Review: Resident Evil 4 Remastered
Starting as a Nintendo Gamecube exclusive, followed by a heyday of various consoles re-releases, HD remaster and I don’t know how many other names of versions I can count of Resident Evil 4, what I consider the most revolutionary entry in the series is finally remastered for the current generation of consoles. Is the adaptation and port worth another re-release? I’m almost tempted to say that we should be happy it is for newcomers to try a game that marked a milestone in the history of the saga and gaming in general.
The strength of Resident Evil 4 is mainly in its building up – without faults – to something amazing and surprising, filled at regular intervals with myriad of small ideas. What is also interesting is that Resident Evil 4 is full of action from the beginning to the end, so how do you surprise the player who is accustomed to a game franchise full of suspense and thrills? Well it is very simply thanks to a bunch of rich cinematics, but it is also the game itself which is certainly more challenging, and also scarier with great enemies (and amazing boss fights).
Nevertheless, all of this action and suspense is at least directed by a script, which in some way might be considered one of the few negative points of Resident Evil 4. The game tells the story of Leon S. Kennedy (introduced in Resident Evil 2), which is ordered by the President of the United States – personally – to rescue his daughter Ashley, kidnapped by a group who found refuge in Spain. If this scenario already sounds like some sort of 1990s action hero B-movie, the main problem is that there’s a lack of credibility and a feeling of déjà vu. With the inclusion of Ada as secondary character (one also introduced alongside Leon in Resident Evil 2), you’ll soon discover that there’s almost no relationship with our main hero, almost like they never met, and the lady in red keeps on running away or disappears at the weirdest parts of the story, making you forget her within seconds.
Then we have our Krauser, another side-character who is only there to serve as an leeway to make Leon relevant with back story whom he has a score to settle. This Krauser is portrayed as Leon’s rival, and they will battle in the most boring way ever, which will based on a QTE interactive knife fight custscene, forcing you press some series of buttons at the right time, instead of settling this fight like real men… With guns and rocket launchers! Nevertheless, at the time, this was a first for the series, and I believe they were heavily inspired by Shemnue. Anyway, the be honest, we’re here to review Resident Evil 4 Remaster, and the probably the only not remastered in this game was the story, but the enhanced graphics of the original visual settings full of colors, variety and European style will make you forget that scenario.
The core structure and skeleton of the game didn’t change, and that shouldn’t surprise you anyway. You are always taken by the hand, asking you to go through vast levels infested with many enemies (the first time that many at a time in areas for the series), go from point A to point B, while scouting for those shiny weapons, ammunition or more types of objects. In addition though, all extra content created for this game are included (because yes people, Capcom re-released this game 7 times since the Gamecube days) starting with the Separate Ways epilogue, telling the story of what Ada was doing after each time she disappeared in the original game. Her task is to gather samples before eventually reaching a helicopter, which is of course a reference to Hunk’s minigame in Resident Evil 2 but has is at least rich in possibilities. The second mode will be The Mercenaries unlockable minigame, which is a sort of horde mode, where you rack up points by killing zombies with style, thanks to a “combo” system and headshots. This minigame was one of the most addictive things I remember from the Gamecube days, which had me go over and over again to get that perfect 4-star score and unlock the new characters to use in this mode (which are Ada, Krauser, Hunk and Wesker).
Under various influences from movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more, Resident Evil 4 has a lot of themes to appeal to gamers but at least it’s not a chaotic mess and shows a real consistency in quality. The textures and settings for instance are pleasing to the eye, especially now in wide 1080p locked at 60FPS (as a heads up, the original game used to be around 1.4GB and now became tenfold reaching 10GB and more), and the village and military base are supported by some fresh batch of special effects (including weather) and a bestiary revives the old 2005 locations. On the front of enemies and their design, there’s plenty to see and they all got a fresh coat of HD paint, with amorphous villagers (which are very swift in their movements), genetically modified dogs, mutant insects, giant “ogres”, sea monsters, and I’m even skipping the best. You will still find the influence of zombies or the Hunters from the Resident Evil series but I bow my hat to Mikami for the risk he took to refresh that part of the game.
When if comes to the soundscapes, the soundtrack and sound effects still fits with the enhanced visual. Nuanced compositions (depending on what is happening on the screen) filled with sampling and mix of realistic and scary sound effects, the soundtrack is probably the most direct way to immerse the player with what is happening on the other side of its screen. I do wish though that by now the mixing would’ve been updated with re-mastered composition and modern effects, but hey that’s just me, and newcomers won’t notice that it’s 2005 tunes that they are hearing.
But if you go deep into the technicality of this enhanced version, especially if you played the previous remastered version, just be ready and do not expect miracles on that front. Resident Evil 4 Remaster for Xbox One (and PlayStation 4) is not a remake but just an “old” game embellished in 1080p like mentioned above, with the new textures from the PC version being used (Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition). You’ll notice finer textures, colors feel a bit revived a with a boost of contrast, but nothing really transcendent as the “original” game is not that old anyway. The technical enhancement though that will be noticeable is the switch from 30 to 60 frames per second, which adds speed in image processing, but might be annoying with the camera movements as there’s one hell of motion blur applied to it, but the effect is unnoticeable during other segments of the game.
For those of you who never played this opus, the gameplay has also undergone a more or less redesign compared to other episodes of Resident Evil (no major changes in the remastered edition). Because Resident Evil 4 is an action game first, and horror and suspense second, the angle of view has been switch to a over-the-shoulder shooting and movement system, allowing for better visibility to target enemies, which is particularly important given the fact that headshots are a most for optimal damage. So yes, this was probably what influenced games like Gears of War, especially with the ability to use melee finishers to kill your enemies when they are down on the ground, or to defend yourself if they grabbed you. ou will then focus on headshots to finish quickly or use the actions available to you. Apart from the interactive cutscenes, some passages require you to press buttons frantically with QTE to run quickly and escape a pressing danger. Anyway, from the original 2005, the gameplay will feel a bit rigid for those of you who played other titles with these mechanics such as Mass Effect, Gears of War, etc.
Resident Evil 4 Remastered was reviewed using an Xbox One downloadable code of the game provided by Capcom. The remastered version of this game is also available on the PlayStation 4 and PC in both digital and retail releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
The same great sets full of action,
Great variety of gameplay
Some of the series greatest enemies and boss battles
Endearingly cheesy characters and plot
That inventory system really needed an upgrade
The control scheme seems sluggish and outdated now
Some random small minor bugs on the technical front