It’s common knowledge that Capcom are nailing the Resident Evil series. After a few years of inconsistent releases, RE fans are sitting pretty. After remakes of the second and third game went down a treat, a remake of ‘Resident Evil 4’ was all but inevitable. Without a doubt, the most beloved game in the series, Capcom had a lot of pressure to knock this out of the park or bring their winning streak to a screeching halt.
Following the events of ‘Resident Evil 2‘, Leon S. Kennedy has spent the last 6 years training to become a part of the secret service and is tasked by the president to find his missing daughter. Leon’s mission takes him to Spain and he liaises with local police officers to find her last known location. After a unfortunate sequence of events, Leon’s escorts are savagely killed by infected villagers and he is left all alone. Leon must rescue the president’s daughter, Ashley and find out what is causing such awful infections in a land so remote.
For those who loved the original, the story beats are completely intact, some are slightly expanded but it’s all here. A criticism of the ‘Resident Evil 3‘ remake was cut content and that isn’t the case here. I’ll be controversial and say, while I loved the original, it wasn’t my favourite. It’s tone was all over the place and a bit too tongue in cheek for me. This remake grounds itself a lot more than the original, it’s dark and broody and far more tense. The writers have done a fantastic job bringing it in line with the rest of the series. Now that’s not to say there isn’t a bit of cheesiness and humour in the game either, it’s just handled better. A hallmark of any survival horror, in my opinion, is some absurdity and dark humour and RE4R nails that mix.
Another highly controversial part of the original was Ashley. You spend a large portion of the game with her and in the original she was a whiny teenager who was mostly insufferable. The writers have gone to great lengths to ground her character and make her more sympathetic and actually quite sweet. You get the feeling she and Leon have a genuine care for each other, that’s not to say they’re romantically linked or besties, but there’s a camaraderie between the two that’s significantly more endearing than the original. Beat for beat, the plot is fairly decent and the big bad villain is a little underwhelming, but the tonal shift and additional work put into the game makes the narrative consistently engaging.
The original release was known for bringing the series into the modern era with a now standard third person camera. The main hindrance was not being able to move while shooting. Back then, it was fine, the shooting handled well and it was tense. This remake modernises things further, much like the latest remakes (not the 7-8 Winters titles), it’s an extremely tightly controlled third person shooter. Locomotion is pitch perfect and Leon feels weighty to control. Shooting is as great as ever and there’s a large variety of weapons on offer and of course, they’re all upgradeable. It’s a linear title and much of the map design is identical to the original, but there are plenty of new additions to the map that beg to be explored, even for veterans. The unforgettable merchant returns and this time he has plenty of side quests for you to do. These simple missions reward you with weapons, treasures etc. and give more incentive to explore, because his prices aren’t cheap. There are also tons of in game challenges that reward you with points that unlock concept art and models to view, it’s remarkably old school and something the industry is missing right now.
For those who are new to the series and only have the remakes as a reference, RE4R is a little different to those games. Instead of fighting through zombies and trying to do puzzles, 4 is more combat oriented, there are puzzles of course but they’re simpler and the focus on tight combat is front and centre. As I’ve said this is no problem because the combat is great and this remake throws more enemies at you than ever. There’s a true sense of dread when your supplies are running low and there’s still 6 enemies left to kill. Of course the ridiculous boss battles return, as does the iconic attaché case. I could gush all day but let’s move onto the tech specs.
The RE engine has served Capcom extremely well and this is no different. RE4R looks sensational, from its incredible character models, wonderful art design and stunning lighting, Capcom waste no opportunity to showcase the engine. The soundtrack is beautiful and the soothing save room music will be eternally memorable. There’s been some uproar about some of the voice work, and I don’t know what crazy pills people have been taking, because everyone is wonderful here. Leon is a bit more grounded but has plenty of cheesy one liners, the merchant has more to say, Ada is less sultry but a bit more mature and Ashley is far more interesting due to her new voice actress. For a PC game in 2023, RE4R running perfectly is mind blowing. In this modern era of broken PC ports, Capcom are showing everyone how to release a working game and it’s remarkably well optimised.
Look, Capcom made an outstanding remake, big whoop. Can’t be that hard right? That’s not the great thing here. Capcom have made the remakes so consistent, they really should be considered reboots. The obvious move after this would be to remake Code Veronica. With a bigger shift to the narrative, there’s absolutely space for an original title that follows these remakes with the revised versions of the characters. Capcom have done more than just remake a few beloved games, they’ve set up enormous potential for the series to continue. You don’t care about that? You just want a great game? Resident Evil 4 might just be the best game in the series (The remake of 2 holds a special place in my heart), and even if you’re a first timer, you simply must pick this game up. It represents everything the industry gets right.
Resident Evil 4 remake was reviewed using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release Date: 23rd March 2023 Reviewed On: PC