Resident Evil 4 review for PlayStation, Xbox, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: Leaderboards

I?ve been waiting for this day for quite some time. It?s been 18 years since the original release Resident Evil 4, which is easily in my opinion, one of the best games of all time. Being released on 11 platforms up until this remake, its up there with The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim as being released so many times.  I?m also a sucker and have played the game on every platform except for the Zeebo console. Resident Evil 4 was a pivotal point in the franchise history as it threw out the traditional tank controls and evolved to focus on a 3rd person perspective while bring a more action-based control scheme. Releasing first on the Nintendo GameCube, the graphics were incredible and the whole experience was a game changer.

This review will be spoiler free, but I will say, there is a vast amount of content added to the core game which expands on the play time and replay value which is such a welcome addition. If you want to know more about Resident Evil 4?s original game, I reviewed the HD Remaster years ago here. Today is about the remake which takes just about everything Capcom has done with Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes and kicked it into overdrive. Twenty twenty-three is the year of remakes so far and you can see my praise of Dead Space remake here.

The Resident Evil remake model is something at this point that should be the design for the future of the traditional entries now that the Ethan Winters? story is complete. I would even take one more remake of the original and clearly Code Veronica at this point. This review will be unique because, despite this being a remade version of the game, there is such a large amount of fresh and redesigned content, it would be best to experience firsthand like I was able to. I will focus on the mechanics, visuals, and how it compares to the original.

One of the standout updates is the ?Parry? system. Like in RE3, Jill was given a ?Juke? move, this time Leon can parry just about any physical attack. In certain modes it will be easier to do, but in more difficult modes, it will only work if the parry is perfect. Something that this feature helps with is to use this mechanic vs some of the games previous QTE or Quick Time Events, which are for the most part nonexistent.

One thing that sticks out in RE4 is the gore. The original had some pretty brutal kills for both enemies and Leon, but it?s been elevated 10-fold. The dismemberments are gruesome and the sound design for the weapons compliment this perfectly. Blasting a Ganado close range with a shotgun blows chunks of them clean off. While adding to the gore aspect, they have included La Plaga seen on the inside of body parts moving like tentacles and it?s a really creative addition.

The map has been truly revised and vastly expanded to say the least. For veterans of the series and game, RE4 starts as you may have remembered and expands a little more on the initial story which takes place 6 years after the events of Resident Evil 2. Within 5 minutes, you feel how new and refine your time with the remake will be. The house where you meet the 1st Ganado is not what you remembered, and this is a taste of how different the locations are. I?ve played the original so many times, I was afraid I would be flying through the remake, but this is far from the truth. I found myself on edge like a 1st time player time and time again through my initial run. Important note, that I played on Assisted to start and get a feel for the game as I always do but found myself dying much more than expected and weirdly, I welcomed it.

As you progress in the story, you will encounter some familiar faces including the Legend himself, ?The Merchant?! With a remake you would expect to see most aspects of the original to return in some for and The Merchant is no exception. Like the original, he will be found throughout the game but brings more to the table than simply selling and upgrading your weapons. Another important character you will spend plenty of time with is the President’s lovely daughter, Ashley Graham. Her design has been revised like many others but what has not changed is the protecting mechanic, which I was never a fan of. This time the mechanics feel a bit more streamlined now and she no longer has a health bar. (Thank God!)

Don?t get me wrong, she is still a danger magnet and was getting some 2005 PTSD as the Ganado would pick her up or attack her when I?m out of range. The main differentiator here is when she is attached, she falls to her feet and gets incapacitated and if she takes damage before you pick her up, GAME OVER. I have to say I didn?t miss that screen. The time with her fluctuated like the previous game but seriously, so much of the game feels fresh, it truly feels like a remake in every way.

Another aspect that got some revisions are the puzzles. Puzzles are one of the best components to a classic Resident Evil game and 4 had some memorable ones.  While some return, many are refreshed and not as easy as some of the predecessors. I found myself feeling like I did back in 2005 looking on GameFAQs for help and remembered I?m playing the game early so spent a good amount of time figuring out a couple clever puzzles. Again, beating a dead horse, even the puzzles make the game feel fresh.

Combat. If you played RE 2 and 3 remakes, you know what you are getting. While you are still equipped with the memorable Cache Briefcase, you can quick assign weapons and access on the fly which adds to the already smooth experience. Many weapons make a return with some revisions. I won?t speak to them but with the evolution of the map, locations you may remember will be null at this point as I found myself discovering items in completely new areas.

Visually, Capcom took the RE Engine and foundations of the remakes and 7/Village and combined them for a truly gritty fictional Spain that feels like a blend of the classic RE4 and Village. The enemy Ganados are much more varied from the original with the same 3-4 body types. Boss battles are as great as they were the first time around and with the updated visuals, some are purely terrifying and brings out the best in the enemy designs. Even playing on Assisted Mode, I found myself dying a bit but in a forgiving way and made sure to learn from my mistakes. The common vibe, I felt playing was a hint of nostalgia, but mostly a newcomer experience which is hard to come by, especially in the Survival Horror genre.

Overall, the best way to narrow down my thoughts is this. Capcom has taken an already remarkable game that is 18 years old, revised, improved, and modernized one of the best games the franchise has to offer. I feel I?ve barely scratched the surface 14 hours in. Everything you loved about RE4 is here as nothing was removed. Some things have changed but this is not a reimagining as some would have suspected.

As I mentioned earlier, the reply value for Resident Evil 4 is through the roof.  Knowing how much time I put into Village, which has a fraction of the content here, there is plenty of fun and horror to be experienced.  My hope is that many gamers can experience the remake on their own as I did, and have that feeling of playing it for the first time.   As of now, Resident Evil 4 remake has officially dethroned Dead Space has as my Game of the Year.

Our podcast “Pressed for Time” also released a show dedicated to Resident Evil and its history leading to the release of RE4. You can check it out here

Note: Capcom provided us with a Resident Evil 4 PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: A+