After my own frantic 2-hour sprint through Raccoon City’s end of days, I wouldn’t say beating Resident Evil 2 on hardcore with an S rank is particularly complicated - all it takes is a bit of time spent learning the motions and a few preliminary trips to the pause menu to monitor your pace. As long as a well-managed collection of ink ribbons is documenting your progress as you go, any traversal errors or undead mishaps can be easily remedied with a quick re-load. The toughest part of the challenge for me was navigating the violent bio-organic obstacles that littered the way forward.The goal of a Hardcore S/S+ playthrough is to play through a main story scenario from start to finish within 2:30:00, or 2:00:00 on 2nd Runs. For S+, you"re also limited to a total of 3 saves and restricted from using any infinite ammo weapons like the LE 5 or the Samurai Edge. Record holders have clocked times as quick as 53 minutes, which takes a crazy amount of trial and error - to be clear, this guide will only help you score the top ranks and does not challenge the world record. I crossed the finish line with about 13 minutes left over and though this isn"t a record time, it still leaves plenty of room for error if needed and a lovely bit of breathing room if you’re gunning for an S+ rank.So from the leftovers of my own run-through, I whipped up this here step-by-step guide to making it to the end of the story with a screaming final score. Before we start, a few pointers:

Things to Know

Stick to Leon A:For most players, finishing Resident Evil 2 in two hours isn"t easy. If you want to alleviate some of the challenge, Leon’s first run is by far the easiest way to score an S-rank. Contrary to popular belief, the story’s first round is more fitting thanks to weapon and structural advantages. You’re given a generous 30 extra minutes for a little bit more running around, and there’s an additional boss fight in the B scenario which eats a big chunk out of your time - it can even threaten your entire run if you don"t have the ammo to take it down. Leon’s loadout, as well as the distribution of items around each area, makes the whole trial go by a little smoother. Claire’s arsenal is fantastic for removing minor enemies and disabling larger ones, but when it comes to boss fights, Claire"s weapons just don"t cut it like Leon"s do. A Lightning Hawk-enabled Leon with a sizeable stock of bullets can nail Birkin’s third form in a few minutes flat, and potentially saves a considerable amount of time taking down a boss that otherwise puts up a serious fight.With this in mind, this guide is for Leon A only.

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Treasure the Samurai Edge:There"s no two ways about it - zombies and monsters are going to be your biggest problem. This guide assumes you’ve unlocked and are using the Samurai Edge (Original Model), which is awarded for finishing the story on Standard difficulty with an S-rank. Handgun ammo is a constant strain on inventory space, so having first run a more leisurely S-rank or higher on Standard difficulty will make a Hardcore run considerably more conquerable. Achieving a Standard S-rank, which is finishing the game in less than 3:30:00 on standard difficulty, can be done pretty easily as long as you know vaguely where to go and what to do to progress; with autosave working its magic, you shouldn"t have any trouble. If in doubt, follow this guide on Standard difficulty first.Hustle, hustle, hustle!:This guide will expect you to be seriously hoofing it for the entire game. If you’re not fighting something, you’re cheesing it to the next destination. Losing a cumulative few minutes sneaking past Lickers or avoiding the Tyrant is harmless, but absolutely maintain a sense of urgency as you keep up a good pace.Continues are costly:Upon an untimely end in Resident Evil 2, the game offers you an automatic backdrop to your last save - don’t do it. Hightailing it through the game will probably result in one or two game overs, but choosing ‘continue" from the game over screen doesn’t reset your play timer, adding dangerous minutes to your total playtime. That said, I hadn’t noticed that fact myself and still finished with time to spare, so using "load" instead of "continue" will likely put you ahead of me.Go veggie:You"ll be scooting past plenty of vegetation in your hurried travels. Mixing red and blue herbs together applies a nifty little buff that protects against poison and reduces damage taken for a small amount of time. Since you"ll be spending a lot of time without healing items at the ready, it"s always a good idea to prepare a few for when you"re expecting a big encounter. The Tyrant only really shows up whilst you"re looking for the electronic parts to open Ben"s cell, for example, so that"s a good time to dose up in case he lands a cheeky hit or two.Know your Tyrant-proof havens:You may have noticed there’re a handful of rooms scattered around the police station that Mr. X can’t penetrate. Many of these are save rooms, but spots like the S.T.A.R.S. office and the clock tower are - literally - lifesavers on a bid for an S-rank since the Tyrant can be an unpredictable obstacle. It"s a tad immersion-breaking, but a chase can be forcibly terminated by throwing yourself into one of these fortress rooms and waiting for the sound of the Tyrant’s brutal footwear to fade before making a mad dash to your next destination.The safe rooms are:Dark roomObservation/interrogation roomBreak roomBoiler roomS.T.A.R.S. officeChief’s officeClock towerThe Sewers are an unhappy place:One of the biggest issues I ran into was trying to move quickly past G-adults in the sewers - they’re big boys, and simply running past them is almost impossible without having to fight off their advances with sub-weapons. Curiously the civilians working down those tunnels were packing plenty of hand grenades and combat knives, but in the event you run out, the flamethrower does nasty things to the squishy fellas.Another handy little manoeuvre in the waterways is disabling zombies in water. A zombie wading through deep water will die instantly if it takes a disfiguring blow to the legs - if you can remove a leg, the zombie too is removed from the equation.High-grade gunpowder is sacred:This guide accommodates plenty of high-grade gunpowder, which absolutely MUST be saved for the fight with Birkin’s third form in the labs, particularly if your target is S+. Most normal gunpowder found is free to use, but don"t get trigger-happy if you don"t need to.Taking a breather:Every moment that allows you any amount of control will contribute to your total playtime; whether that’s time spent arranging your inventory, depositing items into storage, reading through documents or navigating a map, the clock is still ticking. The only instances during gameplay that halt the timer are during major cutscenes and at the pause menu. So if the pace is getting to you, pause the game or take a moment to soak in those gorgeous photorealistic visuals for a quick breather.Countdown to success:A little after beating Birkin’s third form, the NEST countdown to self-destruction will start. If your play time is anything less than 2:20:00 at that point, your target completion rank is guaranteed. You’ve just gotta, you know… survive the Tyrant with almost no ammo.Keeping it moving:Zombies are much less obstructive when immobilised, which you can arrange with a well-placed series of pot shots to the leg. They can still take a bite out of you if you get too close, but they’re much easier to avoid if they’re crawling after you rather than walking. Any disfigurements you can administer as you go can only help your cause, but don’t let tactical mutilation slow your pace too much. Sneaking is also an option.Any weapons and ammo in your inventory are free to use as long as they’re there. As soon as the guide says to store them, you’ll have to live without them. Try to predict when powerful ammo is most needed.The greenhouse control room puzzle uses a very freaky system of characters. I myself did it by using my PS4’s share function to screenshot the correct codes, but even with a visual reference it"s pretty difficult to do quickly. It"s advised that you memorise the pattern of button presses before reaching that point so as to avoid losing time trying to crack it.Entering the library for the barricade explosion is a cheeky way of avoiding having to move the bookcase that blocks the doorway in the west storage room. After setting the detonator, quickly run into the library and listen for the kaboom before running back in.- When aiming for S+ -Achieving an S+ rank on Hardcore is incredibly difficult due to inventory strain, and you"ll constantly catch yourself running out of ammo. The best solution is to limit your ammo to whatever you can squeeze into a single clip to preserve vital inventory space. Most normal gunpowder you find on your travels is fair game, so hoard as much as the guide allows to make sure you"re always ready to top up as you pass by item boxes.

Codes & Combinations

The guide will refer to this list when passing a puzzle, padlock or safe. Bold is for S+ play only.>9, 7NED/MRGCAPFish, Scorpion, PotPonytail, Bow, SnakeLion, Plant, Birdx x 3 41 2 x 4SZF

Pt. 1 - Raccoon Police Department

THIS GUIDE IS FOR LEON A (1ST RUN) ONLYGuide Notes:This guide will assume that you’ve played through the story at least once before, ideally with an S-rank on standard difficulty. You should also have a relatively firm grasp of map layouts, room names, enemy encounters, boss fights and puzzles, though most codes and combinations are provided and referenced, and you"ll be running past plenty of area maps. Again, it"s assumed you"re packing the Samurai Edge.Bracketed items on some steps are recommended item pickups. You don’t have to grab them, but nabbing as many of them as possible is recommended so that you don’t run into into stocking problems later on. Handgun ammo is also omitted in favour of the Samurai Edge.In case you’re aiming for S+, additional steps are listed in bold. S+ requirements also only allow for three saves, so those precious few moments are also listed in bold.Major save points include the time I clocked at that point in my own playthrough - it"s important to try to keep up with my time as best you can, but don"t panic if you"re lagging slightly. As long as you"re less than 15 minutes behind, you"ll be fine. You can check your current play time in the pause menu.“Deposit excess” refers to everything except your Samurai Edge and other items essential to game progression, including weapon parts, ammo, healing items and sub-weapons. If you have important keys or key items, don’t store them unless specifically mentioned. You"ll be picking up a lot of items between each item box, so keeping a free inventory is key. If you need to bring extras, be prepared to drop them.Key:Bold = S+ play only(fig. #) = refer to Codes & Combinations sectionHere we go!- PT. 1 -OPENINGSprint through opening and enter RPDGrab ink ribbon/first aid and put straight into storageFollow game path, stopping by women’s bathroom to grab first aid sprayFollow game path to meet MarvinRun to reception (green herb)Continue through west corridor and operations roomRun to stairs, grab boards and barricade windowRun straight to top floor and grab spade keyRun to main hallCUTSCENEOffload excess into storageRun to art room and grab weapons key cardRun to meet Claire in east stairway (Bolt cutter)Grab handle/electrical part in east office (gunpowder/flashbang/green herb/ribbon)Return to main hall and deposit excessRun to operations room and grab detonator (Green herb/boards/flashbang)Stop by safety deposit room and grab shotgunRun to dark room and loot/store (gunpowder/ink ribbon/red herb)Deposit excess except shotgun and shellsSAVEGrab battery in STARS office and combine with detonatorGrab red book in libraryRun upstairs to west storage room and blow barricade (Enter library for explosion)Place medals in statueCUTSCENEEnter secret roomLoot room, store excess/red book and grab all weapons/ammo (shotgun ammo/ink ribbon)SAVE (0:17:01)Run to bottom floor of underground stairs and grab grenadeProceed to G-1 fightCUTSCENELoot machinery room (Grenade/red herb/green herb)Run to operator"s roomSAVE (0:23:17)Run to parking garageCUTSCENERun to BenCUTSCENEGrab crank outside cellRun upstairsGrab Elec. part in break roomOpen safety doorRun upstairs, down corridor and open safety doorRun upstairs and grab large cog from east storage roomRun outside, grab blue herb and go down ladderDivert water and grab club key from boiler room. Deposit excess/grab red book in storage.SAVE (0:33:23)Run back upstairs and encounter TyrantRun to art room and grab red jewelContinue along corridor and grab boardsRun downstairs and use boards on zombie’d windowGo to observation room and grab/open jewel boxRun to main hallSAVERun to records room and grab jack handleThe west corridor can get crowded fast with the Tyrant on your tail. Consider a well-placed flashbang to suppress the Licker duo.Run to S.T.A.R.S. office via operations room and grab Lightning HawkRetrieve S.T.A.R.S. badge, loot room and run to libraryMove shelves and run to clocktowerAcquire elec. part, grab gunpowder and run back to break roomDrop off excess/S.T.A.R.S. badge and grab elec. part from storageReturn to Ben"s cellCUTSCENESolve puzzle, grab keycard and escape the cellsThe best way out of the cells is to immediately run to the switch halfway down the corridor and slip through the passageway on the east side of the room, though be prepared to evade the big-fisted fashionista again.Use keycard and grab green herbHightail it to Kendo’s- PROCEED TO PT. 2 -

Pt. 2 - Outside RPD/Sewers

- CONT. FROM PT. 1 -Loot Kendo"s (Grenade/Shotgun barrel)CUTSCENEFollow game path until next save point and offload excessSAVERun to and through sewer tunnel (Ink ribbon)Proceed to Alligator fightCUTSCENEGrab hand grenade and run to next roomSAVEContinue along game pathADA’S SEGMENTComplete Ada’s segmentFollow game path until save point and offload excessContinue to split in waterwayTurn left and grab shotgun shellsBacktrack and continue until control roomDrop down to monitor roomCUTSCENESAVE (1:21:16)Offload excess into storage (store everything except Samurai Edge and one slot of sub-weapons)Run to treatment pool room and grab handleRun to bottom waterwayPower through enemies and run to supplies storage roomThis can be messy. Keep your distance and whittle the G-adults down with the Samurai Edge until you can slip past, keeping your sub-weapon handy in case of one of them gets intimate.During S+ play, this will likely take a few tries. Be patient, time your movements and find a way through.Grab chess pieces and flamethrowerBacktrack through bottom waterway and grab sewers keyRun back to monitor room, store flamethrower and grab S.T.A.R.S. badgeRun through sewers to upper floor corridor and grab bishop keyUse sewers key to unlock hidden lift and grab Lightning Hawk barrelRun back to monitor room, sweeping for as many consumables on the way as possible. (Hand grenade/high gunpowder/shotgun shells/green herb)SAVE (1:29:25)Offload excess/sewers key into storageGrab all weapons/ammo and one healing itemRun to next room and grab/mix herbs (green/blue/red)CUTSCENERun back to monitor room and offload excessRun to treatment pool room and open safe/loot room (red herb/blue herb/shotgun stock)Follow game path- PROCEED TO PT. 3 -

Pt. 3 - Laboratory

- CONT. FROM PT. 2 -CUTSCENERun to reception and turn immediately right into cafeteria area.Run to cafeteriaEvade zombies and quickly move up into ventsDrop down to kitchen and loot room (Lrg gunpowder/combat knife)Run to nap room, grab card chip and loot room (Shotgun shells)Run back to reception, grab shotgun shells from security room and offload excess (Ink ribbon)Continue into East AreaRun to lobbySAVE (1:45:00)Run through labs and encounter Ivy (High gunpowder)Evade Ivy, run to greenhouse control room and grab cartridge (Flashbang)Run to drug testing lab and fill cartridge (Hand grenade/Lrg gunpowder)Run to greenhouse hatch and descend to loungeImmobilise/eliminate dormant zombies (shotgun shells)This is crucial - these zombies will present a real problem later.Run to stairwell - evade lickersImmobilise zombies and run upstairs to lobbyDeposit excess, grab shotgun from storage and equip all partsRun back to storage room and grab signal modulatorRun back downstairs to lounge and eliminate/evade lickersEnable power with signal modulatorRun to low-temp testing lab and freeze cartridgeRun back to greenhouse control room and dispense herbicideRun to green house and grab upgrade chipHoof it to P-4 level testing lab in West AreaGrab G sampleLoot room and deposit excessSAVE (1:55:42)Grab all weapons/parts except flamethrower, mix all high gunpowder and fill remaining slots with healing items/ammoYour inventory should ideally consist of the ID wristband, the Lightning Hawk, your Samurai Edge and the Shotgun, as well as whatever MAG ammo, shotgun shells and healing items you can muster. Prioritise MAG ammo, and use your remaining gunpowder to whip up some shotgun shells to fill any empty slots.

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Putting Birkin down quickly is a tall order during S+ play, more so because your inventory is going to be so severely strained that you"ll be starved of ammo before you know it. The Lightning Hawk is what"s going to carry you here, so slap on that extended barrel for maximum damage.Proceed to G-3 fightCUTSCENEFollow game path to monitor room and lootMove to next areaSAVE (2:04:25)Follow game path, picking up all items, to escape shaft platformFill inventory with all remaining weapons/ammo and healing itemsProceed to Tyrant fightEND (2:16:32)Return to main menu and bask in the glory and rewards