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Resident Evil 4 Remake Review: A Classic Returns

EDITORS' RATING : 9 / 10
Pros
  • Great new changes made to combat and gameplay
  • Fun story that preserves the spirit of the original
  • Gorgeously re-designed areas and visuals
Cons
  • Some visual issues when playing on PS4
  • Diehard fans may not like some of the remake's bigger changes to gameplay systems

A PS4 review code was provided to ZaaZ for this review. "Resident Evil 4 Remake" is available now for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Remaking a game like "Resident Evil 4" is a massive undertaking. The original game from 2005 is an iconic pillar of the survival horror genre. It revolutionized the series by shifting it to a more action-packed focus, has had numerous moments and characters become iconic in their own right, and enjoys a special place in the hearts of series fans. With the critical and popular success of its other remakes of "Resident Evil 2" and "Resident Evil 3," Capcom had even more pressure to continue its successes with "Resident Evil 4 Remake." 

Amazingly, Capcom proved itself capable of doing just that, with "Resident Evil 4 Remake" being the strongest of the modern remakes in the franchise. The developers managed to keep the heart of the game pure while making ingenious additions that help modernize the game's experience. This allows the remake to welcome newcomers with ease while giving fans a new experience that may not be identical to the original, but manages to deliver an experience which delivers similar emotions as when they first booted up the original. 

Out with the old, in with the new

What really helps make "Resident Evil 4 Remake" feel special are the various changes and additions made from the original. The changes cover minor tweaks to entirely new mechanics. While some diehard fans may wish that there was an option to play a more traditional version of the original, playing "Remake" means accepting all of the changes in their entirety. 

On the smaller side of the changes are tweaks like marking breakable objects with yellow paint to help them pop from the environment, new collectible figures scattered throughout a playthrough, and a lot more dialogue on behalf of the merchant. These changes may be small, but they do help polish "Remake" to make the world feel more alive while encouraging players to explore every nook and cranny of the world's various areas. 

However, there are also some major changes present in the "Remake," from the cut mercenaries mode to an overhaul of combat mechanics. The most immediately apparent change is that players can move while shooting and aiming their various weapons, rather than being rooted to the spot as they were in the original. Combat also enjoys the addition of a parry mechanic that allows Leon to avoid melee attacks, a weapon wheel to allow players to quickly switch between weapons, and sped-up looting animations to keep Leon on the move. There are even auto saves to help players get back into the action quickly after an untimely death. 

As brutal as it is beautiful

To balance out the added speed and fluidity of controlling Leon in combat, the enemies in "Resident Evil 4 Remake" also received some wonderful changes. There are new enemy types to mix up encounters while their AI has been overhauled to be faster and more varied. This allows them to apply pressure to Leon and force the player to constantly react by re-positioning, accurately aiming, and strategically managing resources. The combat has a different feel and flow than the original, and tends to be more difficult, but it keeps the same feeling of always being on one's back foot. 

The pressure of combat often makes players feel lucky to make it out of combat encounters alive, which is great for preserving the game's tension through its entire campaign. Combat also serves to highlight some of the game's graphical improvements as well, which helps make combat feel as brutal as it should. Enemies reel and stumble when they are shot, their bodies can be dismembered in mists of gore, and they shudder in unnerving ways when being reanimated after death. 

The visual flairs added to combat in "Remake" are excellent at communicating the game's horror-based setting while helping highlight its action-based gameplay. When combined with the faster pace of combat, it delivers visceral encounters that keep a consistent sense of danger throughout the entire game. 

A trip to Spain

An iconic part of the original "Resident Evil 4" is its setting and story in rural Spain. The game's story follows the special agent Leon Kennedy on a mission to find and rescue the daughter of the United States' president after she is kidnapped by a fanatic cult. "Remake" largely preserves the original's story, with the welcomed removal of most of the script's sexist and creepy lines toward its female characters. The new presentation of the story manages to balance the game's horror elements, exciting action, and goofy characters in a way that should satisfy most players. 

"Remake's" presentation of its setting is also gorgeous. The areas that players navigate through are intricately designed to offer engaging exploration and a range of combat possibilities. There is an incredible amount of small details for players to absorb and learn more about the people that once lived there, making even the game's more fantastical regions feel lived in and grounded. While playing on the PlayStation 4 does come with some serious texture pop-in issues that can make certain cinematics and models look very muddy, they are not frequent enough to majorly detract from the game's overall beauty.

It's all about the vibes

The real triumph of "Resident Evil 4 Remake" is how it manages to balance the many complexities of its nature. The developers of "Remake" were faced with the challenge of re-inventing a classic title beloved by many in a way that would satisfy its most ardent fans, while making it accessible and fun for players that have never touched the original release. Somehow, they managed to do just that. While there are plenty of changes made to "Remake" from the original, the team managed to deftly preserve the original game's tone and tension while bringing its formula to more modern sensibilities. 

The balancing act of "Remake" is also challenged by its need to balance its survival horror elements with its action mechanics as well. This is a struggle that "Resident Evil" as a series has dealt with throughout all of its releases, with titles falling on both extremes of the spectrum. "Resident Evil 4 Remake" manages to find the perfect sweet spot on that spectrum. It is, at times, terrifying while supporting frenetic combat encounters that mechanically challenge the player. It strikes the perfect balance of all of its various challenges, which is incredibly impressive, and makes it a great title for any interested player to pick up.

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