Resident Evil 4 remake assessment: Capcom reinvents its survival horror basic
In 2001, 4 years earlier than the unique Resident Evil 4 was launched, Capcom knew it had an issue. The Resident Evil sequence was caught in a cookie-cutter mildew, producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi mentioned on the time. “The entire idea of RE4 was to reinvent the sport,” he mentioned. “We needed to present the players one thing new.”
The end result was a combat-forward reboot of the sequence that reconsidered its survival-horror roots, pitching Resident Evil 2 co-star Leon S. Kennedy as a global motion hero on a mission to avoid wasting the U.S. president’s daughter from a cult. Resident Evil 4 was hailed as a masterpiece, injecting new life into the franchise that will solely develop into even extra action-focused in ensuing sequels — finally prompting yet one more reinvention of the sequence with the back-to-basics horror recreation Resident Evil 7 Biohazard.
Capcom’s remake of Resident Evil 4 reimagines the sequence’ most beloved and extremely influential entry with lavish element, modernizing the sport from prime to backside. Builders have reframed Leon’s journey by means of the lens of different latest Resident Evil remakes, bringing new ranges of magnificence and squishy gore to Resident Evil 4 whereas additionally updating its controls and story. The result’s a transparent demonstration that the builders perceive their supply materials, and need to make it sing by fleshing out each attainable element.
The sport additionally strongly alerts that Resident Evil could also be in want of a reinvention as soon as once more.
Resident Evil 4’s core components are current within the remake. Leon S. Kennedy, now a dashing authorities agent, is dispatched on a covert solo mission to Spain, the place he searches for a goal codenamed “Child Eagle” — actual identify Ashley Graham, the daughter of U.S. President Graham. A bunch of cultists have kidnapped her in a plot to contaminate her with a parasite, and finally make her their puppet. As Leon searches for Ashley, he encounters a distant rural village overrun by the parasite. Its offended residents — and a sequence of ultra-powerful males and monsters — stand between Leon and his rescuee.
Leon is now not the rookie cop of his earlier recreation, and he now not faces hazard within the type of one or two shambling zombies at a time. As a substitute, he’s effectively armed and combat-ready, and faces swarms of armed, contaminated people often called Ganados. Whereas useful resource administration and ammunition shortage was core to the gameplay of early Resident Evil video games, in 4, gamers concern themselves extra with crowd management and — particularly within the remake — parrying assaults from all sides. Resident Evil 4 presents a brand new kind of problem: surviving in opposition to overwhelming odds.
Within the remake, the dance to keep away from demise might be daunting. Ganados and burly males wielding chainsaws or large hammers can shortly encompass Leon. However Leon can parry or dodge nearly any assault. He can roundhouse-kick or suplex unhealthy guys, earlier than ending them off with a knife by means of the cranium. Or he can method encounters with stealth, creeping up behind unsuspecting enemies and dispatching them with a quiet execution. All these choices make each fight encounter thrilling and versatile of their calls for; sometimes, they are often irritating, as the sport pours waves of enemies on Leon in set items that really feel extra like an train in trial-and-error than puzzling out an answer.
As within the authentic, Leon should additionally shield Ashley from hurt in a number of, albeit transient segments the place the 2 group up. Ashley is completely weak in these moments, and Leon should not solely battle for his personal survival, however hers as effectively. This time, she’s a far simpler babysitting project; her well being system has been tremendously simplified. Ashley’s presence was a famously divisive factor of the unique, however she’s much less of a nuisance right here, and might be commanded to remain near Leon (throughout chase sequences) or to maintain her distance (throughout fight). The 2 work effectively collectively, and it’s enjoyable to look at them flirt.
In between RE4’s action-heavy set items is a sequence of puzzles, lots of them inscrutable and ornate within the basic Resident Evil fashion, together with fetch quests. These lock-and-key methods nonetheless take a again seat to the fight, and in spite of everything this time, nonetheless really feel perfunctory within the grand scheme of the sport’s design — even the puzzles particular to the remake really feel like an afterthought on the builders’ half.
Gamers will in all probability spend extra time puzzling out how greatest to equip Leon, as a mystical, ever-present service provider provides an enormous array of upgrades, new weapons, armor, repairs, and recipes for Leon to buy. (The Service provider quips, as followers would demand him to, “What are ya buyin’?” however solely typically, in a terrific and uncommon show of restraint from the designers.) Capcom has added a brand new layer to Leon’s upgrades within the remake, letting him not solely enhance the dimensions of the attaché case that shops his objects, but in addition the case itself, with variants that supply various perks, and attachable charms that supply much more buffs. Gamers can earn these charms on the taking pictures vary minigame, an amusing, extremely replayable diversion that seems at a number of areas within the recreation — I misplaced far an excessive amount of time there making an attempt to unlock the very best charms in RE4, that are primarily based on RNG.
Resident Evil 4 additionally diverges from previous video games in its linearity. There’s little or no backtracking to do right here, as the sport aggressively pushes Leon ahead to new areas and new eventualities. Whereas the identical sequence of occasions is undamaged from the unique, the general move and momentum have been each shaken up and smoothed out. The place Capcom has reduce, correctly, is in eliminating or reframing the sillier parts of the unique recreation. Fast-time occasions from the unique, the place Leon must outrun boulders or an out-of-place mechanized large statue, solely to probably fail in a matter of milliseconds earlier than doing it yet again, have been recontextualized. Essentially the most hanging and welcome instance is how Capcom recast the central character of Ramón Salazar, who comes throughout much less like a bleached Chucky doll and extra like a distinguished however decaying previous man.
For all the tough edges that it smooths over, RE4 pulls off the identical trick that RE2 did in 2019, making a groundbreaking however now dated recreation really feel brand-new once more. However after 4 Resident Evil video games in as a few years, even the present incarnations of the franchise are beginning to really feel a bit acquainted — there are hints of the cookie-cutter mildew that Kobayashi got down to shrug off greater than 20 years in the past, even in Capcom’s slick and gorgeously produced remakes. This newest one is not any anomaly.
Resident Evil 7 Biohazard and Village confirmed, similar to the unique RE4, that Capcom can adapt and reinvent. After finishing 4 as soon as once more, the obvious query the remake left me with was: The place do they go from right here?
Resident Evil 4 can be accessible on March 24 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Home windows PC, and Xbox Collection X. The sport was reviewed utilizing a ultimate “retail” PlayStation 5 obtain code supplied by Capcom. You will discover further details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.