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How The Resident Evil 2 Remake Will Balance Old And New

Leon Kennedy in Resident Evil 2

It's been one week since E3 2018 wrapped, and one of the most talked-about games from the show is a remake of a 20-year-old title. Survival horror fans new and old seem excited for the return of Resident Evil 2, which looks to take the series back to its zombie-infested roots. At the same time, the development team is implementing some clever twists which should help keep the game fresh and terrifying, even for series vets. Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, for instance, compared developing the game to being on a see-saw. In a recent interview, he explained:

I feel like I've gone back and forth a lot. You know, we see-sawed a lot between total respect/recreate the original, and then bring something new. Players today need something new to experience, and the team all have got their own individual memories of playing the original game and how they felt about it, and what they wanted to bring to the new project. And I think that over the course of the three or so years of development, what we've arrived at is what people played at the show. It's hitting all the beats that you'll remember, but it's taking time to also bring you something fresh in between those.

Resident Evil 2 looked great on-screen and, after getting to play through a portion of the game at the show, I can confirm that it plays super well, too. In that preview, I noted that this remake of Resident Evil 2 seemed to be doing a great job of blending classic elements of the game with some newer twists courtesy of that wonderful Resident Evil 7 game engine. The folks over at Gamespot had a word with producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi and Tsuyoshi Kanda about this balancing act, and they were surprisingly candid with their responses about the need to combine elements of the past and future.

That's evident not just from the new visuals and over-the-shoulder view, but also the more varied sound design, great new voice work, and zombies boasting animations that are almost too good. While inching my way through the Raccoon City Police Department, I was constantly confronted with a sense of nostalgia for the original, as well as the feeling that I was experiencing something totally new. As Kanda put it, that was absolutely by design:

I feel like we're a team who all really respect the original a lot, but we do feel our creative freedom coming out of the fact that we're using the RE engine, which was first used in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and being able to use that as the basis for the game has really unlocked a lot of freedom for us because it's such a great basis. You know, it's let us achieve such amazing immersive visuals and sound that we are then free to focus on thinking about how we're going to restructure the game, and it lets us challenge ourselves to bring our best game to the process. So I would personally feel like it was quite a free process to this point.

The remake of Resident Evil 2 was one of the few surprises during E3 2018. While we've known for a few years now that Capcom was working on the game, we never received much in the line of a status update. Then, out of nowhere, the game popped up during the PlayStation presentation, and damn-near stole the show. That's an impressive feat when folks are also looking at footage from games like Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part II and Death Stranding.

Capcom took a page from Bethesda when it came time to finally show off Resident Evil 2. Since we haven't heard much about the game up until now, it would make sense to assume we were, bare minimum, a year out from getting it in our hands. Instead, it'll arrive in pretty short order, launching on January 29, 2019.

Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.