Resident Evil 4 Remake Review – Suplexing at its Finest
Developed and Published by Capcom
A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
In January 2005, Resident Evil 4 would have such an impact on survival horror. It is changing and evolving the genre so much that we can still feel its hand in many survival horror games today. But in the eighteen years since its release, the gaming landscape has changed in so many ways that, in some ways, it makes the original feel a little dated. For some, Resident Evil 4 was also the inclination that Resident Evil was starting to decline. This a drastic shift from the previous entries in the series, focusing more on the action than the horror of it all, save for a few later sections. It was clear that Resident Evil was changing, and while the majority of critics and players enjoyed this departure, only some people, myself included, felt a little left behind. When we would eventually get Resident Evil 5 and 6, it was hard to look back at 4 and see where things started to go wrong.
So when Resident Evil 7 was released and truly brought the series back to its roots, a lot of Resident Evil fans rejoiced because, just two years prior, we got an announcement of a remake for Resident Evil 2. Seemingly knowing that Capcom still knew how to do horror to tremendous effect with Resident Evil 7, expectations were high for Resident Evil 2 Remake, and thankfully they were met. Eventually, we got word of a Resident Evil 3 Remake, which was released to less than stellar reviews. When Resident Evil 4 Remake was announced, there was a seemingly significant divide among Resident Evil fans. Thankfully as we have seen more, this has mostly calmed, but as not the biggest fan of the original release, how would this land? Could enough work be put into it to set a new standard in survival horror again? Well, for all that, we need to dig a little deeper….
Going on the assumption that there will be quite a few people for who this will be their first time delving into the Resident Evil 4 story, I will avoid any significant spoilers.
Resident Evil 4 opens up with Leon S Kennedy, a former RCPD officer who briefly recounts his time in Raccoon City before its ultimate decimation. It is here that we find out it’s been a few years. Employed by the president of America, being sent on missions worldwide that were incredibly difficult, with today being the beginning of his most challenging assignment yet. Leon is sent to a small rural spot in Spain to rescue the president’s daughter Ashley. Although, this would only be a Resident Evil game if there were a few surprises in store for Leon.
I’ve had this borderline conspiracy theory with these remakes. They are, yes, updating these games to bring the series to a more modern audience, but it is also allowing them to go back and clean and clear up the story for the eventual Resident Evil 9, where it will all matter again. This is again fueled in Resident Evil 4, as some beats in the original felt a little undercooked, and some went utterly unanswered. Capcom has thoroughly stepped up its game here with the way it lays out the story of Resident Evil 4 Remake. They expand upon characters in such a way that makes it a lot easier to get behind their decisions and understand why they might be involved in the situation.
While there has been the worry about Capcom cutting out the cheesy lines and moments here. Everyone should be happy to know that while Resident Evil 4 Remake takes itself incredibly more seriously than the original Resident Evil 4. there is still some levity to be found in the dialog and characters in the Remake. Leon still has some of his classic one-liners intact one change that improves the experience is they have taken out that awful part where Luis acts like a creep and comments on Ashley’s breasts. It always stood out and made me dislike Luis in the original. Otherwise, the changes to dialogue and story are generally minimal, with just enough expansion to make this feel like the true vision of what was initially intended for Resident Evil 4.
Gameplay is what Resident Evil 4‘s original release had changed about the survival horror genre, and like previously mentioned, its changes can be felt even in games today. So while I don’t think this Remake doesn’t really do anything to reinvent the genre, it evolves Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil as a series itself in such a way that I hope they bring these changes to whatever iteration of Resident Evil we get next, because holy hell Resident Evil 4 Remake is a blast to play.
As you play through Resident Evil 4, much like the original, you will be finding money scattered all over the place to purchase weapons, recipes, items, and upgrades for your weapons from our favorite merchant. The most significant change when it comes to our merchant friend is that now when you find a treasure with slots in it, you can physically pick which gem you want to slot in, as each gem has a different value associated with it. You are also given Spinels for doing certain things you can trade in for exclusive items, so picking these up whenever they are available is critical to ensuring you get the most out of your loadout. These small changes alone make treasure hunting so much more enjoyable.
Combat is slower than it was in Resident Evil 3 Remake and Resident Evil Village, but also more intense and brutal. Along with Leon’s spin kick and suplex, stealth is now a viable option. While you won’t be able to take every scenario in stealth, certain situations allow you to sneak around taking out several Genados, Resident Evil 4‘s version of your run-of-the-mill infected. If you decide to go head to head with all your battles (like I did ninety percent of the time), there are a few more options available to you as well. The biggest one is easily the parry ability. As an enemy swings at you with a weapon, you can quickly hit your knife button, and Leon will pull off a stylish parry. Capcom has made Leon’s knife degrade with each use to combat this and not make it feel entirely overpowered. An intelligent addition, nothing is tenser than parrying a chainsaw only to have your knife break, knowing that your next shotgun blast better knock them down or it is game over.
Out are the overly present quick-time events, which specifically give the Krauser fight feel much more intense and brutal. This also leads to more of the more unique events of Resident Evil 4 playing out vastly differently in Remake, each of which is a welcome change. Complimenting the gun and knife play is just absolutely gory dismemberment. Body parts will fly off your enemies, but as you progress in the game, this might make some of the run-of-the-mill Genados expose the Los Plagas insectoid. These are those knife-wielding tentacle-like monsters. Knocking an enemy down also opens them up for a finisher knife stab by Leon. This will also take out the Las Plagas variant of enemies.
Where Resident Evil 4 Remake excels is bringing a good balance between horror and action. While the latter third tends to lean towards the more action-oriented scenarios, there are still plenty of times right up until the end that was genuinely scary. This is something that all of Resident Evil tends to put to the wayside by the end when you are a gun-toting badass. Thankfully they manage to shake that up here, and there is one enemy in the original that tends to be remembered as the scariest enemy in all of Resident Evil. But, without any spoilers, they manage to take that enemy and ramp it up even further.
Two things about Remake 4 soured me a bit on the experience. For starters, Separate Ways is absent, but I can see that being added later as DLC, but more importantly, there is a character later on who is supposed to be basically a femme fatal. This character is bland, flat, and uninspired against the heavy hitters of Ashley and Leon. This was a huge disappointment because that is a character that I thoroughly enjoyed in the series. It almost came across that this was the only character to record their lines separately from the other actors. If they return to the series, I hope more is done to correct this.
Overall Resident Evil 4 Remake is an outstanding game, with enough changes to the story that makes it feel genuinely fresh and expanded gameplay that brings evolution to Resident Evil that I hope gets expanded upon in future releases in the series. Even if we get Resident Evil 5 or 6 next, in Capcom, I trust. Resident Evil 4 Remake is one hell of a ride. And easily one of, if not my favorite Resident Evil game to date.
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