Resident Evil 2's script was handled by Noboru Sugimura. A professional TV writer who had previously worked as head writer on Super Sentai, Yoshiki Okamoto picked him to guarantee quality writing. In the aborted sequel, the script was handled by director Hideki Kamiya, who was inexperienced, and Sugimura was initially hired to perform re-writes to improve it but requested he simply do an entirely new story from scratch. The story differs from the previous game in a number of ways. In Kamiya's story, Umbrella Pharmaceuticals had been shut down by the US government following the events of Resident Evil; in Sugimura's, Umbrella is very much still active, though the US military is striving to acquire the new Golgotha Virus. The police chief, Brian Irons, was heavily re-written to be corrupt. Over time, the character was progressively more sadistic, and further ideas for his character were raised by the development team as a morale-building move. The cast of the game was also different from Kamiya's script. Kamiya's planned for a number of supporting characters, two of which would be paired with each protagonist, with a number of others encountered along the way, with Sugimura's cast being smaller, with only two partner characters in the game and other characters save for Annette Birkin dying soon after being introduced. Over time, the character of Elza Walker developed into Claire Redfield, the sister of Chris Redfield, to give a connection to the original game. To add a further air of mystery and world building, the character of Ada Wong was altered; rather than be an Umbrella researcher as intended, Sugimura turned her into a corporate spy for 'The Organisation', a rival bio-weapons developer.
During late development, Kamiya decided to implement "Zapping", a feature he came up within the first game but which was too late in development to add. This feature allows the player to experience what their co-protagonist is doing at the same time in their own story. To properly allow for 'Zapping', it was decided the Claire and Leon Stories should be altered in structure. Originally, it was to work in the same way as the original game, with the player making gameplay choices which influence the plot; for instance, how the player was to use Claire changed whether Sherry would be infected, and how they'd use Leon would affect Ada's fate in the lab. With Zapping implemented, the script was split into four, with a "Front" and "Back" version of Leon and Claire's stories, known as "A" and "B" in the international version. In this version, "Claire A" would be a linear story with Sherry always being infected, and "Leon A" would be a linear story with Ada always falling down a chasm.
The music for Resident Evil 2 was composed by Masami Ueda, Shusaku Uchiyama and Shun Nishigaki. The compositions were meant to convey "desperation" as their underlying theme. In his role as lead composer, Ueda provided the motifs, while Uchiyama was responsible for the horror-themed music used for the investigation and movie scenes. The main theme of the score, a versatile three-note motif, is utilized several times throughout the course of the story, being included in compositions such as "Prologue", "Raccoon City" and "The Third Malformation Of G". Various musical styles, ranging from ambient horror music to industrial pieces, are used to represent the different environments of the game. For example, the streets of Raccoon City are emphasized with militaristic percussion-based music, while the police department features ominous piano underscores. Key events of the story are supported with orchestral and cinematic compositions – a move that was inspired by blockbuster films.
The story of Resident Evil 2 was the basis for several licensed works and later games. Ted Adams and Kris Oprisko loosely adapted it into the comics "Raccoon City – R.I.P." and "A New Chapter of Evil", which were released in the first and second issues of Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine in March and June 1998. The 60-issue Cantonese manhua Shēnghuà Wēijī 2 (lit. "Biological Crisis 2") was published weekly from February 1998 to April 1999. A romantic comedy retelling of the game's story, centered on Leon, Claire, and Ada, was released as the Taiwanese two-issue comic Èlíng Gǔbǎo II (lit. "Demon Castle II").Resident Evil: City of the Dead, a 1999 book written by author S. D. Perry, is a more direct adaptation of the narrative, and was the third release in her series of Resident Evil novelizations.
The mobile game Resident Evil: Uprising contains a condensed version of the Resident Evil 2 story, adapted by Megan Swaine.Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, an on-rails shooter released for the Wii in 2009, includes a scenario named "Memories of a Lost City", which reimagines the original Resident Evil 2 plot while retaining key scenes from the game's four scenarios.Resident Evil 5 producer Jun Takeuchi, who had previously worked on the series as a weapons designer and graphics animator, alluded to the possibility of a full-fledged remake of Resident Evil 2. In 2015, the remake was officially announced and it released four years later, in 2019.
The story arcs introduced in Resident Evil 2 were continued in drama albums and later game releases. Kyoko Sagiyama, Junichi Miyashita, Yasuyuki Suzuki, Noboru Sugimura, Hirohisa Soda and Kishiko Miyagi – screenwriters employed by Capcom's former scenario subsidiary Flagship – created two radio dramas called Chiisana Tōbōsha Sherry (lit. "Sherry, the Little Runaway") and Ikiteita Onna Spy Ada (lit. "Ada, the Female Spy, is Alive"). The dramas were broadcast on Radio Osaka in early 1999 and later released by publisher Suleputer as two separate CDs with the common title Biohazard 2 Drama Album.Chiisana Tōbōsha Sherry begins shortly after the events of the game. Sherry is separated from Claire while fleeing from Umbrella soldiers sent to kill all witnesses of the viral outbreak. Raccoon City is burned down by the U.S. Government and Umbrella in an attempt to cover up the disaster. Sherry seeks refuge in the neighboring town of Stone Ville and later escapes to Canada with the help of a girl named Meg, who vows to help her reunite with Claire.
Ikiteita Onna Spy Ada is set a few days after Resident Evil 2 and deals with Ada's mission to retrieve Sherry's pendant with the G-virus sample, which is said to be in the possession of HUNK in the backstory of the drama album. Ada intercepts the delivery of the locket in France and kills HUNK and his men. As a consequence of an accidental t-Virus leak in Loire Village, the destination of the delivery, Ada is forced to retreat to an old castle. Along with a unit of the French Air Force sent to burn down the village, she encounters Christine Henry, the Umbrella facility director who gave HUNK the order to deliver the G-virus to France. Jacob, the leader of the airborne unit, is revealed to be Christine's co-conspirator. However, he plans to keep the G-virus sample for himself and shoots her. Philippe, another member of the unit, convinces Ada to give him the pendant, after which he injects himself with the G-virus to give himself the power to stop Jacob. Ada escapes and realizes her feelings for Leon, deciding to quit the spy business and return to him. The two drama albums are not acknowledged in later series releases. The characters' story arcs are continued differently: Sherry is taken into custody by the U.S. Government immediately after the events of Resident Evil 2, and Ada keeps the pendant with the G-virus and resumes her activities as a spy. HUNK successfully delivers a separate G-virus sample to Umbrella.
The Resident Evil 2 title screen features a giant eye. This is that of William Birkin, also known as "G". In the 1.5 version of the game, the eye is merely generic in nature.
According to Kamiya, the original version of Resident Evil 2 was considered to be of quality below expectations of the development team's abilities. Kamiya felt that the game was still, however, comparable to other "common games", though the fact that it was intended to be unique meant that being vanilla was unacceptable.
↑Capcom Co., Ltd; Angel Studios; Factor 5, LLC. Biohazard 2 (in Japanese). (Capcom Co., Ltd.). Nintendo 64. (January 29, 2000) 指令書: ハンク特殊工作員に以下の指令を命ず: ラクーン市郊外にある我が社の研究施設に侵入し、ウィリアム・バーキン博士が所持していると思われるG－ウィルスのサンプルを奪取せよ。 ... サンプル入手後はロワール村にて受け渡しを行う。 ... フランス支部施設所長 クリスチーヌ・アンリ / Written orders: Special agent HUNK is assigned to the following orders: Invade the company's research facility on the outskirts of Raccoon City, seize the G-virus sample assumed to be in the possession of Dr. William Birkin. ... After the sample is obtained, it is to be delivered to Loire Village. ... French Branch Facility Director Christine Henry