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After seeing Resident Evil 4 remake in action, I’m eating my words

Despite loving Capcom’s recent string of Resident Evil games, I’ve long been skeptical of the idea of a Resident Evil 4 remake. I’ve written about my hesitation previously, but my worry has always been that the current gameplay template seen in games like Resident Evil 2 and 7 support survival horror more than fast-paced action. My worry has always been that Resident Evil 4 needed its own careful treatment so as to avoid some of the issues that 2020’s Resident Evil 3 remake had when trying to recreate its intense chase sequences.

After seeing 17 minutes of Resident Evil 4 gameplay, I’m eating those words. The upcoming remake certainly seems to be getting the job done ahead of its impending March 24 release.

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The footage I saw showcased several portions of the game, including some nighttime woods trekking, an intense battle on top of the classic caste, and a bit of a Garrador battle. Each portion showcased a different strength of the remake, highlighting its visual upgrades and smooth action when actually in the regular flow of battle.

On the visual side, I’m impressed with what I’m seeing so far — and that part comes as no surprise. Recent releases like Resident Evil Village are some of the best-looking games around, with incredibly detailed visuals that make its gross-out art design sing. That’s doing wonders for Resident Evil 4 from what I’ve seen. Blacker blacks dial up the fear factor in some of its night set pieces. One clip shows Leon S. Kennedy creeping through the woods with his flashlight cutting through the pitch blackness. While the original Resident Evil 4 somewhat strayed away from pure survival horror, that sequence has me interested to see how much of the series’ roots Capcom has weaved back in thanks to modern tech.

My biggest takeaway from the footage I saw, though, is just how fast combat is feeling compared to recent Resident Evil games. In the castle set piece, I saw Leon blasting through cultists with speed and precision. In one scene, he swaps over to a sniper, scopes, and fires an explosive red barrel in an instant before returning to close-up gunplay. Another sequence sees him wiping out a whole bunch of creeps inside the church, seamlessly chaining gunshots into physical wrestling moves. The pace of battle feels much quicker than Resident Evil Village — it almost reminds me of Resident Evil 6, in a good way.

The Garrador stands tall in the Resident Evil 4 remake.

Based on what I’ve seen, I’m feeling a lot less skeptical heading into release. It’s hard to get a sense of how a game flows from heavily edited trailers, but longer gameplay clips usually tell a different story. From where I’m standing, that story seems to be that Capcom made the right changes to fit the game here. It doesn’t have the slower puzzle-horror of Resident Evil 2 and it’s better committing to full-on action than Resident Evil 3. If that remains true in the full release, we should be looking at a faithful remake that does one of the best video games of all time justice.

Resident Evil 4 launches on March 24 for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

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