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‘Resident Evil 4’ review: A half-step backward for Capcom remakes

when the supposedly “greatest Resident Evil game” isn’t.

The Resident Evil 4 remake has a promising beginning. This is the most thrilling version of RE4 Capcom has ever released, and Leon Kennedy looks better than ever, even with his new chin implant. This is due to updated aiming mechanisms and a fresh infusion of processing power. For the first several hours, the remake does well as Leon shoots and stabs his way through the Spanish village’s foggy streets, where las plagas has turned the residents into homicidal tentacle monsters. The game’s blood-soaked tone is established in these opening sequences, which are situated among crooked wooden structures and the shoreline of a twisting cave system. They also offer a good blend of asset management, puzzle solving, and contemporary third-person shooting.

The game gets clumsier as its complexity increases. By include more opponents, smaller areas, and fewer ammo drops, Capcom is modernizing RE4 in a way that, if its controls were reliable, might produce a high-tension action experience. The battle sequences in the RE4 remake are now tedious and the animations are slow. Leon feels weak all the time, unable to defend against simple blows or consistently hit his target.

When it was released in 2005, Resident Evil 4 established the benchmark for action-horror games. The remake excels when it adopts the original’s ideas, such as over-the-shoulder precision shooting and an environment that combines battle with terror. Nevertheless, the remake immediately loses its direction and it appears that all of Capcom’s effort was put towards improving the scenery and opponents, leaving Leon behind in the GameCube era.

The RE4 remake adds new boss battles and adversaries with head-bursting assaults while also enabling Leon to deflect strong blows. Sometimes. Only when Leon has a knife ready is the parry ability available, and even then, when the prompt does appear, it can be quickly overridden by the surroundings, other adversaries’ actions, and Leon’s own motions. The parry ability, like the majority of Leon’s actions, is simply too unpredictable to be rewarding and, in general, offers nothing to increase the excitement in combat sequences.

The remake frequently puts Leon in the middle of an army of foes, preventing him from immediately dodging oncoming blows. While he runs like he’s knee-deep in mud and even a bullet to the head doesn’t always halt a charging cultist, he must shoot or push his way through the crowd. In the meantime, enemies frequently attack Leon. The RE2 and RE3 remakes, which feature updated controls and landscapes that seem at home on contemporary technology, especially address the sluggish movement that is authentic to the experience of the original four Resident Evil titles. RE4 seems incomplete, or at the very least, unfinished, in compared to those games.

Méndez, the mutant priest with the unusually long spine, is one boss battle that Capcom reworked for the remake. In the original, Méndez launches an endless string of assaults from the rafters of a barn on fire. In the remake, Méndez rushes forward for close-quarters combat before dropping back to throw burning logs and exploding oil drums at Leon. He then switches between these positions a few times. Although the setting in the remake is bigger, it is still crowded with flames that prevent Leon from doing anything whenever he touches them. Whereas Leon has a slow running speed, no rapid dodge abilities, and clunky animations for reloading, collecting things, touching fire, and knifing adversaries, Méndez moves swiftly, and so do the stuff he throws. Méndez appears to be a character who has been entirely transformed; Leon, not so much. This leads to a difficult boss battle.

When I was struggling to overcome Méndez, Capcom played a practical joke on me. When I reached the Méndez death scenes while playing on Standard, the game started asking me to switch to the easiest difficulty option, Assisted. I usually don’t do this during reviews, but after a dozen irritated attempts, I gave in and clicked OK without carefully reading the fine print. The game is surprisingly forgiving in assisted mode, and in the subsequent run, I effortlessly overcame Méndez.

Then, I was completely unable to alter my difficulty settings. Recall that RE4’s assisted mode is always active.

I continued playing for a short while on the easiest difficulty setting, but it really seemed unlike the Standard edition of the game because there was no danger or intensity. Fortunately, I was playing on a PlayStation 5, which syncs cloud saves only when you exit a game. I shut down the game, disconnected the console from the internet, and then downloaded the previous save file from before I changed the settings. Later, after defeating Méndez the traditional way on Standard difficulties, I continued playing with a growing dread of unintentionally switching to Assisted mode.

In Resident Evil games, permanent downward mode-switching is a common feature, although I don’t get it. It’s especially perplexing because in loading screens and death menus, RE4 openly urges Standard players to try Assisted mode. When I questioned Capcom about the reasoning behind the team’s design for RE4, a representative responded, “The difficulty mode a player completes the game on has repercussions for in-game awards and trophies.” This does not, in my opinion, properly address the query: Action games may have dynamic difficulty levels without interfering with achievements in a lot of them, so your explanation doesn’t solve my concern that Capcom is placing accessibility behind award integrity.

I also want to urge all PS5 gamers to disable controller sounds in the audio settings while we’re on the subject of complaints. This is applicable to RE4 and essentially every other game that has this capability. Why is the DualSense’s volume so loud all of the time? Someone, someone, put a stop to this.

I’ve become a pleading mess of unsatisfied nostalgia and annoyance as a result of the RE4 remake. It’s not a bad game, but it’s also not completely seamless. While it introduces new enemies and interesting locales, Leon’s bullets frequently miss their targets without doing any harm, his movements are awkward, and his new parry skill is only partially effective. The game clearly lays out battle tactics for each scene, but its mechanics end up getting in the way.