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The unlockable costumes in Resident Evil 2 can be accessed after obtaining the Special Key, which will open the lockers found in the R.P.D.'s Dark Room. Only Leon and Claire are able to wear these outfits.
These costumes are only available on Normal or Hard mode. In order to gain access to them, the player must make their way from the wreckage at the start of the game to the front entrance of the police department without picking up any items along the way. If done correctly, a t-Virus-infected Brad Vickers—S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team's former pilot—will appear in the small tunnel below the station, accessed by a stairwell on either side of the area. Brad possesses more health than an average zombie and will inflict more damage to the player upon attack. After being defeated, Brad will drop the Special Key.
Brad can only be unlocked in either character's "A" scenario. After completing the game and continuing the opposite character's "B" scenario, Brad will appear in the same area outside of the police department if he was successfully unlocked in the previous "A" scenario. The amount of items gained in the "B" scenario have no effect on Brad's appearance, however the player will still need to defeat him to obtain the key.
Leon S. Kennedy
Leon is able to access one of the lockers which contains two outfits inside.
His first outfit on the left consists of a leather jacket—with a large skull design on the back, an American flag patch on the shoulder, and stylized text over one of the chest pockets—over a white and black ringer T-shirt, blue jeans, and brown leather boots. The second outfit on the right is an alternate R.P.D. uniform with an initialed baseball cap, navy blue tank top, green fatigue pants, and black boots.
Leon holds the handgun differently with either outfit equipped, only using his right arm and tilting the gun to the side as he aims. Upon equipping his handgun, its firing rate will slightly increase (only affects the Handgun exclusively).
In the adjoining locker that Claire opens, she receives only one unlockable outfit. It is a biker outfit with a leather jacket—adorned with flame designs going up the sleeves and a "Let Me Live" design on the back—and leather pants, a cropped red top, a red bandanna, and a pair of cowboy boots.
To compensate for her lack of a second outfit, Claire receives her own exclusive weapon, the Colt S.A.A..
The Nintendo 64 port of Resident Evil 2 features a different set of alternate costumes that are exclusive to this version. These new outfits replace the original unlockable costumes, but are still obtained using the same methods listed above.
Leon S. Kennedy
The first of Leon's outfits on the left is a leather biker ensemble. It features a leather vest over a white shirt, a bandana, a pair of sunglasses, baggy leather pants, and leather boots. His second outfit on the right is an armored S.T.A.R.S. uniform. It consists of a blue bulletproof vest with the S.T.A.R.S. emblem on the back, a set of blue camouflage fatigues, leather boots, and a baseball cap featuring a simplified variation of the S.T.A.R.S. emblem. The owner of the uniform or its purpose is unknown.
Leon's aiming is only changed in his first outfit. The S.T.A.R.S. uniform uses his standard pose for aiming.
For her alternate outfit, Claire wears a purple jacket with red accents that has straps fastened across the front, a sheath for her knife, and nothing underneath. The back of the jacket features the logo of Angel Studios (now Rockstar San Diego), who developed the Nintendo 64 port of the game. She also wears a matching headband and pants and a pair of black leather boots.
Once again, Claire lacks a second outfit but gains the Colt S.A.A. in exchange.
- In the Nintendo 64 version of the game, Robert's Note and Dario's Note—two of the game's Ex-files—can be found in Kendo's Gun Shop and the bus. These files can obtained without affecting Brad's appearance.
- Brad does not have to be defeated the moment he is found. Once he has been discovered, the player can gather items inside of the police department to use against him.
- Brad's infection and appearance at the police department are explained in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis during an event which occurs one day before he is encountered in Resident Evil 2.
- Resident Evil 2 is one of the few games in the series that allows access to the unlockable costumes without having to complete the game first.
- In Resident Evil, Chris Redfield's unlockable costume featured the "Made in Heaven" design on the back of his bomber jacket which returned as a design on the back of Claire's vest worn with her standard outfit in Resident Evil 2. This trend continued with the "Let Me Live" design on the back of Claire's leather jacket making a return as a design on the back of her standard vest in Resident Evil CODE: Veronica.
- The RESIDENT EVIL 3 Real Shock Action Figure Series by Moby Dick Toys featured "Leather Jacket" versions of Claire and Leon, dressed in their unlockable leather jacket outfits from the game. Like the game, Claire was packaged with the Colt S.A.A. as well as a matching holster.