It's hard to believe, but Resident Evil 4 is 15 years old now. To give you an idea of how long it's been, consider that 15 years before Resident Evil 4 was 1990—a year in which Mega Man 3 and Crystalis were still brand new. In short: it's been a minute since Resident Evil 4 first burst onto the scene.
Despite that, news of a potential Resident Evil 4 Remake has led to a decent portion of the community pushing back and saying, "Actually, Resident Evil 4 doesn't need a remake. It still looks amazing even now." These are the diehards; the fans who still swear by the Wii version and its motion controls (which are admittedly very good). To this crowd, Resident Evil 4 sparkles today as much as it did in the mid-to-late 2000s. That's to say nothing of the desire to see a remake of Resident Evil - Code: Veronica, a much more dated entry that nevertheless retains a special place in the heart of the fandom.
I definitely sympathize with them in some ways. Watching old gameplay clips, I'm especially struck by sequences like the village, which remains one of the great horror sequences ever. Watching those videos brings me back to when Resident Evil 4 was one of the most incredible looking games ever made; when it stood head and shoulders above basically anything else that had come out that generation.
On the other hand, I played Resident Evil 4 again not too long ago, and let me tell you, it was rough. It's definitely aged more than you think.
Its Graphics are More Dated Than You Remember
Let's face it, even the best-looking games of the PS2 era look pretty long in the tooth these days. Resident Evil 4's character models still look decent, but their extremely smooth, almost plastic skin gives them an action figure-like quality that's typical of that era. The environments are likewise awash in muddy textures, particularly when you're outdoors.
By contrast, Resident Evil 2 and 3's remakes feature some of the best graphics of the generation, with improved lighting, textures, and animation adding a new layer of horror to classic monsters. Frankly, I almost don't want to see the reimagined versions of creatures like the Plaga Queen. They might be too gross for me.
RE Engine, which is driving Capcom's modern Resident Evil games as well as Devil May Cry 5, has repeatedly proven its power and flexibility. Its in-game models are so detailed as to be basically indistinguishable from rendered cutscenes. The potential graphical upgrades alone are enough to make me interested in Resident Evil 4 Remake.
The original looks good enough based on the standards of the time, but there's plenty of room for improvement, and it would go a long way toward enticing a new generation to play the best horror game of its era. (Yes, Resident Evil 4 is a horror game.)
So Is the Combat
The possibility of a Resident Evil 4 remake has already spawned a good deal of debate over whether or not it should stay faithful to the notion of Leon having to stand still while shooting. Some argue that it's archaic; others argue that it creates a high-tension experience in which you are forced to stand and face large groups of enemies. Count me in the former group.
Putting aside that Leon can move and shoot in Resident Evil 2's remake and that it would be weird for him to suddenly lose that ability, changing up the mechanics would be a good opportunity to rethink the original game's encounter design. After all, there's no reason that fighting large crowds of enemies couldn't still be scary in such circumstances. I expect it would mostly be a matter of rebalancing elements like the lunge range, repositioning certain foes, and rethinking the environments.
The controls themselves could also use some additional refinement. The original control layout was weird by today's standards, with the right shoulder button being used to ready Leon's weapon, and A being used to shoot. They're much-improved in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One HD releases thankfully, but a remake would be a good opportunity to further rethink how Leon moves and interacts with the world. If nothing else, it would be nice if Capcom would cut back on some of the original's quicktime events. After all, Resident Evil 3's Quick Decision Events were cut from the remake, and it was definitely better for it (even if the rest of the game didn't live up to the standards set by 2019's Resident Evil 2).
Maybe They'll Cut the Bad Puzzles
Last but not least: the puzzles. Resident Evil 4's puzzles are pretty bad; like, 7th Guest bad. I'm not saying that mindlessly pulling switches is any better (glares at Final Fantasy 7 Remake), but there has to be a better way for Resident Evil 4 to tackle puzzles than to have Ashley shift around tile pieces to form a symbol. If Resident Evil 4 Remake were to cut the sliding tile puzzles, and rework Ashley's sequences in general, it would be at least 25 percent better than the original.
If there's anything to take away from Video Games Chronicle's Resident Evil 4 Remake report, it's that fans still have a a lot of love for the original. It remains one of the most influential action-horror games ever made, single-handedly dragging Resident Evil into the modern era while creating a new template for the third-person action genre. It's also still damn scary.
Great as Resident Evil 4 is, though, it's definitely been surpassed by the remake of Resident Evil 2 Remake. With that in mind, it's more than time for Capcom to take a fresh look at Resident Evil 4 with new technology, especially with the Resident Evil renaissance in full swing. Besides, the sooner Capcom gets Resident Evil 4 Remake out of the way, the sooner it can get to making Code: Veronica good.