Are you looking forward to the Resident Evil 4 remake but never got the chance to experience the original? If you’re feeling hesitant to check it out because you fear its age, that’s understandable. However, you should still give the game a chance. It may not have the modern conveniences and fancy visuals that the remake will have, but the game holds up better than you might expect.
I’ve been recently replaying the game on Steam Deck, and I have to say that I’m having a blast. The control scheme can initially feel awkward for new players, but it’s worth it. If you have not yet experienced the original game, now is the perfect time to do so. Even after the remake launches, I still urge you to play this game.
Modern Hardware Runs Resident Evil 4 Well
Compared to the first three games in the series, the fourth is a better fit for modern hardware. When upscaling the visuals to a high-resolution display, there are no pre-rendered backgrounds to worry about. The game is fully 3D, so no character models are going to stick out like a sore thumb. Unfortunately, the textures will show their age. However, if you’re on PC, there’s the fantastic Resident Evil 4 HD Project mod which is considered the definitive way to play the game by many.
If you wish to play this on other platforms, it’s still very easy to do so. Considering that Resident Evil 4 is one of Capcom’s most treasured money-makers, they ensure it receives ports for every device (there’s even a VR version). They do this so much that I’m almost convinced that we will still see new ports of the original game after the remake is out. So, if you don’t own hardware that can handle the fancy visuals of the remake, you have an option. The original game will seemingly be easily accessible for the rest of eternity.
Setting a Standard for Third-Person Shooters
You may have heard that Resident Evil 4 is one of the more influential games in the third-person shooter genre. Why is that? The game’s most well-known contribution to the genre is the popularization of over-the-shoulder cameras. Before RE4, most third-person shooters featured camera systems that could feel clunky to operate on a controller. I love the first two Max Payne games, but the thought of playing them on anything other than a keyboard and mouse is a painful one for me.
If Halo proved that first-person shooters could feel great on a controller, Resident Evil 4 did the equivalent for third-person shooters. While the game’s control scheme feels a bit unorthodox compared to modern games, it is well thought out. The tank controls from old Resident Evil titles are still present here. However, the over-the-shoulder camera makes it much easier to adjust if you are new to the control scheme.
Several console shooters at the time made use of lock-on systems to remove the hassle of aiming with a controller. Resident Evil 4 ditches this by giving the player full control over where they aim their weapon. The best part is that this addition has utilization beyond just making headshots. The player can stop projectiles, shoot an explosive in an enemy’s hand, shoot down collectibles, and more. Aiming is one of the most important mechanics in the game and adds satisfying depth to combat.
Outstanding Combat Encounters
Beyond the shooting itself, the game provides an intense combat system that puts the player’s resourcefulness to the test. Success requires awareness of your environment and quick tactics. The player is unable to move while aiming, making positioning incredibly important. While this may make the game feel a bit dated, I believe it adds a nice layer of tension to the combat. I feel encouraged to make each attack more methodical.
The impressive level design makes for some exciting and memorable combat arenas. Whether the player is taking advantage of choke points to easily take out groups of enemies or is barricading themselves inside a house, Resident Evil 4‘s environments encourage you to fully utilize them. You could stand out in the open and just shoot everything in sight, but that leaves you extremely vulnerable.
Overall, the game’s combat is simple to understand but feels great to master. It manages to strike a perfect balance between stress-inducing tension and power fantasy. Resident Evil 4 may not be a horror game in a typical sense, but some of its best moments can put you on the edge of your seat. However, there is a secret to how the game pulls off its engaging sense of challenge.
The Superb Pacing of Resident Evil 4
Perhaps the thing that makes Resident Evil 4 hold up the most is its pacing. There’s rarely a dull moment as you go from one setpiece to the next. The game never gets challenging to the point of frustration, but it also never gets easy to the point of boredom either. The game pushes you along at a brisk pace, never keeping you stuck in one location for very long. There is a trick the game attempts to hide to achieve this perfect pacing, but it’s a clever one.
Resident Evil 4‘s trick is the adaptive difficulty. The better at playing the game you are, the harder it gets. If you start dying, the game will become easier. No matter your skill level, the game will accommodate you. It could be easy to execute a system like this poorly, but the game does a great job of making it mostly subtle. When you’re playing well, you may notice an increase in enemies and fewer resources, but no scenario ever feels impossible to beat.
There’s also the campy but entertaining story to uncover as you play. Nothing in it is going to make you reflect deeply upon your life or whatnot, but it’s a story worth bringing out the popcorn for. All the characters are memorable, even if hearing Ashley shout “Leon! help!” can get a little grating on the ears. Dialogue can get quite cheesy and that’s what is endearing about it. Overall, the story makes for a fun time that fits the pace of the game well.
Still Worth Playing Despite the Remake
I’m very much looking forward to the Resident Evil 4 remake. It’s up there with some of my most anticipated games of 2023. I enjoy most RE Engine Resident Evil games, even if the Resident Evil 3 remake fell a little short. I may believe that Code: Veronica is a little more deserving of a remake than RE4, but I think I’ll still have a great time. As long as the remake can establish an identity that complements the original game, I’m sure it will be more than worthwhile.
However, the original will always be a safe bet for a fun, campy gaming session. If you can play this on Switch or Steam Deck, I highly recommend it as a great portable title. After you beat the main story, you’ll unlock The Mercenaries, a mode that is a perfect fit for handheld play. It’s fast, action-packed, and addictive. It’s no wonder why Capcom eventually brought the mode to 3DS as a standalone game.
While the RE4 remake may end up being a superb title, the original game will always remain iconic. It’s a historically important release that remains fun to play to this day. After completing the game, it becomes understandable why Capcom would choose to take the series in an action-focused direction for a while. For the most part, Resident Evil 4 has stood the test of time. Before the remake launches, I strongly recommend giving this a play. Old fans can still have a blast on a repeat playthrough, and new fans may be in for a pleasant surprise.