The Resident Evil franchise is going through its newest resurgence with Resident Evil Village and Revelations 3 (or Outrage) on the way. And while this is of course a wonderful thing for all who are fans of anything horror, it also seems to be bringing on a bit of a tangent lineage of remakes for the older games that gamers are eating up, which of course incentivizes Capcom to make more of them and that brings us to where we are now, with the original game, 2, and 3 all having remakes and rumors swirling about a remake to the 4th one. Now it’s definitely true that all three of the originals’ remakes were financially successful and generally reviewed anywhere from good to great, but I can’t shake the suspicion that Capcom is unknowingly treading into more dangerous waters than they realize if they are in fact remaking the fourth game. In fact, not only do I think that a remake of Resident Evil 4 is a riskier endeavor than it’s probably worth, I think it should just be left the hell alone entirely for a few reasons.
First, let’s just acknowledge the fact that Resident Evil 4 still looks and plays great. Sure, it’s not up to the standards of newer similar games like The Evil Within, but at the same time it’s still pretty close despite the fact that it’s a decade and some change older. and that’s just the original version of the game. let’s not forget that Resident Evil 4 has been remastered multiple times for multiple systems across multiple generations. If you own a video game console, odds are, you have a way to play Resident Evil 4 on it. The game was wildly successful and sold extremely well for each platform it was released for a reason; it is an outstanding game. and I say “is” and not “was” on purpose. It’s still an outstanding game, not in need of a complete remake like the original three so obviously were.
The original three games were on the PlayStation 1. They had tank controls, fixed camera angles, and extremely hokey voice acting that make it hard to take them seriously today. That’s why those games were such great candidates for the remake treatment. Resident Evil 4 doesn’t really have those problems. while sitting down with your PlayStation 1 and playing the original Resident Evil on it feels really weird after playing something made within the last couple of years on your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, firing up a copy of Resident Evil 4 doesn’t. You can still definitely tell it’s an older game but it doesn’t feel completely alien like playing something from the 90s does. So, if the argument in favor of a Resident Evil 4 remake is predicated upon the fact that the game is old and antiquated, then by that logic, there are several other entries in the Resident Evil series that are far more qualified for a remake than 4, which brings me to my next point.
If we are prioritizing Resident Evil games for remakes by how outdated they feel, then going straight to RE4 after 3 is a bit of a head scratcher on multiple levels. Firstly, has everyone forgotten about Resident Evil Code Veronica? This is easily one of the better games in the Resident Evil series, and while it didn’t set the world on fire like 4 did, you’d be hard-pressed to find a fan of the series who doesn’t enjoy it. I would even argue its story is superior to 4. Code Veronica’s original sin was that it was made to play roughly the same way as the original three with fixed camera angles and tank controls. This was something, by the time the Dreamcast came out, most games weren’t really doing anymore. Die-hard Resident Evil fans didn’t mind it at the time but it definitely weighed the game down in terms of its mass appeal, and still impacts it to this day, which is a huge problem because underneath that, you have one of the finest games in the series. Given all of that I can’t think of a better candidate for the next remake then Code Veronica.
But even if Code Veronica didn’t exist, I would still say that there are other games that should be prioritized over RE4. Like, the original for instance. While it is true that the original game has already been remade, that was really more of just a visual upgrade than the full ground-up remake treatment that RE fans are expecting at this point. That remake didn’t modernize how the game was played. It left the tank controls and wonky fixed camera angles intact, whereas the RE2 and 3 remakes did away with that philosophy entirely in favor of a system that plays like other modern games (including 4). Think about how well that approach would work for the locations and story of the original game. But that aside, I’ll even go another step further than that, and argue that Outbreak is probably more deserving of a remake than 4 with how outmoded it feels when compared to RE4.
Now, granted, Capcom certainly has plenty of talented developers under its umbrella, and there’s nothing stopping them from remaking all of the games I’ve mentioned as well as RE4, so, don’t think I’ve lost sight of the fact that we don’t really have to choose between these games ultimately. My main concern comes from the fact that you can’t ride the remake train forever and eventually fans will get burned out on them, so I would just like to see Capcom dump its resources into Resident Evil games that need the remakes the most first while the iron is hot, and then, as interest in these remakes starts to fade, THEN do the crowd-pleasers like a remake of 4. Maybe Capcom knows something that I don’t but that seems to be the most logical path to me if they’re looking to squeeze as much juice from the older games as possible.
One more reason that I’ll bring up is the fact that Resident Evil 4 is still loved by so many people, and still played so much to this day, that criticism for inaccuracies, missing areas, or wrong-headed interpretations of the original will be much more severe than it was for the previous games. Most fans of Resident Evil 2 and 3 have waited so long for a remake that they didn’t mind the inaccuracies or missing content too much, but the criticism Capcom did receive for the remake of the third game’s missing areas, I would argue, would be nothing compared to the criticism that Capcom would get if they did anything similar to that with 4. Resident Evil 4 is a lot fresher on a lot more gamers minds than Resident Evil 3 was when it’s remake came out, so I imagine a remake of 4 would be such a narrow path to success with such little room for error that I would hesitate to get behind the project if I were involved in Capcom’s decision-making process. It just doesn’t seem like it’s worth taking that large of a risk just to remake a game that people are still enjoying, is still making money, and while there are several other entries to the series that need the remake treatment much more urgently.
Those are just one man’s thoughts though, and as luck would have it, there are some newer whispers about Capcom making some changes to the remake of 4 behind the scenes. So, assuming the project and the rumors about it are true, we should at least be in for something that is being handled with care. I just hope the momentum continues and RE games that need the remake more still get their chance.
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