A week away from Capcom’s launch of the Resident Evil 4 remake and the reviews are in. It’s good, very good in fact, some outlets have even called it a “masterpiece”. This is slightly annoying because I wasn’t going to buy it. Not that I wanted it to be rubbish, just that I’ve played Resi 4 a lot, and it’s great. Therefore, can a remake really draw me back in? More importantly, can it do enough differently considering the excellent VR version?
Redefining a genre
The original Resident Evil 4 launched back in 2005, drastically changing the franchise to a more action-oriented horror game. Gone were the fixed camera angles and tank controls, switching to an over-the-shoulder viewpoint to really put you in the action. It was seminal for the time, influencing the industry for years to come. Classics such as Dead Space, The Last of Us and Gears of War, to name a few, would’ve all drawn inspiration from Resi 4.
However, go back to the original and you’ll see it hasn’t aged that well. From the control scheme where you can’t aim and move to the overall visual style, the 2005 Resi is very much a product of its time. Hence why the Resident Evil 4 remake has come to fruition, bringing the title to a whole new generation with 2023 mechanics and graphics.
Resident Evil in VR
Back in 2021, VR fans were treated to their own remake by Armature Studio. Exclusive to Meta Quest 2, this version was about taking what made the original great and adding all the immersive VR loveliness to put you in this twisted region of Spain like never before. Now you could actually pick up a gun, duel-wield in fact, and start popping the heads off the Los Illuminados cult.
Much, in the same way, Resident Evil 7 Biohazard (2017) did on PlayStation VR, the Quest 2 edition of Resi 4 gave players a whole new way to experience the franchise. Guns are actually attached to your body to grab, they’re manually reloaded and you could walk around far more freely. It made the whole gameplay experience so much better in a way only VR can.
That being said, the VR version wasn’t faultless. Quick-time events and cutscenes in VR at best don’t work, at worst they can be jarring. I want to be there, in the moment, sneaking around trying not to get killed by some abomination. Not rapidly pressing the A button, or watching some B-movie cutscene in a 2D window. Of which Resident Evil 4 has its fair share. They couldn’t be removed as they provide crucial moments so you just have to get through them as quickly as possible.
Plenty of Resident Evil to go around
That’s why I’m not 100% certain I’ll buy the Resident Evil 4 remake. Yes, it looks absolutely gorgeous, in a way the Quest 2 version never could because it doesn’t have the processing power. But can a far darker, more detailed edition provide enough uniqueness to spend another 10-15 hours?
Oh and let’s not forget about the Resident Evil Village VR mode! Allowing you to play through the entire campaign, it was part of the PlayStation VR 2 launch games lineup, as a free update for existing owners. There’s so much Resident Evil available in VR, why bother with a flatscreen version?
At the end of the day, it’s great to see the Resident Evil franchise available in so many formats so you can play the horror title however you like.
Which version of Resident Evil is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.