When a classic game is ready for a remake has recently been a hot topic, but Resident Evil 4 feels like a special case because it has been released in some form or another almost every year since its initial release in 2005. Capcom’s iconic survival horror game feels as commonplace as Skyrim by this point. There were waggle-enhanced Wii versions, HD versions for the Xbox 360 and PS3, mobile versions for Android and iOS, and VR versions for Oculus Quest.
It starts exactly how it always has. The battered, scarred rookie police officer from Resident Evil 2 which is now a spec-ops super soldier assigned to a mission in a remote European village. His name is Leon Kennedy.
This is the last place he heard of the kidnapped daughter of the US president. He enters through a cold, dark, overgrown path in a wooded area where ravens pick at the carcasses of dead animals and strange noises fill the fetid air. And then, among the rotting branches, he finally sees it: an abandoned hovel.
But after this, we’re in unfamiliar territory. Although the story, main characters, and key locations from the original game are all present in this updated version of Capcom’s seminal survival horror version, the game’s overall layout and the way each terrifying and exhilarating set piece unfolds have been subtly remixed. Although it is undoubtedly a remake, it feels lively and new. It is also excellent.
Resident Evil 4 Review
Veterans won’t need to be reminded that when Resi 4 was released on the Nintendo GameCube in 2005, it signaled a new phase in the series. The awkward expressionist camera angles as well as the roving third-person perspective were gone, along with the first three games oddly staccato and confusing combat.
Shinji Mikami, the game’s designer, changed to an over-the-shoulder perspective, pulling the player into the protagonist’s viewpoint and enhancing the immersion of the shootouts. The zombies were also gone, replaced by towering cult leaders and torch-wielding yokels, giving it a strangely folkloric feel akin to The Wicker Man and Witchfinder General.
The new Resi 4 moves the camera back out, but Kennedy is still very much in view as he makes his way through the filth of infected farmlands and the halls of gothic castles. As he fires at foes brandishing pitchforks and chainsaws, we are standing right there in his shoes.
Using a simplified melee system that permits crucial ammo hoarding while still giving your character a sense of power, the combat is expressive, tactical, and tough. There are jump scares and tense moments where the camera obscures hidden enemies lurking in the darkness. As you progress, you collect money to purchase new weapons from the fabled Merchant character (who has some genuine treasures in his collection). It’s the ideal blending of the old and the new Resi, of nostalgia and a genuine challenge.
In the game, you learn to read the spaces as well as enemy attack patterns because the locations where big fights occur are expertly designed and always include places to run to and take a breather. We adore how the game’s world teaches you to search for significant rooms or important loot hoards and how the game’s big boss fights are foreshadowed.
Every place is a gelatinous smorgasbord of rotting horror. You wander through a farm where starving animals wander around before dying, and every shack has snarling villagers ready to stab you through the side. The wood is brittle and old enough to give way at any time, plunging you into the mouth of yet another desperate standoff. Also, the canyon area is a vast maze of wooden walkways. Later, more lavish settings appear, including gothic structures, walls covered in Renaissance paintings, immaculately set dining tables, and each room containing a clever puzzle or a brand-new foe.
While the leash is always tight and you are always energized and energized, there are occasionally open, hub-like areas where you are given a little freedom to explore. The subliminal environmental cues in this game are some of the best we’ve ever seen; this experience alternately feels scripted and emergent while also being tight and controlled.
It includes all of the series’ game design knowledge, from the awkward, shuffling tension of the first game to the gripping (and frequently disgusting) first-person horror of Resident Evil 7. We’re not so sure about including small side tasks, which consist of fetch quests that require you to kill rats and shoot at covert targets to earn spinels, which can then be used to buy exclusive items from the trader. These shopping list detours, however, have been used for years to bloat open-world games, ruin the tension and force you out of character.
Additionally, Resident Evil has always had its own methods for fostering player curiosity and exploration that support, rather than contradict, the narrative. Given that this game is still fundamentally a narrative one in which each plot point is a puzzle piece you get to uncover and play with joyfully, revealing any story details would be utterly remiss.
You can be sure that Resi 4 is still a lavish mash-up of hostage rescue drama and occult horror stories, and those who played the first game will enjoy revisiting old scenes and learning new twists.
A beautiful, tense, campy, gory summary of everything Resident Evil is great at; this game is wonderful. Wherever you are, whether in a rose garden or a torture chamber, there is intimate detail all around you, from the sounds of far-off chants and screams to the sight of a gruesome murder scene or a lovely vase. It is lavish, delicious, and decadent like an extravagant banquet served amidst the wreckage of a terrible conflict. You will feast on it, we assure you.
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