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Resident Evil 2’s new trailer tackles the remake’s big monster problem

How do you make monsters from 1998 scary in 2018?

Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 as editor-at-large and is now editor-in-chief. He also created and occasionally teaches NYU’s Introduction to Games Journalism course.

The latest trailer for Resident Evil 2 shows how the creators are solving one of the remake’s more unusual challenges. How do you create a giant alligator or an evil plant or any silly monster from 1998 in a way that’s both realistic and scary in 2018?

The video focuses on one of the original’s goofiest ghouls: the mutated Dr. William Birkin. Once a gentle virologist and father, Birkin transforms into a hulking bodybuilder with a giant eyeball embedded into his shoulder. Wearing cut-off jeans and a carrying a giant steal spike, his original character design lives in the intersection of Soulcalibur’s Nightmare and the dude from Splatterhouse.

The remake threads the needle with a revised look that’s loyal to the original, but considerably more Cronenbergian. The design keeps the general silhouette (the eyeball, the steel pipe) but does away with the awful fashion choices (the bleach-tipped hair, the humongous belt buckle). Birkin’s torso is no longer buff; it’s a normal human frame overcome by a hideous, inhuman growth.

The Resident Evil 2 remake is scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on January 25, 2019.

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