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What The Critics Are Saying About The Resident Evil 4 Remake

With embargoes lifted, critics are sharing their thoughts on Capcom's latest "Resident Evil" remake, and overall the reviews reflect a promising update on one of the most game-changing titles of all time. While each reviewer had their own nuanced gripes with "Resident Evil 4," they almost unanimously agreed on some points.

It should go without saying that most reviewers claimed that the game is gorgeous, which any fan could see from the previews alone. Leon's locks look more lustrous than ever, and each enemy has an unsettling level of detail. Blake Hester at Game Informer particularly noted how beautiful the gore looked in the remake, commenting that the effects managed to be over-the-top while still maintaining their grossness. Of course, not every redesigned element is a hit. For example, fans felt split over Salazar's new look, but critics agreed that the graphical overhaul only served to make most enemies creepier.

Graphics aren't everything, though, and while reviewers agreed that "Resident Evil 4" looked the part of a contemporary game, it still struggled to find its place between its well-known history and the gaming market of 2023. The consensus was clear – "Resident Evil 4" is a must-play remake for fans of the series – but the finer criticism of the game might make diehard gamers pause. 

Context could be everything

Several critics questioned how a remake of "Resident Evil 4" would contend with its own groundbreaking past. The Washington Post's Gene Park pointed out the original game "reshaped the landscape of action storytelling with its revolutionary third-person perspective and its interspersing of loud, chaos with more soothing, relaxing moments. To put it simply, there would be no 'The Last of Us' without 'Resident Evil 4.'" Blake Hester at Game Informer brought up a similar point, arguing that there's no way for new gamers to understand the context of the original "Resident Evil 4," which changed the way players viewed both its franchise and action games as a whole.

"As great as this remake is ... I do not think it will show you why Resident Evil 4 was so groundbreaking. It just can't. There's no universe where this game will ever be as important as the game it remakes," Hester theorized. Michael McWhertor at Polygon worried that, more broadly, the remake signaled a risk of the franchise falling into a comfortable pattern of reimagining without ever actually creating something new. If "Resident Evil 4" shaped the look and feel of action games today, how could it reinvent the wheel again?

Maybe it can't, but that doesn't mean that the experience can't be updated to near perfection. Even reviewers who worried about the historical context of "Resident Evil 4" admitted that it managed to keep what made the original so fun while improving its most annoying aspects.

Resident Evil 4 gets rid of its most annoying aspects

"Resident Evil 4" tosses its most annoying mechanics, like Quick Time Events, and rewrites some of its most problematic characters. Where Ashley annoyingly followed players throughout a portion of the original game, she's much more engaging in the remake. Hester explained that the "cast has received an overhaul, making the protagonists more likable, the enemies more menacing, and the twisting threads of the plot somewhat more coherent – all the while never losing what made the original story so fun in the first place."

Andy Robinson for VGC shared a similar sentiment, explaining that "it would have been sacrilege to rearchitect what remains an all-time classic." Robinson observed that the remake gets rid of the original's most troubling aspects by "adding the ability to move and shoot (countered by faster enemies), stealth options (offset by less ammunition and the need to craft items) and the ability to parry attacks with your knife (essentially replacing QTEs)." Each doctored part of the game receives some sort of update to counter what it alters, leaving players with a more balanced experience.

Some reviewers criticized accessibility

Not every review painted a rosy portrait of the "Resident Evil 4" remake, though. Jessica Conditt's review for Engadget pointed out that the game runs the risk of downplaying the importance of accessibility. After changing the game's difficulty, she discovered that she could no longer play the game in Standard mode, which felt confusing considering the game itself suggested she try an easier difficulty. Conditt reached out to Capcom for a statement, and received the response, "The difficulty mode a player completes the game on has ramifications for in-game achievements and trophies."

Frustrated, she wrote, "Plenty of action games have dynamic difficulty settings without disrupting achievements, and this response doesn't address my perception that Capcom is prioritizing trophy integrity over accessibility." While this feature seems like a small, maybe even logical decision for Capcom, it could ostracize players who need extensive accessibility options to play the game.

Overall, reviewers adored the "Resident Evil 4" remake, seeing it as an improved version of a favorite game. While it's not perfect, it comes even closer than the original, solidifying its place in gaming history.

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