Many gamers rightfully question if Resident Evil 4 needed a remake. The 2005 original was Capcom’s magnum opus at the time and set the standard for modern third-person shooters as we know them today. It still feels contemporary, is infinitely replayable, and has some of the most satisfying action around. Why try to improve upon perfection?
After playing the new Resident Evil 4, things begin to make a lot of sense why it was remade. With the first Resident Evil, the remake maintained the same experience and the gameplay was essentially the same. You still had tank controls and fixed camera angles, and you had to solve puzzles.
With remakes of 2 and 3, the change to third-person shooting drastically changed the core experience. They weren’t remakes, but completely new games that followed the same stories. Resident Evil 4 (2005) is already a third-person shooter; remaking it with additional features and new content ends up making a lot more sense. How did it come out? Was remaking perfection a good idea? Find out in this Resident Evil 4 (remake) review!
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the below:
Resident Evil 4
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Xbox Series X|S
Release Date: March 24, 2023
Price: $59.99 USD
This new take on Resident Evil 4 is lightning caught in a bottle again. Somehow, the boys at Capcom managed to not only make one of the greatest remakes of all time but also produce their magnum opus. The original game is vast in scope and was stuffed to the brim with gameplay scenarios that all future entries failed to live up to.
Unlike the past few remakes, anything that gets cut gets something new to replace it. Everyone remembers how Resident Evil 3: Nemesis got shafted when its remake excised several bosses and many locations.
This time when fans notice something is missing, they’ll get completely blindsided by completely fresh and original sequences that hold their own and honor the original Resident Evil 4.
Sometimes familiar areas and sequences are shuffled around tastefully and logically. It is done very tastefully and makes this remake stand on its own. It is a grimdark version of Resident Evil 4, but with so much more in it. Locations are expanded and new ones are added. The gameplay has become more complex thanks to the new weapons, new puzzles, and new enemies-that it all makes the original look basic.
The story also gets further fleshed out as well. Everyone knows how it goes; after Resident Evil 2, Leon becomes a secret agent and is sent to a creepy Spanish province to rescue Ashely, the President’s daughter. Things don’t go as planned and everyone has a bad time.
Leon is less of a smartass, but he is a bigger hardass. He is less interested in joking around and is more pragmatic. He is less James Bond, and more Jason Bourne this time around. He is still not above saying some of his classic lines and in some moments, he invents new ones. He comes off less like a dudebro, and more like he would smash your face into your table if he thought it would get him the information he needs.
This story plays out faithfully to the original, but with added characterization for the cast. Supporting characters get more to do and have more screen time. Even everyone’s favorite cockney merchant is given a lot more dialogue and can do a lot more than just buy and sell goods to Leon. The new lore notes manage to give backstories to everything- even the giant and Verdugo are given vague explanations.
Ashley is the character who benefits the most from the added development. She is still undeniably Ashley, but now she gets more to do and gets to express moments of real bravery.
Her health is no longer a factor to worry about on the standard difficulty and while she is no longer a liability, she also no longer does stupid things in the story either. Regretfully, she is wearing a hideous skort and Leon is no longer called a pervert for sneaking a peek.
The gameplay’s playability is consistent with the remakes of 2 and 3. Gamers can expect similar handling and control kinesthetics. New actions like crouching mix up the scenario by having a mechanic element and adding nooks and crannies to crawl into.
The knife combat is vastly expanded and has become one of Leon’s most important weapons. Not only can he parry with it, but it factors into finishers and stealth kills.
To balance it out, contextual actions cost some durability, but the merchant can thankfully restore Leon’s trusty blade. If Leon finds himself without a knife, there are disposable ones found throughout the game, which further factors into inventory management.
Leon’s suitcase is back and it’s better than ever. The joy of sorting the inventory is back and if you’re a soulless heathen who can’t bear the sorting process, Resident Evil 4 offers an auto-sort function.
On top of this, the case can be further modified in surprising ways beyond just capacity expansion. There are more RPG elements in Resident Evil 4 than ever, but it’s handled very tastefully and with restraint.
Compounded with the new treasure system, it always seems like Resident Evil 4 offers gamers something to work toward. Remember shooting down the medallions in the farm and graveyard in the original game? That sidequest comes back hugely and takes on many different forms throughout the entire story.
As expected, the RE Engine delivers some of the most impressive visuals. Everyone knew that Resident Evil 4 would look amazing, but the graphics still manage to make jaws hit the ground. The level of detail on display makes it very hard to believe that this is a game on last-gen hardware. Every area is packed with objects with high polycounts- even the barrels of Leon’s guns are perfectly round with no noticeable vertices.
The filth and grit while exploring the Pueblo early on make the environment feel suitably third-world. The new atmospheric weather effects like the chokingly thick fog and bone-chilling wind are convincing. These moments contrast nicely with the warm candle-lit calmer areas that have musty air that you can almost smell.
Any concerns over censorship of gore can be forgotten. The savage levels of damage done to foes and Leon manage to look way more painful and grisly. When Leon gets decapitated by a hatchet, it is a slow and drawn-out execution with multiple hacks until his flesh gives up.
The terrible monsters and foul abominations look incredible and feel more threatening than ever. The animation looks weightier and the mocap performances bring a lot of personality to their motions. The grit and filth were only implied in the 2005 version, but now everything can be seen in high fidelity.
When a cultist is blown in half with the broken butterfly, writhing bloody tendrils flail where their waist used to be. The exposed Plagas weak points have blinking eyes and pulsating veins- the effect is appropriately disgusting. The nastiness isn’t just on the enemies; it can be seen all over the environment with rotting corpses and savagely killed bodies festooned in inhuman ways.
There is surprising variety in the environments. Salazar’s castle was originally very uniform with its medieval architecture. In this remake, the diminutive lord’s abode is in varying states of disrepair throughout. Some areas look like the dankest dungeons ever, but there are still very classy baroque areas in the castle too. Capcom seemingly went all out on ensuring every setting offers something new to see.
Does the Resident Evil 4 remake replace the original Resident Evil 4? Not really. The remake does offer plenty of unique experiences that make it unbelievably cool and in some instances, it completely outclasses the 2005 game. The old game will probably be replaced with the remake for most gamers and that is a shame because it has unique moments that the remake does not have.
Resident Evil 4‘s remake does what the first Resident Evil remake does for the franchise. It expands upon an incredible foundation and creates fresh material while remixing existing scenarios that were sacred. Capcom was very careful with the changes and has delivered another excellent experience that honors the original’s legacy.
Resident Evil 4 was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by Capcom. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Resident Evil 4 is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.