REVIEW – Resident Evil 4 Remake is a bold undertaking from Capcom, as the original game is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the series. The remake not only modernized the graphics and gameplay but also rewrote the story and characters. But is it enough to win over old fans and attract new ones? It’s clear that Capcom has reimagined one of its most popular horror games, but has it managed to retain the charm of the original?
Resident Evil 4 was originally released in 2005 for PlayStation 2 and GameCube, and was later ported to several other platforms. The game’s protagonist is Leon S. Kennedy, a former police officer and survivor of the Raccoon City incident who is now a direct subordinate of the President of the United States. He aims to rescue the President’s daughter, Ashley Graham, whose whereabouts he discovers in an isolated European village. Here he is confronted with the fact that something is very wrong with the villagers…
The Resident Evil 4 Remake was released in 2023 for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S (and PC), some 18 years after the original. The remake not only upgraded the visuals and introduced features that took advantage of the new generation of consoles (such as ray tracing), but also completely reinvented the game. New voice actors were used (only Paul Mercier remains as Leon’s voice), dialogue and some scenes were rewritten (e.g. the death of Luis Serra), and some elements were added or removed (e.g. no more QTE or Buhonero). But did these new additions improve or detract from the experience? Let’s take a closer look!
Leon, but you’ve changed!
The first thing that will strike those familiar with the original game is Leon’s appearance and behaviour. In the remake, Leon looks much more realistic (his head model resembles Paul Mercier), but it’s not just his appearance that has changed. His voice has also become deeper (Mercier now gives him an older voice), as well as more serious and less funny.
In the original game, Leon would often interject or make jokes even when he was in danger or seeing terrible things (e.g. “No thanks bro”, “Your right hand comes off?”, “Where’s everyone going? Bingo?”). These humorous quips had (and still have) a huge fan base because they added to Leon’s character and the atmosphere of the game. But in the remake, Leon talks much less and is much more sombre. This is perhaps more in keeping with the more realistic graphics and darker tone, but many may miss the looseness and humour of the original Leon.
Another important difference is that Leon has changed not only in his appearance and behaviour, but also in his relationships. In the original game, there was a kind of flirting between Leon and Ashley (e.g. “So it’s true that all the women in this world fall for you?”, “You pervert!”), which was sometimes funny or embarrassing. In the remake, however, these dialogues have been taken out or rewritten (e.g. “You’re not like them.”, “You’re not so bad yourself.”) to suggest more of a friendly or brotherly relationship.
Another important link is between Leon and Ada Wong. In the original game, Ada was a mysterious woman who Leon had met in Raccoon City, but didn’t know exactly what side she was on. Ada had helped Leon on several occasions (e.g., saving him from Krauser’s attack), but it turned out that she had sent Krauser to kill Leon. Ada did take pity on Leon and betrayed Saddler (the main villain) and handed him a rocket launcher. In the remake, Ada’s role remains similar, but some details have been changed. For example, Ada no longer leaves Leon in a boat (which many thought was illogical), but escapes with him in a helicopter.
In the remake, Leon’s character is deeper, but not necessarily better. Many people loved the original Leon precisely because he didn’t take himself or the situation too seriously, but tried to joke around or flirt even when terrible things were happening around him. This gave him a certain charm and humor that set him apart from other Resident Evil characters. In the remake, however, Leon lost this side and became more of a typical action hero.
A story revisited
The Resident Evil 4 Remake not only changed Leon, but also rewrote the entire story. In the remake, we get more information about why Ashley (the president’s daughter) was kidnapped, how Luis Serra (a Spanish policeman) ended up in the village, why Jack Krauser (an American soldier) is there or why Adat Wong was interested in Las Plagas (the parasite that took control of the villagers).
In the remake, several scenes have been adapted or added to better present this information. For example, we now see the video of Ashley being kidnapped in collaboration with Krauser. Or the scene where Luis Serra visits Ramón Salazar (the village ruler) to talk to him about Las Plagas. Or the scene where Ada Wong meets Osmund Saddler (the cult leader) and tries to steal the Las Plagas sample from him.
In the sequel, the story is much more complex and logical than in the original. There is more context and motivation for the characters’ actions. For example, we now know why Krauser wanted to kill Leon (because he was afraid of Ada), or why Luis Serra helped Leon (because he was one of the researchers of Las Plagas).
So the story is more detailed and interesting, but not necessarily better. Many people liked the original story precisely because it was simple and fun. In the original story, you didn’t have to think or explain much, you just enjoyed the adventure and the horror. In the remake, however, the story has become much more serious and complicated, which sometimes takes away from the momentum or charm of the game.
Resident Evil 4 Remake has not only changed the graphics and story, but also the gameplay. In the remake, you have many more options on how to fight enemies or solve puzzles.
You can also use many more weapons than in the original. Not only pistols, rifles or grenades, but also knives, picks or chainsaws. With these, you can not only attack, but also defend. For example, if a villager throws himself at you, you can free yourself with a knife or throw yourself away with a pickaxe.
And we now have many more ways to interact with our environment. Not only can you open doors or smash crates, but you can climb buildings or climb over fences. This not only allows you to explore the area, but also to avoid or surprise enemies. For example, if a Spanish peasant is chasing you, you can jump onto a roof or sneak through a window.
Finally, there is much more variety in the gameplay. Not only do you have to shoot or run all the time, but sometimes you also have to do other activities. For example, sometimes we have to talk to other characters (e.g. Luis Serra), sometimes we have to solve puzzles (e.g. Salazar’s castle), sometimes we have to explore secret areas (e.g. Buhonero’s shop).
So the gameplay is much richer and more exciting than in the original. There’s a lot more scope to use your individual playing style and strategy, so there’s a clear improvement in that area.
But there are also some surprising negatives. It may seem a small thing, but it’s an astonishing setback that the door can’t be shot through and thus take down the enemy, unlike in the previous version. We don’t really understand what the point of this change was, but it’s a clear step backwards.
Graphics and performance: How does the game run on different platforms?
Resident Evil 4 Remake is a spectacular game that takes advantage of the capabilities of the new generation of consoles and PCs. The game supports ray tracing, which creates realistic lights and reflections. The game has many graphical settings to customise the visual experience.
In terms of performance, this is how the game runs on different platforms:
- PS5: The PS5 version runs stable at 60 FPS in 4K resolution. When ray tracing is enabled, FPS may drop slightly, but not distractingly so. The PS5 version also takes advantage of the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback.
- Xbox Series X/S: The Xbox Series X version performs similarly to the PS5 version. It runs at 60 FPS in 4K resolution and supports ray tracing. The Xbox Series S version, on the other hand, uses a lower resolution (1440p) and does not support ray tracing. Both Xbox versions also take advantage of the Auto HDR feature.
- PC: The PC version will of course depend on how powerful your computer is. A mid-range PC (e.g. GTX 1080) can achieve a 1080p/60 FPS combination with lower graphics settings. If you want to use higher resolution or ray tracing, you need a more powerful graphics card (e.g. RTX 4090). The PC version also supports FSR technology, which improves FPS without compromising image quality.
- Steam Deck: Resident Evil 4 Remake is running on the portable PC console, but not perfectly. The game often lags and drops below 30 FPS. It’s worth lowering the graphics settings and turning on FSR technology, which improves performance without sacrificing image quality. A clear advantage of the Steam Deck version is that you can enjoy the game anywhere on a small screen.
The graphics of the game are really nice. The character models and animations have improved a lot compared to the original. Leon’s face and hair are much more lifelike and detailed, but the environments are also much more varied and elaborate. The forests, village, castle and mines all have a different feel and the lights and shadows have become very impressive, especially with ray tracing turned on. You can also notice many small details in the game, such as blood trails, broken glass and flying insects. So, the visuals are really impressive, which draws us more into the horror feeling and the world of Resident Evil.
A great game that will divide the audience – but who will have the last word?
The Resident Evil 4 Remake was a risky undertaking on Capcom’s part, as the original game is considered by many to be the best in the series. The remake has not only improved the graphics and gameplay, but has also completely reinvented the game. In the remake, you get a lot more information about the story and characters, as well as a lot more interaction with the environment.
So the remake is a great game that shows what the new generation of consoles can do. But is it enough to win over fans of the original? Or will it alienate them?
It may depend on how much we stick to the original. If you liked the humour and looseness of the original Leon, if you liked the simple and entertaining story, if you liked the classic shooter gameplay, you might be disappointed with the remake.
But if we are open to new things, if we are interested in details and background information, if we enjoy varied and exciting gameplay, we will truly enjoy the remake.
So Resident Evil 4 Remake is not just a remake, it’s a whole new experience. It’s an experience that will divide audiences, and it’s an experience that is sure to leave no one cold.
+ Great graphics and sound, the new version is really much nicer
+ Rich and exciting gameplay
+ Detailed and interesting story
– It has lost its original humor and atmosphere
– Too different from the original characters
– Doors cannot be shot through
Style: Survival horror / Action / Adventure
Release: March 24, 2023.