The original Resident Evil received justified credit for establishing the survival horror genre among the wider gaming audience, even if it wasn’t the first of its kind and how its concept was borrowed from several non-gaming horror media. It’s also responsible for establishing not only the biggest franchise in Capcom’s history, but one of the biggest in video game history.
But it’s Resident Evil 2 that should receive credit for establishing the franchise as most know it today, thanks to the meaningful changes it made. Players were required to conserve ammo in the first RE, which put the “survival” in “survival horror.” But RE2 provided enough ammo to mow down most enemies players came across. That was due to director Hideki Kamiya (now at PlatinumGames), who made the decision because he wasn’t a fan of games with limited ammo, and RE1 director and series creator Shinji Mikami wanted him to take an alternate approach. Overall, it was a far more polished experience whose quality was at least on par with its predecessor.
RE2 just celebrated its 20th anniversary, which specifically happened on January 21st, the day it released first in America in 1998. (I was too occupied with a different anniversary that day and put this one aside, and forgot about it until today.) It’s a good time to ask a particular question: Where’s that remake?
There were (figurative, and presumably literal) cheers when the Resident Evil 2 Remake was announced by Capcom in 2015, thanks to the possibilities the RE fanbase imagined for it. Capcom green lit the project after the success of the Resident Evil (Remake) HD Remaster, which led to fans thinking they would finally get the remake they’d been desiring for years. The team responsible for the older RE titles and the aforementioned remake were long gone from Capcom, but despite recent RE titles receiving mixed reviews, they’re still capable of good.
Take Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares, a DLC quest that worked as a quality throwback to the older games. There’s also the recent Resident Evil 7, which worked as an homage to them, though the game contained a first-person view as opposed to the isometric and over-the-shoulder perspectives previous games contained.
But where in the world is it? The remake was announced over two years ago in August 2015, and you’d think they would have something to show by now. Heck, quite a few thought it would be available by this point, in time for this anniversary. The development period seemed like it would be short given how the team wouldn’t need much time to draft the concept. After all, the RE1 remake was remarkably developed within 14 months. No one should have expected this remake to be developed in precisely that amount of time, since creating assets for an HD console game is much harder and work-intensive than for Gamecube. Yet it’s still a big surprise that we haven’t seen it yet.
There’s a good chance the game’s development team took some time to figure out what approach would be best, in terms of what similarities and differences this would have to the original, and how big those alterations would be. The more arbitrary route would have been to make it like the RE1 remake, keeping the original isometric perspective and camera angles, though with a significantly upgraded presentation. But it’s possible they want to be more daring, though that could risk causing massive division among the fanbase.
To be more specific: There’s a chance they could be considering camera angle changes. When it was announced, speculation (and maybe fear) suggested they could adopt a behind-the-shoulder camera view, which would drastically alter the game’s dynamic. Capcom might feel this could make it more palatable for a wider audience, though this could also upset those who enjoyed the RE1 remake or its remaster, which did well enough. They could also adopt the first-person style from RE7, though this one is even less likely. RE7 fared well critically, as it made several Game of the Year lists at the end of 2017, and Capcom recently confirmed it sold 4.8 million copies worldwide a year after its release. That’s below Resident Evil 5 and 6, but it’s absolutely worth celebrating.
My bet is that they’ll go with the isometric style; but Capcom is known for surprising people occasionally, and not all of their decisions have been well-received.
Since this is the anniversary year, they should show what they’ve been working on soon. But I’d like to think the team behind this has been efficient enough that they could also release it in 2018. This month would have been a good release timeframe, though game developers rarely have an anniversary project ready on the precise moment of the anniversary unless they purposefully hold it back. It would be nice if this could release in October, the second-best time of the year if it’s still coming this year. Keep your eyes peeled for it.