"C"apcom have really turned things around for Resident Evil, a series that was down in the dumps not too long ago, and though that started with the freshness and unique new ideas brought to the table by Resident Evil 7, remarkably enough, how they’ve really led that charge is by looking to the past- and then modernizing it. Resident Evil 2 has seen success in what they’ve attempted to do, but taken as a whole, it represent the best choice Capcom could have made for the series- reinvent it to fit modern tastes, but do so while remembering what the fabric of the franchise is.
Even in the absence of any official announcements, it’s very likely that Resident Evil 3 is by no means the last RE remake. After the success that Resident Evil 2 enjoyed in terms of sales and critical reception, Capcom said in no vague terms last year that they’re going to keep focusing on similar remakes and revivals of their IP. Meanwhile, multiple recent rumours have suggested that another new Resident Evil remake is on the way, with one even stating that M-Two, the developers of the recently released RE3, will be handling it as lead developers. Whether or not that’s accurate remains to be seen, but the bottomline is that another Resident Evil remake in the not-too-distant future seems quite likely.
Logic would dictate that Resident Evil 4 will be next in line. Code: Veronica is the next favourite in that list, even though some reports have suggested that that won’t be the case. Resident Evil 0 might have an outside chance as well, while some have suggested that a second Resident Evil 1 remake in the style of 2 and 3 might not be such a bad idea- though as cool as that sounds, that seems highly unlikely. Either way, whichever game ends up getting remade, there are several things that the next RE remake can learn from Capcom’s recent similar effort- in terms of both, what to do and what not to do.
The first and most obvious thing is that it needs to retain the tone and atmosphere that has been prevalent in the series’ most recent entries. Starting with Resident Evil 7, Capcom brought Resident Evil back to a much more grounded, subtle style in terms of tone, and that was something that they continued with Resident Evil 2 and 3. Each of these games kept things simple and zoomed in, and they were better for it.
I realize that maintaining that same atmosphere and style of storytelling will be much more difficult with games like Resident Evil 4 and Code: Veronica, both of which are presumably frontrunners to get the next remake. Both of these games were, in terms of story, storytelling, and atmosphere, quite over-the-top, and they both had a tendency to be quite bizarre- and for the most part (at least when it worked), that was part of their charm.
But it’s something that Capcom can still accomplish. Minimal changes to the plot can be made- for instance, a potential Code: Veronica remake could tone down how annoying (to put it bluntly) Steve was, or how completely bizarre everything to do with Alfred was, while a hypothetical Resident Evil 4 remake could do the same with Salazar’s character. Similarly, changes in the writing and the direction of cutscenes can contribute to that as well. Maybe a Resident Evil 4 remake could try and make Leon less of a cheesy action hero and more of an actual human being, and maybe cutscenes could have fewer unnecessary slow-mo shots and go with the slick and much more intimate approach that the series’ recent output has taken.
That said, whichever game ends up being remade next should ensure that it doesn’t trim away too much of the story in its attempts to become more grounded- which is something that Resident Evil 2 and 3 have both been guilty of. While both these games’ changes to their respective stories have largely been for the better, and helped these narratives feel more believable and have a better flow to them, both of them have also made some changes and removals that many veteran series fans have been unhappy with.
What fans of Resident Evil would appreciate more than anything else is that any future remake does a better job of connecting with the larger series’ deep rich lore. That’s not to say Resident Evil 2 and 3 were not good at that, but both of those games did make cuts here and there that might not have affected their main narratives, but took a little bit away from the connections the originals had to the rest of the series to some extent. Just as one example, the fact that Resident Evil 3’s ending no longer sees Barry Burton returning to fly Jill and Carlos out of Raccoon City is a bit of a disappointment, even though that’s in no way integral to the game’s main story, and even though it wasn’t a very substantial appearance in the original to begin with.
I understand that a lot of those cuts happened to trim away the fat, and the remove some of the excess over-the-top bloat that the series had accrued with its later instalments. And while trimming away the fat is a great idea, and one that has largely worked out very well for the series in recent years, I’m hoping that Capcom will do a better job of balancing that with appealing to series fans a bit better in the future, and not trim away too much. After all, the very first Resident Evil remake made the original game better not by trimming away too much, but by actually substantially adding to its story and lore. A similar approach would be very welcome in the next remake in the series.
Speaking of trimming away too much, the biggest hope most will have for the next Resident Evil remake is that it doesn’t remove a lot of content, which is something that both Resident Evil 2 and 3 have caught flak for, to varying degrees. Some of the cuts both these games made did make sense, but there were others that did not. Resident Evil 2 removed zapping, and there were many who weren’t huge fans of how it handled its A and B campaigns. Resident Evil 3, meanwhile, cut out entire locations and segments from its campaign, removed Live Selections and alternate endings, and dropped the Mercenaries mode.
Again, making cuts doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, so I’m not suggesting that Resident Evil’s next remake should make no cuts whatsoever (RE4 can cut out the escorting mechanics entirely, for all I care). But once again, just like trims being made to the story, I’m hoping that the next Resident Evil remake will have a better understanding (especially when compared to RE3) of what to cut out and what not to cut out.
This is all, of course, based on a lot of assumptions. There’s no telling when the next Resident Evil will be out (or if it will even be out), but if we’re reading the evidence correctly, then it’s likely that it’s not too far away. The question of whether or not something like, say, Resident Evil 4 even needs a remake, or the question of whether something like Code: Veronica deserves one, is another discussion entirely, of course, but if one of these does end up happening, I’m sure many will be hoping that Capcom takes lessons from its recent games about both, what they should continue doing, and what they should consider improving.
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