I’ll admit right away that I have an extremely complicated relationship with the Resident Evil franchise. I’ve tried to get into the series over the years, but no matter what I end up doing, I could never get into any groove. With only one exception, Resident Evil 4 for the Wii is what I would honestly put in my top 10 games ever played. I bought the game during a day trip to the state capital, I had some hours to kill and went to the local EB games and saw it for a pretty good spot, at that point I had never played but heard of a Resident Evil game lots of good things about it, especially from all the people who slammed the RE5 in reviews earlier this year for not being that good, but also from my then-girlfriend, who couldn’t stop gushing about how much sexier Leon was when I (can you tell the relationship didn’t last)
When I first installed the game on the Wii, it took me a while to understand everything. I remember playing for a good hour or so and running low on ammo only to find that the barrels and crates for items could be broken. As I progressed I found myself more and more engrossed in Leon’s rescue mission, what really intrigued me was the massive number of locations you ended up in, inside a volcano, an old castle and even a top-secret Umbrella Laboratory. The game also stood out for being the first to perfect third-person shooting mechanics with the over-the-shoulder technique. But the absolute highlight of the entire game was the story and the characters, Leon was always quick with the one-liners, and the game never took itself too seriously, although that didn’t make the game any less tense.
After playing RE4, I finally wanted to tackle the rest of the franchise available at the time, but whichever game I choose, I couldn’t get anywhere near the experience I had with Leon. I tried playing the original games and whether it was the original three, Code Veronica or Zero, the tank controls and sluggish movement really didn’t work for me, sure that maybe it was the way games were in 1997 moving, but I tried to go back to this style after 20 years of controller evolution is almost impossible. I would skip RE5 but am tackling the follow up in 2012 and honestly I don’t even remember finishing RE6, hell I don’t even remember playing it. The series had completely abandoned any concept of fear and focused much more on action set pieces, co-op, and QTEs.
Biohazard: Resident Evil 7 was the point where the entire series changed after the PT demo wowed everyone and then broke their hearts even faster, with the rise in popularity of indie horror games like Amnesia and Outlast, Capcom took the series in a much darker and more serious tone, and by that I mean they get the blood pumping in earnest. I gave the series another try and even started getting into RE7 but ended up getting stuck on these molten creatures and forgot about the game 2 months later when Switch and Breath of the Wild came out and while I was in love with the giant Vampire lady, I didn’t get Village either.
Cut to the State of Play presentation, when I first saw the Resident Evil logo my 7 o’clock mind couldn’t make the connection between the Spanish guitars and for a second thought Resident Evil 9 was about to be announced , then I saw the number 4 and gasped… and then I saw the trailer. When they first announced the RE2 remake, I was initially excited as the game looked like it would play exactly like RE4, but then I had to sit down and actually play the demo, and to be perfectly honest, it was I deterred from the level of blood. To be honest, the sheer scale of the gut carnage was quite unsettling to me, even at the very beginning, given the almost bisected head, the individual tendons and the upper jaw so exposed, it just wasn’t for me.
Which brings me to the RE4 Remake trailer, everything about it tells me that they’re putting Resident Evil 4 on the path that it’s taken all other games lately, and that’s really not a path it should be taking. RE4 was action-packed and tense battles, and while the briefcase made carrying items a lot easier, you still felt a degree of handicap, so not only was you plowing through this Spanish village, but as I mentioned, it was camp as FUCK! The writing of RE4 was as bad as the previous games, the main difference being that it knew it was corny, it knew it was cheesy and played it for laughs. At the beginning of the game, when the whole village goes into a trance, Leon gets up, looks around and angrily asks “Where is everyone going? Bingo?”
Tell me by watching this trailer would the leon be spitting anything close to that bingo line in this new version? It is clear that this remake will take the story of the possessed Ganados, daughter of the kidnapped President, and play everything directly. Leon bemoans how much he wants to forget that day in Raccoon City, would that be the type to even think of making snarky jokes? Will it stay at the same level of blood as in RE2’s remake, what does that mean with the famous Chainsaw Ganados cutting off your head? What about the other characters, Ashley looks like a completely different character so what does that mean for others like the dealer?
Never a game to be at the top of my “Needs Remake” list, RE4 originally released exclusively on the Gamecube, it showed what the system was really capable of until it was released on the PS2 a few months later. Since then it has become one of the most ported games of all time, rivaling even Skyrim, the only home console it has never been played on since its release is the original Xbox, even the Wii U has seen a digital reboot of the Wii version . Even with the Switch version, the game holds up to this day, which makes me wonder why Capcom decided to jump straight to 4 before delving into Code Veronica or Zero.
Now I have to admit when I said RE4 was the only Resident Evil game I really got into I wasn’t entirely true, there was another game and that was Revelations on the Wii U. In my personal opinion it came out this game is the closest the series has ever reached to the size of RE4, although maybe that’s my bias as I spent most of the game looking at Jill’s butt in that zero-suit style western suit. While the mainline series tried to be as generic as possible, Revelations at least tried to give the feel of the old school, with the ship just cranking up the claustrophobia.
Honestly, looking at the newly released trailer, I draw more comparisons to the RE4 that we never got. Two years before its release in 2005, Shinji Mikami, the game’s director, showed a demo of the game at Nintendo’s famous E3 presentation before saying “don’t pee your pants,” this demo would see Leon exploring a haunted castle while being chased by an evil spirit with a hook, this would earn it the nickname “The Hookman Version” and it was clearly about psychological horror. When this new RE4make puts horror above any of the other aspects of the original, you’re essentially robbing it of what made it the classic to remember. But on the flip side, the Hookman version was ultimately scrapped due to hardware limitations, so could this remake try to capture what RE4 was always meant to be?
It’s been years since Shinji left Capcom and since then Leon has lost everything that made him unique in the game. The later titles and even the CGI movies like Degeneration made him another gruff guy with a gun, basically another Chris. Given the direction the series has taken over the past few years, I don’t think RE4 would fit in anywhere. Of course, this is all just speculation based on a 2 minute trailer so I might be throwing my ass off, but when there’s no bingo playing I don’t feel like I want to play.
The founder and editor-in-chief of UnboxedTV. Nintendo lovers who aren’t afraid to admit it can always enjoy a good indie Metroidvania with a nice cold cider.