”Oh Señor, somos tu ganado”
For the purposes of this review I will note that this game played on a new PS5 system running the PS5 variation of the of RE4 Remake, any problems or issues detailed below should be clearly reflect that of the current state of the game as whole at the current highest PS5 performance, PC and other console variation will not be mentioned within this review.
“Oh señor, somos tu martillo”
Recreating a Classic
Capcom is once again on a roll when it comes to remaking the classics, after close to 18 years of fans enjoying what has been heralded as the “Best” Resident Evil game in the series. Capcom has finally released its Remake version of Resident Evil 4, bringing several updates while trying to retain the charm of the original. Read on below to see how Capcom’s latest remake has once again changed the gaming industry for the better.
Little of Column A – Little of Column B:
Remaking a classic for the next generation is always a heavy task to undertake, change too much about the characters and you’ll end up losing the loyalty of the fan base that made the Remake a possibility, don’t change enough and interest is lost quickly. Coming from a successful remake in Resident Evil 2 and a less than stellar remake Resident Evil 3 fans waited with baited breath to see how this remake would land, would it be a well crafted remake like Resident Evil 2? Or would it be a complete trainwreck ala Resident Evil 3. Well thankfully I’m pleased to say that Resident Evil 4 Remake falls into the first category, if I’m completely honest I would say that this Remake even trumps the Original 2005 version of Resident Evil 4 in more than several ways. Below I will highlight the overall changes for the better including that of characters changes, combat upgrades and several minor tweaks that make the story flow so much better when compared to its previous iteration.
Leon and Ashley Remade:
Leon has gone through many iterations between games/comics and movies that he’s been featured in, Resident Evil 4’s Leon was originally an overly cocky one line cracking beast of an action hero. How does he compare with his remake version? Does the remake version bring him down to earth? Or does it strip away the charm that he once brought to so many fans years ago?
Remaking classic characters to fit the new narrative and better sync that up to old and future media can be a tough challenge especially considering the experiences that Leon has gone through as a character, he’s gone from a wide-eyed puppy in (Resident Evil 2) – to an over the top one line cracking badass (Resident Evil 4) then to a broken down drunk that cares for nothing in the world (Vendetta) playing through each game and watching each movie really shows the evolution of the character as a whole.
Dropped once more into the Valdelobos region of Spain to tackle the continuation of a religious cult – “Los Iluminados” (”The Enlightened Ones”) this new version of Leon is a happy medium between the several versions of the character that has been mentioned above, while he still occasionally keeps his classic one-liners and even adds a few new ones to his repertoire the Leon of Resident Evil 4 Remake, is a far more serious individual. Less prone to outbursts or satirical comebacks and much more focused on the mission at hand, throughout the story he does mellow out to a degree but always puts the mission and more importantly Ashley ahead of everything, even his own wellbeing. With his returning attache case system (That comes complete with brand new styles and features) Leon always has the tool needed to handle any encounter he and Ashley may come across.
Speaking of Ashley..
Ashley has always been a sticking point for fans for the series, fans of the original have always seen her a whiny spoiled brat of a character with a voice that could peel the wallpaper off a wall within 2 minutes of her shrill cries of LEON!
Thankfully Capcom saw the outcries in regards to this and the Ashely of Resident Evil 4 Remake is a stark improvement from her previous iteration, while she can still come off as annoying at times she is far stronger and more self-reliant. The major difference mechanically with Ashley overall is the removal of her health bar, in the past Ashley was able to take a decent amount of damage which could be attributed to enemy Gandos causing her damage or just a stray shot from Leon from time to time. This generally came off as an annoyance as in some later stages of the game Ashley due to her smaller health pool could die to one bad decision and instantly cause a gameover. To combat these issues, Capcom decided that removing her health pool entirely was the best course of action and while in some cases this could be seen as worse off (A poor shot from Leon can insta-kill Ashely now leading to a gameover) it makes the later stages far more easier to combat, rather than instantly dying in the past if Ashley sustains damage she will now be placed into an incapacitated state, if Leon is too late in helping Ashley and should she take additional damage in this state it will lead to a gameover, however the recovery time is extremely generous and there are very rare times in which Ashley will take damage while in this incapacitated state, to help Ashley recover Leon can simply run up to her and press the selected prompt to bring her back to a full health state.
As mentioned Ashley is far more self-reliant and while they originally don’t get along too well the pair eventually open up to each other leading to several scenes where Ashley becomes to the defining factor in there mission forward, while she is very uneager to help in the beginning Ashley soon realizes that she has to get her own hands dirty if she and Leon could ever hope to survive the horrors ahead. This is a great addition to her character as it turns her from a petulant spoiled child of the past into a character that can not only hold her own but in a lot of cases become the savior of the story itself.
Overall I truly enjoy the changes to these main characters, Ashley especially is a huge improvement over her original version and is far less of an annoyance overall. She now feels like an actual character that has a character arc and decent story rather than a screaming five year old that you have to cart around a supermarket for five to seven hours at a time. While I prefer the older version of Leon this is a good version given the situation and acts as a good bridge from his (RE2 Remake) and (Movie) variations and really expands on the backstory and lore that he shares with some of the later returning characters.
Now that Leon and Ashley have been covered it’s now time to go over the entirely new combat systems that have been changed and updated in Resident Evil 4 Remake read on further to see what I truly believe is one best designed additional features that will serve new and older players well as they venture deeper into the world of survival horror.
Resident Evil 4 has always had a strong focus on combat, it was one of the better systems included and defined later games in the series with its effective use of CQC and Knife based combat. Being a staple addition to several of the remade games as well its successors in the series.
Resident Evil 4 Remake evolves this even further with the use of the new parry, finishing moves and stealth kill mechanics, Leon while originally being able to run around with a knife of infinite worth has since decided to take a page from his Resident Evil 2 remake counterpart by adding durability to his combat knife, this isn’t entirely something new to the series as previous titles have done similar, while Leon’s knives now have durability they can now also be used as a defensive item, again this is taken directly from Resident Evil 2 remake, however unlike the previous remake Leon does not need to retrieve his knives from the enemies to make further use of it. Making use of the knife as a defensive weapon merely instantly lowers its durability by a set amount allowing for multiple uses of the defensive function simultaneously when in a tight situation, and trust me when I say this there will be many times when you’ll be thrust into a situation where the combat knife itself will be the greatest tool in your arsenal.
Capcom saw these functions in the original Resident Evil 4 and took the concept to further heights with the as mentioned parry, finishing moves and stealth killing systems. Now Leon is able to better defend himself against any manner of horror that should befall him regardless of location, I’ll cover the stealth kill system first as this should be pretty self explanatory when compared to the parrying mechanics. Leon with access to his CQC and Knife skills is able to stealthily approach his enemy and as long as they’re unaware of his presence is able to viciously take down most enemies by plunging his knife into a foe’s weak spot, as long as the enemy is unaware of Leon’s direct presence. It is entirely possible to run up behind an enemy and execute this function, however this is not limited to simple Ganado type enemies, this can even be used to take down certain stronger enemies that feature in the later portion of the game that may otherwise become extremely nerve racking to face. Making use of this feature also takes a large portion of the knife’s durability meaning while this function is an amazing feature it is not always the best way of handling a situation.
Next I will cover the biggest additions to Resident Evil 4 Remake, which is the parrying and finishing move system, due to the horrors of combat and otherworldly horrors Leon faces on a now daily basis after the Raccoon City incident it made sense for Capcom to further expand on his mentioned military training. Unlike the original Resident Evil 4 when facing most foes Leon is now able to parry incoming attacks at the cost of some knife durability, these parry mechanics are broken into two different styles, the basic parry and the perfect parry. The most basic form of the parry requires the player to press the quick knife button (L1 on Playstation) in response to an enemy swing, hitting a basic parry prevents Leon from taking any damage from the enemy regardless of what it is. If however you’re able to press the parry prompt at the correct time you’ll perform what is known as a perfect parry, this parry not only prevents all damage to Leon it also reduces the recovery time of the animation, staggers the enemy and allows for a melee counteract which would usually only be reserved for staggering with a firearm.
Depending on the difficulty will determine how much harder these parries become along with the amount of damage Leon would receive based of failing this function, it is very easy on higher difficulties to lose over half of Leon’s health due to a failed parry which really brings more skill into the equation when it comparison to the original Resident Evil 4.
Next I will cover the finishing move system before giving my honest opinion on these changes that can make up a large portion of the updated combat system in Resident Evil 4 Remake. If Leon is able to successfully, stagger an enemy either through firearms of the above mentioned perfect parry. Connecting with a melee attack will in most cases knock an enemy Ganado to the ground, while the enemy on the ground Leon know has the option of running forward and instantly killing finish a downed enemy, this is extremely useful when certain enemies decide that they want to go for round 2, making use of the finishing move versus these particular enemies is preferable as will make Leon’s life that much easier, it can be quite a terrifying sight to see several Ganados all deciding they’d rather say no to death this day.
In my opinion the expansion on combat styles is one of, if not the biggest game changer compared to the two versions of Resident Evil 4, while these changes may seem small overall to players that won’t make use of them, the fact that Capcom has taken the time to improve one of the best features along with bringing in better continuity between there Remake versions (RE2 Remake knife mechanics) just makes the experience all the more better, the combat feels great, the encounters stunning and the upgraded mechanics and tools added to Leon’s arsenal far outstrip anything that the original Resident Evil 4 could offer.
Finally with the addition of durability as a concept the question becomes now, how does Leon repair these damaged knives as well as keep himself equipped for the dangers ahead? Well then it’s time to introduce the fan favorite and the true original that was ahead of his time that of…
While I’m not at liberty to discuss everything I would like to regarding the Merchant due to not wishing to spoil anything outside of his first appearance, there are some truly interesting and wonderful changes made to not only the Merchant himself but his inventory the fan favorite character returns once more with even more mysterious lore that goes for lack of a better word unexplained. The Merchant once again assists Leon throughout the game supplying him with the tools of mayhem and support items he requires to tackle even the greatest of foes.
The Merchant has since learned some new tricks from his original variation, in order to compensate for the durability mechanics when it comes to the knives, the Merchant is now able to repair these of course for a small fee, we can’t get something for nothing as he usually reminds the player when you don’t purchase something from him. The Merchant in this iteration is far more chatty and has a lot more character to him which lends into his theme of a seller of exotic equipment and trinkets. Always eager to buy anything that Leon has on offer, while I won’t discuss what the Merchant himself offers players will be happy to see the changes to his new expanded inventory from the first instances as well as the returning upgrade system along with a brand new feature that I won’t spoil that makes the experience easier in some places but always come at a cost.
While some people may not be swayed by this new version of the Merchant due to the change in voice actor. I believe that while some of the lines don’t hit as well as the original the Merchant has one of the better voice actors as they’ve really tried to give it their all compared to some of the other returning characters.
“Que los vivos revivan tu juicio, que los muertos se consagren al Señor”
In conclusion, at least in this reviewer’s honest opinion Capcom has really knocked it out of the park with this Remake, I would be state that this is not only the best remake to the series they’ve made so far but that it even beats the original version which considering the length for this series and the massive fanbase is truly something to be proud of for Capcom as well as other players freshly joining the series, this is the pinnacle of Survival Horror for the series. Nothing comes close to it graphically or in its technical design and implemented systems as mentioned above.
However, while I’m not going to go into specific story portions for the sake of spoilers there are some very key details and cutscenes that are missing within this version of Resident Evil 4, and while they aren’t entirely important to the story I believe fans of the previous version would be expecting at least some kind of reference to these scenes. Resident Evil 4 Remake also lacks the charm of its predecessor and while I enjoy the more serious nature as well as the inclusion of extra dialogue that better links the characters together especially some of the later returning characters the game can feel hollow at times. The “campy” nature of Resident Evil is always looked down upon but it was this exact right amount of “camp” that made Resident Evil what it is. Even going back to the classic Resident Evil quote of “You were almost a Jill Sandwich”it’s quotes like these that are mostly missing from the Remake which while not overly important gave a brief sense of comedy into an otherwise dark and disturbing universe.
While I could sing the praises of Resident Evil 4 Remake for years to come and even ignore the overall dialogue issues above for lack of a better word, I can’t however ignore how generally weaker the overall voice acting is in comparison. While the majority of the main cast is fine, (The Merchant being the clear favorite) are not terrible, but not as good as the originals, the vast amount of secondary characters are nowhere near as good. One character in particular sounds so bland and uninterested in the entire experience that I wouldn’t be surprised if Capcom came out and said they just pulled this person off the streets and recorded all her lines within 24 hours and went with it. This is quite disappointing as this character plays quite a pivotal behind the scenes role and unlike the original is not expanded upon at current.
I’m hoping that much like the long awaited Mercenaries mode (releasing April 7th) that they will also include the extra content involving the character so they have a chance to resolve some of the issues this character is currently facing.
Overall Resident Evil 4 Remake is a step above all the other games in the series, while the dialogue and voice-acting has been a lower point for me this does not diminish the experience as a whole, I’m hoping Capcom takes the time to look over some of it’s older library of games before planning it’s next remake within the main numbered series
(*hint* Code Veronica/Survivor *hint*)
“Gloria a las Plagas! Gloria a las Plagas”
- Evolved combat and changes are amazing
- Story changes make the game feel fresh compared to its counterpart
- More serious take with less “campy” dialogue
- Voice acting overall is bland and lacks the emotion of previous RE Titles
- Lack of additional content on launch
- Missing some key features that fans of the series would be expecting