It's been a long old while now since Shinji Mikami's final Resident Evil foray was first unleashed upon the world, and what a parting contribution to the series it was. Here was an entry in an already iconic survival horror franchise that shifted away from slow-burn resource management towards full-on Hollywood levels of bombastic action which focused on frantically sharp-shooting your way through huge mobs of mind-controlled Ganados with an arsenal of punchy weapons at your disposal.
2005's Resident Evil 4 cemented the zoomed in, over-the-shoulder viewpoint that's still so widely used today as the de-facto camera angle for multiple generations of third-person action titles. It introduced a new level of physicality and connection between player and protagonist, drawing us further into the experience, grounding us in the mayhem, and its influence can still be widely felt in terms of both shooter mechanics and in how action games in general are designed.
How many times have you blasted your way this one already? How many re-releases, official HD revamps and exhaustive community remasters have seen you click the safety off that Silver Ghost and jump back into action against Osmund Saddler's minions? We've personally lost count in all honesty and, after experiencing it in glorious VR recently (easily our favourite way to play the original cut) we thought we'd most likely seen it at its very best already.
Approaching Resident Evil Remake, then, this ground-up reimagining that seeks to work a similar level of magic as 2019's glorious Resident Evil 2 revamp, the main problem, the biggest worry we've had, is how on earth is Capcom going to take something so beloved, so influential, so widely regarded as pretty much perfect, and improve it in any particularly meaningful way? Modern graphics are great, of course they are, fresher controls are always welcome, but what are you going to do to the rhythm and flow of something that already feels so finely-tuned in order to improve or even match it? We were genuinely a little nervous booting this one up for the very first time, knowing how it kicks off, that classic village assault that in 2005 so violently announced the game's new direction and flat-out action intentions. What if this opening sequence didn't play out in a satisfying manner, if it didn't sit quite right, if they'd ruined the flow or it didn't feel like it should?
Thankfully we needn't have worried in the slightest. There's no point beating around the bush here, really, Resident Evil 4 Remake is an absolute banger, as perfect a reworking as we could have ever hoped for, and a game that sees the king of action games retake its throne. There's lots of stuff we're not allowed to talk about in detail, loads of things we wouldn't want to spoil anyway - go into this one as unsullied as possible for maximum effect, kids - but the revamping of the core combat, reshuffling of aspects of the narrative, retooling of boss encounters, and some meaningful expansions to level design make for an experience that's managed to capture the magic of the original whilst bringing it all bang up to date. This is Resident Evil 4 feeling and looking every bit the thoroughly modern action masterpiece without losing the essence of what made it so very special in the first place. Capcom has nailed it.
The changes don't take long to kick in either, you'll immediately find yourself in new territory as soon as the story starts off with an extended opening sequence that signals things are at once very much the same, but different. Arrival at the famous rural village shootout introduces a bevvy of changes to the core combat through an intense action sequence that's more thrilling than ever. Leon can parry with his now degradable knife, deflecting attacks and projectiles, knocking enemy knives and axes out of the air, performing ground finishers, pushing assaults out of the way and opening Ganados up to counters. Stealth has been seamlessly woven into the fabric of the game too, allowing you to sneak up on a foe and take them out with a sneaky kill, and these changes to the rhythm of the combat are combined with movement and controls that fall in line with the recent Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 remakes. It's modern, no longer tanky, no longer rooting you to the spot to aim, but also carefully balanced to retain a certain heft, a weightiness that feels like good old Resi, forcing you to consider your positioning and spacing at all times, to utilise quick-turns and constant movement so as not to become overwhelmed.
Leon can still pull off his signature melee attacks, aiming a powerful kick at staggered enemies or grabbing them from behind for a super-satisfying suplex smash into the ground, and the introduction of stealth gives you the opportunity across the entire length and breadth of the adventure to soften up groups of foes before unleashing the guns and grenades. The biggest compliment we can pay to these changes is that they feel like mechanics that have always been there, and returning to the original for a quick comparison you just immediately miss this stuff, not being able to sneak about or crouch just feels wrong. Stealth and the ability to deflect and parry with your knife changes the nature of certain big fights along the way too. We no longer need to rely on QTEs when we face off against Krauser, for example, we can go toe to toe with him in real-time, and the Garrador sequence now allows you to utilise sneaking around and stealth attacks to take down those great big blind behemoths, rather than doing so through manipulation of your environment - although this is also still an option.
Alongside the many changes and surprises that come in the form of reworked and expanded environs, repositioned enemies, bigger and more bombastic takes on bosses and so on, the combat changes here make for an experience that - even for players who've been through it all countless times - feels like rediscovering the joy of this game for the first time. It feels fresh and new and exciting all over again. It's also an experience that's sure to please newcomers, this is as modern and thrilling as action games get, a wonderfully well-paced adventure full of twisted foes, incredible locations, fantastic boss battles, top-notch gunplay and plenty of proper Resi cheese on the dialogue front. What more could you ask for?
Other notable differences (that we can talk about) come in the form of reworked collectibles and customisation options. You'll now find documents nailed to walls during chapters, requests from the good old merchant himself, that charge you with finding particular items, such as a golden egg, or taking out a set number of blue medallions in a specific area in return for rewards that allow you to purchase special goods. Your attaché case is now customisable with all-new charms and via various different types of purchasable cases that afford you boons and boosts. Charms can be attached to your case three at a time and give you specific advantages, such as the chicken charm which increases the amount of health you'll get when you tuck into a delicious egg. There are a ton of these charms to get your hands on throughout the game, with a wide-ranging bunch of effects to play around with. Of course, all of this stuff then feeds directly into the all-important replayability aspect of any self-respecting Resident Evil game. In this regard, and without spoiling anything, there's plenty to look forward to in terms of multiple runs through the campaign, with lots of fun to be had once you've completed your initial playthrough in the form of a new game plus mode that switches things up and tons of silly unlockables, customisable bits and bobs, ranks, times and targets to chase.
In terms of new weapons, the bolt thrower is a brand-new addition to your arsenal which allows for both quiet attacks from range and the attachment of mines for explosive assaults on enemy encampments, and it fits in perfectly with an expansive range of boomsticks that feel delightfully punchy to unload into the faces and exploding tentacle heads of your infected opponents. Enemy animations and attacks have been tweaked and souped up here too, ensuring that they aren't in any way left defenceless against your new range of assault options. Indeed, the Ganados and various other foes you fight feel as clever as ever, super-satisfying opponents who can always surprise you with a deft sidestep or quick charge in your direction. It also helps that they react to targeted limb shots so you can knock them down or stagger them and come apart in spectacular fashion when you get your hands on more powerful gear, enabling you to blow off limbs and heads or cut them entirely in two with a round from a super-charged shotgun. It's visceral, addictive and highly satisfying fun. Gritty, dirty, gory and supremely well-designed.
Your interactions with Ashley have also been fine-tuned somewhat. You'll still need to keep her close and protect her at all times, or even have her hide during some sequences, but you no longer need to constantly feed her herbs or laboriously monitor her health. This has all been streamlined into having her simply incapacitated by enemy assaults, leaving her on the floor until you can get back to her, and it relieves that burden of fiddling around in your inventory and micro-managing. You'll need to watch your fire, a misplaced shot will see her killed instantly, and there are times when you'll need to take out enemies as they attempt to carry her away, but the shepherding of your all-important objective through this revamped Ganado gauntlet is a much less painful affair than it once was.
You'll also find that expanded areas afford you much more in the way of exploration opportunities between action-packed encounters, with lots of new real estate to wander through and investigate. You'll no doubt have already seen how the lake area has been rejigged, allowing you to freely roam around in your motorboat - once you've taken care of its monstrous inhabitant - and this is something that you'll see across many areas of the game. It still shuttles you forward and keeps things tight and taut - there's no midsection narrative bloat here - but there's more room to take a breather and enjoy the views this time around.
And what views they are. Away from the superb gameplay, this Resident Evil 4 Remake is a proper jaw-dropper, with a darker, more violent and moodier atmosphere that really does add to the overall tension. Characters, locations and action sequences are dripping in little details, there's some stellar weather and lighting effects and, as a result, the game's various iconic locations have never looked or felt better to blaze a trail through. We played around with both graphical modes as we made our way through on Series X and, happily, at both quality and performance settings, we didn't notice any significant issues whatsoever. This is a stunning-looking game that plays silky smooth, a now rare example of a big AAA banger releasing in a pretty much perfect state. Yes, if we're being super picky, you'll see the odd texture load in here and there during a cutscene, but beyond this we didn't notice any noteworthy performance issues.
As we mentioned earlier, the narrative has seen some tweaks too, some events transpire differently, things have been shuffled about just enough to keep it interesting and both Leon and Ashley have lots of sparky new dialogue that brings them up to date whilst also paying plenty of homage to some of the premium cheese of old. Again, we won't spoil a second of any of this but all the protagonists here, alongside the cast of iconic baddies and some slick new cutscenes, have never looked or sounded better. Oh, and the merchant, is it possible he's even better than ever? We reckon so.
We could go on and on really, it's been a while since we've been so thoroughly impressed by an action game, but it's very important not to spoil anything. You want to come to this knowing as little as possible. Yes, it's the same general game as you'll have played back in the day, but there's enough new here to warrant playing through it all without having the impact blunted by knowing too much. We were concerned that returning to Resident Evil 4 could prove to be a mistake for Capcom, that somehow so completely and thoroughly modernising a bonafide classic in this way could somehow tear the soul out of it. But this is very much still the same special game it's always been. It's the Resident Evil 4 you know and love, now bigger and genuinely, actually, better than ever, and there's only one score you can realistically stick on the end of that sentence.
Resident Evil 4 Remake is a resounding success, taking the 2005 survival horror classic and revamping, reworking and retooling it into a most modern and thrilling action extravaganza. You can feel the care and attention to detail in every aspect of how Capcom has handled this remake. Combat has been improved and expanded without destroying the all-important feel of how Leon does battle, iconic boss fights and locations look and feel better than ever and carefully considered additions to areas allow for more exploration between confrontations without ruining the tight and taut flow of the adventure. It all looks and sounds incredible, performs perfectly and makes for a glorious return to the top for an all-time action great. Welcome back, stranger.
Wow, I logged in the minute this review went up lol. Glad it’s just as amazing as we were all hoping. Good review and definitely snagging it sometime this Spring!
I really wasn’t expecting this to review as well as it has (currently 94 on Metacritic) and be a must play. Kudos Capcom.
PJ never fears the 10. Looking forward to playing this!
Great to se it doing so well. Never finished the original on PS2. Will definitely pick this up at some point this year.
Great review as always, PJ.
Resident Evil 4 is, alongside REmake, my favourite game of all time. I can't wait to experience this remake!
Capcom are on fire.
I personally love the RE4 remake, but it was the remake that was the least necessary.
Code: Veronica would have been great with an RE2make/RE3make style remake. RE0 and another RE1 remake would be great with being adapted to RE2make, RE3make and RE4make's gameplay.
RE5 and RE6 could work well with RE Engine remakes with much better graphics, but most importantly, if they fix the stories with some rewrites and alterations, while bringing back the horror that was gone in those games.
Imagine RE5 and RE6 but actually scary. That would be great.
I'm glad the RE4 remake was amazing. But RE0, RE1 (again), Code Veronica, RE5 and RE6 have more potential for improvements in their remakes.
This is what I would call a "fan review."
Capcom are killing it lately. Can't wait.
Glad to see it being received well. Capcom has been doing a great job with their games lately. There were reports of the game a year or two ago being halted and needed to go in a different direction. Looks like they made the right choice.
Definitely on my must play list but waiting for a price drop and I never play games on day 1 anymore anyway.
10/10 is worth the buy but man, I played it so many times...
Already pre-ordered, i had to, its one of my favourite games of all time and the Demo didn't disappoint.
Luckily i had a ton of Microsoft points which have already paid for Dead Space and Hogwarts so far and £25 towards this.
2023 is already an amazing year for gaming on Switch and Xbox.
I might have to give this a try. I played RE4 waaaay after release and the controls were so horrific I wanted to smash my controller. If they’ve modernized the controls I’m interested.
I'm with you on that. I was a resi 4 God back in the day but these days when i go back to replay it or the remasters i struggle with the controls for a while.
Try the demo and see what you think.
I never played the original. So I will probably give this a go
@JayJ Think you'll be reading quite a few of those today 😉
Welp...there ya have it. Wasnt really much of a doubt though. I'll hold off for a little and wait for a decent sale. I own this game on 3 other systems already.
Capcom is one of my favourite developers. Resident Evil and Project Zero/Fatal Frame are my two favourite horror IPs. Project Zero/Fatal Frame Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was released recently and it's awesome.
I knew that Resident Evil 4 (2023) would be great but I must say, remake Code Veronica now! It has the most fascinating story and it's the only one that remains technically dated. Playing Code Veronica, I drafted what @EvilSilentFrame did with Project Zero 1 and 2, a family tree.
I remember buying a Game Cube just to play the original - which I played through 15 times. Although, I'm getting the impression that the remake is harder. From what I am reading in the reviews, it seems more difficult. Unless it's a From Software game, I don't like difficult games anymore. Going to have to wait and see what people say about the difficulty, and if there is an easy mode, alongside normal and hard.
@Romans12 That was the first Resident Evil game that I played, also on Gamecube. I thought it was awesome. It still is. Then I got 1 Remake and Zero. They were not as hyped but 1 Remake is one of the best games ever, in my opinion.
played original RE4 frankly not sure what all the fuss was about
@Romans12 I wouldn't say it's any harder, not noticeably so at least. Definitely not an issue, or anywhere near Souls. You should breeze through most bosses too as they're not really designed to be huge barriers.
@Banjo- RE 1 is perfect. I wish they did a full over the shoulder remake, but I love it anyway. Much more into exploration and puzzle solving than action based.
I’ve been saving up money off vouchers for months to put towards Resi 4. Now that I’ve played the demo (and was grinning ear to ear throughout) this will be the first game in a long time that I buy day one.
@Romans12 I agree 100%.
I wasn't sure if they would pull it off but it seems they have. Well done Capcom.
You're still not getting 60 squid off me though. Bloody disgusting
One of the best games of all time.
A new lick of paint will make it one of the greatest games of all time.
And that's a fact
@PJOReilly I don't doubt that for a second lol
Is the aiming deadzone issue found in the demo still present in this version? Or is there a deadzone slider in the options now?
All the praise Capcom is getting while only making remakes of old hits... Lol at this rate they will never deliver or release a new game
xbox needs to buy capcom asap.
Was in 2 minds about getting this as i finished it on PS2 an only recently bought it on Oculus Quest 2. Played the demo just to see what they did with it and it’s fantastic!! My birthday on 21st March so asked the missus for this. I don’t mind waiting a few days for my prezzie.
I used to like Resident Evil games until other games allowed a person to walk/run and shoot at the same time. I'm glad others are enjoying the remake all the same. These games always had a good plot/story.
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