Let me tell you a story, one which takes us back to the halcyon days of March 2005, an bygone era when we we still allowed to leave our houses. Something that I’ve entirely forgotten how to do in 2020. Having purposely requested a Gamecube for the previous Christmas, I eagerly awaited the release of Resident Evil 4. In fact, I even called my not-so-local Game store on the release day to see that they put aside a copy for me.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I’ve been a fan of the series for a long time and followed it through the highs and lows, and I have been very impressed by the last two years and the subsequent remakes that have arrived of my favourite game of all time Resident Evil 2 and it’s successor 3: Nemesis. But, no matter how great I might think it is (and I REALLY do), I don’t think we need the rumoured Resident Evil 4 remake slated for 2021.
There’s several reasons for this, but the first and most glaring is that it is already readily available to play on modern platforms – and I mean all of them. You can actually download Resident Evil 4 right now on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, AND Steam if you wanted to do so. Not only that but, excusing the Switch version, RE4 is cheap to pick up and often goes into sales where it drops to practically absurd prices.
So, what exactly is the idea bringing over Resident Evil 4 when you can already play it? The thing with the other remakes is that they weren’t actually readily available on the hardware, so it might have actually been that players weren’t gaming or even alive when the original RE2 and RE3: Nemesis were released. But, with such ease of access to play Leon’s Spanish Adventure™, I’m struggling to think of why it’s needed.
It’s not even as if the original RE4 has aged particularly poorly. The Gamecube original still looks incredible by today’s standards, even arguably outclassing the glossier sheen of the HD remasters. The entire game has a gritty, B-Movie realism to the design of it that is a pleasure to witness and explore even now. RE4 is and remains the turning point for the series, but it did it so well that it’s hard to mind that Resident Evil 6 exists.
This turning point was marked by the shift from encroaching atmospheric horror paired with survival elements to gunplay, wisecracks and suplexes in the gameplay. This was not Resident Evil as we knew it, and yet it worked. This gameplay shift changed everything, not just for the series (which heavily pivoted onto “action horror” from here), but also changed the landscape of 3rd person shooters and spawned countless imitators.
And, not to mention that mostly awful mobile port of the game too, but we don’t speak of it.
Then there’s the music in the game, which is – you guessed it – phenomenal too. Ranging from the tense hammering drone that accompanies being swarmed by Ganados, to the unsettling and sombre Save Room music, this is some good scoring from Misao Senbongi. It’s a shift was from the more foreboding soundtracks of the previous titles, but perfectly matches the shift towards more active and heart-racing gameplay.
I’m aware that I haven’t mentioned one thing that “needs” updating or refining so far, but that is not a statement that RE4 is perfect. There are elements that could be improved about Ashley Babysitting Simulator ’05™, but I wouldn’t want to see these things altered if it means sacrificing what makes the game what it is. I could do without the instant death quick time events though. Now I think on it, they are utter bollocks.
The truth here is that there are games in the Resident Evil series far more deserving of remakes, and far more suited to the design and feel of the remakes that have already happened. Could you imagine Resident Evil CODE:Veronica reimagined in the gorgeous RE Engine? Or remakes of the two Resident Evil: Outbreak titles with access to far better and more stable internet connections than were possible in the Playstation 2 era?
All of these would be incredible games to be given a little TLC too, especially given that CODE:Veronica hasn’t aged well – and the world honestly just needs more Claire in it. What’s more, the Outbreak games aren’t available on modern platforms, so their updates (and adding decent online) would not only bring about those waves of rotting flesh-inspired nostalgia in older gamers, but bring fantastic new experiences to newer players too.
Part of the charm of the remakes was that they allowed those who missed the originals to experience those parts of the Resident Evil story. In fact, I was speaking with my brother recently and he said he enjoyed playing filling those blanks, as he wasn’t born when the originals were released. RE4 does not have this element, as anyone interested would likely have played one of the approximately 297 ports of the game by now.
Resident Evil 4 is still a joy to play, with some of the best set pieces and narrative beats (your right hand comes off) in gaming, and it’s definitely aged well. However, given the lack of a need for a remake of the game for pretty much any reason, it is entirely unnecessary. These resources would be far better used to give some of your other titles in the series a renewed time in the sun Capcom, remaking RE4 would be a bit of a waste.