Resident Evil 4 remake review: a modern blockbuster with an old-school heart

Perhaps we are approaching a point where there are, in fact, too many remakes and remasters of video games. Off the top of my head, there is The Last of Us Part I, Demon’s Souls, Shadow of the Colossus, Metroid Prime, Dead spaceand so on, Silent Hill 2. But no one got into this trend as hard as Capcom. Part of its resurgence Resident Evil included bottom-up remakes of games such as Resident Evil 2 and 3. These made a lot of sense, translating the heavy early PlayStation gameplay for modern audiences and resulting in some of the best games in the entire franchise.

With its remake Resident Evil 4, the benefits of a remake are not so obvious. The original game still holds up well, a mix of high-octane action and classic survival horror, and it’s not like it’s out of reach in 2023. RE4 was released on the GameCube and has since been ported to a huge range of platforms, including virtual reality. So a big budget remake doesn’t need to exist at all — and yet, I am very glad that it exists. RE4 remains a hallmark of action game design, and this new facelift updates it enough to turn it into a modern blockbuster — but one that retains its old soul.

Before we get into the remake, a little history lesson is in order. It is important to know how much is a turning point RE4 it was for the series. The original trio of Resident Evil The games helped pioneer survival horror as we know it today, with slow methodical gameplay accompanied by a control system lovingly – and sometimes definitely not lovingly – referred to as “tank controls”. It could be frustrating, but it also added to the horror as you struggled to escape the slow, storming hordes of the undead.

The fourth entry takes many of the franchise’s hallmarks – intricate level design, creepy environments, puzzles that require elaborate keystrokes, limited resources, morphing bosses with lots of glowing eyes, a completely silly story – and infuses them with the DNA of a full-out action game. Instead of standing there terrified while firing a weak pistol at shuffling zombies, you can now run, dodge and wield all kinds of weapons without having to also fight against controls. He changed his direction Resident Evil for years, shifting the balance from scares to shooting. It wasn’t until Resident Evil 7 that it’s back to classic survival horror (but from a terrifying new perspective).

This change in tone and style is evident from the start. Resident Evil 4 puts you in the role of federal agent Leon Kennedy, tasked with rescuing the president’s daughter from a remote Spanish village, where you’ll eventually encounter a murderous cult, monsters with too many tentacles, and lots of other things to shoot. Very early in the game – like, before you’ve even fired a bullet – you’re thrown into the town square, which is filled with residents who want to assassinate you for some reason. One of them has a chainsaw. You have no choice but to fight.

This bold opening sequence is significant for a few reasons. It shows how action oriented the game is. you can’t survive without running, hiding and dodging a lot of shots. It also makes it clear that the enemies are not the slow zombies from the previous games. They are quick and can think. One of my strongest memories from playing for the first time in 2005 was knocking down a ladder so the villagers couldn’t climb up to get me, only to see them pick it up and put it back in place. I had to put the controller down for a while.

Despite being nearly two decades old, it feels like a mostly modern experience

In the remake, that village sequence is much scarier than I remember. At its core – storytelling, gameplay and design – the remake is the same as the original. But it has a number of upgrades, mostly in terms of visuals and controls, that elevate the experience and make things like the familiar opening combat more intense and dynamic.

It looks incredible, for one thing. The environments are filled with small details that make the world feel alive, from the disturbing, glistening traces of blood to the strokes of oil paintings. During the quiet moments, it’s a lot of fun to soak in the atmosphere and just look around. The more realistic graphics naturally make things much scarier, especially when it comes to enemy designs. Classic creatures like towering giants or pesky bugs now look truly terrifying. Even the typical villagers and cult members have a much more disturbing edge to them.

These fears are balanced by the fact that you feel more powerful than almost anyone else Resident Evil game. Leon is fast and powerful, and the controls feel streamlined to the point that even towards the end of the game, when I had six different firearms to switch between, I never struggled to switch in the middle of a firefight. When I died, it was usually because I did something stupid, not because I pressed the wrong button. It’s hard to describe in words, but the Resident Evil 4 just a remake feels good: the movement, the shots, the impressive sets. It all boils down to a game that, despite being nearly two decades old, plays like a mostly modern experience.

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There are some places where its remake Resident Evil 4 it’s showing its age — but I mean that in a good way. For one thing, it is such a video game. Modern blockbusters love to hide their inherent playfulness under the veneer of immersion, but RE4 he harbors no such illusions. This is a game where you kick boxes with yellow paint to collect ammo and herbs, while explosive red barrels are everywhere. There’s even a mine cart sequence (with lots of explosive barrels).

Leon makes funny B-movies all the time and characters appear not when it makes the most sense but when the plot calls for it. Perhaps the best example of this is the ever-present shopkeeper, who has storefronts all over the abandoned, run-down town, despite seemingly only having one customer. These choices usually don’t make much sense narratively, but they do fun. They make the game simpler to play, and overall, the experience is better for them. I don’t want to smash the whole landscape to get those shells. Just tell me where to go with some bright yellow.

This is one such video game

Similarly, Resident Evil 4 it has a level of focus that is becoming increasingly rare. While the remake expands on some things, particularly with more elaborate boss fights, it’s still a fairly straightforward experience. There are no open world elements. (There are a few optional missions, mostly carried over from the original, but they’re simple things like killing rats and shooting blue targets.) For the most part, RE4 it pushes you down narrow corridors that connect larger areas where you’ll do all the fighting. you’ll know when you’re in a battle sequence because of all the covers and exploding barrels. Its world still feels big and complex, but it’s not the kind you get lost in. I only ever found myself lost i lost once thanks to a very well hidden key that stopped my progress. It also changes things up every now and then so it doesn’t feel too repetitive. You play much of the game solo, but there are various points where, just like in the original, AI companions accompany you for a bit, adding a nice change of pace, including a very scary sequence with the first daughter.

When you really think about it, the Resident Evil 4 The remake is a strange combination of things. Full action combined with survival horror. modern controls and graphics with an old-school level design. It’s a contradiction sometimes. But all these elements are balanced in a way that makes them work together. Fun moments offset the scares, like when you walk into a creepy, dark cave only to see the welcoming purple glow of the shopkeeper’s torch. And the new graphics and improved action make the exciting scenery stand out even more. It’s especially impressive when you compare this remake to something similar Resident Evil Villagewhich he tried to mash RE4-Style action with the series’ new first-person perspective and realize how much better the original still is.

when Resident Evil 4 first released, it was a game unlike anything Capcom had made before. And it turns out, nearly 20 years later, it’s still as refreshing as ever — even if it’s yet another remake.

Resident Evil 4 launches March 24 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S and Steam.

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