A handful of years ago, CAPCOM decided to remake one of its crown jewels from the late 90s – the survival horror classic Resident Evil 2.
Originally released in Japan as Biohazard 2, it was well received – MetaCritic shows the game as having 89%. I don’t know what metrics you go off, but just a shade of 90% is a good shout. Needless to say, the original was well received.
So, why on earth would you decide to remake something so beloved?
Well, a lot has happened since 1998. The biggest games have some form of online content. Character models went from blocky and unrealistic to stunning human-like. Sonic The Hedgehog has gone completely off a cliff and has released about two decent games and twenty sub-standard games. Things inevitably change. With improved technology and a push for more photorealism, there’s a case to be made for it.
But would it be any good?
Smashed it, mate!
And thus, the Resident Evil Remakes became three fantastic video games released over the last four years – with Resident Evil 4 being released a few weeks ago to critical acclaim. Each game takes the original, re-animates the corpse, and beefs it up considerably before setting it loose upon the world. The core gameplay, a zombie Metroidvania if you well, is present but the previous tank controls are replaced with an over-the-shoulder look that Resident Evil 4 nailed in 2005.
When in doubt, remake over a remaster.
The Grand Theft Auto series is critically revered and massively influential, particularly when it comes to the PlayStation 2 trilogy of games. I mean, who doesn’t remember the first time you were set loose in GTA 3? The absolute banging tunes of Vice City? The massive expanse of San Andreas? These games were some of the best of the PlayStation 2 generation.
The Remastered Trilogy? Not so much.
To quote two great philosophers, oh dear oh dear oh dear. What Rockstar Games released was the exact same game – which would have been fine, had time not moved on over the last twenty years. The mission design, the controls, and the graphics are all the same. Exactly the same. Add in the bugs and errors – for example, the rain coming down makes everything absolutely invisible – and you have a disappointing taste in your mouth.
Money grabbing or for the love?
Not working for either CAPCOM or Rockstar Games, it’s hard to know exactly what was going through their minds when the project came about. But it feels like there are different philosophies at play. To take a game, rebuild it from the ground up, and bring it a new sense of life? The ratings and critical reception surely.
CAPCOM have done their own remasters – Onimusha got the re-release treatment which felt a bit anti-climatic after Resident Evil 2. But there’s a whole catalogue of games out there, like Dino Crisis! A Saturday Night Slam Masters remake, complete with Tetsuo Hara character designs? Count me in! Why not bring Final Fight back in full 3D glory? Fantastic!
Or, you know, we could just make new original games. How novel!