The residents of Raccoon City were an unfortunate bunch. When your neighbours like to make zombies in secret labs, it’s only a matter of time before something bad happens. This time the zombies aren’t content with wondering around a mansion and instead have decided to come munch on the entire population of the city. As either rookie cop Leon or tough girl Claire, you will need to battle zombies and solve puzzles in order to stay alive and escape the city before it’s too late.
While the game can run directly from either of the CDs, we recommend that you install it for best performance. Unfortunately, the configuration and installation utility that comes with the game is somewhat buggy and will fail to install on more modern versions of Windows. As a workaround for this problem, we’ve created a replacement installer that will install the whole game to your hard drive and also install the 1.4 patch. You can download the installer here (link broken? Let me know here). Note that this is NOT a copy of the game, you still require your original CDs in order to install the game. We do NOT provide links to copyright software and such things are not allowed in the comments either.
The 1.4 patch for the game adds a new graphics driver to the driver selection screen and automatically unlocks the extreme battle mode together with Ada and Chris as playable characters. You can download it here. If you installed the game with our replacement installer you do not need this patch as it is already installed.
Running the game
When you have the 1.4 patch installed, you should use only the “calire.bat” and “Leon.bat” files to launch the game. Only use the games launcher (the menu that appears when you insert the CD or run “Configure Resident Evil 2” from the Start menu/screen) to make configuration changes. If you installed using our installer, you can click either “Play Resident Evil 2 (Leon)” or “Play Resident Evil 2 (Claire)” to start the game. You should however, run the configuration tool at least once before you try to start either Leon or Claire’s game.
The very first time you run the games launcher, it will offer to install Intel Indeo and Directx. The versions included on the CD are of course, completely obsolete so you should skip this step.
Resident Evil 2 is an extremely problematic game and may have issues even when running on a Windows XP machine. We’ve tried to collect every suggested workaround from the various websites into this guide, but even with all the suggested workarounds we still had issues when it came to saving and loading games.
Compatibility modes – Most guides recommend setting the compatibility mode for the games executables to Windows 95 and allowing the game to run as administrator. To do this correctly, install the game using our installer, then open the games installation directory (C:\Games\ResidentEvil2 by default). Find the files “ClaireU.exe”, “LeonU.exe” and “ResidentEvil2.exe” and change them all to run in compatibility mode for Windows 95 and to run as administrator. It’s particularly important to run the “ResidentEvil2.exe” file as an administrator otherwise it won’t be able to save its settings to the registry.
Choosing a Graphics Card and setting visual quality – From the games launcher/configuration file, click on the second option from the top. A menu like the one shown below will then appear:-
At the top of the window under “Device Setup” you can choose from a bunch of old graphics cards. Since its unlikely any modern PC will actually be still using these cards, you may need to try each one before you find one that works well with your setup. Usually the “Voodoo Rush” and “Voodoo Banshee” options work best on modern PCs.
At the bottom of the screen you can see an option for “Screen Resolution”. Resident Evil 2 supports two screen modes, 320×240 and 640×480. You might logically assume that you should run the game in 640×480 mode, but if you do this on many machines, the game will run in a tiny window rather than full screen. Choose 320×240 16 bit colour FullScreen for best results. Always run the game in full screen mode to avoid bugs and glitches.
Under the “Features” tab you can set various quality settings. Generally you can turn on all the options here and run the game in the highest quality settings. The games configuration tool gives you the option to skip movies, but we recommend that you do not as this can cause glitches at certain parts of the game. Movies can easily be skipped by pressing the space bar or the action button/key anyway.
Finally, if you are lucky to have two graphics cards in your PC, make sure SLI or Crossfire is disabled for Resident Evil 2.
Game speed issues – If the game runs at the wrong speed, one workaround that has been suggested on other sites is to load Windows Media Player and simply set it to loop any video file. You can then mute media player and leave it playing in the background. We didn’t need to do this on our Windows 8 machine however.
Save/load issues – To save in Resident Evil 2 you need to find a typewriter and have an ink ribbon in your inventory. The first typewriter is in the lobby of the police station, you will need to play for about 10 minutes before you encounter it. We recommend testing that saving and loading is working at your earliest opportunity. The games save/load system is very unreliable. If you installed the game using our replacement installer, your save game directory will be set to C:\RESIDENTEVIL2
If you find you cannot save or load games, try the following:-
Change the save game directory to the root of your C: drive instead.
Format a USB storage device of 4gb or less as a FAT32 volume, then change your save game directory to use this device instead.
If you cannot change the save game directory through the games launcher, you can do so by manually editing the registry. Run the registry editor tool (regedit) as an administrator and browse to the following key:-
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\CAPCOM\RESIDENT EVIL2 (if you have a 32 bit version of Windows).
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\CAPCOM\RESIDENT EVIL2 (if you have a 64 bit version of Windows).
Under this key there is a string called “Save Path”. Change this to your desired location. Remember, it must have a trailing ‘\’, for instance “C:\RESIDENTEVIL2\” is correct where “C:\RESIDENTEVIL2” will cause the game to crash. If you need help using the registry editor, see this tutorial.
Despite trying all the above workarounds, we were not able to get save games working correctly on our Windows 8 machine.
The clumsy controls of the old Resident Evil games certainly help to increase the tension at points, but not necessarily in the right way! While the game does have some support for controllers, it’s far easier to simply use Xpadder to configure your gamepad. Below is a picture of the Xpadder profile we created to use with the Xbox 360 controller.
The controls are based on the Playstation 1 original. You can use the analogue stick or the D-pad to move your character. The back button (Control) sets options. The right analogue trigger (X) draws your current weapon. The A button (C) will fire your weapon or perform an action. The X button (V) will make your character run (use this a lot). The B button (Z) will open the inventory window while the Y button (A) will open a map, where available.
Remember that if you run Resident Evil 2 as an administrator, you will also need to run Xpadder as administrator too, otherwise your gamepad mappings simply won’t work.
Biohazard 2 Sourcenext and other ways to play
Playing Resident Evil 2 on the PC can be quite a frustrating experience. We must have made the initial trip to the police station with Leon about a dozen times when trying the various workarounds for the save/load bug. If you can’t get the game running, there are several other options:-
The original Playstation 1 version – If you don’t have a console handy, you can run this version on the various Playstation emulators
Ports to other consoles – The game was also ported to the Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and Gamecube consoles. Again, emulators exist for these platforms too if you don’t have the required hardware.
Biohazard 2 Sourcenext – There was an enhanced PC port of the game released in Japan under the name Biohazard 2 (Sourcenext Selection). This version fixes many of the bugs and includes graphical enhancements and better support for modern PCs. It’s difficult to find since it was only released in Japan, but if you can find it and you can track down the fan-made English language patch, this is the best PC version of Resident Evil 2.
Thanks to the following two guides for their suggestions and workarounds for the games many issues:-