Resident Evil 4 was revolutionary when it was released in 2005. It is still considered by many to be the pinnacle of the franchise and remains legendary for its transformative impact on the action-survival-horror genres. Resident Evil 4 is arguably as important in shaping the shape of modern games as DOOM, Grand Theft Auto 3, and Super Mario 64 before it. Perhaps that’s why corners of social media are now debating whether Resident Evil 4 Remake is of any value. Here’s my take: Resident Evil 4 is undoubtedly a masterpiece, but it still deserves a generous reimagining for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X.
It’s easy to overlook how far the video game industry has come in 17 years. If you were to view it purely through a prism of nostalgia, it’s even easier to believe that the action, horror, and shooter genres haven’t made significant strides beyond the achievements of Resident Evil 4.
After all, you could argue that Resident Evil 4’s claustrophobic action is the best take on survival horror since we first stalked the halls of The Spencer Mansion. That the setting design of Resident Evil 4 established a framework that most third-person shooters continue to follow, the camera grips Leon S. Kennedy’s shoulder firmly in an effort to obscure his field of vision and provide him with precision. when you need it most. . That relentless drive from Resident Evil 4 to never allow yourself to settle into anything resembling a consistent rhythm or routine is the best reflection of an era where developers could be less frugal with their resources and more ambitious with their builds.
Take the nostalgia out of the discussion, and the truth is a little harder to swallow. If you go back to Resident Evil 4 now, you’ll soon realize that it’s still an action experience like no other, even if its rough edges run a bit deeper than you might expect.
Returning to Res 4
Sitting down with Resident Evil 4 now is a strange experience, but none the less essential. That opening section, set in a secluded European town, is as electrifying as I remember it being in 2005. It’s not long before you find yourself frantically navigating narrow paths, avoiding chasing after locals wielding sickles, pitchforks, and grinds. artificial intelligence. they are still amazingly aggressive. The funny thing is that Leon, still reeling from the biological disaster in Raccoon City six years earlier, now tasked with rescuing the kidnapped daughter of the President of the United States, is woefully unprepared for this task.
Firearm ammo dwindles when the third body hits the ground, and your options are reduced to blocking windows, blocking entrances, and desperately rummaging through decay to find something that can help turn the tide. By the time you find yourself with a shotgun and some loose shells to feed it, you’ve already heard the first few revolutions of certain death. What follows is a desperate fight for survival; you’re forced to prioritize shooting between enemies bumping into each other on a ladder, crashing ladders through windows, and bodies piling up on adjacent rooftops, all to the soundtrack of the low roar of an approaching chainsaw. Just when all hope seems lost, the bells ring. The villagers scatter. You allow a deep breath to enter your lungs. And then Leon says, the line that’s best included in the 2023 remake: “Where’s everybody going, Bingo?”
As legendary as this opening section is, coming to Resident Evil 4 after the phenomenal Resident Evil 2 Remake reveals just how much has changed in 17 years. The further you go beyond the village boundaries, the more Resident Evil 4 gets dated. That’s especially evident in the absurdity of its stereotypes, its characters, and its dialogue… and the less said about accompanying Ashley and the litany of Quick-Time Events, the better. While there’s certainly depth to Resident Evil 4’s encounters, a variety to its setting design and breadth of its assets that is unprecedented in the modern era of action games, that can only offset part of the frustration that comes from browse the latest game spaces. and engage with RE4’s combat systems throughout the long 20-hour adventure.
There is a part of me that loves tank controls. Coming to this conclusion is a rite of passage for any aging Resident Evil purist, but I can’t say I’m not excited to experience Resident Evil 4’s encounters through a Resident Evil. Review of 2 styles. I’ll argue for the need to plant your feet and hold your ground when shooting to be represented in any way in Resident Evil 4 Remake, but there’s no escaping the fact that what was once a revolutionary combination of limited FOV and deliberately forced movement. now it can feel like an exercise in mitigating frustration.
The camera is too close to Leon’s shoulder and his turning radius is too tight; it can often feel like you’re dragging a sled through thick low-poly mud. You have to actively struggle with the joysticks to get Leon to make even the smallest adjustments: it’s frustrating when you’re looking for spinning blue medallions, and it’s headache-inducing when facing a mass of tentacled enemies. Resident Evil 4 is iconic, particularly to those who experienced it at the time of its release, but the truth is, there has been such quiet refinement of third-person systems and mechanics in the intervening years. I find it hard to believe that younger gamers can adequately appreciate its legacy, let alone understand its appeal, in this era, without the veil of nostalgia to help mask its jagged edges.
There are generations of gamers who have never owned a GameCube or a PlayStation 2. A contingent of that group would probably consider early Xbox 360 games to be retro, and anything released before that as ancient history, in the same way that I might go back. and find some joy in the best NES games, but if you were to put an Atari 2600 in front of me, I’d wonder if it’s some kind of veiled punishment. A Resident Evil 4 remake won’t be able to replicate the impact of the original release, but I think all gamers interested in action games should experience this epic roller coaster ride. And if the game needs to be reinterpreted and revised to reflect modern gaming standards to appeal to these players, what’s the harm?
Resident Evil 4 reimagined for 2023
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A remake of Resident Evil 4 does nothing to lessen the pervasive power of the original for those who were there for it. And if Capcom is able to handle this project properly, learning the right lessons from the somewhat disappointing Resident Evil 3 remake, while pushing forward the innovations found in the reimagining of Resident Evil 2, then RE4’s existence for next-gen platforms will only continue. the resurgence of publisher dominance in the survival horror space.
Resident Evil 2 Remake arguably set a new standard for third-person shooters in 2019. It’s a slick action experience that demonstrates just how capable Capcom is of weaponizing nostalgia and reinventing combat and movement systems to better align with modern expectations. It doesn’t hurt that Resident Evil 2 Remake is one of the best looking and feeling games of the last generation, with the proprietary RE Engine helping to drive new levels of fidelity in everything from lighting to animation packs.
But RE2’s real strength is in how Capcom took an iconic game that had faded into the annals of history, playable for those who appreciate the PS1 design era or an affinity for retro gaming, and made it feel relevant again. . In the case of Resident Evil 2, the reimagining is perhaps even more transformative than the original when it was released in 1998. It’s easy to see how Resident Evil 2 Remake will not only inform the work being done on Resident Evil 4 Remake, but the impact it’s having across the industry: setting a standard for EA’s Dead Space Remake, Striking Distances’ The Callisto Protocol, and whatever Konami decides to do with Silent Hill in the future.
Capcom promo producer Edvin Edso (opens in a new tab) has said that Resident Evil 4 Remake is “being developed to achieve cutting-edge quality for a survival horror fit for 2023, while retaining the essence of the original game.” He goes on to explain that this includes reinventing the game’s story while keeping the essence of its direction, modernizing the graphics, and updating the controls to a modern standard.” Naturally, any changes to the camera or underlying controls will mean that Capcom will have to rethink every one of them. the original environments and iconic encounters from Resident Evil 4. Profanity? Maybe. Achievable? Absolutely.
I’m going into this with an open mind. Not only am I excited to see how Capcom will reinterpret Resident Evil 4 after 17 years of almost total reverence, I’m also eager to see how one of the greatest games of all time will fare when it’s redesigned for the modern era. I can’t wait to see what Capcom prioritizes and what will make it to the cutting room, which is inevitable given the size and scope of the original game.
But do us all a favor, Capcom, and keep those bold reload animations going during the transition; they are as necessary to Resident Evil 4 as Leon S. Kennedy himself.
Resident Evil 4 Remake is scheduled to release on March 24, 2023 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. If you’re looking for something to play in the meantime, check out the best resident evil games.