Resident Evil 4 was originally released almost 20 years ago, back in 2005 as a Nintendo Gamecube exclusive (A part of the 5 game deal between CAPCOM and Nintendo at the time). Since then, it’s become one of the most ported games in the Resident Evil franchise, with ports on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PC, Mobile Phones, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, a VR version, and Nintendo Switch. Many people will call Resident Evil 4 a masterpiece, mostly those who joined the Resident Evil series around this time, while others will contribute it to when the downfall of the Resident Evil series, going from Survival-Horror to Action-Adventure, began.
However, here we are. The newest remake of the Resident Evil games over the past 2 decades (Resident Evil Remake released in 2002) of a mainline Resident Evil game (Come on CAPCOM, where’s our Resident Evil: Code Veronica remake!?) which has already been remastered recently and released once again into the world. Now does CAPCOM, with some of the original developers on board, have the magic touch for the 4th time to make remake magic? Or has the juice run out and is Resident Evil 4 the curse some people say it is?
Name: Resident Evil 4 (Remake)
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox Series X/S (Reviewed)
Game Type: Survival horror
Release Date: March 24, 2023
Operation: Baby Eagle… (Story)
Story Review – Some Vague Spoilers
Many of you will know the story of Resident Evil 4 by now. Former Raccoon City rookie cop Leon Kennedy is now working for the President of the United States and tasks Leon with finding his daughter, who has been kidnapped by some cult in rural Spain. Leon heads into this region in order to find Ashley as things take a turn for the worse and the two are left in a world of survival for their lives as well as some conspiracy religious stuff that may or may not involve a ghost or two from Leon’s past…
Well, that is as much as I can tell you thanks to CAPCOM wanting to keep a majority of the plot, 90% of it taken from a game that was released almost 20 years ago, a secret. Resident Evil 4 has had a few events from the original game reorganized to heighten the drama from the original and make enough changes to give this version a new feel, much like it did with events from Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 remakes previously.
What makes Resident Evil 4 different is the locations and graphical change-ups more than the story. So do not go into Resident Evil 4 thinking that it’s going to be a 1:1 remake, but also don’t think it’ll be completely changed and updated either as it’s neither. Resident Evil 4 makes things interesting enough to keep you going while feeling familiar at the same time. This is a shame since the story of Resident Evil 4 wasn’t one of its strong suits, to begin with, but at the same time, this version of Resident Evil 4 is better than the original when handling the story beats and fleshing out what needs to be expanded upon to make the story work.
Leon’s hair can move now! (Graphics)
Graphically speaking, Resident Evil 4 is a ton better looking than it originally did in 2005, which is good to say as the HD remasters weren’t that great. The RE Engine once again shows why it is one of the top development engines out there, showcasing the graphic superiority that you used to see in Unreal Engine 4 and beyond. It’s not perfect though, as Resident Evil 4 does have a lot of small graphical clipping and texture issues that become noticeable to even untrained eyes. (My wife, who watched me play, noticed several instances of clothing “twitching” on dead characters and things like snakes slipping through the floor more than I did.)
That being said, Resident Evil 4 looks very pretty, especially in the way enemies can be dismembered through shotgun blasts at close range, with limbs and heads flying off in all directions, leaving the Las Plagas tentacles swinging out of the body giving you that extra small squirmy feeling even after you killed someone or something. The same thing can be said about the way fire burns on the ground and on bodies, leaving a nice bit of char on the ground. Finally, the was light works in Resident Evil 4 is excellent, it’s not quite Ray Tracing levels, but it works really well and is an improvement over Resident Evil 2. Also, the water is pretty too, and if you have pretty water, then you know I’m going to add points on for that one.
No more tank controls! (Gameplay)
Resident Evil 4 was praised for the introduction of the over-the-shoulder perspective that would change the series forever, and the reason why these remakes exist, to begin with. What people do not seem to remember is that Resident Evil 4 also has horrible controls for movement and aiming, mostly because the traditional tank controls were ported over to Resident Evil 4, as well as a three-way only camera system that was more annoying to use than fixed camera angles ever were… And yes, I’m saying this as someone who played Resident Evil 4 on PC and PlayStation 4 recently leading up to this review.
So gone are the horrible tank controls and terrible cameras that hindered Resident Evil 4 from the beginning and in their place are the great smooth systems that we have come to expect from Resident Evil VII, Resident Evil Village (Gold Edition), Resident Evil 2 remake, and Resident Evil 3 remake. This turns Resident Evil 4 from being the game that changed the mold to just being another Resident Evil game from the new mold… This is not a bad thing as I think all the Resident Evil games should get this treatment at some point or another, and that includes remaking Resident Evil again.
While Resident Evil 4 does improve greatly over the controls that it originally had, Resident Evil 4 makes some mistakes when it comes to some of its other gameplay systems. Resident Evil 4‘s attaché case inventory system comes into play once again and is still great. However, it’s the upgrades to the case that might have people confused. With the case, you have 3 upgrades to it: The case itself, the charms, and the size of the case. Early on in Resident Evil 4, you’ll think that changing the case itself is the size upgrade, but it is not; that comes later in the game. So you’re going to spend your money on what you think is an upgrade, but is really just a cosmetic change that means nothing. I won’t go into the charms, but if you played Resident Evil Village, you’ll know what these do.
The other gameplay system that I found annoying was the Knife. Anyone who played Resident Evil 4 in 2005 knows how great the knife is to use, especially in speed runs. Well, say goodbye to that because the knife now degrades over time, and eventually will become useless against enemies unless you get it repaired at The Merchant (Yep, he’s back!), wasting gold you could be spending on upgrades to other weapons or the knife itself. I think this is a horrible idea, the same as when it appeared in the Resident Evil 2 remake. Lastly is the ammo crafting system, a holdover from Resident Evil Village. This is another dumb idea that was created to make some sort of false tension in Resident Evil 4 where none needed to be made. Ammo drops just enough for the handgun that you’ll never run out, and once you make shotgun ammo, you’ll do just fine.
As for how long is Resident Evil 4 is, we’re not going to tell you. There’s a lot of stuff in there that fans of the old game, and newcomers to the game are going to love. And that’s going to factor into how long you’ll be playing the game.
Return to the castle… again (Replayability)
Resident Evil 4 is a game that you’ll want to buy if you are a Resident Evil fan, or enjoyed the original Resident Evil 4, there’s no doubt about that. But what to do once you have finished the game? Well, I don’t have much for you. At the time of writing, I’m still playing through it (more on that later), and I do not know if we get Assignment Ada or Different Ways type additional content after the main game is over. What I do know is that New Game+ mode will be unlocked and you can replay the main game all over again with the upgrades you made the first time around. Outside of that, there is not much that you can do differently that people wouldn’t already know by just playing through the original.
I do hope that Resident Evil 4 gets some sort of additional content, even if we have to pay for it, to make sure the story is complete as possible, and to stop the Resident Evil 4 diehards from wanting yet another remake or remaster of this game ever again. Yes, there are unlockables to collect and other things like concept art to unlock, but once you have all that done, you might just want to put Resident Evil 4 back on the shelf for a while till you get that itch to play it once again… Or want to become a Resident Evil Twitch streamer.
Can we move on to Code Veronica now? Please! (Closing)
To be honest, I’m still playing Resident Evil 4 as I’m writing this. Over the game’s 16 chapters, I haven’t gotten all the way through it. Not because I’m not wanting to review it, or have a personal animosity towards the original, but because I want to make sure I give this game the proper respect it has earned. While the original has aged badly with its 3D tank controls, horrible aiming, and stupid hitboxes; this new version has addressed all that and more. Resident Evil 4 is finally the game-changer that the original was touted to be, with all the improvements that later games got right. However, I still think we could have waited a bit more for this release so that it could have spent more time in development and created original art assets instead of ripping off Resident Evil VII or Village as much as it did.
Now that we have gotten Resident Evil 4 out of our collective systems, can we finally give Resident Evil: Code Veronica some love for the first time in decades and get it a remake like these ones have? Please CAPCOM?
Resident Evil 4 Remake release date is March 24, 2023, and is available on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC (Steam).
Review Disclosure Statement: Resident Evil 4 was provided to us by CAPCOM for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Resident Evil 4 improves on the original by changing the story just enough to keep players guessing, and adding new details that help with bringing the game more in line with the remakes of the previous two games, leading into the newer games in the series like Resident Evil VII and Resident Evil: Village. However, there are times when you can see the age of the original creep in, and some lazy asset use too, not to mention there are some bad graphical glitches in the review copies that I pray are fixed with the day one patch. Taking my personal bias out of this was hard, but I still couldn’t see it as the masterpiece everyone else will be calling it.
- Updates and changed the story enough to have it make sense
- Weapon quick-change is smooth as silk
- Graphics have never looked better
- Some pointless case upgrades that can be mistaken as useful
- Knife degradation
- Some really bad graphical glitches