Capcom has received high praise for its remakes of the Resident Evil series, and rightfully so. However, the true test was always going to be its handling of the Resident Evil 4 remake – especially since the original 2005 survival horror is widely regarded as one of the best video games of all time.
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With the power of new-gen in full force and Capcom’s stellar track record in the series, the expectation was for this remake to be more than a facelift and updated paint job. That being said, there’s always the chance that if someone tries to reinvent the perfect wheel, it might become square in the process. Fortunately, the Resident Evil 4 remake isn’t only the labour of love of people who understand the source material inside and out, but also an example of how quality never diminishes and it can stand out almost two decades later. Simply put, it’s the best PlayStation 5 released to date.
“At first I was afraid, I was petrified…”
The core of the Resident Evil 4 remake will be familiar to longtime fans of the series. Leon S. Kennedy heads off to a Spanish village to locate the US president’s daughter, Ashley Graham, who has been taken by the cult known as Los Illuminados. While the crux of the story and locations remain recognisable, there are a few changes and updates made to surprise gamers – but no spoilers here.
Naturally, the character designs and settings have been updated to modern standards, as they still hold the feeling of the original creations from 2005 but with improved graphical capabilities of 2023. Despite the large and expansive map to explore, there’s a claustrophobic choke to it all because of what lurks around every corner. Much like recent Resident Evil games, the developers have become the champions of jumpscares. Even when a dimly lit location looks safe, it isn’t – as there could be someone hiding in plain sight in the one shadow Leon fails to check with his flashlight.
That’s the thing about the Resident Evil 4 remake; it’s all about tension and atmosphere. Throughout the game, a player will never feel safe or secure for too long. Even when a cutscene hits, and there’s a hands-off moment of reprieve, it doesn’t last long as a new threat looms or introduces itself. Plus, with some of the changes made to the game, even those familiar with the original might find themselves jumping out of their pants.
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Survival of the smartest
Ultimately, the point of Resident Evil 4 is survival. While there are objectives to achieve throughout the chapters, many players will be happy to have simply survived the latest horde and lived to reach the next typewriter to save their game. The gameplay mechanics have been tweaked to resemble modern games; however, it still contains the charm from yesteryear, as Leon uses mostly his knife and chosen weapon to fight off the enemies in combat.
As with other Resident Evil titles, the player has a limited number of items they can carry on them. Sure, reorganising can be done, such as combining certain items or changing the direction in which they are stored, to free up some space. That said, the Resident Evil 4 remake is just as much about strategic thinking as it is survival. Unloading a full clip of Leon’s gun on one enemy isn’t smart, as it leaves the character at a disadvantage against the remaining enemies unless he can find ammo – and fast. It’s about understanding how to use what’s on Leon and trying to finish off the enemies with melee attacks that don’t suck up those scarce resources. The game also forces the player to consider their surroundings and realise how the environment can also be used for setting effective traps or hitting two hordes with one stone, so to speak.
Again, like the 2005 game, there are puzzle sections to solve, which normally result in the opening of an important door or the receiving of a critical item for progression in a mission. Many of these puzzles have been upgraded but still bear resemblance to the original challenges. It might be handy for a player to keep a notebook nearby to jot down notes as they make their way through the game, since a few of these sections require near-photographic memory to solve.
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Why the Resident Evil 4 remake is the best PS5 game
What is the criteria for an exceptional video game? Outstanding graphics. Intuitive and fun gameplay. Intriguing story. High rates of replayability. While many PlayStation 5 games have featured most of these elements, there has yet to be a game that has hit the fantastic four with a bullseye – until the Resident Evil 4 remake.
The effort that Capcom has put into this title has reinvigorated an already classic and fantastic game. The developers kept everything that worked in 2005, while applying all the new elements they couldn’t back then due to the limitations of technology. As a result, this feels like a fresh, original game – and not simply a cash-in of a popular IP. Believe the hype, because the Resident Evil 4 remake is all that and a bunch of wicked one liners delivered by the coolest dude in gaming, Leon S. Kennedy.
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