I will admit right off the bat I have an exceedingly complicated relationship with the Resident Evil franchise, I have tried over the years to get into the series but no matter what I end up doing I was never able to get into any sort of groove with them. With only one exception being Resident Evil 4 on the Wii, which I would honestly put in my Top 10 Games ever played. I bought the game while on a day trip to the state capital, I had some hours to kill and headed into the local EB Games and saw it for a fairly good place, at this point I had never played a Resident Evil game but had heard many good things about it especially from all the people earlier that year tearing apart RE5 in reviews for not being as good, but also from my girlfriend at the time who couldn’t stop gushing about how much sexier Leon was than I (can you tell the relationship didn’t last)
Popping the game into the Wii for the first time it took me a while to figure everything out, I remember having played for a good hour or so and running low on ammo only to realize that the barrels and boxes could be broken apart for items. As I kept progressing though I found myself getting more engrossed in Leon’s rescue mission, what really captivated me was the vast amount of locations you ended up in, winding up in a volcano, an ancient castle and even a top-secret Umbrella Laboratory. The game also stood out because it was the first one to perfect third-person shooting mechanics with the over the shoulder technique. But the absolute money shot of the entire game was the story and characters, Leon was always quick with the one-liners and the game never took itself too seriously, though that didn’t make the game any less tense.
After playing RE4, I wanted to finally tackle the rest of the franchise available at the time but no matter what game I pick, I wasn’t able to have even as close to a similar experience as the one 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 it may have been the way games moved in 1997 but trying to go back to that style following 20 years of controller evolution is almost impossible. I would skip on RE5 but tackle its 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 way more on action set pieces, co-op and QTE’s.
Biohazard: Resident Evil 7 was where the whole series changed, after the PT Demo wowed everyone and then broke their hearts even faster, with the surge in popularity of indie horror games like Amnesia and Outlast, Capcom took the series in a much more grim and serious tone, and by that I mean they seriously rampt up the gore. I gave the series another try and I even started to get into RE7, but I ended up getting stuck on those molten creatures and wound up forgetting the game 2 months later when the Switch and Breath of the Wild came out and while I was enamoured by the giant vampire lady, I didn’t end up getting Village either.
Cut to the State of Play presentation this when, when I first saw the Resident Evil logo my 7am mind couldn’t comprehend the connection between the Spanish guitars and thought for a second that 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 hyped as the game looked like it was going to play just like RE4 but then I got to sit down and actually play the demo and to be quite honest, I was thrown off by the level of gore. Just the level of visceral carnage was honestly quite unsettling for me, even at the very beginning when you inspect the head that’s been sliced almost in half, the individual tendons and the upper jaw just exposed like that, just wasn’t for me.
This brings me to the RE4 Remake trailer, everything about it tells me that they are taking Resident Evil 4 down the route it has taken all the other games recently, and that really isn’t a path it should be taking. RE4 was full of action, and tense battles, and while the attache case made carrying items much easier you still felt a certain level of handicap so you weren’t just plowing through this Spanish village, but like I alluded to earlier, it was Camp as FUCK! RE4’s writing was as bad as the previous games, the major difference was that it knew that it was hokey, it knew it was corny and played it for laughs. At the beginning of the game when the entire village leaves in a trance, Leon gets up, looks around and asks with a huff “Where’s everyone going? Bingo?”
Tell me, looking at that trailer, if the Leon in this new version would spout anything close to that bingo line? It’s clear that this remake is going to take the story of the possessed Ganados, the kidnapped president’s daughter and play it all straight. Leon laments how badly he wishes to forget that day in Raccoon City, would this be the kind of guy who would be even thinking about spouting snarky quips? Will it stick to the same level of gore as seen in RE2’s Remake, what will that mean by the famous Chainsaw Ganado’s when they cut your head off? What about the other characters, Ashley looks like a completely different character, so what will this mean for others like the Merchant?
RE4 was never a game that was high on my “Needs Remake” list, released originally on the Gamecube as an exclusive, it showed what the system was really capable of, that is until it was released on the PS2 several months later. It has since been one of the most ported games ever made even rivalling Skyrim, the only home console it has never been on since its release is the original Xbox, even the Wii U saw a digital re-release of the Wii version. Even with the Switch version the game still holds up to this day which makes me wonder why Capcom decided to jump directly to 4 before tackling Code Veronica or Zero.
Now I must confess when I said RE4 was the only Resident Evil game I truly got into, that wasn’t entirely true, there was one other game and that was Revelations on the Wii U. In my personal opinion, this game was the closest the series ever got to the greatness of RE4, although that may be my bias speaking as the majority of the game was spent starring at Jill’s bum in that Zero Suit style westsuit. While the mainline series was trying to become as generic the quickest way possible, Revelations at least attempted to convey the old school feel with the ship just ramping up the claustrophobia.
Looking at the newly released trailer, I’m honestly drawing more comparisons to the RE4 that we never ended up getting, two years before its release in 2005, Shinji Mikami, the game’s director show a demo of the game at Nintendo’s E3 presentation, famously saying beforehand “Don’t pee your pants” this demo would see Leon exploring a haunted castle while being chased by an evil spirit brandishing hooks, this would earn it the name “The Hookman Version” and it clearly was all about the psychological horror. If this new RE4make is prioritizing horror over any of the other aspects of the original, you are basically stripping it of what made it the classic it’s fondly remembered as. But on the other hand, the Hookman version was ultimately scrapped because of hardware limitations, so could this remake be attempting to capture what RE4 was always meant to be?
It’s been years now since Shinji left Capcom and since then Leon lost all that made him unique in this game, the later titles and even the CGI movies like Degeneration turned him into just another gruff guy with a gun, basically another Chris. With the direction the series has been headed over the last several years, I don’t feel there is any place for RE4 to fit, of course this is all merely speculation based upon a 2 minute trailer so I could be talking completely out of my ass, but if there is no Bingo to be heard, I don’t feel like I’d want to play.
The founder and Editor in Chief of UnboxedTV. Nintendo lover and not afraid to admit it, can always go for a good Indie Metroidvania with a nice cold Cider.