Capcom has spent the last half decade having one of the best resurgences ever in gaming, and their biggest franchise in Resident Evil has been a big factor in that. Capcom continues to thrive with the release of the remake of what is probably their most iconic game, and a game that many consider one of the best and most influential games of all time, in Resident Evil 4. As someone who never played the original, the remake of Resident Evil 4 doesn’t disappoint and certainly lives up to the hype and praise of the original.
Resident Evil 4 takes place 6 years after the Racoon City outbreak of Resident Evil 2 and 3, and sees the return of one of the second game’s protagonists in Leon Kennedy. Leon has gone from rookie top to top tier special agent now sent to a secluded part of Spain to rescue the president’s daughter Ashley. A simple premise, but as Resident Evil goes the rescue mission isn’t as easy as one might think.
Gameplay in Resident Evil 4 takes a further step from Resident Evil 3 into basically a full on action game. Leon has the typical array of weaponry you’d expect with handguns, knives, shotguns, rifles, grenades, etc. with all weapons and items being manged through the original’s briefcase system. Excess items and weapons can be sent to storage at any time if more room is needed in your briefcase, and can be retrieved anytime at any typewriter you find.
You’ll need all the weapons you can to take on the absolute hordes of enemies that are encountered throughout the game. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by the constant barrage of enemies, so it is definitely recommended to keep on the move as you take on all encounters. Leon also has the ability to melee staggered enemies, mostly roundhouse kick them to the face, to knock them down and then can take them out with the knife before they get back up. The biggest new mechanic for this game is the ability to parry almost all enemy attacks with Leon’s knife; as long as you have one handy that is. You also have the ability to use your knife to escape an enemy’s grasp. If not, there are some gnarly and gruesome death animations to see happen to Leon.
I do miss the dodge roll that was in the Resident Evil 3 remake and think it would have been a fantastic addition to Leon’s arsenal to use when being overwhelmed by enemies while trying to get away. Overall, the gameplay here also highlights why Resident Evil feels so much better to play in third person when compared to how clunky the first person perspective combat can be in the newer games.
The world of Resident Evil 4 is a lot of fun to explore. There are so many areas to see and plenty of treasures and secrets to find if you search every inch of the world. The game also introduces subquests in the form of requests that you find throughout your exploration. Unfortunately, some of these requests are repeated ad nauseam making them a bit tedious than need be. There are some really fun ones though, and you’ll always know what kind of request it is before you pursue them.
The biggest highlight of Resident Evil 4 are the characters. Leon shines in this entry and gives off the action hero vibe in this game compared to our first experience with him. He definitely has the shoot the bad guys first ask questions later attitude. Characters such as Ashley are really good as well. I’ve always heard she was annoying in the original, but here she’s reminds me a bit of Claire in Resident Evil 2 and builds a good rapport with Leon throughout the game. Luis is also a character I really enjoyed and gives a more comedic relief to the game you wouldn’t expect. I do wish he was in the game more as there are multiple points where he instructs you to meet him somewhere, but then that is just dropped until he pops back up again later.
My biggest gripe with Resident Evil 4 though is the lack of actual horror and scary moments when compared to recent entries in the series. Leon’s first outing in Resident Evil 2 is an absolutely terrifying experience throughout. Now though, Resident Evil 4 feels like you’re playing through an action movie with some horror themes. I can’t say there was a moment in this game that was as tense as some moments in other recent entries in the series.
The world of Resident Evil 4 is absolutely stunning on modern hardware and runs smoothly on the PlayStation 5. The game also takes advantage of the built in speaker on the DualSense with specific dialogue from characters calling Leon as well as weapon noises being played through the controller instead of just through the TV speakers. This definitely made it a much more immersive experience as it felt like I had Leon’s communication device right in my hands while playing.
Resident Evil 4 is a lot of fun to actually play and shines in the gameplay department in what the franchise can be. The story and characters are an action movie blast to experience. The only downside is that the game isn’t as horror filled as other entries, so don’t go in expecting it to be as scary as the other games if you’ve recently gotten into the series since the remakes started. Overall, the remake of Resident Evil 4 is definitely a worthy new take on one of the most iconic video games of the past 20 years.
Score: 9 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 5