Resident Evil 4 (Xbox Series X/S) Review

By Neil Flynn 17.03.2023

Review for Resident Evil 4 on Xbox Series X/S

Let's get one thing straight: this is not going to be a comparative review based on any preceding version of Resident Evil 4, but a bit of preamble is needed to set the context. CAPCOM certainly knows the power of Resident Evil 4, and it was the first entry into the series that hooked this reviewer into the franchise. That isn't to say that Resident Evil was unfamiliar, far from it. No matter the platform, the original Resident Evil games before Resident Evil 4 just didn't gel with this naïve youngster. The original Resident Evil 4 was something of a coup for Nintendo GameCube owners, but this time has since passed, and now, in an ironic twist of fate, Resident Evil 4 Remake isn't even launching on a Nintendo platform. Xbox gamers got their first taste back in 2011 and 2016 when Resident Evil 4 HD launched on the systems. Over the years, new content has been added, either as side stories or new control systems, but Resident Evil 4 Remake is a different beast altogether. Why? Read on to find out.

The journey to Resident Evil 4 Remake started when CAPCOM utilised their new RE: Engine for a remake of Resident Evil 2 which released in 2019. In subsequent years CAPCOM has utilised this engine to also remake Resident Evil 3 in 2020, and now Resident Evil 4 among other titles such as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Resident Evil Village. It could be argued that older Resident Evil games deserved this treatment first; after all Resident Evil: Zero, Resident Evil and Resident Evil: Code Veronica X are still using the traditional fixed camera tank controls. The thing is, no one is complaining, and that is because of Resident Evil 4 being lauded as one of the best games of all time. Graphically, story-wise, the innovative (at the time) use of QTEs, pacing and the abundance of weaponry, ammo and health pickups (compared to previous games) made it instantly rocket to the top of game of the year lists and best games of all time. The biggest change though is the adjustment to being a third person over the shoulder shooter. The success of Resident Evil 4 in 2005 certainly influenced a whole generation of games that are still trying to emulate this style to this day. Preamble almost over. The reason for a nostalgic overview is that this isn't like Resident Evil 4 HD but rather more like Final Fantasy VII: Remake in that the original framework is still there, but there are now subtle changes to puzzles, and the story does feature a twist or two that weren't in the original. Due to this reasoning, it is safe to disregard the previous versions of Resident Evil 4, as for the most part they have essentially been ports of the same 2005 game. From here on out there is no crutch to lean on, it's time to remove the rose-tinted glasses and look at this as a brand new entry into the Resident Evil franchise. Or at least we will try.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 4 on Xbox Series X/S

To ensure that there are no spoilers of any kind, there will be no explanation to the plot other than to expect that there are some changes and re-arrangements to events. Leon S. Kennedy, fresh from his events in Raccoon City, has been sent to a sleepy and creepy village in Europe (*cough* Spain *cough*). Leon is on a mission to retrieve the daughter of the U.S. president, Ashley, who has been kidnapped by a cult. With the assistance of the local policia, Leon goes to the suspected locale where crimes have been happening, but things go quickly awry and once again Leon needs to jump into action to solve the mystery of Ashley's disappearance and what has been happening in Spain, sorry, a European town. Ultimately, this is still Resident Evil 4, and there is a lot to be enjoyed, such as being able to revisit the plot and its set pieces, which are crazier and more awesome than before. Leon is equipped with a handgun and a knife to battle any oncoming threats, with other weaponry available throughout the adventure. However, with ammo relatively scant, Leon can't just shoot his way to victory. Utilising the knife, Leon can parry all sorts of attacks from enemies, including items thrown or shot at him, and melee strikes, too. To parry attacks a well-timed button press of LB can give Leon the upper hand by leaving the enemy fazed and allowing Leon to use a fatal melee strike of his own. Alternatively, Leon can use his knife to completely incapacitate enemies, but in doing so loses or damages the knife. There are ways to find more knives dotted around, but these are certainly a limited resource. Of course, like any other game in the horror genre, managing ammo, knife durability and overall health is paramount to completing the game. Leon can also move and shoot, rather than being rooted to ground, but to counterbalance this there is a lot more emphasis on movement, with enemies moving faster and also being far more resilient to being shot, either in the face, limbs or otherwise. The freedom of movement and ability to shoot removes the original Resident Evil 4's tension, but now opens up the game to a new combat mechanic. Combat is challenging in and of itself due to just being sheerly overwhelmed by enemies and Leon's seemingly weaker weaponry but does instil the same feelings of dread and fear.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 4 on Xbox Series X/S

As with previous Resident Evil games, the number of items that can be carried at once is limited. Resident Evil 4 uses an attaché case where weapons, ammo, health pickups and other weaponry are stored. However, the case has limited space to what can be carried, meaning that at times certain items either cannot be purchased in the in-game store, things might have to be left behind or other items must be sacrificed to make room. The attaché case can be upgraded to be a bigger size, but also to include in-game performance perks. Likewise, as the adventure progresses, there are bigger and heavier weaponry to gain, all of which can be upgraded. Upgrades include larger ammo clips, faster reload times and stronger firepower, although cash flow is in short supply. Enemies sometimes drop cash, but there are also valuable items hidden in destructible crates and treasures chests in the environment which can be sold for high prices. However, despite the increased firepower, enemies will still manage to overpower Leon, so sometimes the best tactic is to run and hide. Windows can be leapt through and some doors can be barricaded, but no longer can Leon push over ladders to stop enemies approaching him. Without going into too much detail, the boss battles are certainly epic and immersive, with fast reactions and timing needed to take them down, and of course having more advanced weapons certainly help in this regard. There are also sections where Leon will need to co-operate with other CPU controlled characters to complete objectives, such as keeping certain characters alive or traversing environments.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 4 on Xbox Series X/S

From the outset, Resident Evil 4's art style will divide many. During this review process the best description is that it comes off as a bit fuzzy. As with most games in the modern era, there is a toggle to either prioritise frame rate or resolution. On Series S it is really difficult to appreciate the significant graphical improvement when focusing on resolution, and the experience somewhat dips on frame rate, down to around 40fps (as expected) when on this mode. If the frame rate is prioritised then there is a seemingly smooth 60 fps throughout, but there are, at times odd lighting, reflections and ambient occlusion. Perhaps there is also the case that the Xbox Series S isn't necessarily the platform to demand higher resolution textures and stronger performance, but that hasn't stopped other developers from getting more out of the Series S. Nonetheless, it is certainly more than passable and fine to play, and still encapsulates the essence of what Resident Evil 4 is. Of course, it is a huge generational step up from the original Resident Evil 4, but compared to other next generation titles it doesn't feel as if it stacks up the way it should. Besides, a smooth buttery frame rate is preferred over slightly higher resolution graphics any day of the week and thankfully this rarely dips below 60fps.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 4 on Xbox Series X/S

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

It is difficult to not be blinded by nostalgia, especially when a game has been part of the ongoing zeitgeist of the franchise for nearly 20 years. Resident Evil 4 Remake is, by intention, an unfaithful love letter. The remake has changed certain story beats, altered movement, overhauled combat and revised the visuals. Those jumping in for the first time in 2023 may not understand the hype surrounding this particular entry in the series, but, remember that a lot of modern games owe their DNA to Resident Evil 4, even if they have perfected it since.

Developer

Capcom

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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