Why Capcom is Remastering the Original ‘Resident Evil’ Now

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Capcom has taken to its blog to announce some good news for fans of Resident Evil. The company is going to remaster the first entry in the series for modern systems, including Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The game will be a digital-only release, set to arrive sometime in early 2015. It will support 5.1 surround sound, plus 1080p visuals on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, while players on the older consoles will have to settle for 720p. In any incarnation, Capcom is billing this as the “definitive vision” of the game.

The original Resident Evil dates back to 1996, when it was released for PlayStation. In 2002, the game was remastered for the Nintendo GameCube (to much critical acclaim), and later ported to the Wii. This upcoming edition of the game will actually be a remastered version of that remastered version (there’s a kind of Russian dolls thing going on here). Since Nintendo platforms have received so much love from Capcom on the Resident Evil remastering front, it’s surprising that for this game the company will skip the Wii U in favor of every other system on the market.

Although it’s hewing close to the original game, this new version will have more than just a graphical update. You’ll be able to play the game in the original 4:3 aspect ratio, or a new 16:9 widescreen view. The original game’s clunky controls — often referred to now as “tank controls” — will be updated to be more like modern games (although if you’re feeling nostalgic you can switch back to the original controls in the options menu). The game will also have a more dynamic “sliding” camera, in place of the stationary camera of the original.

The question all this begs is this: Why remaster the game again, and why now? I have a theory. If you look at the sales figures and critical consensus of the recent numbered titles in the series, you’ll see a pattern — a pattern that Capcom doesn’t want to see continue as the series progresses.