Resident Evil is one of those series that has been around so long that it’s coming back on itself. After the success of the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, Capcom has decided to follow these with the adventures of one Leon S Kennedy. That’s right, it’s a remake of arguably one of the greatest games of all time. Time to boot up the Resident Evil 4 Remake and remember, gun rhymes with fun….stranger.
Never Catch A Break
Resident Evil 4 Remake stars Leon S Kennedy, RPD’s final recruit and survivor of the Raccoon City Destruction Incident. Since then, he’s fallen into the employ of the U.S Government and more recently the security detail of President Graham.
The President’s daughter has been kidnapped and the last tracked location was a mysterious village in Europe. To be clear, this is a different one than in Resident Evil 8: Village! Within a few minutes of arriving, your escorts are kidnapped and the whole village is out to murder you. It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for ol’ Leon Kennedy.
Unsurprisingly for a horror title, this village is controlled by a cult. As standard for Resident Evil, you have a plethora of bioweapons in the shadow of Umbrella Corporations’ “demise” to help you try to survive this.
There are a few revelations towards the end of the game and the waters get further muddied by the credits, but for anyone familiar with the series it’s a fromage-infused B-movie style plot.
The narrative remains mostly the same as in the original, hitting all the major story beats while giving a little extra time to the side cast. You’ll be getting more of the lovely Luis and his charms, which have always been popular with the ladies. Ashley has also seen some rewrites to present her as less of a ‘damsel in distress’. The cheese has been reduced in this remake too, but Leon isn’t afraid of dropping the occasional one-liner where the situation suits.
Nighty Night Knights
One of the most common complaints when it comes to the original Resident Evil 4 is the control scheme. After the original release it spawned an influx of imitations ranging as far as Gears of War, for the most part, it hasn’t aged quite as well for newer players. It has a distinct clunkiness and the lack of movement when shooting isn’t ideal. Fortunately, the Resident Evil 4 Remake has given the combat system a huge upgrade, much like previous improvements between titles in the series.
Gone is the restriction of having to stop in place to shoot. Now you can fire off shots while moving around. In turn, the enemies now also have a much more aggressive side to them. They no longer slow down as they get closer.
To further this Capcom has tweaked the game’s famous combat knife, making it more of a mechanic that works hand in hand with the flow of combat. Leon can parry the majority of attacks with a well-timed press of a button; projectiles and chainsaws pose no problem to Mr. Kennedy as long as your knife has durability. This opens up melee attacks on your foes as you give them a swift kick to the face or a German suplex after hitting the ideal timing within a parry.
I briefly mentioned knife durability and this is something that will factor heavily throughout the roughly 12-hour initial run time. There are chances to stealth kill enemies or do massive damage to them when they are downed, but each use of the knife reduces the durability and it can break it used too much. While you can find replacements, you’ll find the damage and enhancements of the ol’ trusty Combat Knife all too alluring when compared to the Las Plagas kitchen knives strewn across the village.
Gunpowder and salvage make more of an appearance here because every game needs a crafting system! Yes, you’ll get plenty of ammo, but more often than not you’ll be given materials too and it’s down to you to decide what ammo to craft to suit your playstyle. Do you craft more handgun ammo? Maybe you think you can make do until you have enough stuff to treat yourself with Magnum ammo? I loved this as it made me think of every possible combat scenario rather than me having an educated guess when running into a room littered with rifle ammo.
The knife ballet, the parrying, and the new aggressive stance of yourself and the Las Plagas cult have fully realized the potential of the combat system originally created for Resident Evil 2 and 3 Remake. It makes me excited to try out the new Mercenaries mode. You still experience the vulnerabilities of survival horror, but if you put in the work and pay attention, you can play this as much of an action game. As you block a chainsaw with a kitchen knife then throw out a trusty roundhouse followed by popping off some headshots with ease, even John Wick would break into a sweat seeing it. It’s the Resident Evil 4 combat you remember, without the clunky weight and ‘stop and start’ aiming system your memory chooses to forget.
What Are You Buying?
The inventory system is back! You’ll be arranging the many guns, ammo, herbs, chicken eggs, and dead animals you pick up via its block-based system and it’s more addictive than it ever needed to be. Tweak your case to hold just about every tool of destruction you could need. Yes, there is an “auto-sort” button, but you can get so much more in your case by moving stuff around to fit, combining items, and seeing what you need instead of just hoarding everything you come across.
The merchant and treasure system also returns. The currency you find around the game allows you to buy items or upgrade/repair your weapons. Treasure can be sold directly or combined with smaller treasures to make them worth even more thus netting you greater gains! There is also a rather addictive shooting gallery that rewards you with coins for a gacha machine that drops gallery figures or keychains for your inventory case. These aren’t just fun collectibles but offer upgrades like enhanced damage, increased item drop rates, or discount on items.
What Are You Selling?
While not a shot-for-shot remake, this game remains pretty faithful in what is brought over from the original. The only content alterations are cuts or additions to areas to improve the overall pacing. The Giant Lake is back, and this time it is more of an area to explore. Gone is the cable car sequence and the castle area of the game has had a lot of work done to it to make it much more enjoyable. Even the dreaded Water Room isn’t quite as horrid as it once was.
The tweaks made make the game feel a little more consistent and tight. Thankfully The Island section has also had a lot of work done to it so it doesn’t feel quite like the blemish it was in the original. Boss fights have also seen some alterations, especially the final boss which feels much more of a threat than it was initially.
Anyone familiar with the original Resident Evil 4 will know that much of the game was an escort mission. While that remains here, you can now command Ashley to stick close or make distance and hide once again. These sections don’t feel like they make up as much of the game in the remake. They’re still here, but thankfully don’t feel quite as irritating as they once did thanks to smarter A.I.
Ahhh I’ll Buy It A High Price
Of course, what would a Resident Evil be without unlockables and difficulty modes? Resident Evil 4 Remake has a tonne of unlockables ranging from costumes to special guns. This comes complete with the easy, standard, hard, and hardcore difficulties, all with rankings to achieve. With the release of Mercenaries DLC and the heavily rumored “Separate Ways” Ada campaign, there will be plenty to keep you going with this title.
Resident Evil 4 Remake does what any good remake should do. It creates an alternative while not completely shadowing the original. I wholeheartedly believe the original still stacks up today, but this creates an equal product, as part of the Remake series that Capcom is running along the main line continuation. It perfectly toys with gamers familiar with the original and messes with your expectations by subverting expectations. A perfect example is early on; rather than allowing you to hide in the clocktower in the village, the floor gives way.
Planning To Shoot An Elephant?
Resident Evil 4 Remake is in my humble opinion on par with the visual presentation of the recent Dead Space Remake. If it weren’t for the rather dubious dog character models, I would have potentially placed it higher. Horror has never looked so inviting.
From the decayed cabins of the village, across the mist-laded lake, all the way to the military outpost, this game does not miss a beat on creating the most visually striking and atmospheric areas to die in. A massive shout-out to those who worked on the castle area. It’s seen the most work in turning it from a rather mediocre area into an iconic Resident Evil location that stands toe to toe with Castle Dimitrescu.
The character models, for the most part, are fantastic. Outside of the dogs with strange mouths and the oversized animals that litter the grounds, everything else looks great. Leon looks a little more grizzled than in his RPD debut, Ashley looks more like a 20-year-old, and the leaders of the cult have never cut a more sinister image.
The soundtrack is great, though I couldn’t pick many standouts from it after the credits. There were quite a few more ambient tracks that helped paint the tension as I tore through the backend of Europe.
Voice acting is brilliant as you would expect from the series at this point. Gone are the days of Resident Evil 1’s charming but stifled Jill Sandwiches. All the familiar cries from the enemies are here too. My only gripe was Hunnigan whose mission updates come through the controller which is something I’ve never been too fond of.
A final and small mention is the recasting of The Merchant. This actor tries but I felt they don’t quite lean into the original enough and instead come off like a poor substitute. It’s a minor issue, but I would have loved the original to have reprised the role.
Resident Evil 4 Remake is a bombastic remake of one of the best games ever made and it achieves greatness in the same way the original did. It doesn’t replace the original but rather compliments it and feels like a natural continuation of the previous remake titles.
I was hooked from the second the game started and I’m now on the 4th replay. Even now, I still cannot get enough of its addictive gameplay and engrossing environments. Resident Evil 4 Remake is the perfect mix of horror and action that has yet to be matched in the series since the original. While Resident Evil 8: Village tried, the fourth installment’s pacing here cannot be matched, especially in the remake. Once again, Resident Evil 4 rules the survival horror roost!
RESIDENT EVIL 4 REMAKE IS A MUST BUY
Many thanks go to Capcom for a PlayStation 5 review code for this title.
Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage
Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!
Pride of utopia & greatest thing ever, I found the One Piece, Collected the Dragon Balls & won the Mortal Kombat Tournament in one night, it was quiet for me that night! Follow me on Twitter @powahdunk