How Resident Evil lays the blueprint for doing a remake right
As tired as video game remakes may be in 2022, Capcom consistently proves Resident Evil to be the exception
In a world filled with remasters, remakes and re-releases, seeing old games come back with minor improvements gets really tiring really fast. Even still, there are some exceptions. In particular, Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise offers a standout catalog of remakes that make each game worth revisiting on modern hardware.
Following its other impressive remakes, Capcom is now hard at work developing the reimagining of one of the series’ most popular entries Resident Evil 4. And after an impressive display at this week’s RE showcase, let’s take a look at what makes the RE remakes so special.
Returning to the Spencer Mansion
Although the new line of remakes follow 2019’s Resident Evil 2, Capcom’s first big remake came in the form of Resident Evil for the GameCube. Released in 2002, the game was a complete overhaul of 1996’s original title. Developed in just over a year, the game’s production came largely in part to an exclusive deal between Capcom and Nintendo.
However, we can also thank the original game’s designer Shinji Mikami and his passion for the title for the remake’s development as well. While six years may not seem like a long enough time to remake a game, the technical differences between console generations at this time more than warranted it. Therefore, believing that the PlayStation version of the game didn’t hold up well to the test of time, Mikami and the developers went to work.
What we got became the definitive version of Resident Evil, improving on nearly every aspect of the first game. Naturally, the graphical and lighting improvements made the title more satisfying to look at. However, this remake did significantly more than add a new coat of paint to the game.
While the reimagining remained faithful to the original, it also made quality of life improvements and added even more content including the horrifying Lisa Trevor. In addition, the remake also revised the original game’s puzzles and featured a larger map with more explorable areas.
Though the RE remake didn’t initially sell well when it came it, its reception and status within the larger RE franchise aged like a fine wine over the years since. Even after receiving its own share of remasters and ports on additional consoles over the years, fans and critics alike still hail this remake as the best version of Resident Evil.
A new Raccoon City outbreak
Then, 17 years after the first remake, Capcom came back swinging with another remake so big it would change the franchise for years to come. 2019’s Resident Evil 2 took the world by storm with its ground-up redesign that made it something entirely different than its 1998 counterpart. Where 2002’s remake of the original game retained the classic fixed-camera perspective and tank controls, RE2 scrapped the design for the over-the-shoulder third-person perspective the series moved towards beginning with Resident Evil 4.
Aside from the new camera perspective, RE2 also offered a modernized control scheme built on the proprietary RE Engine pioneered in Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. In addition, the engine also allowed the developers to provide photorealistic visuals and physics that provide players a deeper experience at the Raccoon City Police Station than ever before. Everything about the game from the redesign of the characters to the wonderfully acted cutscenes to the minor details like zombies realistically reacting to attacks make the Resident Evil 2 remake a masterpiece.
The game proved so successful, in fact, that it didn’t take long for Capcom to come out swinging yet again with a remake of Resident Evil 3. However, unlike its predecessor, this remake did not fair as nicely with fans and critics. To many players’ dismay, RE3 was a short experience that felt bare due to content cut from the original.
Regardless, Jill Valentine’s adventure through the streets of Raccoon City still looked and handled great. While I too wish there was more meat on the bones, I still had a good time in RE3. Like the last entry, this game made huge improvements to gameplay and graphics that make it a worthy playthrough for any Resident Evil fan.
Resident Evil 4 crawls out next March!
Needless to say, the announcement that Capcom would also give Resident Evil 4 the remake treatment was truly a matter of when, not if. Given the original RE4‘s immense popularity, in addition to the success of the last two Resident Evil remakes, Leon’s second outing seemed like a no-brainer. Regardless, that doesn’t mean critics haven’t spoken out yet.
In the seemingly never-ending world of video game remakes and remasters, many gamers roll their eyes when a developer or publisher announces another. Additionally, some fans worry that the undebatable masterpiece that was Resident Evil 2 was a fluke, pointing to the cut content of Resident Evil 3. Then, you have the fans who point to Code Veronica that, while not nearly as popular as RE4, is significantly more dated in terms of gameplay.
And while a Resident Evil Code: Veronica remake would also make for a welcome addition, I wouldn’t dismiss the Resident Evil 4 remake. With modern-gen consoles in mind for its development, Capcom appears to be going all the way on it. Pair that with the negative feedback from Resident Evil 3, and I doubt RE4 will have the same issue of cut content.
If anything, what we’ve seen so far is expanded content. With footage that teases the ability to play as the president’s daughter herself Ashley, I believe this will be the definitive version of the game.
Resident Evil 4 comes crawling out next year on March 24 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S and PC. For those who really want to get up close and personal with the infected villagers, it will also come to PlayStation VR2. To learn more about the game, be sure to also check out our article detailing everything we know about it so far!