When Fans are Listened To: The Success of Resident Evil 2 Remake


Danielle Dix, Contributing Writer

When the demo for the remake of Resident Evil 2 came out on Jan. 11, fans of the franchise were ecstatic. Seeing the grand foyer of the police station and protagonist Leon S. Kennedy with new generation graphics brought forth nostalgic memories of the original game released in 1998. The highly interactive and entertaining demo made many fans optimistic about the upcoming game.

The original “Resident Evil 2” was characterized by its unique strategy of rationing resources in limited inventory space, which was unseen in other games at the time. Add in scares around every corner, fun but frustrating puzzles and varied grotesque enemies, it is no wonder the original game was such a success. Of course, there were limitations due to the time period it was created in, including awkward camera angles, cliché dialogue and dated graphics.

However, as new games were made, fans became more and more discontent with the products. The Resident Evil franchise was moving from its original survival-type games into a more action-shooter feel, with games such as “Call of Duty”. These types of shooters were most definitely mainstream money makers at the time. “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” made over $500 million during its three-day launch weekend, according to Fortune. Still, the charm and unique mechanics of the “Resident Evil” franchise was a large part of what made it so successful in the first place.

When “Resident Evil 6” was released in October of 2012, it was not well-received. Sales of the game did not reach projected expectations and many people that bought the game were extremely unhappy with the product. The main reason the game failed was that Capcom, the industry that created “Resident Evil,” was trying to please every type of “Resident Evil” fan. Instead of focusing on one aspect of the game and perfecting it, they made four campaigns: Leon Kennedy’s, Chris Redfield’s, Jake Muller’s and Ada Wong’s. Each campaign varied in gameplay, from the puzzle-centric campaign of Ada to the “Call of Duty” clone campaign of Chris. Trying to split the game into four sections did not end up appeasing all types of “Resident Evil” fans as Capcom intended, but instead made each route sloppy and rushed. RE6 was a perfect example of how quantity does not equal quality.

Series producer Masachika Kawata told Gamasutra, a website that comments on game development, that he felt the series needed to head in that action-oriented direction, especially as it relates to the North American market. RE6 was an attempt from Capcom to cement itself in the American market, at the cost of the company’s reputation.

Luckily for the base of “Resident Evil” fans, Capcom took a step back and looked at what they were doing wrong in their progression of the series. Due to  Resident Evil 6’s failure, they evaluated fans’ complaints and decided to revert the series back to the original game style early RE games were known for. The “Resident Evil 2” remake was the direct result of these efforts. When it was finally released on Jan. 25, fans expressed their approval and excitement on online forums and YouTube videos alike.

The zombies, while slow, are very threatening. In fact, the way they unnaturally lumber towards the player is spine-chilling. They lurk around every corner and never seem to die, even after numerous shots. The player never knows if that “dead” body leaning against the wall is really dead or if it’s going to lunge. The zombies no longer are just moving targets to shoot. Resources like ammo and health are sparse, forcing players to choose their battles and think critically. Knowing that they could run out of bullets at any time keeps players on their toes, especially when encountering a hoard of zombies. On top of that, puzzles force players to repeatedly enter zombie infected areas.

One of the biggest threats is Mr. X, a huge, hulking enemy that can’t be killed. He stalks players throughout the game, relentless with his pursuit. He even enters areas previously thought of as safe zones with his loud thundering footsteps warning the player he is near. These elements create a “Resident Evil” game that is truly scary again.

As of February, according to the Hollywood Reporter, three million units of the game have been sold. “Resident Evil 2” has even outsold “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard,” another recent critically acclaimed addition to the franchise.

For long term “Resident Evil” fans, seeing the franchise flourishing again is a happy sight. By listening to its fans, Capcom was able to cement itself into the American market. Not by making cheesy, unoriginal action-shooters, but by improving the good aspects that were tried and true. Fans are optimistic for the future of the franchise, and, if this upward trend continues, Capcom will really blow the fan base away with its next installment.