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Remaking Resident Evil 2 is just what the RE series needs

on 27 September 2012

Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 has remained a fan favourite since it shambled into stores nearly 15 years ago. While the original revived the Survival Horror genre in the mid-1990s and made it a commercial entity once again, it wasn’t until RE2 arrived that it really became a mainstream juggernaut. Critically acclaimed and selling by the millions, RE2 established the zombie-blasting franchise as one of Capcom’s premier IPs, and up until RE5 remained the biggest-selling RE game of all time. Unsurprising it is, then, that fans have been clamouring for a remake ever since Capcom polished up the original game on GameCube a decade ago.

Capcom’s never shot down the idea of remaking Leon and Claire’s Raccoon City adventure, but they haven’t really given us much hope either. That all changed this week though, when the producer of Resident Evil 6 indicated that a revamped RE2 could happen, providing fans got behind the project (although there are no doubt many other deciding factors doing the rounds at Capcom HQ to boot). Much as I am stoked for revisiting the T-Virus infected streets of Raccoon in glorious high-definition, a remake of the seminal sequel could do a lot more than just impress; I’ve no doubt that if executed properly, it could be the shot in the arm the franchise so desperately needs after all but losing its identity in the past few years. 

Remaking Resident Evil 2 would give Capcom the chance to take things back to basics; to remind people what the franchise once stood for, and revive the fledging Survival Horror aspect of the venerable series. Yes, RE has remained commercially successful since leaving behind tank controls and pre-rendered backdrops, but its relationship with what made the classic games so defining is tenuous at best. With RE2, which for many represents the pinnacle of the ‘classic’ RE games, Capcom has the chance to give old timers the quintessential RE experience they’ve been craving for since Zero showed up, and offer newcomers a chance to see how things were done back in the day, as it were. As outdated as it is in this day and age, I couldn’t possible imagine a RE2 remake being done any justice unless Capcom adheres to the classic RE template.

In other words, pre-rendered environments, old-school controls, proper riddles -- the works. RE2 is inherently a methodical, survival-based adventure game, and swapping out the classic formula for something similar to RE4 /5’s fast-paced blasting would completely erode that experience. This is not a reinvention of the game; it’s a remake, allowing for some fine-tuning but ultimately sticking to the plans laid down by the original version. However, retrospect is a wonderful thing, and thanks to various sequels and spin-offs that have flesh out the narrative since RE2’s release, we’re sure to get some new content thrown in for good measure. Perhaps expand Raccoon City’s streets and extend the sewer systems to elongate the play time (RE2 was notoriously short), or expand Ada Wong’s involvement in the story, seeing as how we now know that she was worked with Wesker, then presumed dead.

Visually pre-rendered backdrops would be nothing short of eye-wateringly beautiful. Resident Evil has always remained a showpiece in terms of graphics; Remake holds up remarkably well to this day, so a revamped RE2 would surely be near-photo realistic. Plus, static camera angles would only help to accentuate the fear factor, more so than a Hollywood-esque moving perspective. Puzzles could also do with an overhaul, as the original’s weren’t exactly all that memorable; this is the chance for Capcom to really give us that old-school cerebral workout that past games achieved so well. After all, the last few games all but eschewed those brain-teasing puzzles that were long a staple of the Resident Evil experience. The Mercenaries could also make a comeback seeing as how it wasn’t in RE2 to begin with, and we’d welcome a few control tweaks to make combating enemies easier; the defensive items from the Remake would be a great addition. 

While I don’t expect for one second Capcom would go back to the classic template for future core iterations, there’s no better time to remind gamers of RE’s glory days and restore some faith in the franchise than revisiting the blood-drenched, undead-infested streets of Raccoon City.

Make it happen Capcom, and do it justice.