- Resident Evil 4 remake isn’t just a 1:1 remake of the original but reimagines the classic from the ground up.
- The remake overhauls the level design, boss fights, set pieces, and controls of the original, without neglecting what made the original so beloved.
- The newly added backtracking options and explorable areas, makes it feel more like a classic Survival Horror Title than a straight-up Action Shooter.
- However, for the sake of a grounded setting, the remake still doesn’t tone down its action set pieces and boss fights, and instead further intensifies them.
The original Resident Evil 4 is one of the hallmark titles in the video gaming landscape, right up there with classics like Metal Gear Solid and Dark Souls. The game was single-handedly responsible for shaping the Third-Person Shooter genre we know today, thanks to the introduction of the over-the-shoulder third-person camera.
There would be no The Last of Us, no Dead Space, or any game that utilizes the over-the-shoulder camera for that matter, without Resident Evil 4. So how do you top a game like this? You don’t. But the fact that the title’s remake manages to stand in the same league as the original, without being a 1:1 rework, is an applaud-worthy achievement that very few games have known.
New But Familiar Village
I started the Resident Evil 4 remake on Hardcore because that was the recommended difficulty for those who had played the original. That option helped in setting some expectations as I readied myself to relive the same classic but with a modern coat of paint. But as soon I completed the initial village shootout and made my way to The Valley set piece, everything I knew about the original was used against me.
I recognized the crisscrossing bridges of the Valley and knew “What” to do, but the “How” this time around was different. Instead of finding two emblems, there was only one, and instead of placing that Emblem into the Valley’s gate, I had to backtrack to where the Merchant was. Likewise, my jaw hit the floor, the second time I entered the Village, and I saw the nearby Tower collapse, blocking my way to the Town Hall gate and leaving me with mutated dogs.
While the encounters of El Gigante and Del Lago were largely the same, the boss fight that received the biggest overhaul in the village section of the game was of the village chief “Birtorez Mendez.” In addition to receiving an agility boost with a couple of new attacks, Mendez can now use his monstrous limbs to throw nearby burning logs and red barrels at the player, adding another layer of difficulty to the fight.
I recognized all of the original’s classic locations and set pieces, but their level design and enemy placement had gone through such a drastic change that they could be considered something entirely different. And with each subsequent chapter, the game kept changing and changing, and by the time I was at the castle section, I realized that this isn’t just a remake of the original Resident Evil 4, but a love letter to that.
Salazar’s Castle Is The Remake’s Highlight
Up until the castle, everything I knew was used against me, but that changed when I stepped into Salazar’s Castle. If I had to name one section of Resident Evil 4 that went through the biggest change, it would be the trap-infested castle of Ramon Salazar. The castle was easily my favorite section of the original Resident Evil 4, and the grounded survival horror tone of the remake dials it up to 11.
From torn robes of the Zealots to the ominous fog-covered floors of the castle, to the horrifying encounter with Garrador beneath the castle cells, everything just added to the tension and atmosphere. The castle itself, feels very much like a classic Resident Evil level, with tons of backtracking options, and treasures scattered all over the place.
The iconic Maze, Water Room, and a couple of other memorable sections do return, however, everything else is either rearranged, reimagined, or replaced with something brand new. On paper, this can worry a lot of long-time fans, but Capcom had done a fantastic job here, as the sections of the game that are replaced, are just as good as the original levels, if not more, and neither do these levels break the original’s perfect pacing.
Salazar’s fight itself this time around is also completely different. Instead of just being stuck in one place, Salazar now transforms into a giant spider-like creature and hovers around the arena, throwing acidic black tar all over the place.
A Grounded Take On A Beloved Classic
When I first learned about the Resident Evil 4 remake, I was both delighted and skeptical. I knew for a fact, that the new remake will be very grounded, and will take Resident Evil 4 back to the series’ root, where the scarce ammo for survival and backtracking will be the key elements. But in exchange for this, the remake would also have to abandon what made the original so great.
What I didn’t imagine was the remake being both an action game and a survival horror experience, which it ultimately was. The first time I escaped the villager’s house and saw the entrapped dog, dead, my day was ruined, yet I still decided to welcome this grounded remake with open arms.
But the moment I saw the melee prompt on the Ganados’ head and Leon saying his iconic “Bingo” line right at the end of the Village Square encounter, I knew for a fact that the dog was still alive, which it was.
The Island section in my opinion was the one that benefited the most from this. The original’s Island section is probably the least fan-favorite area of the game and the reasoning behind it is that it deviates way too much from its horror roots and straight-up devolves into an Action Shooter, with the only saving grace being its Regenerator sections.
I didn’t have any problem with the shooting, as the shooting in Resident Evil 4 is extremely fun. The remake however also aims to solve this issue, by toning down its action sequences a bit for more horrific Regenerator encounters, which fitted the Island more.
One of my favorite additions thanks to the new tone was the expanded Del Lago Lake, which opens up brand-new locations that Leon could explore at his leisure. Later on in the game, you can also find different keys and items that allow you to open any previously locked doors or drawers, further encouraging backtracking and exploration.
At the same time all this backtracking and exploration, don’t break the game’s pace, which is a miracle. The remake can be completed in both 22 and 5 hours, depending on how you play it. Resident Evil 4 remake goes back to the series’ roots and makes it feel more like a survival horror game, yet at the same time, doesn’t forget why the original Resident Evil 4 is heralded as one of the all-time greats. Instead of toning down its action sequences, boss fights, and set pieces, it further amps them up.
Keeping The Claustrophobic Combat
One of the key elements that made the original experience so intense and anxiety-inducing was its controls and overly close camera. And this was the second thing I was most concerned about, as modernizing the controls won’t replicate the feeling of the tank controls. The movement and controls are modernized in the remake, however, the feeling of claustrophobia without toning down the action is definitely honored here.
There are no tank controls this time around, but the movement and the animations feel way more weighty. You can aim while moving, but the reticle system makes your shots less accurate. While not everyone may be a fan of the reticle system, I think it was done to replicate the original’s feeling in order to keep things tense while modernizing the controls. At the same time, the remake still allows us to pull off some insane feats just like the original.
The remake keeps all of those melee animations and replaces the QTEs with a real-time parry system. Nothing feels better than parrying the chainsaw of the blood-hungry Dr. Salvador with a knife. Parrying is the highlight of the Resident Evil 4 remake and the kind of goofiness this brings on-screen is something you can only expect from this game.
It is difficult and risky, to remake a game like Resident Evil 4, and it would’ve made more sense for Capcom to just do a 1:1 remake. They could’ve still gotten away with praise from critics just like The Last of Us remake. But the fact, they not only decided to reimagine such an iconic classic but also delivered, is an almighty achievement, that even Capcom themselves may fail to replicate for years to come.
I was completely blown away by how the RE4 remake used reverse psychology and used my understanding against me, by changing so much of the game’s esteemed settings without breaking them. Many renowned set pieces, boss fights, and locations that made the original iconic are still there, but the way they play out is completely brand new and original, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
Resident Evil 4 remake was never meant to top the original RE4, it never could’ve, but the fact it manages to do the impossible and stand side by side with the original as one of the best Third-Person Shooters of all time is a remarkable feat. While there will always be arguments among the community on which one is better, I am just happy with the fact that instead of one, I now have two Resident Evil 4s, which I will keep replaying for many years to come.
With this much love poured into the remake, I can’t wait to see what Capcom does with the allegedly leaked Separate Ways DLC.
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