Capcom need to learn from their recent mistakes.
The Resident Evil 3 remake has finally come out and made the rounds among those who were most excited for it. Thankfully, much like the remake of the second mainline Resident Evil game, RE3’s story and setting have generally translated into the form of a modern horror action game with grace, making it a game that both honors the source material while satisfying most of modern gamers’ expectations. However, I say words like “generally” and “most” because the game was certainly not perfect.
Having a short campaign, a half-baked multiplayer mode nobody asked for, and some ill-advised level designs that made backtracking feel more like a chore than it needed to definitely keep Resident Evil 3 from being as good as it could have and should have been. While the remake of RE2 was also guilty of these things, it was to a much lesser extent and greatly mitigated by the wisdom that comes with having genuine love and understanding for the source material by Capcom. RE3 is missing some of that. Of the many ways that lack of love shows itself, the perhaps most bothersome is the sheer amount of main elements of content being cut out.
Obviously, that’s not to say that sometimes certain things from a game might not work or make sense in a remake 20 years later, as Resident Evil 2 2019 also made some cuts here and there. But this time around, instead of some light trimming around the edges, Capcom took a chainsaw to many of the key things that made up the soul of the original game. From the way the story unfolded with those iconic live selection moments and alternate routes to giant areas of the game like the clock tower, cemetery and Raccoon Park being deluded if not completely removed, RE3 just feels like it’s been slimmed down too much, and that’s not a good thing for a remake that aims at hardcore Resident Evil fans.
With these points being made in many mainstream reviews of the game, you’d think that Capcom would take a breather from the remakes and regroup. Well, the scuttlebutt in recent gaming news seems to indicate otherwise. If recent rumors are true, and it does seem like they might be, Capcom is already moving ahead with another Resident Evil remake, this time, of the 4th mainline game. While there is certainly an argument to be made for maybe leaving 4 alone for now and going to another game that needs the remake treatment more (like Code Veronica for instance) it seems that Capcom is indeed going for it anyway. But if this does turn out to be true, let’s get one thing straight; Capcom would be wise to avoid cutting things as much as possible. Resident Evil 4 is not the timeless classic that it is for no good reason, and there’s plenty of important variables that make up the game that would leave a remake feeling subpar in their absence.
Firstly, keeping true to the soul of Resident Evil 4 cannot be done without its setting and tone. While the browns and yellows of the rural European setting might not seem all that exciting in the face of all the insanely saturated neons and metallic shininess of many modern games, if done right, it could actually be the ticket to making an RE4 remake stand out among the crowd of action games that are sure to flood the next few years of gaming.
Another major element of the game that Capcom would be wise to hang on to is the melee attack style of Leon. We all know that the knife system introduced in the RE2 remake does work well for that game, and giving Leon a spin kick in his next adventure might feel like a bit of a weird departure from that, they should keep it anyway. Surely it can be explained by the amount of time that has passed since RE2. Maybe Leon took some karate lessons? Who cares. If the idea is to please the hardcore fans of the franchise, then Capcom knows what to do about Leon’s spin kick and lots of other little things like that.
On top of maintaining the setting and some of Leon’s various quirks, Capcom should definitely give strong consideration to maintaining as many of the voices from the original game as possible. While the performances from RE2 could have been worse, having the original voice actor back to reprise the role would have gone a long way in the eyes of the OG fans that these remakes seem to at least in part be aimed at. So, to rectify this, they should get the original guy back as well as track down the actors who portrayed Ada Wong, Ashley Graham, Albert Wesker, and everybody else if at all possible.
Will that be more expensive and time-consuming on Capcom’s part? Absolutely. But will it pay dividends back to them? Without a doubt. Maintaining these voices for their roles is extremely important for this game perhaps more than any other older RE game because this was the first game in the series that was made after good voice acting in video games became standardized. Cutting out Jill Valentine’s actress with somebody newer is doable since those old performances were stilted, but in RE4, the performances were actually quite good, so to cut out that magic by getting new actors would undermine quite a bit of its charm.
Another element that should be kept in-tact as much as possible is the design of the levels and general locations of the story beats, important items, etc. While switching things up from the 20+ year old PlayStation 1 games might make sense as our standards for pacing and logical backtracking have changed, RE4’s layout and design still holds up nicely. Cutting out the layout of the game in favor of a completely new one in too many substantial ways would be an error on Capcom’s part. Keep the entire game there. All the areas, all the rooms, and preferably, all the enemy types as well. Creating a new horror game is fine, and if Capcom wants to do that, then great, but a remake of RE4 needs to respect the way RE4 is built as it still holds up well especially when compared to its predecessors.
Finally, something that Capcom shouldn’t even consider axing out of the RE4 remake is the over-the-shoulder perspective. This is an easy one, as several of the sequels after 4, the previous two remakes, as well as many different games in the same genre have all adopted this look. It would never make more sense for Capcom to keep true to that perspective than it does for the game that single-handedly popularized it. Anything else just wouldn’t feel right. I’d be shocked if they were actually crazy enough to get rid of it for the RE4 remake, but it needs to be said just to be sure.
All in all, Capcom should have everything they need to ensure a remake of Resident Evil 4 is a success. Doing a remake of a game that still holds up pretty well is a riskier endeavour than giving that treatment to an older game that begs for it. This will open up more opportunities to rub fans the wrong way, but it absolutely can still be done. As long as Capcom can see that the success of the RE2 remake owes a lot to that remake’s willingness to keep much of the original’s DNA intact, and much of the RE3 remake’s criticism stems from a lack of that same philosophy, a remake of the 4th Resident Evil game should be in good hands. Should be.
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