Resident Evil 2 is set around the time it originally appeared on store shelves: the late 1990s. Rather than set the upcoming remake in the present, its creators have decided to stick to the original late-’90s setting, making it a period piece of sorts. At Tokyo Game Show, I spoke with Capcom producer Tsuyoshi Kanda about how and why the development team revised the game to capture the feel of era of Kurt Cobain and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
A number of changes stem from the improved visual fidelity of modern games. For example, the team could add specificity to objects that were previously a collection of chunky polygons. “One interesting aspect is that Claire is set up as a biker,” said Kanda. “She rides into Raccoon City on a motorbike. In the original game, it’s a generic motorcycle design. But for the remake, we actually worked with Harley-Davidson to put the 1998 model of the Night Train in the game.
“So she specifically rides a bike that was put on sale that year. Not saying everyone who plays will say, ‘Oh, that’s a Night Train!’ Like, you may or may not be aware of that. But that’s a detail that really rings true for people who are familiar with motorcycle history. That’s the kind of detail we can use to really push the idea that this game was happening 20 years ago rather than now.”
The developers had to be just as mindful about what they didn’t add. “You have to be careful with the set dressing that you don’t start adding objects that wouldn’t exist in the ’90s,” said Kanda, “like more modern technology. It’s still the time of desk phones and CRT monitors.”
The team also made sure not to fill the game with over-the-top references that distracted from the original story. Instead, the creators focused on a few specific aspects of the game that could provide a ’90s feel. Kanda pointed to the music as a specific example: The developers composed their own ’90s-style track. “We created a song with lyrics,” said Kanda. “It’s intentionally got a grunge rock feel to it. So if you turned on the radio in the late ’90s, the kind of Pearl Jam/Nirvana-type stuff you would have heard back then, that was what we were aiming to achieve with this song.
“It’s actually the end credit song. So it’s not in the game itself, but when you finish it, the music that plays is keeping you in that timeline.”
The Resident Evil 2 remake will be released on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One on Jan. 25, 2019.