- Resident Evil 4 remake launched on March 24th to universal acclaim from fans and critics.
- The game manages to be a stunningly realized recreation of one of the most important games of all time.
- A remake of Resident Evil 4 had always been considered moot as the game was already concerned to be nearly perfect by most of its fans.
When the Resident Evil 3 remake was announced, many fans (including myself) thought, “Well, that’s it for the remakes, I suppose. If they continue from this point on, they would have to remake Resident Evil 4, which is impossible; that game’s perfect!” Fast forward to the present day, and the Resident Evil 4 remake is finally out, and guess what? It’s impossibly good, but how?
The original Resident Evil 4 is often considered to be lightning in a bottle, where its long and troubled development resulted in the masterpiece we actually got. If you intentionally try to recreate it, you get something like RE5 or RE6, which are both fine games, just not even in the same ballpark as Resident Evil 4. With the disappointing launch of the Resident Evil 3 remake, the odds were not looking good for this one.
There was also the factor that Resident Evil 4 is perfect on its own; aside from minor concerns regarding its controls, the game has aged near flawlessly. Throw in the recently released fan-made HD remaster, and it’s a game that has stood the test of time rather remarkably. Today, the game has achieved near-mythical status, released on just about every single console you can imagine, and for a good reason.
So with all that taken into account, it’s obvious that just being a “good” game was not going to be enough; if you’re going to remake one of the most important games of all time, it needs to at least be almost as good if not better than the original. Admittedly, it is not an impossible task, especially for Resident Evil, because the RE series itself maintains the bar for the best remake of all time in the Resident Evil 1 remake.
It’s a remake that doesn’t cut anything and instead revises and adds onto an already fantastic game, so much so that it can almost be played as a replacement for the original Resident Evil 1. Even today, it is arguably the best survival horror game ever made. Now, I will add I haven’t finished the Resident Evil 4 remake; I am still in the early chapters at 6 hours spent.
But God, have those 6 hours been good.
Same Song, Different Cover
One of the signature encounters from the original game was recreated in breathtaking fidelity. Resident Evil 4 Remake is made by developers that did not just understand the assignment; they aced it on top of that. It’s a remarkable experience that feels both familiar and brand new, with brand new threats and surprises peppered across the entire thing for returning players like me who have played the original game to death. Of particular note has been one segment so far, and mild spoilers follow.
It’s the chapter following the Del Lago fight, Leon ends up in an abandoned boat house at night, and things go pretty much how you would expect. You fight a bunch of Ganados, and you get introduced to the new Las Plagas-infected enemies. Afterward, however, the level expands into a non-linear open exploratory segment where you frequently backtrack between locations to solve puzzles, sell items and discover new treasures on a motorboat.
This level highlights one of the ways the remake differentiates itself from the original game, placing a higher emphasis on classic survival horror elements such as puzzle solving, backtracking, and resource management. It’s an incredible vertical slice that gives players a little bit of everything the remake has to offer in one brief package.
However, unlike the Resident Evil 1 remake, RE4R (haha) both expands and contracts. Taking away from the silly, light-hearted tone of the original game in favor of a much darker, gloomy tone. There’s a certain boss that I’ve heard has been removed from the game as well as a particular set-piece involving a specific robot. I wouldn’t say that it’s a detriment, however, considering that the original game will always be there…hopefully.
What makes the remake special is that it’s also aware of how silly it can be, which is how you get something like the shooting range, which features flashy disco lights and music from the original Resident Evil 4’s intro. It’s a very tongue-in-cheek moment that you can only get in a series with a legacy as storied as Resident Evil, and I absolutely adore it. It’s one of the few times in a game where I had the biggest smile on my face and was actively trying to hold back from laughing out loud; it’s great.
So much love has been poured into this thing, and it can be seen with its immaculate attention to detail. The way Leon changes his aiming stance if an enemy is close, how enemies will stumble and fall on their own traps, and one particular detail that really caught me off guard. When I tried to snipe a Ganado minding his own business, he had his hatchet raised to his head, causing the shot to collide with the hatchet instead and miss.
It’s really details like these that kept me coming back to the original and will likely keep me coming back to this remake.
Resident Evil 4 remake has accomplished the impossible by recreating a near-legendary game with uncompromising success. It probably won’t ever replace the original for me, but I think that’s impossible to do in the first place. It’s like enjoying a fantastic cover of a song you really love, it’s beautiful, but you keep coming back to the original anyways.
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