It’s time for a ‘Resident Evil 4’ remake

Capcom’s “Resident Evil” series of video games have been a hit with consumers ever since 1996’s “Resident Evil,” a survival horror title set in a scary mansion laden with zombies and terrible dialogue.

“Resident Evil 2,” originally released in 1998 on the PlayStation, scored rave reviews and massive sales earlier this year after being remade and re-released with modern graphics and gameplay. As a result, it was no surprise when Capcom announced yesterday their upcoming remake of 1999’s “Resident Evil 3″ with a teaser trailer. This announcement, however, has left gamers speculating about the possibility of a “Resident Evil 4″ remake.

For those who don’t know, “Resident Evil 4″ is a special and unique entry not only within the “Resident Evil” series but in video games and the entertainment industry in general. I do not personally know any man in his twenties who has not played “Resident Evil 4.”

The game begins with the player being driven into a foggy, remote region of Spain’s countryside by two police officers. The player controls Leon S. Kennedy, a former policeman with great hair and a survivor of the citywide zombie outbreak seen in “Resident Evil 2.” Now a special agent for the U.S. president, Leon has been tasked with finding the president’s abducted daughter, Ashley, when a tip reveals she is likely being held in an isolated Spanish village.

In the outskirts of the settlement, the player is left alone upon returning from a hostile encounter with a deranged resident to find their police escorts missing, their car pushed into a river and the bridge out of town destroyed.

With no way to turn back, the player must travel deeper into the village center where one of Leon’s Spanish police escorts is found on display, impaled over a lit pyre.

Within seconds, the entire population of murderous villagers driven insane by a mysterious parasite descend on the gamer with pitchforks and sickles. The former village doctor shrugs off bullets and comes at you with a potato sack over his face and a chainsaw. You have only your pistol to defend yourself with, though you can arm yourself with a shotgun and a handful of shells too if you can manage to steal it from a villager’s home.

This all happens within the first twenty minutes of playing.

“Resident Evil 4” has one of the best opening sequences in games and became iconic even before its first level concluded.  

Remaking “Resident Evil 2″ and “Resident Evil 3″ was an obvious decision for Capcom because of how dated the originals appear today. Video games age perhaps faster than any other media because of how quickly computer technology has advanced over the last 30 years. Games from the 1990’s look like silent films compared to contemporary releases.

“Resident Evil 4” is not as obvious a choice to be remade because when it was first released in 2005, it was extraordinary. It featured an over-the-shoulder camera perspective not previously seen in the series, which became the standard for almost every subsequent game in the franchise, including “Resident Evil 2″’s remake. Almost nothing at the time looked as good and nothing had a bigger influence on how future third-person shooters would handle. It has been ported to virtually every piece of hardware that can play games and high definition versions of the original are still selling fifteen years and 7.5 million copies later.

People love “Resident Evil 4″ and it has aged well enough that some fans don’t want to see it remade. A few devoted fans won’t want to see different character models speaking with different voices. They won’t want to lose the charm of the old, intentionally clunky controls. Some won’t want the old version to become obsolete to new players after a remake replaces it.

I say remake it though. I want an excuse to go out and buy the game again after doing so twice already. I want to see it upgraded with the same excellent cooperative online play its less beloved but still outstanding sequel incorporated in its post story content. I want to enjoy “Resident Evil 4″’s great mix of stylish action, tongue-in-cheek story, and genuinely frightening atmosphere with cutting edge graphics and slick new controls.

One of the game’s villains, however, was so terrifying that I’m already dreading the thought of seeing that thing return.

Scary games are very different from scary movies. No matter how many fingers you hold in front of your face, a movie will continue playing toward its conclusion. Video games, however, require your attention and input to propel the narrative. You the player have to slog through the dark sewer with only a few bullets left in your pistol and you can’t look away.

Even so, I can’t wait to do it again.