Capcom are remaking the wrong game.
Recent weeks have seen the emergence of leaks from multiple credible sources about a remake of Resident Evil 4 being in development. M-Two – a studio backed and funded by Capcom, and comprised of various former Capcom and PlatinumGames veterans – are said to be the lead developers of the project, having moved on from their work on the recently released Resident Evil 3, which was supposedly a stepping stone for them for this next project.
Supposedly, Shinji Mikami – the father of Resident Evil and the director of RE4 – has given his blessing and is distantly involved in some advisory capacity, while the leaks have also suggested that the production team working on the remake is larger than the ones that worked on Resident Evil 2 or 3 (which is saying something, seeing as RE2 was worked on by over 800 people). Clearly, Capcom are giving the RE4 remake – if it does indeed exist, which it probably does – the resources and attention it deserves, and looking at their handling of the franchise and their comments about wanting to keep investing in more remakes, it’s not that surprising that they’re revisiting the 2005 survival horror classic.
But though it’s not surprising, it is a little disheartening- not because we’re not fond of Resident Evil 4 (quite the opposite), but because it feels like in choosing to focus on the clearly biggest guns, they have ignored another game in the series that was much more deserving (and in much greater need) of a remake. That game, as many, many people would agree, is Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, a game that, at least for now, Capcom reportedly have no plans to remake.
There are many reasons a remake for Code Veronica would have made much more sense than one for Resident Evil 4, but there is no bigger reason than the one I mentioned just now- unlike Resident Evil 4, Code Veronica is actually a game that needs a remake (in as much as any game needs to be remade, that is). Resident Evil 4 is an all-time classic, an absolute gem of a game, and like most gems of its kind, it’s a game that has aged very gracefully.
If you go back and playing RE4’s remasters and re-releases – of which there’s no shortage – even now, fifteen years on from its original release, you’ll still be met with an immaculately designed game. As with all things, there are some parts of the experience that feel like a product of their time – such as the voice acting or the game’s over-the-top storytelling, or even its visuals – but from a game design perspective, there’s little not to love in it. Its tight controls, tense combat, and thrilling encounter design are still as worthy of praise as they were in 2005, and though there are always QoL upgrades that people can talk about that the game needs, by and large it doesn’t really feel like a game that needs to be modernized- it’s already pretty damn modern.
Code: Veronica, on the other hand, does feel like a game that needs to be updated. From its visuals and audio quality to its writing and storytelling, from the balancing of its difficulty to so much else, it feels like a game that would benefit hugely from being remade. It’s often cited as the most narratively bloated game of all fixed camera Resident Evil titles, and without the shadow of a doubt, Capcom could make its story much leaner and much more effective if they treated it the same way they’ve been treating recent Resident Evil games.
Beyond that, even from a gameplay perspective, Code: Veronica is a game that would be made significantly better with a remake. Resident Evil 2 and 3, both fixed-camera games, got completely redone from the ground up with new controls, new design philosophies, and a fresh new approach to storytelling, and – to varying degrees – both of them benefited from that. Both games also clearly took a page out of RE4’s book with their over-the-shoulder perspectives- that, in fact, was the biggest tool they had in their shed in an attempt to become much more modern.
Does it not, then, make much for sense for Code Veronica – another fixed camera title – to do the same rather than RE4, which wouldn’t even be close to being as much of an overhaul? How exactly does Capcom plan on improving Resident Evil 4, a game that doesn’t exactly need too many improvements? Why not spend that time and those resources on a game that would benefit far more from that same amount of effort?
There’s also another very simple reason for why it would have made much more sense for a Code: Veronica remake to follow remakes for RE2 and 3– because, quite simply, that’s the trajectory the series’ narrative follows. Resident Evil 4 presents a completely new threat, and even though it does, of course, rope in various narrative elements from previous games, it represents the beginning of a new chapter for the series’ larger story. On the other hand, we have Code: Veronica, which picks up Claire Redfield’s story after she decides at the end of Resident Evil 2 that she’ll do everything in her power to take down Umbrella. Having recently seen her make that decision once again in the RE2 remake, you’d think Capcom were building up to something- apparently not.
Of course, I’m not blind to the commercial reasons for choosing to remake Resident Evil 4 instead of Code: Veronica. The latter, in spite of being a mainline game that is crucial to the Resident Evil canon – many even call it the “true” Resident Evil 3 to this day – but it doesn’t have enjoy the kind of widespread mainstream acclaim and recognition that something like RE4 – one of the greatest and most beloved games of all time – does.
But if that’s the main reason that Capcom chose to remake the game, I’m not sure they’re doing it for the right reasons. Remakes like Resident Evil 2 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake only exist because the developers working on them had grand visions for how to completely rethink every fibre of their existence, backed by modern technology and new ideas. Resident Evil 4’s remake, on the other hand, seems to be driven not by a creative and artistic vision, but by commercial and marketing-related decisions.
There’s every chance that Resident Evil 4’s remake will end up being excellent, and all these proclamations of how the game doesn’t need a remake will seem silly in hindsight- but for now, it’s hard to get behind Capcom’s decision without reservations- especially when we have to watch them ignore Code: Veronica the way they seem to be doing. Whether or not Capcom will be able to do justice to Resident Evil 4 with a remake remains to be seen – it’s certainly a herculean task, given the legacy and pedigree of the original – but regardless of what the outcome is, we hope that once they’re done with RE4, they will decide to go back to Code: Veronica as well.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.