Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 remake is just a few days away, and the anticipation couldn’t be higher. After a wave of rave reviews, fans of the GameCube classic are ready to get their chainsaw heads off again. This waiting period ends on Friday the 24th. March, but impatient players may find themselves looking for a way to pass the time until then.
If you’re in the boat, or just want to prepare for the remake, we’re here to help. Portion of Resident Evil 4 The remake’s appeal is the way it engages with not only the original game or the series’ past, but the 20-year gaming history that will accompany it. With such an important and influential game as Resident Evil 4, you don’t have to go far to see how it influenced the action-adventure genre. The remake shines because it’s seemingly aware of that idea, examining the original through a modern lens.
To help you get in the right mindset, we’ve put together a bit of a must-read list to better understand the remake. While it can be played and enjoyed on its own, there are a selection of titles that will better help you appreciate both its design and its sometimes radical approach to the remake challenge. If you have some time to kill before diving in, make sure you’re up to speed on these five games.
Resident Evil 4 VR
If you are worried about playing the original Resident Evil 4 might spoil your appetite for the remake, don’t worry. The new version is almost a completely different game, both in tone and pace. The new combat system in particular completely changes the speed of combat, turning the original into a much faster and more fluid action game. It’s a great example of how tweaks to the core gameplay can completely change the feel of a game.
To really prepare yourself for that approach, I recommend checking out the VR version of Resident Evil 4. Like the new remake (which gets its own VR mode), the Oculus-compatible version allows players to experience the original game from first-person with more tactile controls. You’ll feel a little extra excitement as you rush to grab an herb to heal or reload your weapon manually. It’s a much different experience than the upcoming remake, making you feel like a more confident action hero. The two versions are excellent contrasts, showing how the same game can feel completely different by tweaking the core combat.
Resident Evil 2
If you want to get a feel for what the new version looks and feels like, look no further than Capcom’s excellent Resident Evil 2 remake. That game completely overhauled an aging PS1 classic by shaping it into a modern third-person survival horror game. It’s still one of the best games in the entire series, and makes the puzzle game shine again while cleaning up some of the stilted shooting. Resident Evil 4 clearly builds on that foundation, but it makes adjustments to speed up the idea so it works as a pure action game.
In addition to being a good point of comparison, it is also essential for those who want to brush up on Leon S. Kennedy’s history. The original Resident Evil 2 was his first appearance, when he was just a rookie in the Raccoon City Police Department. Although the remake doesn’t explain how he became a government agent in 4 (you’ll have to dig Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles for that), it plays a crucial role in his story. The new version of Resident Evil 4 makes the Raccoon City saga much more important to his character, detailing how Kennedy deals with PTSD from the event. The two games are much less different as a result, which does Resident Evil 2 required reading material.
Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil 4 launching just two years after the series’ last main line, Resident Evil Village, and it’s excellent timing. When I played the remake, I really started to notice how much Village tried to repeat the original Resident Evil 4its formula. Its initial Lycan attack is almost identical to 4its iconic village battle, and even the structure has many similarities. Both games are split into different locations that combine linear gameplay with some light, open-ended exploration. There are further similarities between its design and the weapon upgrade systems as well, which are even more pronounced in the remake.
Much of my enjoyment during the remake came from mentally comparing and contrasting the two games. It got me thinking about what Village nailed and where it went wrong in trying to keep up 4their footsteps. In many ways, the remake feels like a master returning to show the student how it’s done. It’s a masterfully executed game that reminded me of how well-paced and complex the original is – something even the series itself has struggled to recreate perfectly.
If you are excited about Resident Evil 4there’s a good chance you’ve already played this year’s Dead Space remake. Both titles are cut from the same cloth, and innovate the horror-action genre in their own way. It’s a delightful cosmic coincidence that the two are released side by side as modern games in 2023, re-establishing themselves as titans of the genre.
What’s most interesting about the two releases, however, is how they take a completely different approach to the remake challenge. Dead Space is essentially a 1:1 touch-up that hardly changes the original. The environments are more detailed and there are subtle tweaks throughout, but the settings and story beats are largely the same. Resident Evil 4, on the other hand, is radically reinvented. The characters are deeper, the story is more complex, battles have been completely reworked, boss fights have changed, and some locations have been redesigned from the ground up. Playing them side by side, you can see the value in both approaches, with one serving as a faithful act of preservation and the other standing as an example of reinvention as something that can deepen our understanding of the work it’s built upon. You can decide for yourself which approach you like best.
The Last of Us Part I
The biggest epiphany I had while playing Resident Evil 4 was just how much of the DNA it is present in The last of us. Both are third-person action-adventure games about a man who protects a young girl from parasite-infected humans. I never realized how similar the two stories were until I visited the remake. The only difference is that the original Resident Evil 4 is more of a wacky cartoon while The last of us is modeled after prestige television.
The ultimate brilliance of how this remake is handled is that it understands the relationship. It looks at how the original game was ahead of its time and how it ultimately inspired two decades of gaming. By modernizing the 2005 version and making it more of a Hollywood action film, it is able to further emphasize that point. It’s much easier to see the relationship between Resident Evil 4 and something like that The last of us when we don’t see the former through dated mechanics that would have improved with years of iteration. The new version of Resident Evil 4 brings it up to speed with the games that owe their success, making it easy to admire as a historical turning point.
Resident Evil 4 launches on March 24 for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
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