Resident Evil 4 Remaster – Review
- Smooth addictive gameplay
- The best menu management in the series
- A story that understands its audience
- Tons of extras
- Tons of hidden unlockables
- Damn good graphical upgrade
- Controls take some getting used too
- Separate Ways cutscenes look lifted from the PS2 copy of the game
Review Copy paid for by Reviewer
Version Tested: PS4
Resident Evil 4 is well known as the progenitor of the third person over the shoulder action title. It has seen re-releases on almost every console since its 2005 debut on the GameCube. Many people see it as the beginning of the end of the franchise.
Not me though I love it.
So when I learned Resident Evil 4 would be seeing a HD re-release on current gen consoles I got mad excited! But this re-release isn’t all sunshine and rainbows so before I start showering the game in a frenzy of praise, allow me to cover my small issues.
When porting the game over to PS4 and Xbox One the game saw a dramatic increase in the graphical fidelity of the in-game cutscenes, making the game look fantastic, however this wasn’t performed across the board, with the secret campaign Separate Ways featuring what look like the same cutscenes used in the PS2 version of the game. These look monumentally rough and blocky and boggle the mind why Capcom would bother stretching them to widescreen. If they had no intention of making the cutscenes look better, why display them in a format that makes them look uglier than a Las Plagas parasite sprouting out of your neck.
The controls are also beginning to show their age as the game feels like a chore to control and makes you question “Where the controls this shit back then, or am I just really bad?” and the answer is: no the controls where really that shit back then.
However, once you re-familiarise yourself with the awkward control scheme it all starts to comeback. Playing the opening fight in the village brought back so many memories of hearing the familiar revving of the chainsaw and instantly feeling that dread knowing that if I am not careful a one hit kill and a botched hair cut later I could be having to restart the fight. The gunplay is smooth and addictive, shooting enemies feels satisfying, staggering them for a melee strike that knocks several enemies away is immensely gratifying but not as gratifying as shooting a stick of dynamite out of an enemies hand and watching it explode killing the surrounding hapless ganados.
Speaking of shooting things, Resident Evil 4 has probably one of the greatest systems for unlocking new guns and for storing them. First up, unlocking them. Guns are purchased using in game currency and the list of available firearms updates the further into the game you progress. Multiple new handguns, shotguns and sniper rifles become available along with a machine pistol and other unique goodies. Each of these weapons feel unique, even the various different handguns have a different feel across the board. If you are rather taken with a specific weapon you can tune it up so that the firepower, firing speed, reload speed and capacity become better, and upgrading everything for a certain weapon will unlock its exclusive upgrade which can range from better firepower to an absurdly massive magazine size.
Storing weapons, grenades, ammo and healing items is done so in a Tetris style inventory manager which is like a small mini-game in itself as you move your items around to make space for new weapons and other goodies. This system alone is better than any later entry in the series for giving you complete freedom of storing items however you like.
You can’t talk much about Resident Evil 4 without mentioning its story and my god; it revels in how cliché it is. The Los Illuminados (A cult of people infected with a parasite called Las Plagas) have kidnapped the president of the United States daughter; Ashley Graham. The president dispatched Leon S. Kennedy to save his daughter from the cult and bring her home. Leon wise cracks, shit talks and overall is a badass throughout. The good thing about Resident Evil 4 is that it balanced the cliché story and situation with some genuinely disturbing creepy moments (I am sure we all remember when the parasite first erupted from the neck of a dead enemy…) and with atmosphere that can set you on the edge of your seat. However, despite all of this the story never takes itself seriously, and a lot of the back story is still told through some classic “Resident Evil” style conveniently placed notes including one such note that details the plan of the cult in great detail towards the end of the game just to make sure we are all on the same page. It is delightful in how self aware it can be, but it balances the tense atmosphere with these moments really well.
On top of this strong single player offering Resident Evil 4 also offers some damn good extras. Separate Ways is a side campaign of 5 missions featuring the femme fatale herself; Ada Wong. As we see what she got up too during Leon’s mission. We also have another dose of Ada Wong with Assignment Ada which is a fun little bonus mode where you collect samples of parasites before escaping the area, and of course the granddaddy of all the bonus modes. The Mercenaries. The Mercenaries is a mode where you take one of 5 characters from the “Resident Evil” universe across 4 maps and kill everything in sight to get a high score within the time limit. Killing enemies in a row increases the combo and can lead to some big points pay outs if you can get it high enough. It sounds so basic and fairly dull but it can lead to some of the most enjoyable moments in the game as you scramble to time pick-ups so you can stay in the fight for longer.
I was getting so wrapped in how amazing the game is I nearly forgot to talk about the graphics! While it is certainly showing its age, it is impressive to think that Capcom managed to make this 11 year old game look as good as they have. It is clearly a game from a bygone era, but with all the graphical bells and whistles, it is looking the best it has ever looked.
Along with all of this good stuff, Resident Evil 4 comes with a plethora of unlockable weapons to take into the main game and with new game + being unlocked after completion there are several hours you could sink into Resident Evil 4 and still find enjoyment coming back for more. It is a shame that Capcom chose to ignore the Separate Ways cutscenes, making it look fairly wank when stacked against the rest of the package, but I cannot deny I had an absolute blast replaying Resident Evil 4 again and would recommend this title to anybody in a heartbeat.
Now if you will excuse me I am going back to play New Game + now.
Are you a massive fan of Resident Evil 4? Or do you hate it for setting the franchise on the path to 5 and 6? Whatever your feelings comment below and let us know, and don’t forget to follow our cult on twitter @UntoldGaming_ for all of the latest news and reviews from our gaming overlords.