Hot off the heels of the Resident Evil 3 remake’s massive commercial success, the team at Capcom are reportedly at work on remaking the last game in the series that needs a proper face lift. I speak, of course, about Resident Evil – Code: Veronica. However, Capcom apparently misheard me, and have ignored the preemptive cries of 2 million RE fans begging them not to touch their most beloved entry, and have decided to remake Resident Evil 4 instead.
Look, Capcom, I get it. Resident Evil 4 is the one most people (outside of purists, and fans of puzzles that are either painfully simplistic or maddeningly obtuse) love the most. It was the gateway game that got people interested in the series. Even if they hadn’t played the original three on the PSX, they probably went back and played them afterwards. Perhaps they played the stunning Resident Evil remake on GameCube, along with the wholly original prequel Resident Evil 0.
Much like RE3 Remake itself, Capcom often manages to exceed and recede our expectations at the same time. So since they’re gonna go ahead and remake RE4, and there’s nothing I can do about it, I figured I might offer a few suggestions to the folks at Capcom.
Do “The Voice”
Let’s start with something easy. When I start a Resident Evil game, I want to hear someone say the title. In the original RE4, when you start, or load, your game the announcer says “Resident Evil 4….” in that gravelly Don LaFontaine tone. Most RE games have it, but the RE3 remake left it out. So just have a new voice actor say “Resident Evil 4…” Don’t leave it out. I noticed its absence at the beginning of RE3 Remake and it’s such an odd omission.
It’s like a Star Wars movie without the line, “I have a bad feeling about this.” Yeah, most savvy movie goers know about it—and what a Wilhelm Scream is for that matter—but it’s just expected at this point, so when it’s not there, people are just gonna go, “Aw man, they didn’t do it.” That’s not fan service, that’s just sticking to the little details of the franchise people love. It’s part of the series’ DNA.
Also, in the audio settings, make the original voice recording option available, because you have to think like the internet. What are they going to complain about? So then, you can preemptively fix it! Only so they can immediately move on to micromanage or nitpick another aspect or artistic choice you made. Heh, the internet, amiright, Capcom? Anyway, my next demand is about…
First off, we all know the graphics are going to be better. I know we all have our nostalgia goggles equipped in our inventory, but the graphics could—and will—look better than they did on the GameCube and various HD remasters. We have the glorious new RE Engine, and have already seen next-gen Leon and Ada in RE2R, so the supporting cast will get the new hotness in redesign, and the Ganados (RE4‘s undead, but slightly less brain-dead infected) will have less—or perhaps more—of that uncanny valley look in their soulless eyes.
Second, I know Capcom is still fond of putting QTEs in cutscenes to keep us all awake, but they’re really not necessary. Granted, I suppose it would be hard to leave them out entirely—especially when this game was the one that started the trend in the series—but, ya know, try.
Do not, I repeat, do not take parts of the game that were genuinely creepy, and turn them into elaborate, silly, overstylized cutscenes. I happen to have the perfect example of something that should remain untouched, and it happens right at the beginning of the game.
The Village Encounter
Burning on a pole in the middle of a village, Leon spots one of the local police that drove him to the outskirts of Pueblo. He uses binoculars to see this. You, as the player, control this, observing for as long, or as short, as you like. The villagers, all infected with the Las Plagas virus, are partially sentient and going about their normal routine, unfazed by the dead man on the hook.
You approach the village and very little alerts you to the situation about to unfold. Leon doesn’t say out loud, “I better not get spotted.” You simply are allowed to wander into the village only to discover that being spotted by one of the denizens causes them to sound the alarm, yelling, “Un forastero!” (“A foreigner!”). And then the music kicks in. I forgot just how tension-building this theme, “Ganado I” on the RE4 soundtrack, truly is.
I blew my cover almost immediately entering the village, thinking I was being sneaky trying to attack a woman with her back turned, but she made me quick and soon the entire village was converging on me. Let me be clear, the encounter in the village is perfection. You have a set location to roam. You can go about the survival several different ways. You can use every part of the locale. You can barricade yourself inside houses (for a brief time, as Ganados can and will bust down blocked doors and windows), you can climb the roofs of buildings (although they will follow you up there too), you can run like mad through the village, bypassing cows and chickens, searching for what little ammo and health this early section gives out, or you can try to take them all on one by one.
I forgot that entering a specific house triggers a cutscene, one that introduces one of RE4‘s most famous villains, Dr. Salvator (AKA the Chainsaw Guy). In my initial draft, I actually made a mention that the eventual remake should not have a cutscene to introduce the burlap sack-headed baddies, because my memory was always simply hearing the faint sound of a chainsaw drawing closer and closer. Funny how memories work sometimes.
Once you defeat the chainsaw wielding killer, the bell tower rings, drawing the rest of the Ganados away. One of the villagers hisses, “Lord Saddler…” Leon ponders where everyone has run off to as the camera pulls back and we get the Resident Evil title card. Welcome to Resident Evil 4. Perfection.
So if the village opening should remain unchanged, what exactly does need fixing? Well, a few obvious things most people tend to gloss over.
Controls and Combat
Many people feel like the controls are flawless. I don’t want to point out the painfully obvious, but we are now accustomed to moving while aiming over the shoulder, and that is going to be a part of RE4. The designers will no doubt adjust for the fact that this will make combat easier.
The 180 turn was a big help in RE4, and if they could hone that control a little, it would go a long way with me personally. And when I say “hone,” what I mean is, I want it to consistently work.
I’ve already been through the “It’s probably me” phase, and after serious consideration—and over 80 hours logged on RE3—I can safely say the 180 turn never works when you need it to most.
I say that as someone whose playthroughs that needed to be completed in a certain time frame were constantly sabotaged by Toy Uncle’s giant head crushing me in the stairway leading to Moon’s Donuts. It was shockingly reminiscent of why I bailed super-early on Resident Evil 6 after Leon couldn’t outrun cars because I didn’t understand the QTE commands.
I literally dreaded each playthrough of RE3 once I got to the part where Jill has to sidestep a giant rolling object. I realize that’s a running theme since the original game’s Raiders of the Lost Ark boulder section, but that doesn’t make it right. Seriously, what is it with this series and large boulders?
Aside from the 180 turn never working properly (although I’m sure it is still partly me), I think the combat and controls are currently (under the new RE Engine) well tuned. The control setup for shooting, reloading, switching items, weapons, and sub-weapons is fine. I wouldn’t change much as far as the modern REmake control scheme goes, but I wouldn’t mind the option for customization.
The Lament of Configurations
One of the most annoying things the Resident Evil 2 remake did was include a lot of paid DLC on day one. I found it borderline offensive that in order to get the original RE2 soundtrack, you had to purchase it, or buy it a deluxe edition of the game.
What’r Ya Configuring? What’r Ya Changing?
We all know the mysterious Merchant, a traveling salesman with an entire store inside his coat, has about four lines of dialogue he repeats ad nauseam:
- “What’r ya buyin?”
- “What’r ya sellin?”
- “He heh. Thank you!”
- “Come back anytime!”
Don’t change this, but give us the option to turn it off. I say this because I’ve played my share of JRPGs where characters shout out the same few lines of dialogue after a successful battle. I can only hear Ni No Kuni‘s Oliver go, “Yippee!” so many times, especially as a 43 year old man whose wife side-eyes him for playing games where characters sound like they come from Cartoon Network.
Customization is key, and too often Capcom has made the aesthetic changes fans want the most available—for a fee. It’s 2020. Micro-transactions for such things are no longer good business. Which dovetails nicely into my next point.
Resident Evil has always been about replayability. Playing the games over, with harder enemies and stronger weapons, and having the ability to do so in new costumes, or with completely different characters, was part of the entire game experience.
RE2R and RE3R both have content you unlock in different ways. RE2R had some content you could unlock through gameplay, but also had content you could only unlock via micro-transactions. RE3R didn’t rely on micro-transactions, but also offered nothing outside of perks and weapons you could unlock via points you acquired completing in game challenges.
While I loved the way you could choose which bonus to purchase (I didn’t purchase Jill’s retro costume until I had every other available item), I was disappointed that completing the game on harder difficulty levels, or getting a higher final ranking, didn’t unlock anything useful. Sure, the first time you do it, you will score the obligatory trophy and be rewarded points, but RE3R has a severe lack of alternate costumes. There are practically none, and I can’t imagine any are coming down the recycled sewer section now that the teams are hard at work on VIII, RE4R, and—let’s be honest—a Ronnie remake.
I’ve recently been conflicted about my feelings towards RE3R; they’ve shifted a bit as of late. I still contend that it was perfect quaran-tainment; keeping me hooked with the gameplay, the unlockable content you earn through challenges and ranking, and the lightning quick playthrough time (which after a few playthroughs can clock in at under 2 hours).
However, now that it’s been out and there (seemingly) isn’t going to be any additional content, I have to say the final product is lacking.
And let’s talk about endings, or in RE3R‘s case—ending. I get that it was easier to make different endings, and even different scenarios, back in the PSX days, but I don’t think there’s any excuse for why RE3R only had one bland ending.
Previous RE games have had multiple endings, some where major characters are killed off, because none of that matters unless it’s the one, true, canonical ending. I remember beating RE3 the first time wondering how the ending would play out once I beat it on a higher difficulty level, only to discover that’s the only ending there is. I even mentioned it in my Day One review, before I had completed the game.
I don’t know the official storyline of the new RE4, although based on certain RE3R enemies, it will be somewhat faithful to the original. Regardless, I think this new version can certainly incorporate a jet ski into its ending if they want, I just hope they have multiple endings. Not all games need multiple endings, but I think in RE games—much like the silly announcer voice—they’re expected.
Perhaps with the conspicuous absence of Barry in the RE3 remake, his character arc has been shifted, changed, or been slightly adjusted. Either way, with the newer games in the series featuring Chris Redfield, I feel like this RE4 is going to try to connect the remakes to the more modern 7 and the upcoming Village (REVIII).
RE4 was a Little Broken
I know RE4 is our little baby, and our little baby is just perfect, but we all have picked up on our baby’s little quirks over the years. For example, most people know plunking Ganados (and others) in the knees—and then finishing them off with a knife while their on the ground, or perhaps just incapacitating them with a sweet roundhouse kick—is the way to conserve ammo and safely take care of enemies when there isn’t a significant hoard descending upon you.
Once the game does start sending waves of enemies at you, you’ll quickly settle into a groove that starts to get tedious over time, and eventually drags on for far more sections than necessary. I think the game being segmented into chapters is unnecessary and can be eliminated in the remake. While my main issue with RE3 is it’s brevity, RE4 could stand to trim more than a few hours off its bloated run time.
RE4 Did a Lot of Things Right (and a Few Things Wrong)
The Resident Evil games are campy. People that groan about Leon doing acrobatic Milla Jovovich flips over laser beams must have forgotten Rebecca spending part of the original game practicing a song on the piano. Freaking Bravo Team.
In the GameCube remake of the original RE, they changed or removed the “best lines,” both said by Barry. The first one extracts the infamous, “Here’s a lockpick. It might come in handy if you—the master of unlocking—use it,” replacing it with something a human would say. The second change is more glaring. When Barry saves Jill from the room with the collapsing ceiling, he tells her, “[She was] almost a Jill sandwich.” In the remake he says, “You would’ve fit nicely into a sandwich.”
The first change made sense, because the original line was preposterous and unnatural, but the second change takes a memorable, awful line, and tries to normalize it, while also referencing it. It was a misfire. My point is, RE4 should either commit to keeping the weird dialogue, or modernize it all.
Ashley, the President’s daughter and your annoying plus-one, was a walking trope. For all the silly hand wringing that goes on about objectified damsels-in-distress, she’s probably the worst and truest version of it, because she’s got no character. She’s boring, she’s bland, she’s annoying, and she literally walked into the most easily avoidable trap in the history of convoluted traps.
Ashley’s character has nowhere to go but up. Luis, the former Los Illuminados biologist, probably has his critics, especially for casting his male gaze upon Ashley and commenting on her being equipped with “ballistics.” Don’t worry, if that comment makes no sense, the camera lets you know what he means. Either the remake has to remove lines like this entirely, or keep the campy, potentially questionable stuff in and own it. Frankly, I think the cheesy, juvenile sex talk stuff is part of the camp. I laugh at it, but I assume Ashley and Luis will both get fleshed out a bit more, since modern games feel strongly that we—the audience—really want that.
Old Meets New
With the RE of old merging with the RE of today, we can expect the RE4 remake to be—hopefully—the best of both eras. The only real thing I ask of the RE4 Remake is simple: Don’t leave anything out. The Mercenaries, Assignment: Ada, Separate Ways, the special weapons, the extra costumes, leave it all in. If anything, add more. More characters, more modes, crazy costumes, weird endings, superfluous options. I expect big things from you Resident Evil 4. Don’t let me down.