Resident Evil 3 Makes Me Question If We Need a Resident Evil 4 Remake
As the foundation for what later RE installments would become, Resident Evil 4 is an experience that may not benefit from being remade.
With its release this week on consoles and PC, Resident Evil 3 arrives as the second consecutive remake of one of the franchise’s mainline installments, following last year’s stellar Resident Evil 2. Given that both of these games first debuted on the original PlayStation–and were the only two core Resident Evil games that I personally had yet to play–it’s easy to see why Resident Evil 2 and 3 being remade would be so appealing to so many people.
Aside from getting to show players the beginnings of the franchise following its more radical (but effective) shift in Resident Evil VII, RE2 and now RE3 both gave the chance to revive classic installments in the series with several modern tweaks and refinements. Aside from a gorgeous reimagining through Capcom’s RE Engine, RE2 and RE3 gave us a return to the classic Resident Evil that fans know and love, a new meme born from Mr. X, and another chance to face off with one of the series’ most terrifying foes, Nemesis.
Shortly after finishing my playthrough of Resident Evil 3 last week, one of the first questions that came to my mind was “what comes next?” For the series to bounce back so effectively in the past few years between its new direction with Resident Evil VII and back-to-back remakes in RE2 and RE3, it really feels like the sky’s the limit for where the series can go from here. While we know that a Resident Evil VIII is all but inevitable (and likely in development), the biggest question moving forward is how the series will balance moving further into the direction that REVII pushed into, or how Capcom can continue delivering the more traditional Resident Evil experience that RE2 and RE3 provided.
If that ends up being the latter, then realistically it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine that Capcom could consider delivering more remakes of other RE installments, given the critical and commercial success of RE2. If Capcom were to try and deliver something in the vein of RE2 and RE3 by reimagining one of the series’ earlier installments for a modern audience, then the most likely candidate could be Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Originally released on the Dreamcast in 2000 (and later ported to other systems), Code Veronica would serve as an effective tie-in to the storylines of RE2 and RE3, though the game itself is one of the more divisive among series’ fans. It would certainly be one of the RE games that could benefit the most from a reimagining, even if it isn’t necessarily one of the most popular entries.
If Capcom were to develop a new Resident Evil remake going solely off the mainline installments, then realistically that would mean Resident Evil 4 would be up next for the remake treatment. For a while after I rolled the credits on RE3, the thought came to my mind about what I could imagine a remake of RE4 looking like, and I surely got excited at the possibilities. The RE Engine has given us gorgeous games like REVII, RE2 and 3, and Devil May Cry 5, and I have no doubt that RE4 being remade in the same way would look astounding (especially Leon’s hair). However, in several ways I considered the fact that RE4, a groundbreaking installment for the series, might be better left in its original form.
Out of all the entries that I’ve played in the Resident Evil series, I would say far and away that RE4 is my personal favorite, let alone one of my all-time favorite games. In the years since I first played it on GameCube, I’ve gone back through RE4 probably 4-5 times through its subsequent releases on PS2, Xbox 360, PC, and PS4. At the time, my only prior experience with Resident Evil was through the GameCube remake of RE1–a game that terrified me to my very core–but as I was now a few years older and less susceptible to being scared out of my mind, Resident Evil 4 was truly my gateway to the rest of the series.
A lot of that comes from the fact that Resident Evil 4 is easily the point at which the series experienced some of its most dramatic and effective changes, for better and worse. With its improved controls and over-the-shoulder camera, Resident Evil 4’s influence is still felt in both the survival-horror genre and third-person shooters to this day. Even though it is now 15 years old at this point, RE4 is still a game that holds up remarkably well and is a masterpiece in tension.
The opening segments of Resident Evil 4 speak for themself in how it managed to both push the series forward while retaining the qualities that made it a true Resident Evil experience. As Leon ventured forward into the throws of a mysterious Spanish village on his search for the President’s daughter, Ashley, players used to the confined spaces of past Resident Evil games were instead greeted by a village full of enemies and a scramble to try and make it out alive.
In that opening section of the game alone, Resident Evil 4 effectively and effortlessly displayed what its more open environments and new camera system would bring to the series. From facing off with a hoard of villagers and darting between houses to find ammo and supplies, RE4 used these elements to increase tension as players were faced with relentless enemies on their tail in a disorienting environment. That’s all without bringing up the chainsaw man that would bring a gruesome end to Leon if he managed to catch up with him.
The village section specifically illustrates so many reasons why I still think back on Resident Evil 4 as the high point of the series, even if it would end up leading to some of the lesser moments of Resident Evil’s history with RE5 and, especially, RE6. Granted, I’m more willing to forgive RE5’s obvious problematic elements now because of its great co-op gameplay, versus the bloated, nonsensical mess that was RE6, which is arguably the series’ lowest point. Despite this downward turn towards becoming more action-oriented, Resident Evil 4 still had a profound impact on the series moving forward, and that’s far more apparent in the remakes of RE2 and RE3. In a way, RE4 walked so that RE2 and 3 could run, with both of these remakes perfecting what made RE4’s combat system work so effectively.
With how well that RE2 and RE3 were able to reimagine these earlier entries in the series by upgrading their visuals and gameplay, I just have a hard time seeing how the same effect could happen if Resident Evil 4 were to be remade. Though by now there are elements of RE4 that surely could have some modern development polish, to me trying to improve on an installment that laid so many foundations for the rest of the Resident Evil series wouldn’t necessarily “improve” on what already makes RE4 so compelling. Nearly all of the modern Resident Evil games owe a huge debt to RE4, and in a way, remaking that experience feels like it would eliminate the special qualities that made RE4 such an essential part of the series’ history.
From an accessibility standpoint, there is also the case to be made that with RE2 and RE3, those two earlier installments of the series were largely confined to older systems that most would have a hard time finding nowadays. Unless you happen to have an original PlayStation, PS2, or GameCube still available, giving a new audience the chance to experience these games for the first time (or series’ fans the chance to relive them) was a notable reason why reimagining RE2 and RE3 would make sense. At this point, there is largely no platform that Resident Evil 4 isn’t accessible on currently, with the game having released on PC a while back, on PS4 and Xbox One a few years ago, and its most recent release on Nintendo Switch last year.
With Resident Evil 3 about to arrive, there’s no telling yet what’s in store for Resident Evil fans down the line. Though we can surely expect a new mainline installment to hit probably within the next few years, Resident Evil 2 and 3 have shown that Capcom knows what it’s doing when it comes to bringing back these classic installments for a new audience. With those games obviously getting the benefit of a transition from PS1-era games to modern hardware, it’s harder to see where that type of effect can be felt if the company decides to remake Resident Evil 4. Given how RE2 and RE3 turned out, I don’t have doubts that Capcom could pull off a great reimagining of RE4, but more that the original is already worth experiencing by itself.