I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a first impressions piece for the Resident Evil 4 remake, especially since I had already written a post about the demo. But, I’m now three chapters into the game, and I have a better grasp of the scope of this remake. So, let’s talk about it.
I mentioned in the demo post that I would have rather seen a remake of Resident Evil: Code Veronica, and that’s still true. The recent remakes, starting with RE2, brought the classic games into a style that more closely resembled the more modern Resident Evil games. That modern style was, of course, started with Resident Evil 4. So, if RE4 is the model that these remakes are going for, what is there to remake with 4 itself? And Code Veronica is not only an important chapter in the overall story, but it’s one of the last of the classic style games, meaning that a remake of that makes way more sense. But here we are, with a remake of one of the best, most influential games of all time.
The most obvious improvement, and one I mentioned in the last post, is the controls. The original game, despite introducing an over the shoulder perspective, still had you plant your feet when you’d draw your weapon, like the classic games, allowing the left analog stick to control your aim instead of moving you around. This really wasn’t’ a problem in the original, all the combat was designed around this restriction. But in Resident Evil 6, Capcom finally allowed us to move while shooting. And while I don’t care for that game a whole lot, that was a huge improvement, and one that we’re still seeing in the newer games. Resident Evil 4’s combat is now much faster and more frantic, as almost overwhelming amounts of enemies fill the screen. You can run, but they’ll catch up very quickly, which wouldn’t work out very well with the older controls.
But this game is much more than some new controls. After all, it is a full remake, not a remaster. As of chapter 3, the game is still following the same general setup as the original game, but areas are significantly expanded. There was the example in the demo of the first house you encounter, but this goes for everything I’ve seen. I’m still waiting for the game to do something truly new, like when the remake of the original Resident Evil added Crimson Heads, zombies that would return to life stronger than before if you didn’t behead them the first time you fought, or Lisa Trevor, easily the scariest part of the first remake. But there’s still plenty of time to encounter something like that. As of right now, it’s Resident Evil 4 but bigger. Hopefully, there isn’t too much stuff cut from the original, like how the RE3 remake removed the clock tower. I haven’t noticed anything big missing, but again, there’s still time.
There’s a few newer features too. The crafting system that was introduced in RE7 is back, which isn’t a surprise, it’s been in every game since then, but it’s still here and it’s still cool. It gives you a little bit of flexibility in how you want to do things. Do you have the means to make some handgun bullets? That’s cool, but if you save a little bit, you could get shotgun ones instead. But can you get through this encounter without having SOME kind of additional bullets. It’s cool and I’m glad it’s here. There’s also a new system of attaching charms to your attache case, which can give bonus effects, like a higher rate of ammo dropping off of defeated enemies. It’s unnecessary, but it’s cool that it’s there. You can earn these charms from a shooting gallery minigame, which is pretty cool.
Chapter 3 ends with the game’s first big boss fight, against a giant salamander called Del Lago. In the original, you’re in a boat that he drags around while you throw a never ending supply of harpoons at him. I wasn’t sure if this would make it into the remake, or if it would be seen as too ridiculous. Maybe find a weapon that makes more sense for the situation, instead of Leon hurling like thirty harpoons that somehow fit on his tiny motorboat. But nope, you still fight the boss exactly the same way. And that makes me very hopeful for the rest of the game. Resident Evil 4 was always a silly game. It’s scary and tense, but there was always a goofy playfulness to it. This helps give me confidence the remake will retain that throughout.
I unfortunately have not yet found Ashley, the president’s daughter. She’s locked in a church, and my current goal is trying to find a key to let me in. Ashley could be a little annoying in the original game, where bad guys would carry her off and you’d have to quickly free her before you got a game over. There were thankfully places you could hide her, but if none were available, she’d regularly get herself into bad situations. Since I haven’t gotten her yet, I can’t really say if this is any better this time around. But here’s hoping it is.
Despite my earlier hesitation, a remake of Resident Evil 4 makes sense. The original is still an incredible game, and I’m not trying to say that it isn’t, but there are plenty of ways that it can be modernized. New controls, more aggressive enemies, bigger areas, crafting, all add up to a game that feels much more modern than the original version, I’m still hoping that Capcom hasn’t forgotten about Code Veronica, but I’m very happy that they’ve made this game.