Resident Evil 4 may give Skyrim a run for its money when it comes to re-releases: PS2, PC, Wii, iPhone (opens in new tab), PC again, etc. It’s funny, but I did buy three of those reissues myself. RE4 is a near-perfect shooter with a long, generous campaign, inventive encounters, a unique atmosphere, and perhaps the best inventory screen ever. It’s so good already we practically begged Capcom not to bother remaking it (opens in new tab).
Well, Capcom is remaking Resident Evil 4 (opens in new tab), and I owe it to my seventh grade self (who is blasting ganados with a Wiimote in the living room) to try to figure out how they will. What can we expect when we enter the world of survival horror yet again?
Resident Evil 4 landed on something special with its combination of tank controls, swarming enemies, and explosive melee combos set off by shooting weak points. We’ve seen imitations ever since, but nothing quite matched RE4 until the Resident Evil 2 remake, which managed a similar feel alongside quality-of-life improvements like being able to move while you aim.
Take the RE2 remake’s gunplay and technological advancements and replace those cramped halls and bullet resistant zombies with wider arenas and more flimsy ganados, and I think the RE4 remake could be an easy winner. It wouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel, seeing as how the RE2 remake’s gameplay is already so close to RE4, but it would be fun. I’ll be curious to see if the RE4 remake reintroduces more actiony elements absent from the RE2 remake—like those aforementioned contextual takedowns—but one thing I won’t miss is quick-time events. If I never see a flashing button prompt to outrun a boulder again it’ll be too soon.
Modern remakes of 2000s games often lose something of the original’s art style. The widespread praise of the Demon’s Souls Remake always makes me feel crazy—it’s graphically advanced, sure, but it doesn’t have any, well, soul.
I’ve seen similar concerns raised about the RE4 remake, and while we don’t have a lot to go on yet I’m cautiously optimistic about its art style and atmosphere. Capcom has a good track record with reimagining Resident Evils, with the remakes of RE2 and RE1 arguably surpassing the originals’ atmosphere. I am curious to see how the RE4 remake handles the game’s third act on an industrial, militarized island. Despite strong set pieces like the fights with Krauser or being hunted by Iron Maidens, it’s by far the weakest part of the game and the most likely to benefit from some revision.
If the remakes of Resident Evils 1-3 are anything to go by, we can probably expect the characters and story of RE4 to remain intact. The trailer provided glimpses of Ada Wong, Luis Sera (and his bad ass Red9 (opens in new tab) gun), Ashley, and act 1 boss Bitores Mendez. Presumably the final game will include fan favorites Ramon Salazar (Spanish Napoleon) and the Merchant (strangah (opens in new tab).)
These sillier elements may clash with the more serious direction Resident Evil has sometimes taken, but I’d argue that tension was present in—and even a big draw of—the original Resident Evil 4. Despite the silliness and one liners, the game has a real undercurrent of horror and melancholy, and the over-the-top elements serve to make it all the more surreal. One of the scariest parts of the game, a cat-and-mouse with the xenomorph-esque verdugo, is preceded by a legendarily absurd exchange (opens in new tab) with that aforementioned squeaky Spanish Napoleon, Salazar.
Please keep the attaché case
I’m begging you. It’s one of the best inventory screens in games: the detailed 3D models of your guns resting in there, the click clack sound effects as you reposition everything, the silly little poses Leon makes as you equip him. If they somehow muck up the combat and atmosphere, I’ll still be mollified if they just let me play Tetris with boxes of 9mm handgun bullets.