has less backtracking and dead ends. For example, in order for Leon to get the jack handle in the Records room, he has to go through a hallway that has a licker and, if he didn’t board up some windows or clear them out earlier, a pack of zombies. Couple that with Mr. X popping up once you get the jack handle, you have one stressful situation. For Claire, it’s much simpler as you only have to go through the hallway of the West Office, into the room with the detonator and use the Heart key to unlock the Records room. Of course, by that time, there are two lickers in that hallway but they’re easier to avoid slink into the Safety Deposit room for a breather to reset the situation.
Claire’s arsenal is also much more formidable than Leon’s because of one specific weapon: the grenade launcher. While Leon does get access to the shotgun, which can decimate a zombie’s head with one well aimed shot, the grenade launcher is more of a jack of all trades. You can take out a licker with one flame round if you’re close enough. You can cripple zombies by shooting acid rounds at their legs. It’ll take a while but it does work. Oh, and it makes the 3rd boss fight against William Birkin a cakewalk as acid rounds stun him with each hit!
But the biggest reason why Claire Redfield’s campaigns are much better than Leon’s is her story. While Leon’s story does have some political intrigue, Claire’s has much more heart to it and, because of it, the characters feel more developed and actually have some growth.
I’m not trying to badmouth Leon’s story but the characters in his campaigns do feel rather flat and one note. With the exception of possibly Ada Wong, you never get a clear idea of their motivations. What is Annette Birkin actually doing? Is she trying to stop William Birkin? Is she making sure that no one will get their hands on the G-Virus? She just comes off as some scientist who wants to keep her husband’s work safe, then, all of a sudden rushes in and blasts William Birkin with a couple of acid rounds? Her motivations are never made clear. Now, I get that with Ada Wong, as she’s trying to be all secret agent and manipulate Leon with her feminine wiles. I say she’s the best character in Leon’s story. Too bad Leon sucks!
I can’t say I hate Leon Kennedy but I certainly didn’t like him all that much in Resident Evil 2 Remake. He’s bland and boring and, well, corny. That quip about him hoping to not write up a report after destroying the clock tower is so cringy!
Contrast this with Claire’s campaign. Annette Birkin is given more to do as she’s torn between trying to stop the outbreak from spreading, finding a way to defeat the mutated William Birkin and saving her daughter, Sherry Birkin. Speaking of her daughter, Sherry is very well written here. I normally don’t care about “kid” characters in movies, television shows and video games as they’re usually written like complete morons who are so innocent that they have no idea what’s happening around them. Here, Sherry does understand the danger she’s in and actually does take steps to save herself from the clutches of Chief Irons.
Oh, I gotta talk about Chief Irons as well, because Capcom made him extra creepy here! And it works! All the taxidermy stuff in his office is off putting, not to mention that rather disgusting note he left in his office about his escalating obsession with the hobby. Is it me or was that “pig” he was writing about… not a pig? By the end, I was glad to see him die a gross death. It felt satisfying as he was just getting his just desserts.
But the best character in Claire’s story is Claire Redfield herself! She’s witty and almost flirty with Leon. She can also crack a joke or two with perfect timing. She also comes off as very caring as she takes care of the lost Sherry almost immediately. Not only that, she comes off as really tough. She’s not just a girl who can handle herself like she states when she meets Marvin Branagh. Claire becomes brave and pretty inspiring as she’s willing to take on William Birkin’s 3rd form without hesitation. Then again, the grenade launcher does make it easy.
While I won’t say I didn’t enjoy Leon Kennedy’s campaign, I do have to state that Claire Redfield’s is way better. It does a good tightrope act between too hard and too easy and the story is much more satisfying.
Oh, that doesn’t mean I’ll forego playing a Leon in Resident Evil 2 Remake. It just means I’ll probably S+ Rank with Claire Redfield on Hardcore mode much quicker.
Who do you think has a better campaign in Resident Evil 2 Remake? Leon or Claire? Let me know in the comments section below!