Ask any fan of gaming to name some masterpieces that have been released throughout history, and most of them will likely mention Resident Evil 4. Capcom’s grand reinvention of their iconic horror franchise proved to be one of the biggest hits of the 2000s, with memories of Leon roundhouse kicking and suplexing Spanish villagers seared into the memory of all those who played it. Even I enjoyed my time with the original Resident Evil 4, but for some strange reason, I could never finish it.
Every single time I’ve tried to finish the game, which has to be at least three or four at this point, there would just be a point in Resident Evil 4 where my interest would wane and I’d leave Leon trapped in Spain for the rest of his virtual life. Typically, those playthroughs would come to a grinding halt in the castle section, which leans more heavily on enemies that are smarter, use shields and ranged weapons, and you have to escort Ashley a lot more. The section itself feels massive too, while the Village section comes across almost breezy by comparison.
Considering the fact that the Castle isn’t even seen by the community as the worst part of the game, with that honour reserved for the Island and all its military silliness, it would be even harder to imagine myself finishing the game at all. If a bunch of hooded cultists with shields and maces are enough to make me drop the game, a horde of heavily armed goons sitting behind gun turrets would likely be enough to make me throw my controller through the window.
Resident Evil 4’s remake, however, has been one of my favourite experiences of 2023, which is certainly strange considering how faithful the remake is to the original version. Even with my limited knowledge of the original version, I could still recognise plenty of moments and sections that had been lifted from the first game, beyond the obvious ones like the Del Lago fight or the Village siege right at the beginning.
Despite being a faithful recreation though, Resident Evil 4’s remake feels like a huge improvement over the original. The gameplay is much better, largely because I’m a huge fan of being able to move and shoot, while the improvements made to the knife combat, including ground finishers and parries, make fights feel a lot more dynamic. Capcom wisely kept the best parts of the combat (the kicks and suplexes, thank god), but it’s how the rest of the combat has been fleshed out that makes the remake even more fun to play.
The enhanced focus on exploration is also commendable, rewarding players even further for taking the time to search their surroundings by offering more treasures than ever. The new requests feature also wisely builds on an aspect of the original game that was barely touched upon, where Leon would shoot Blue Medallions in the Village for a gun upgrade. Now, there’s a lot more requests to complete (along with more Blue Medallions, don’t worry), which earns Spinels that can be spent on more than just a single gun.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still bits in the Resident Evil 4 remake that have remained which are still annoying, namely the Regeneradors. Those dad bod looking ghouls are incredibly tricky to kill due to the precision needed to shoot their parasites, but it’s especially hard to actually kill them when they keep flopping around on the floor like a fish. By the end, I’d resorted to just running past them, but of course they had stretchy arms to pull me back with. Half of my knife durability was spent breaking the hold of these naked gremlins.
It’s understandable why the Regeneradors are so much more deadly in this version though. Because Leon has been buffed with the ability to move and shoot, Capcom naturally had to make all the other enemies even deadlier to compensate. These buffs extend to all the enemies, as even the basic Ganados tend to rush Leon and apply so much more pressure than the original version. It makes the remake version of Resident Evil 4 a bit more difficult, but a lot more rewarding when you succeed.
Despite that minor inconvenience though, Resident Evil 4’s remake is a thoroughly improved experience that’s worth checking out, even if you’re a wrong’un like me who just couldn’t get into the original release. There’s every possibility that RE4 still might not be for you, but the remake is your best chance at experiencing some of the best of what gaming has to offer.
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