The latest slice of Resident Evil 4 remake footage shows Leon Kennedy storming the gates of Salazar's Castle with Ashley Graham in tow. In his bid to keep the US president's daughter safe, he shoots a zombified clergyman between the eyes through the lens of a sniper rifle. He floors another man with a form-perfect roundhouse kick. As the latter body hits the deck, Leon unloads a shotgun on the poor bastard at point-blank range before, moments later, he stuns another with a flash bang before slitting his throat with a combat knife.
In the throes of the frantic melee, burning projectiles rain down on the pair as they sprint from pillar to post, and suitably theatrical action film music rumbles along in the background. "No way! They have catapults?!" Ashley says, stating the absolute obvious. "I guess this is their idea of a warm welcome," Leon replies. It's twee, it's ham-fisted, and it's perfect – the Resident Evil 4 remake has reintroduced the cheesy B-movie charm missing from recent games, and it's glorious. And that's before our latest look at an overhauled Ramon Salazar, the giant claw-wielding Garrador, and a suplex technique that'd make Brock Lesnar proud.
As we march towards the Resident Evil 4 remake release date of March 24, I thought I'd already seen everything I needed to see. Like many players of the first game, the 2005 original holds a special place in my heart – and while I can't quite believe it's been 18 years since our first trip to that unnamed Spanish mountain village, when news of an official return dropped a couple of years ago, I was sold from the outset. Capcom's stellar work in reimagining Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 for modern hardware (in 2019 and 2020 respectively) has heaped a degree of pressure on the devs this time around, but the standards set there also act as a baseline moving forward.
We were given a glimpse of how a third-person, rural-set Resident Evil with fast-moving zombies might work with last year's Resident Evil Village: Shadow of Rose DLC, and from what we've seen so far, the RE4 remake is borrowing from some of the best quality of life features from the series' most recent outings – not least stealth kills and D-pad-activated weapon shortcuts. It all looks gorgeous too, of course, and the latest footage shows how certain memorable battles will play out slightly differently from their original counterparts. The brutal fight with the Garrador, for example, once kicked off inside a suite deep inside Salazar's Castle with fancy rugs and floor-standing candle holders – however this time unfolds in the bowels of cellar-meets-torture chamber-looking hole, whose concrete walls are smeared with with blood, and whose wooden beams are dressed with chains and shackles.
It's a subtle switch that helps contextualize the setting better than before. Sure, pretty much everything about this sprawling fortress tucked away in the Valdelobos mountain region of Spain is weird (not least the twisted castelan host himself) but it definitely makes more sense that this plaga-augmented Garrdor monstrosity would be tucked away from view, housed in a cellar jail and left to feast on the castle's most unfortunate prisoners. Salazar's visual overhaul – gray hair, pale face, varicose veins lurching up his neck and all – is another notable tweak that merges old with new; as is the fact that the Krausser knife fight scene will now unfold in real-time, no longer resigned to an awkward button-bashing QTE set-piece.
Peak of powers
One thing I'm pleased hasn't been tinkered with too much here, though, is the original Resident Evil 4's cheesiness. Not that Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil: Village are best known for their super-serious narratives, but the series has definitely made strides towards darker, more supernatural-leaning tales in recent times, the likes of Village's House Beneviento being a perfect example of this. The aforementioned quips when the world around Leon and Ashley is literally burning around them, on the other hand, are great – as is Leon opting to suplex his zombie foes, despite his advanced weapons training and readily available arsenal of high-caliber firearms. For me, these flashes of humor and levity only added to what made RE4 so special all those years ago.
For a number of reasons, it seems unlikely that 2009's Resident Evil 5 will be given the same remake treatment as its forerunners, which, coupled with how adored RE4 still is today almost 20 years on, gives the Resident Evil 4 remake a sort of end-of-the-line-type feeling. The Resident Evil 2 remake was a revelation. The Resident Evil 3 remake, while not as revolutionary, was an impressive modernization of its middling source material. There's scope of another full OG Resident Evil reimagining, and the same applies to Zero and Code Veronica, but, now on the cusp of Resident Evil 4's modern rework, this all feels like Capcom at the peak of its remaster powers – in all its cheesy, B-movie glory. Roll on March 24.
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