Despite all the praise throughout the years, I never considered Resident Evil 4 to be one of the best RE games ever made. Although I can see why many would think that, I was never a fan of the game moving the series further into the action genre, and I don’t consider the original to be much of a horror game. So does this remake bring RE4 closer to the series’ horror roots while also pleasing longtime fans of the original? Let’s once again enter the world of survival horror and find out.
“Okay… it’s game time!”
The game has players take on the role of Leon S. Kennedy, who’s on a mission to rescue the US President’s daughter, Ashley, from a cult found in a western European village. Throughout the campaign’s 16 missions, Leon will have to battle hordes of enemies, including villagers, cult zealots, huge bug-like creatures, and more, all infected by a parasite known as Las Plagas. This fight for survival takes place in a variety of environments, such as a farming village, a towering castle, and a research base on a nearby island. The game does a great job of introducing new enemies and challenges at a steady pace to keep you on your toes. Honestly, in some ways, this game reminds me of the remake of Resident Evil 1. Plenty of times, I would enter an area or encounter expecting things to turn out one way just to be surprised by how the game was different enough to keep the experience fresh while still respecting the original title.
One of the better changes is to the gameplay mechanics. You can now move while aiming, making Leon feel less rigid. Additional moves such as the ability to parry attacks and move around while crouching to perform stealth kills do a great job of expanding the player’s options to tackle every encounter. Stealth is far better incorporated than I thought it would be, and there are many scenarios where you can take out several enemies before being forced to go guns blazing.
Speaking of guns, Leon’s arsenal includes multiple pistols, shotguns, rifles, and more. These weapons can be modified or upgraded by the merchant, whom you’ll run into many times during the adventure. To help keep these weapons loaded, players now can craft ammo with recipes earned in the game. The addition of blue request missions and charms provides some extra options to buff or enhance your loadout. Also, for those wondering, the introduction of knife durability never became an issue and is balanced rather well with its design.
The changes don’t stop there, however. The knock-on effect of Leon’s expanded abilities is that enemies are more challenging than ever before. Villagers, for example, are far more aggressive and do a better job at closing their distance with you. It’s clear that the changes to the gameplay were made with a lot of thought, and the game is much better because of it.
“I just had an extreme makeover!”
Another aspect that’s going to naturally be a lot better is the graphics. Running on Capcom’s RE Engine, Resident Evil 4 is easily one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played. Environments are packed with so much variety and detail that it’s hard not to pause and just soak up your surroundings. The areas you creep through all look lived-in, and you get the sense that there is a lot of history in every location. This attention to detail extends to the characters and monsters as well. Every piece of cloth, parasitic tentacle, and fleshy bit is lovingly crafted. Limbs can now be shot off, and enemies can even be shot in half, exposing their infected insides that will still move after their deaths. All of this is bathed in some great lighting and shadow effects, which go a long way toward adding to the atmosphere.
Complementing this graphical splendor is an excellent soundtrack that fits each area perfectly to further increase the tension and mood. Add in the awesome 3D audio, which not only aids in keeping track of surrounding enemies but also provides plenty of scary moments on its own as you’ll hear plenty of noises in your surroundings, keeping you on edge. This game is an absolute treat for your senses in the most horrifying way.
Unfortunately, this remake falls short in a few areas as well. As good as the game looks, it’s not perfect. The lighting looked a little flat in a few sections, and texture pop-in was apparent almost every time I would exit my attaché case. Sadly, performance was also a sore spot in certain sections of the game no matter what my graphical options were set to. Speaking of performance, a solid 60 frames per second was a rarity when enabling the quality rendering mode, or ray tracing. Playing on a VRR display can help, but I would have preferred an overall smoother experience. I was also surprised by some of the bugs I ran into, including hair not loading on a character during a cut scene, audio cutting out, and radio transmission animation locking up. I don’t think this is a bug, but I did have a problem with the dead zone on the analog stick, resulting in it taking longer than expected to get used to the controls. I’m not sure if these problems will be fixed with the day one patch, so I wanted to make sure to mention them here. On the game design side, I also wasn’t a fan of how weapon modifications and some other items were acquired in the game. None of these issues tarnished my experience, but they did take me out of the game at times.
As someone who very much prefers the more horror-focused entries in the Resident Evil franchise, this remake does a lot to address the problems I had with the original game. The well-crafted campaign, awesome additions, and unmistakable love for the original release all result in one of the best remakes in recent memory. After I completed the game, I couldn’t wait to start it over again, and I never thought that with any of the previous action-oriented RE titles. Whether you’re a fan of the original or tend to gravitate towards the non-action-oriented games in the series, I think Resident Evil 4 Remake is well worth your time.
Resident Evil 4
Xbox Series X
- Amazing graphics
- Horrifying atmosphere
- Awesome new gameplay mechanics
- Better pacing than OG RE4
- Deadzone causes aiming to feel a bit laggy
- More bugs than expected
- Not a fan of how weapon mods and some items are earned