A Resident Evil 4 Remake Will Need To Consider What Resident Evil 4 Is
Resident Evil 4 is often regarded as one of the best games of the 6th generation of consoles. Many gamers still consider it to be one of the greatest games of all time. A remake could run into problems
I played most of the previous entries and absolutely loved Resident Evil 2 which introduces Resident Evil 4’s main protagonist and newest kid on the block Leon S. Kennedy.
The rookie police officer had to survive a zombie outbreak on his very first day on the job at the Raccoon Police Department. He quickly became a fan favorite.
The second entry itself was not only filled with zombies and new monstrosities — it also included well-throughout puzzles that didn’t feel outright annoying or tedious. It tells a somewhat cheesy subplot which includes conspiracies which players uncover as they progress in the game.
Resident Evil 3 was a good follow up since it introduced the formidable tyrant and antagonist Nemesis who, at the time, overshadowed the previous tyrant and antagonist Mr. X who appears in RE2. You didn’t necessarily have to be a fan of the series to recognize Nemesis who still consistently ranks as one of the greatest monsters in general of all time.
Sometime after the third installment — rumors began swirling about a potential 4th installment.
A remake would have to contend with what made Resident Evil 4 so special.
Let’s look at everything that culminated into a one of the greatest games ever made
The Resident Evil 4 versions we almost got which is why following up a remake is challenging
Resident Evil 4 was something of an enigma before it was released.
The rumor mill in the game industry said it would play more like a Silent Hill game than its predecessors.
One of the problems facing the remake is not having a challenging phase that doesn’t end in development hell but also isn’t rushed.
Resident Evil 4 hit that sweet spot. Everything to get there is important.
Leaked footage of the “Hook Man” version was absolutely enthralling, because it showcased the series departing from traditional zombies as it introduces small dolls equipped with knives and the aforementioned Hook Man who manifests himself from a painting to attack Mr. Kennedy. It was fascinating that Capcom had creatives who were willing to take the franchise in a completely different direction.
The Black Fog version
Everyone knew of the Hook Man version, but there was also a different version which would’ve introduced an enemy known as the Black Fog which was later reworked into the RNA virus Uroboros which is introduced in Resident Evil 5.
However, one oversight changed the course of the franchise forever and it would ultimately give gamers and Resident Evil fans the Resident Evil 4 we know and love today.
That oversight was the GameCube’s processing power: it couldn’t render the Black Fog in a realistic manner.
Incidentally, even the Uroboros virus introduced in Resident Evil 5 still needed to be reworked.
Resident Evil is all about campy B-movie vibes
I said everything before to highlight how the Resident Evil became one of the most notable franchises within horror in general and the lead up which made RE4 what it is. And truly, there’s not much that can be added to RE4 that hasn’t already been said.
It had it all: hype and rumors; leaked footage; exceptional gameplay thanks to an over-the-shoulder camera; replayability; lore; connections to other games; in-game items, enemies, and side characters; a B-movie horror inspired backdrop; speed-running and glitches; secrets and easter eggs; a side-story involving Ada Wong; and so much more.
There are many YouTuber’s who’ve explored every last detail which I couldn’t possibly cover here, but I encourage subscribing to SwankyBox on YouTube as he’s covered many unexplored stories and elements of RE4 including development and enemy and non-playable character backstories.
However, I feel it was important to understand that RE4,became a lot bigger than just the game itself. With everything mentioned at this point — that’s what a remake will be going against.
Resident Evil games don’t have that these days. Aside from the obligatory DLC ; there’s other elements that shape the franchise. And that’s what happened to RE3.
What cannot be ignored that’s not covered by many reviewers is the B-camp movie vibes.
How the campiness was lost in the RE3 remake and why it might be lost again in the RE4 remake
Resident Evil 3 (2020) felt like such a let down because of what gets lost in translation — more specifically, the campy B-movie vibe you got as the franchise progressed.
Three non-playable characters you encounter, the salesman Dario Rosso; fellow S.T.A.R.S member Brad Vickers; and the T-Type Nemesis enhances the experience. Music and sound effects were also not there in any meaningful way.
In the original RE3 (1999), although the protagonist you play as, Jill Valentine, escapes zombies right at the onset as she escapes into a warehouse — encountering Rosso starts putting things into perspective.
Despite Jill trying her best to convince Rosso to escape Raccoon City with her he informs her his daughter was just killed by zombies.
“No! I’m not going anywhere! I’d rather starve to death in here than be eaten by one of those undead monsters. Now leave me alone!”
Rosso proceeds to lock himself in a shipping container. When pressed to come out by the player, Rosso fires back
I told you, I’m not leaving… Never!
The player can return to the warehouse later to either ignore or kill a zombified Rosso.
The shipping container is open and you can read his journal.
Rosso reveals that his mother and wife were also killed in the zombie outbreak.
He wonders if G.I.’s will laugh at his corpse and if anyone will read his journal. He seemingly accepts his fate as he laments in the fact that his family is gone. He also regrets listening to his mother rather than pursuing his dream of being a novelist.
It’s a small detail, but it’s absolutely compelling for several reasons.
The first is we can see how traumatic a zombie outbreak can be on certain people especially people who lose their loved one’s.
Secondly, we see what’s happening through the eyes of some else. Rosso lashes out at the player because he’s scared, angry, hurting, and is trying to cope with the fact his world came to an end so abruptly and he has no idea what to do except survive.
RE3 (2020) completely misses the mark and turns Rosso into an older man who’s also a bit sexist (he refers to Jill Valentine as “Missy”). It was an unnecessary step that doesn’t add to the hopelessness of the situation.
In RE3 (2020), Brad Vickers and Nemesis appear roughly at the same time, but even though it’s a very short time period — the information dump and the appearance of the latter was great writing. You felt like you are there in the midst of things which is what campiness needs.
In the remake, Nemesis attacks Jill in her apartment. After escaping out into the streets, Vickers shows up just in time for the two of them to take cover in a building.
Unfortunately for Brad, he ends up being bitten after attempting to keep zombies out. He sacrifices himself to save Jill. It’s later revealed that he is the zombie who bit RPD Sergeant Marvin Branagh who appears in both the original and remake of RE2.
That revelation was a nice touch, but the original had better pacing.
Jill encounters Brad by chance and he only gives her an ominous warning about being stalked by something that’s out to get members of S.T.A.R.S (which Jill and Brad are in).
In a hopeless situation, you now know that Nemesis is about to take you from the worst day one could possibly ever have to destination f**ked.
And that’s exactly where we land once Jill makes it to the RPD station in the original game. The cutscenes are still cheesy but seeing Brad getting killed and then having to make the choice to either fight Nemesis or flee had players opting for the latter option on a first playthrough.
All that’s lost when Nemesis is out to get you at the onset. Sure, we as an audience knows he’s coming, but the build up was a great touch.
Music (or lack there of)
One aspect of the franchise that’s rarely discussed is the music or the absence of it.
In the original RE2 and RE3 — you often found yourself trudging through a city with no background music or sound effects until you entered buildings or interacted with objects.
The lifelessness of a dilapidated Raccoon City and almost deafening silence made things eerie. You weren’t quite sure who or what you’d encounter next.
This created uneasiness and some tension without relying on jump scares.
How Resident Evil 4 regained the campiness that made the series
What helped make Resident Evil 4 stand out was its B-movie horror movie campiness. And also, the developers really understood the franchise, because they absolutely nailed how ridiculously over-the-top the premise is but they don’t shove it in your face.
Playing as a cop turned into an unspecified U.S. government official who’s solely been tasked with exploring a Spanish island in Europe to locate the President’s missing daughter sounds like an action movie and even plays out like one towards the end complete with a military-like battle leading up to the final battle with the main antagonist Osmund Saddler.
The man who saves the day, Leon S. Kennedy, is also a womanizer who drops one-liners no matter what the situation is; and he, with the help of a double-agent Ada Wong, who you meet in RE2, inadvertently saves the world from being thrown into chaos. You and Ada Wong prevent the president’s daughter, Ashley Graham, from being sent home as an infected puppet of Saddler and the Las Plagas parasite which would’ve allowed him to release more parasites to control the entire U.S. government.
That presume is ludicrous, and despite many legitimate scary moments, it’s a funny plot to ignore.
One of the more impressive things about RE4 is that — when the island you’re on isn’t trying to actively kill you — there’s this sort of peacefulness.
Resident Evil 4 is certainly not the most visually stunning game in the franchise (everyone knows it’s Resident Evil 0; and you an argue with your mother about it if you disagree), but it was immersive enough that you felt like you were in the game and taking in the sites — at least the sites that weren’t terrifying.
The sounds draw you in even when it’s just running water or a waterfall.
The entire island feels it’s like it’s a real place. It felt unreal and it’s unassuming at first.
Drawing the player in
Resident Evil 4 slightly departed from the zombies gamers were familiar with in the previous entry.
They’re not undead, and the first one you encounters and kills appears to be a normal guy.
As you trek further into the village you’re greeted with people who seem to be carrying out regular every day tasks. But they become aggressive when you approach them and you see one of the previous cops who chauffeured you into the village on a hook burning.
Though everything seems average; there’s bloodstains, maggots, rotten food and dirty dishes in their houses.
And as you progress through the game as night falls — you finally encounter the first Ganado’s head exploding revealing the Las Plagas parasite.
Still cheesy but with a light touch
Leon, why are you the way you are? I mean honestly…
A remake could be a fun adventure for a new generation of gamers and introduce a new spin on a beloved game , but it’s going to be a tall order to fill. Hopefully it doesn’t go down the route of the route of the Resident Evil 3 remake.
Resident Evil 7 was a nice return to a more campy vibe as it took cues from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre introducing the player to a sadistic virus infected and dysfunctional family. And Resident Evil 8: Village is shaping up to be similar.
But for now, we’ll have to hang tight and see happens next.