- The Resident Evil 4 remake launched to universal acclaim and has redefined the standard for videogame remakes.
- Almost two decades later, the Island section of Resident Evil 4 continues to feel underwhelming in contrast to previous areas. A problem that’s carried over in the remake.
- The Village and Salazar‘s Castle were greatly expanded in Resident Evil 4’s remake. Combined with modern visuals and high fidelity, the experience has been elevated to a new level.
Setting an undisputed standard in 2019, Capcom has managed to hit it out of the park yet again with the Resident Evil 4 remake. Not only has the game launched to universal acclaim from critics and users alike, but it also surpassed 3 million units in sales within two days of its launch. As if that wasn’t enough, Resident Evil 4 was the most colossal launch for the franchise on Steam thus far.
This may seem like an exaggeration, but Capcom has set the bar extremely high when it comes to remakes in general. The current landscape of gaming more or less revolves around this barrage of blasts from the past, so to say. If it’s not that, it’s some classic developer talking about how NFTs and Web3 are the next big things for video games (looking at you, Square Enix). Spoiler alert, it’s not. At least not at the moment.
Having the monumental task of living up to the legacy of the original game, the pressure and anticipation levels were off the charts. I remember going through a roller coaster of emotions throughout the promotional cycle of the game. We all felt the loss of one of gaming’s greatest dogs when Capcom played us a while back. Honestly, I’m glad they ended up sparing at least one being in the remake of Resident Evil 4, but I’ll get to this later.
The Island Might Be Resident Evil 4’s Greatest Weakness Yet Again
Anyone who has played the original Resident Evil 4 knows where the ball was dropped. After going through the Village and Salazar’s Castle, the game sent us to Saddler’s Island in the third act. The Island seems cool at first glance, but the more you play that section, the more you realize how cursed it is. Pacing issues, constant waves of enemies, ammo sinks, tug of war for Ashley, you name it.
The one thing that stood out on the Island was the Regenerators. Here’s a fun fact, it’s spelled “Regenerador” in the Resident Evil 4 remake for a reason. While the original game’s Island section was horrible, it had a certain charm to it. Seeing Leon breeze his way through a laser room via QTEs, the back-and-forth banter between Leon and Saddler on comms, Leon relaxing on Saddler’s throne only for us to find a treasure when he stands up.
Despite throwing any semblance of horror or creepiness out the window, the original Island had a certain vibe to it. Resident Evil 4’s remake, however, incorporates this into the Island section. The entire area feels eerie, especially whenever you’re about to run into Regenerators. Let’s not forget that they’re stronger than they were in the original. Yet it feels underwhelming overall when you stack it up with the Village and the Castle.
Some of the puzzles present in the original were cut from the remake, such as the gate at the start of the Island. While the remake dialed the atmosphere to 11, some of the set pieces here were either cursed or not up to par with the original. An example of this is the Waste Disposal Area. In the remake, you arrive at the place only to find out that there’s no power and the breaker needs to be flipped.
Moving on, you make your way to the breaker with zero problems and no enemies in sight. I used the biosensor to scope out the area, and you might wonder why, but it’s because of what happens in the original. Keep in mind, Ashley has to hold the valve for Leon to cross the bridge and get to the breaker. Now, nothing happened all this time as I made my way to the other side of the area.
“Perfect,” I thought as I flipped the breaker to get the power back on. Predictably, the second I flipped the breaker, a Regenerator appeared from the trash pile behind me while an entire mob ambushed Ashley on the other side. Having a sheet of iron bars blocking my vision and reducing accuracy while I get jumped by Regenerator made things clear. This set piece was just bad.
The wrecking ball segment, along with the crane ride in the original, was reimagined in the remake of Resident Evil 4. Arguably, it was handled better in the remake, but it lacked the impact of the original. I think it is because the thrill ride section was removed. But I have to add, though, despite removing “It” from the game, they did Krauser‘s fight justice by handling it the way they did.
At the end of the day, I enjoyed the Island in the original and the remake for reasons I don’t even know myself. Nevertheless, after going through prior sections of the game, the Island feels lacking. Either something is inherently wrong with its design, or the section is just underwhelming due to the Village and Salazar’s Castle.
Salazar’s Castle Received A Glow-Up
All these years and I still can’t get over how Ramón says, “Mr. Kennedy.” It’s insane to me how the original Resident Evil 4 was so ahead of its time in every single way. The fact that Capcom managed to not only live up to that legacy but elevate it deserves praise. While the entire game ascended to a new plane of visuals and atmosphere, I believe the Castle got the greatest benefit out of this.
It evokes the feeling of being in a place that’s got some history to it. The place feels sinister and mystical, and this may seem over the top, but it felt as if the walls themselves told a story. Sadly, the lava room was cut from the Resident Evil 4 remake in favor of something else. I can’t help but imagine how that section would have looked and played in this version.
For those of you who may not remember, the lava room in the original contained a piece required for the Chimera puzzle. If you stack that up with the remake, you’ll know which part I’m referring to. Beyond the lava room, the second Garrador encounter was also removed.
One of the greatest improvements in the Resident Evil 4 remake is enemy AI. Not only that but the way they’re handled in general. I was thoroughly impressed when the Red Zealots presented themselves as actual threats this time. What wasn’t as impressive is the fact that they removed the sewers with Novistadors along with the guillotine room yet retained the dog maze. What were they thinking?
Thankfully, the section with those two Garradors in the Castle was a lot more thrilling. The new knife and parry mechanics work extremely well, especially when combined with stealth. Another thing I felt in the Castle was the difficulty of the infamous Water Hall. I’m not sure how people feel about it in the remake, but to me, the original Water Hall was infinitely easier. Though, this could be due to its design which allowed you to camp in a room.
If I’m being honest, you feel the significance of Ashley’s wait system from the original in some of these sections. Besides that, the set pieces with Luis in the Castle Mines were exceptional. I love that character, and it was disappointing to see how they wasted him in the original Resident Evil 4. It was even more disappointing when they did the same in the remake and made it even more abrupt.
But overall, Salazar’s Castle was a major step-up, even if it excluded some sections from the original game. The phenomenal atmosphere, amazing boss encounters, and creative set pieces all serve to make it one of my favorite sections from Resident Evil 4. After all, when was the last time you could kill a boss with an egg?
The Peaceful Little Village
While I may have enjoyed my time in Salazar’s Castle, the Village is, without a doubt, the best area in the entire game. The expanded sub-sections, reimagined set pieces, and puzzles combined with the glory of Capcom’s RE Engine elevated the area to a whole new level.
Furthermore, the modern take on Del Lago’s fight felt a lot more engaging and fear-inducing. There’s a sequence in the original where Del Lago dives deep, and you have to locate it before you get rammed. Capcom reworked it in the remake, and it’s a bit difficult now. And how can we forget the dog? I was over the moon when I heard its voice as I left the Village Chief’s Manor. Saving that dog and having him help me out was the best.
Capcom added another layer to that dog, by the way. I noticed that it calls you after the fight with El Gigante, and if you walk up to it, Leon says, “Thanks, buddy.” It’s a bit disappointing how they changed the opening cutscene, though. Seeing those villagers get clobbered while Leon gracefully dodges that gigantic left sweep was an experience. Beyond that, Dr. Salvador and The Bella Twins felt way more threatening despite us having a knife.
What impresses me the most, however, is the attention to detail in this game. It was recently discovered that you could skip the opening sequence in the village by shooting the church bell. This was not possible in the original, and I guess that this was the result of modern technology. Higher draw distance allows these environments to be rendered with objects in the distance. It’s why I believe such a technique is even possible.
This remake is filled with such details, and that’s among the many things that elevate it. Chief Mendez received some depth as well, which distinguishes his character from the original. Backtracking to the house where you find the Insignia Key after saving Ashley allows you to access the attic. That place is filled with lore about Luis and Mendez. Expanding upon Luis’s story was one of Capcom’s greatest decisions.
My final thoughts on the Village are mostly rooted in curiosity. They’ve removed the lift and cave sections from Resident Evil 4’s remake in favor of a Mendez chase sequence. However, it’s difficult to see how it will translate to Separate Ways because that’s bound to happen. I will say that the new additions feel more consistent, making the overall experience an absolute win.
Resident Evil 4’s Remake Adds Depth To Some Of Its Characters
It’s no secret that the remake favors a darker tone in contrast to the campiness of the original. However, it feels as if this allowed the developers to add some much-needed depth to a few of the cast members. I’m well aware that people love the original Leon with his one-liners and sassy personality. However, the new take on the character is also an achievement.
Considering the events of Resident Evil 2 and what followed after, it’s only fair for a man to carry some weight on his shoulders. The added depth to Leon’s character is at its peak in Chapter 10 when he gives a pep talk to Ashley. I’m glad these two versions act as parallel entities rather than replacing one entirely. Ashley herself has greatly benefitted from the remake.
It’s evident by the way she’s written that Capcom was aware of her flaws as a character. Instead of being a burden while constantly yelling for help, she’s now more proactive and assists Leon. The cutscenes showcasing their interaction and chemistry drive it home. Even Luis got the remake treatment for the most part, which is something I’m happy about.
In hindsight, Capcom opting not to change the fate of Luis and Mike is a wasted opportunity. One could easily see the plot of Resident Evil 4 moving forward without having to sacrifice both. An argument can be made that Mike’s death served as a degree of personal motivation for Leon, but I digress. The game has relatively greater problems in comparison, but I’ll talk about those another time.
Resident Evil 4 Is The Platinum Standard For Remakes
Games like this don’t grace us too often anymore. The space is already saturated with low-effort ports and cash grabs. A good number of new IPs fail to impress, and most of the time, the games that do resonate with us are remakes of classics or sequels to beloved franchises. Recent examples of such failures include Square Enix’s Forspoken, the Chrono Cross remaster, and Naughty Dog‘s PC port of The Last of Us Part 1.
WB‘s Hogwarts Legacy had its issues despite being an experience. Wild Hearts was a disaster at launch, along with Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty getting its very own package of problems. Even the Final Fantasy VII Remake had performance issues, and that was a fantastic game.
Capcom has continued to define what a remake is supposed to contain. When visiting a classic title in hopes of modernizing it for a new generation, some great measures need to be taken. Starting with Resident Evil 2 in 2019, Capcom has achieved near-perfection with the remake of Resident Evil 4.
Despite some of its problems, the overall experience is phenomenal. It’s truly a great time to be a Resident Evil fan. Fingers crossed for the remakes of Code Veronica, RE5, and RE6.
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