Resident Evil 4 (2023) Review
Capcom has really been pushing out Resident Evil titles these past few years. Going back to 2017 with the release of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and continuing on to drop: the Resident Evil 2 (remake), Resident Evil 3 (remake), as well as Resident Evil 8: Village. It's worth noting that while some of these games are looked on more fondly than others, all of them have been well-received by the gaming community and Resident Evil fans. This barrage of games is Capcom’s reaction to the failure of Resident Evil 6 (2012), and a need to return to the franchise's horror roots.
The original Resident Evil 4 from 2005, is considered by most to be the best game in the series. With the creation of a remake, I was curious to see if the new rendition would be able to rise to the high bar set by its progenitor. Thankfully, I am happy to report it does. The new Resident Evil 4 easily claims the title of a masterpiece.
For those unfamiliar with the story of the original game, let's do a quick recap. Players take on the role of Leon S. Kennedy (voiced by Nick Apostolides), formerly a member of the Racoon City police department, now a special agent working for the U.S. President. Six years separate Resident Evil 4 (2023) and Leon from him escaping the harrowing events of Resident Evil 2. This time he’s been tasked with locating and retrieving the president’s daughter, Ashley Graham, after an unknown group manages to abduct her. The investigation leads Leon to a secluded village in the mountains of Spain, this is where the story begins. While I cannot go into detail about the changes Capcom has made regarding how the narrative unfolds in the remake, I can tell you that the underlying premise remains faithful to what long-time fans know. That being said, I was a little sad to discover that the Ada Wong campaign, known as “Separate Ways”, is not currently included. It is possible this may be added at a later date as DLC.
Resident Evil 4 (2023) uses a third-person over-the-shoulder camera, this separates it from Capcom's preferred first-person camera in the newer franchise entries. Fortunately, the janky controls of the original Resident Evil 4 have been abolished, making way for a more modern control scheme.
Gameplay in the remake has had some slight changes due to the inclusion of new features. Previous Resident Evil entries have employed the concept of lockpicks, while they don’t make an appearance here, something very similar does. Players will be able to find one-time-use “small keys”, that allow them to open locked cabinets. This presents the need for retracing your steps once you acquire one; that or you could play the rest of the game wondering what could have been inside. In addition to the small keys, Leon has also gained the ability to crouch and conduct sneak attacks with his knife. This more than anything else was a huge game-changer for me. Instead of shooting my way through every situation, I suddenly found myself able to take out one or two enemies before needing to fire my gun. However, most uses of the knife will decrease its durability, eventually causing it to break. Worry not though, it can be repaired. Quick-time-events have been removed and replaced with what I would call “quick-time-reactions”. Instead of asking players to button mash in a sequence, you will now be prompted during boss fights when you can dodge an attack. If you mess up, Leon will take damage, but it's not a game-over.
One of the biggest issues players had with the original game was how annoying the character of Ashley could be. While it is still hinted that Ashley has a crush on Leon during their time together, the inappropriate jokes, and other issues surrounding Ashley in the past, have been scrubbed away in lieu of something more in line with modern standards. I am pleased to say that this new version of Ashley (voiced by Nicole Tompkins) is a charming presence and quite helpful in exploring the areas throughout the game. Also, players can now give formation commands to Ashley, telling her to stick close or give Leon some space during combat.
Resident Evil 4 (2023) uses the RE Engine, which is the same in-house engine Capcom has been using since 2017. Graphically the game is gorgeous to look at, I am also happy to say that during all my time with Resident Evil 4 (2023), I did not drop below 60 frames-per-second on high settings. With many recent releases suffering from FPS and stutter issues at launch, this was a relief to see. The one thing I did not particularly enjoy was the audio. While everything sounds great in the game, the new version does not use much, if any, of the original game’s soundtrack. I guess I was a little nostalgic for the stress-inducing, heart-pounding music of my youth.
It took me almost 17 hours to finish Resident Evil 4 (2023) on normal difficulty (quite a bit more than the previous remakes), being a long-time fan I wanted to discover and complete everything I could, which most likely added an hour or two more than was necessary. However, I have zero regrets, the game is extremely fun to play, and the story is something every gamer should experience. Once it's over, a new game plus option becomes available, allowing you to try your hand at a higher difficulty.
Resident Evil 4 (2023) releases on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC the 24th of March 2023.
Resident Evil 4 (2023) (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Capcom faithfully recreates their beloved masterpiece; the Resident Evil 4 remake will bring the classic story to a new generation and I firmly believe they will love it.