The newly released Resident Evil 4 remake is a major step up from the 2005 original. This is clear for a number of reasons, but one substantial factor is the way the remake improves upon the original without straying too far from its fundamental design. Want a perfect example of that? Look no infamous Water Hall section, which was notoriously challenging in the original. In fact, this area would often ruin speedruns and was a nuisance to get through in general, due to its many moving parts.
The Water Hall throws many of Resident Evil 4’s core gameplay mechanics at you in a condensed area. In it, you must defeat lots of enemies, solve puzzles, manage your resources, and protect your sidekick, Ashley, as she utilizes two different valves to proceed ahead. It throws various enemy types at you, from the shielded cult members to archers, and even enemies that transform into grotesque infected creatures. Not only that, but the narrow corridors make the Water Hall difficult to navigate, especially in the original.
It was easily one of the worst parts of the 2005 version, but that’s no longer a problem in 2023. The remake doesn’t just improve the frustrating section — it makes it significantly more fun.
The original Resident Evil 4 is naturally a bit more challenging than the new remake simply due to its controls. Without being able to move and shoot simultaneously, the 2005 game has a slew of tricky sections that involve dealing with large hordes of enemies. Likewise, simply aiming and shooting is slower and clunkier by default, making it much harder than in the remake. That alone made a frenetic action sequence like the Water Hall a pain to survive.
On top of that, the original version of the room had random enemy spawns, requiring you to make split-second choices to take them out as effectively as possible. The sheer number of enemies, the narrow halls, and the clunky controls create an annoying difficulty spike, even if you come prepared with grenades and a decked-out arsenal of guns. There are times when you might survive until the very end, only to get overrun by infected simply due to bad luck. It’s one thing for a section to be challenging, but the original oftentimes feels like you’re fighting with the controls and camera more so than with the enemies themselves.
It doesn’t stop there, though. The original Water Hall is actually far more complicated than the version in the remake. To proceed, you must go downstairs to stand on some pressure pads, which are found in a cramped room. It’s easy to get trapped inside, as numerous enemies can follow you and make it difficult to escape.
You must also protect Ashley during this section, who, in the original, has terrible AI, making it difficult to keep her safe. She would often get captured by enemies before you were able to react, which adds to the frustration. Later on in this section, you also have to send Ashley up to the second floor to turn two valves, which takes ages — all while enemies swarm around her.
It’s easy to see why this section is so frustrating, but thankfully, the remake completely flips this area on its head.
A full improvement
The 2023 version immediately feels better since players have full 360-degree control of the camera. Pretty much every area of the original is more difficult than in the remake simply due to improved camera and controls. This gives players much more agency and makes it more streamlined when taking shots at enemies or avoiding attacks.
The area itself is simplified in the remake too. Instead of entering a room on the bottom floor to complete the pressure plate puzzle, players simply have to grab a valve and use it to trigger a set of steps. This means Leon can quickly maneuver back upstairs without getting trapped below.
Beyond that, Ashley functions a lot better in the remake. In the 2023 version, you can actually command her to stick close or be far away, and she reacts to these commands almost immediately. This alleviates many of the pain points from the original, offering a more dynamic feel overall. Even if she does get captured, you can quickly aim and shoot at the enemy carrying her, giving you plenty of time to react.
When I first reached the Water Hall in the remake, my heart sank. I braced myself for what I expected to be a grueling challenge. But by the time I reached the end, I remember feeling relieved and almost sad it was over because it was such a blast to get through. The new version makes Leon feel like a superhero, as he’s able to do a previously annoying juggling act with much more fluidity. It’s a small improvement, but one that speaks to just how different even one room can feel in the remake.
Resident Evil 4 is out now on PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.
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