RE4 vs RE4: A gameplay comparison and retrospective

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The RE4 Remake has been out for about two weeks as I write this. I’ve had the time to play it through three times—twice on Standard and once on Professional with the Infinite Rocket Launcher in order to unlock some goodies (on the other side, I played the original RE4 around a half-dozen times near its release in 2005, and about once every one or two years ever since).

And so now seems like a good time to do a debrief/comparison of the original 2005 RE4 (hereafter “the OG”) and the new 2023 RE4 (hereafter “the Remake”).

This blog seems almost impossible to organize well, given that there are not only a bunch of individual elements I want to discuss, but that those elements interact in such important ways: I might like the design of an individual gameplay element on its own, but dislike how it affects the combined gameplay loop, or vice-versa. C’est la vie.

But because it will probably be easiest to digest, I’ve opted to go mostly with a simple listing of elements (with ensuing discussion for each) divided into categories: things I liked better in the Remake, things I liked better in the OG, and other “neutral” significant changes which I’m either ambivalent about, or whose implications are too multi-faceted for me to easily sort into simple “good” or “bad” buckets. After getting through all the individual changes, I’ll end with some concluding thoughts.

I’ll be going into excruciating detail about the mechanics, but this should be pretty light on spoilers. I’m not really interested in the story, graphics, specific encounters, etc., as I am in the general gameplay.

Improvements in the Remake

Weapon balance

Weapons need not always be well-balanced in a single-player game—there is a certain charm in progressing to clearly superior weapons partway through. That said, and especially given the sell-back economy of the original (see next section), in this instance I prefer having weapon options that offer genuinely different playstyles, as opposed to the OG’s clearly defined “winners” in each category.

In the OG, if you ended up with anything besides the Red9, the Striker, and the Semi-Auto Rifle—and the Broken Butterfly over the Killer7, if you bothered using a magnum—you were definitely an outlier. The biggest “real” choice was probably whether to opt in to the TMP or ignore it completely; ignoring it would save on upgrade costs and free up attaché case space.

In the Remake, there are interesting trade-offs to be had in pretty much every weapon category.

A lot of this has been achieved through a more complex system of aiming your weapons. The OG employed a laser sight for all guns except the rifles, with precision varying only in the amount that Leon’s hands shook. In the Remake, your aiming reticle dynamically changes depending on whether Leon is moving, and whether he’s actively shifting his aim. Standing still long enough, and aiming at the same place long enough, will lead to more precise shots.

So, for the pistols, the Red9 and Blacktail have so far still tended to be considered the best, ending at power ratings of 4.05 and 3.6, respectively—but even then, the Blacktail maintains better aim while moving and takes up less inventory space, while (with its stock) the Red9’s aim will recover more quickly when standing still and has a slight edge in power. Meanwhile, though, three of the other pistol options only have about half the power of these two, but can be fitted with a laser sight in the style of the OG that makes them perfectly accurate—a not inconsiderable advantage. The Punisher can also penetrate multiple enemies, while the default pistol and the Sentinel Nine get better crit chance.

Shotguns have arguably been even further differentiated than pistols by their precision rating. The early favorite shotgun in the Remake appears to be the Riot Gun, which has almost no spread and hence excels at targeting specific elite enemies, but is useless at knocking down groups. The Striker still offers the widest spread and hence the best ability for crowd control—along with its ridiculously huge drum magazine (48 shells) to save inventory space, since it obviates the need to actually carry any extra shells around—while the Skull Shaker has a tiny inventory footprint of only five spaces (compared to the Striker’s ten and the Riot Gun’s sixteen).

A comparison of the spread difference between the Riot Gun (left) and Striker (right)
A comparison of the spread difference between the Riot Gun (left) and Striker (right)

It should also be noted that the Remake allows for full upgrading of weapons much earlier than the OG ever did, including the “exclusive” upgrades, which further adds to the viability of certain weapons for fresh runs. E.g., in the OG the (bolt-action) Rifle’s exclusive upgrade changed its power from 12 to 30, easily eclipsing the Semi-Auto Rifle’s 15. But since this could only be done very late in the game, the Rifle ended up being a clearly inferior option.

Sell-back economy

In the Remake, any upgrades you make to a weapon (barring the exclusive upgrade) increase its sale price to the merchant by 95% of the upgrade cost. In the OG, upgrades only increased the sell price of guns by 50% of their cost. In short, the merchant was a lot stingier in the OG.

I never much liked this aspect of the OG. Among other things, in a typical play I wouldn’t buy the Rifle at all and would instead wait until the Semi-Auto Rifle was available, and (most egregiously) would not upgrade my shotgun until I was able to buy the Striker, just before fighting Verdugo—all because I didn’t want to burn money on upgrades for guns that I knew I wasn’t keeping.

It’s undeniably nice in the Remake to not have to worry that you’re flushing money down the toilet by upgrading your weapons of the moment.

Plagas differentiation

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Both games share three plagas types: Guadaña (bladed tentacles), Mandíbula (big mouth), and Araña (spiders, undoubtedly inspired by the Alien films).

In the OG, they simply weren’t all that different. The tentacle types swung at you, the latter two types could both spit acid, and the spiders would detach upon the host’s death to continue attacking you—though these spiders by themselves simply weren’t all that threatening.

In the Remake, the differences are way more noticeable. The tentacle types are pretty much the same, and the mouth type still spits acid—but you also need to aim for its open mouth for it to be considered a weak point. Most notably, the spider types have been completely re-designed. Now instead of randomly bursting from ganados’ heads, they attach themselves to ganados’ backs, turning them ultra-aggressive and more resistant to stuns—and you’re incentivized to kill them quickly lest they keep chaining to a new host every time you down one. I appreciate the new dynamic, since the OG’s plagas types never felt different enough to justify their existence.

NG+

It's more or less indisputable that the OG never had a NG+ that was worth a damn. Carrying forward your upgraded weapons always sounded like a good time theoretically, but in practice enemy health had been balanced to account for your upgraded damage output throughout the game, so that going through the game again led to laughably easy encounters, including killing village ganados with a single Red9 bullet. Capcom apparently never thought of adjusting early-game enemy health in NG+ to account for the player’s newly overpowered equipment, and it led to new cycles being mostly a bore. (Frankly, I’m surprised that no one has ever created a mod that addresses this problem.)

The Remake still doesn’t adjust early-game enemy health to account for more powerful guns, but on the other hand, (1) fully upgraded weapons don’t feel as powerful in the Remake as they did in the OG, and (2) new cycles can be started on a higher difficulty setting, which is something that the original didn’t allow. So a player can start on Standard and then move to either Hardcore or Professional with all their equipment and items, allowing for a more appropriately balanced experience on a second cycle.

There are also enough weapons to buy and upgrade that completionist players will have a reason to play through the game multiple times, just to earn enough money to max them all. Worth noting that this is likewise only possible because the Remake allows the storing of unused weapons, whereas the original had no “item box” to keep unused equipment.

Ashley no longer needs healing

One could argue that Ashley having a health bar that needed to be replenished added to the stakes and tension, but the reality is that it was never fun to have to spend healing items on her—and particularly those yellow herbs. I'm good with health-bar-less Ashley.

No more disappearing drops

In the OG, any money, ammo, or health that was dropped by enemies would only remain on the ground for about a minute, at which point it would start flashing and soon disappear. In the Remake, all items dropped by enemies remain indefinitely, and even get added to your map. It's a nice quality-of-life feature—I really don't miss dropped items disappearing.

Things the OG did better

Consistency of staggers

If the Remake has a cardinal sin, to me it is undoubtedly its inconsistency when it comes to staggering enemies with headshots or foot/leg shots.

In the OG, a shot to the head or shin of a ganado would always put them in a melee-able state. In the Remake, a shot to the head will sometimes produce no noticeable reaction. Defenders of the Remake might argue that this randomness adds more challenge and realism, but these are not arguments that go very far with me. If I wanted realism in my games, my avatars would need to periodically use the restroom! In this instance I want consistency, so that I know that when I perform an action, I get a predictable result.

This stings all the more considering how core the headshot --> melee --> knife-them-while-they’re-down combo was in the OG... and still is in the Remake, for the most part, though the knife’s role in this loop has changed. But it definitely feels terrible when you just barely manage to get a headshot to a ganado just before he’s about to hit you... and then he powers through it and hits you anyway. Nothing about that feels good.

Leon’s movement/reload animations

The OG definitely didn’t have “realistic” movement. Leon could either walk or run, but either way there wasn’t any appreciable animation start-up time; he was either moving full-speed or he wasn’t. As such, it felt quite “snappy.” The Remake’s movement, by comparison, feels sluggish. It takes Leon quite a while to accelerate into a run, and the run button can feel unresponsive. @cikame compared this to Geralt’s movement from Witcher 3, and while I would contend that it ain’t quite that bad, the comparison is apt: specifically, the devs for the remake have abandoned movement that looks stiff but feels good for movement that looks good but feels unresponsive.

This is particularly noticeable given the continued importance of staggering ganados to set them up for melee attacks, because you want to quickly run forward to close the gap and do the kick animation. Further, this sluggishness and the aforementioned inconsistency with staggers end up feeding into each other: the slower movement leads you to want to accelerate toward your enemy as soon as a shot lands, which can lead to you beginning to run before being sure that your target is actually staggered, and contrary-wise, stopping to check whether an enemy is really staggered can lose you the extra second you need to successfully close the gap.

Similar to the lack of responsiveness of the run is a lack of responsiveness in reload animations. In the OG, Leon always had his equipped weapon held up and ready. In the Remake, he’ll sometimes put his weapons away, and/or randomly pull out his equipped weapon and seem to check it. The thing is, if you hit the reload button when a weapon is away, or when Leon is in one of his “checking” animations, it will often seem to lead to him just fully readying the gun without actually reloading it, meaning I find myself jamming on the reload button until it actually reloads, rather than just tapping it once. By comparison with the movement, this feels like a minor problem, but it’s more responsiveness lost to added cosmetic animations.

Ashley’s commands

In the OG, you could either tell Ashley to “follow,” or “wait,” both of which were pretty self-explanatory: she was either following very close behind you, or she remained exactly in the spot you left her.

In the Remake, there are still two commands for Ashley, but both of them have her following you. They’re “Tight” and “Loose.” In theory, “loose” seems to be the one that will keep Ashley further back behind you, away from danger. In practice, it seems to just make her movement more unpredictable, as she will still often end up near or in front of you, especially if you begin moving backwards. Overall, it feels like you have much less control of Ashley than you did in the OG. Couldn’t they have added “wait” as a third command, by, say, holding the “command” button?

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Defenders of the Remake will want to point out that Ashley also doesn’t need healing items anymore (noted above), which is true enough. But I would argue that if she was as good a follower with the better control of the OG, such a concession wouldn’t have been necessary. For all that everyone and their mother professes to hate escort missions in games, Ashley in the OG always felt like one of the least burdensome followers in the history of video games. The new one feels like she gets into more trouble that’s beyond your control because you can no longer place her exactly where you want her, and because even in "tight" formation, she can end up lagging behind you more than she ever would in the OG.

Weapon role differentiation

This one is pretty subjective (I mean, most of this blog is, but this part especially so), but for me the OG’s weapon categories had very defined roles, which I liked, because I always knew which weapon I should be using for any given situation. In the Remake, however, there are some weapons that have been tweaked in functionality so that I’m not sure what they’re really for anymore, and/or I simply dislike the adjustment that’s been made. Admittedly some of this is counterbalanced by the fact that the Remake includes additional weapons with some special properties that offer alternative playstyles (see "Weapon balance," above), but not completely.

To quickly recap the OG: (1) Handguns were for headshots to set up melee staggers, (2) shotguns were for knocking down groups, (3) rifles were for long-range damage, (4) magnums were for pure DPS (usually for bosses), and (5) the TMP was the “designated” jack-of-all-trades gun, able to fill all these roles to a degree, but arguably unable to do any of them as well as its counterparts.

(There was also the Mine Thrower, but did anyone really use the Mine Thrower?)

I have two main beefs with the Remake: shotguns and rifles. But especially the shotguns.

I already mentioned above that the early fan favorite shotgun seems to be the Riot Gun, which effectively highlights the shotgun’s identity crisis, since it used to be all about knocking down groups, and here’s a shotgun with basically no spread, meant to pour damage into a single enemy. It basically ends up being a poor man’s magnum.

But I can’t really blame the community for preferring the Riot Gun this time around, since shotguns in the Remake have lost an important property from the OG: they used to shoot right through enemies and easily knock down whole groups. Now, even using the shotgun with the widest spread—the Striker—you’ll at best only knock down enemies directly in its line of site; if there are enemies behind the ones you’re shooting, even if they’re closely bunched, they won’t be affected. Add to this that there are more elites this time around who won’t be knocked down by a shotgun blast, like the chainsaw maniac (Dr. Salvador). All this means that using the wider-spread shotguns feels like a fool’s errand since they can’t even CC properly; better to just pour on the damage in a specific area, and hence the popularity of the Riot Gun.

In the OG, every shotgun shell represented a powerful ability to clear the space in front of you and give you some breathing room. In this game, if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’re going to need explosives, usually grenades. The shotgun seems to have lost most of its raison d'être and is now reserved for simply pouring damage into elites or popping close-range plagas heads.

Meanwhile, the rifles. In the Remake they do 3x damage on critical areas—or, more accurately, they do one-third of the damage they should do in non-critical areas—and so for all but the exclusive-upgraded bolt-action rifle, a shot to a non-critical area of an enemy will only do about as much damage as a Red9 bullet. So essentially you need to be hitting headshots with rifles, or you’re wasting your ammo.

While this is an effort at making the rifles’ role more defined... I’m just not a big fan of how they did it. The enemies are so much faster to rush you in this game anyway that the rifles become difficult to use except at quite long ranges, so I don’t think it would have hurt anything to allow them to do better damage everywhere, regardless of whether you land a head-shot or not. I also just don’t like the weird arbitrariness of it, or that critical areas aren’t always well-communicated (Mendez comes to mind, as do the mouth-type plagas), which can lead to you unknowingly wasting ammo.

The one bit of weapon role differentiation I like in the Remake is the already-mentioned changes in aiming/accuracy (see above under “Weapon balance”). E.g., in the original the TMP could be as accurate for headshots as the pistol, but now the spread is crap enough that it’s found its niche as a mid-range body-shot gun, rather than just an automatic-firing pistol replacement with lower damage and a bigger clip.

Toss-up changes

Difficulty options

The OG famously featured a dynamically adjusting difficulty for both Easy and Normal modes, which shouldn’t be underestimated when talking about its mainstream success. This dynamic difficulty seems to have been tuned just right, so that basically everyone playing it felt like it was the right amount of difficulty for them. Meanwhile, playing on Professional difficulty essentially just turned all the dials from Normal up to their peak levels, keeping the challenge static no matter how well or poorly a player was performing.

The Remake, by contrast, appears to have jettisoned the whole dynamic difficulty mechanic. Instead, it has settled for four static difficulty settings, and on balance they’re harder than the OG was.

I would hold that new players benefit hugely from the OG’s perfectly tuned invisible dynamic settings for a first play; it was part of the OG’s magic. But for someone like me who has played the OG somewhere between a dozen and two dozen times—and always played on Professional when available—that dynamic difficulty is a lot less interesting for repeat plays.

Shooting Range expansion/Charm system

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The shooting range in the OG was kind of a throw-away thing. It was quite easy to get the maximum scores needed for the rewards—which were some cosmetic “bottle caps” and cash. In the Remake, the shooting range is more elaborate and is your primary source of gold and silver tokens, which can be used to acquire charms—which grant various positive effects when attached to your attache case (you can have up to three equipped at once, and they can only be switched out at typewriters). Anyway, the shooting range was fine to do once, but I don’t love the need to keep repeating it on subsequent plays; it ain’t that fun.

I have decidedly mixed feelings about charms, both in how you get them and how they function.

Let’s start with acquisition. You acquire charms by putting three tokens into what resembles a gumball machine in the shooting gallery. It spits out a random charm, one of about thirty in the game. But when I say “random,” I mean “based on a seed number,” which I kind of hate. Those who have been playing Monster Hunter since Tri and know what “charm tables” are in that game know what I’m talking about, and that Capcom for some reason loves pulling this crap.

Basically, you get to choose any combination of three gold or silver tokens to put in the machine, meaning there are exactly four combinations: all silver, all gold, one silver-two gold, or two-silver one-gold. Together these constitute four separate “tracks” predetermined by a seed number that’s generated when you start your run. It means that if you put in three gold tokens five times in a row and get charms A, B, C, D, E, then reloading the game and trying again will always give you the exact same results... at least until you switch difficulties and get a new seed. As a result, I’ve played through the game through three cycles on one file, and I still haven’t acquired all charms, even after saving, reloading, and checking the results of all four “tracks” (I have a spreadsheet with the results on it!). Nor is there any way to guarantee yourself an important one on a fresh file.

It would have been nice—if Capcom is going to be so insistent about employing this type of randomness in their games—if they had also created a system that allowed you to trade duplicate charms for others that you don’t already have. That would have at least guaranteed that you could be working toward something worthwhile, rather than be stuck with a crappy seed that’s not giving you anything you want. God forbid you’re not doing what I’m doing and gaming the system as much as possible, or you’d really never get anything good.

Beyond acquisition, actually using some of the charms feels needlessly fiddly, for a number of reasons.

The chief one is that a majority of charms are used either to craft greater amounts of ammo or grant you cheaper prices at the merchant (or better sale prices to the merchant). Frankly, I don’t see why they make you go through the rigamarole of equipping and unequipping these things at all. The merchant by definition is always next to a typewriter, and so you always have the ability to switch charms out before interacting with him. So why do I need to actually switch my charm to the one that makes ammo sell for 40% more? Can’t he just see that I have it? This type of switching has more than once led me to accidentally heading off and not realizing until later that I had forgotten to switch my active charms back on (like increased movement speed, higher melee crit chance, 50% more healing from green herbs).

I also wish that all the ammo crafting charms simply gave you small, guaranteed increases to crafted ammo, rather than being a percentage-based chance to give you good-sized amount. The latter, rather than make me grateful when I get the bonus, just leaves me feeling screwed when I don’t. It can also be gamed by simply saving before you do it, and reloading until you get the result you want. Rather than that, why not change these things to a smaller, set increase?

Knife durability

I wrote a whole blog pre-release about how much I objected to knife durability on principle, given how core the knife was to the OG’s high-level combat loop. After playing the Remake a fair bit, all of the knife changes are too complex to write off as simply bad; it’s just very different. You can parry with it, you can instant finish with it, you can stealth kill, you can craft bolts with disposable knives, none of which were things in the OG.

I mentioned above, in the section "Consistency of staggers," that the knife's role in the combat loop has fundamentally changed. In the OG, it was headshot --> melee --> slash-at-them-while-they’re-down... that last step being a thing largely because the knife wasn't a finite resource like your guns' ammo. It didn't cost anything, and RE4 is nothing if not a game about trying to conserve your ammunition.

But in the Remake, there's no longer any "free lunch" to be had: using the knife costs durability that will need to be repaired. In general, it seems like that durability is best spent on doing instant kill animations—stealth kills or stopping plagas heads from popping when a ganado starts writhing on the ground—or parrying/escaping from grabs. Randomly slashing with it is pretty much the least useful thing your knife does in the Remake. And the knife's changed function(s) has implications all the way up and down the combat loop. In truth, ganados are so much faster and more aggressive in this game that even with an infinite durability knife, it's hard to do follow-up slashes on downed opponents in the same way as the OG without getting constantly grabbed by other enemies rushing toward you.

Anyway, it would be fair to say that I still find knives as a disposable resource kind of annoying, and the idea of carrying around three different kitchen knives a little ridiculous. I also mostly avoided using my primary knife on my first play because I objected to the idea of spending money to repair it—probably more of a “me” problem there, but that’s how I felt, I wanted the maximum amount of money going toward upgrades. Now that I have the infinite-durability knife available, I’ve more or less opted out of the mechanic, and don’t feel the least bit bad about it.

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I do wish that the instant-finishers when a ganado is writhing on the ground, about to pop a plagas head, were a little more generous with the area of the prompt. If you’re not standing in the right place and looking at them at the right angle, you’ll end up just swiping down at them. I’ve missed a lot of finishers over my three plays due to that—it can be harder to manage than you’d think with the aforementioned sluggish movement and overall faster and more aggressive enemies surrounding you.

Parrying

Parrying is of course entirely new, and very powerful. Arguably it was needed as a way to balance a game that’s faster-paced in general and that has otherwise decreased Leon’s ability to manage groups (see the discussion of the shotgun above, under "Weapon role differentiation"). It’s not a cure-all, since some attacks need to be dodged rather than countered, and it does use some durability. But it’s rather easy to do on all difficulty settings except the highest, which has much tighter parry timing (I never really got that timing down, but admittedly I didn’t get much practice since I was running through it with the Infinite Rocket Launcher). I guess I don’t mind it as a new way to fend off enemies, and to add depth and a new skill dimension to the gameplay... but I’d trade it away in a second if I could have the OG’s shotguns back.

Ammo crafting

I’d said in an earlier thread that I liked the idea of ammo crafting in principle. In practice, I’m a little more middling about it. I don’t love that it takes two elements—resources and gunpowder—and that you almost by definition will always have more of one than you have of the other. Further, these crafting elements together take up more space than the ammo they produce, which if you’re hoarding them becomes awkward... a thing you might want to do particularly if you’re looking to first get charms to take better advantage of the system. So, yeah, more flexible, sure, but there’s a part of me that wishes they’d just stuck to plain ammo drops just to make it all less fiddly.

Stealth

So, uh, there’s stealth in the Remake. I suppose. In reality there are only two or three sections in the whole game where stealth seems to matter much, since without it you get alarms and a bigger crowd scene than you’d have otherwise. But RE4 was always an action game primarily, and I can’t say that the stealth actually feels that good, particularly since Leon’s crouch walk feels very slow. It’s pretty half-assed and I’d really rather just shoot things anyway. At least I can mostly ignore it.

Ganados vs other/elite balance

It’s pretty undeniable that the Remake’s ganados—which are most of the enemies you fight—are much more difficult and capable opponents than they ever were in the OG. They’re faster, more aggressive, and move more unpredictably. It’s way easier for them to overwhelm you, not to mention that it’s also way easier to miss those all-important headshots as they barrel towards you.

What surprised me a little bit about the Remake is that a lot of the non-ganado enemies actually seemed easier than they were in the OG. The dogs, for instance, can now be handled by a few shots with Red9 or Blacktail bullets (at least until they pop a plagas), and the same for the flying insects, whereas before pistol bullets wouldn’t even faze either one, and you’d usually want a shotgun. The main exception as far as elites being generally easier—or at least not much harder—is the regeneradors (see below).

But it’s worth noting that—largely due to the difficulty of the ganados, your most frequent opponents—the Remake is simply harder than the OG, even on Standard difficulty. And while I’m generally a fan of hard games—the Souls and Monster Hunter games are some of my all-time favorites—harder isn’t always better. The line between a game being engagingly challenging versus feeling like a bit of a slog can be a thin one, and there was a definite appeal to the OG's slower, more predictable ganados.

Regeneradors

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Boy are these things harder now. The main thing about them in the OG was that they never came at you any more quickly than a slow walk. Now they can run about as fast as Leon can, and sometimes will slide to the ground and slither toward you, making their parasites almost impossible to hit. I mean, they’re definitely way more terrifying, but arguably just annoyingly so, especially since the hitboxes on those parasites feel even less generous than before on top of the increased movement speed of their hosts.

Requests

The Remake has added a whole “request” system to earn spinels, which are now a currency used to trade for some things that can’t be bought with money. I don’t mind it as a concept, but in execution it leaves something to be desired. The (three?) “strong threat” missions are interesting challenges against tough opponents, but the others all consist of killing rats, or shooting medallions, or selling collectibles, which all feel like useless videogame busywork.

Concluding thoughts

Oh, wow, you’re still here. Good on you for reading about 5,000 words of excruciatingly specific RE4 gameplay analysis. Hopefully you actually got something worthwhile out of it, even if only to help clarify your own opinions.

A lot of the discourse surrounding the game leading up to the release concerned whether a remake was really necessary. Spoiler: it wasn’t. It’s undeniable that not only was this Remake much less of a departure from the original than the other RE remakes have been, but that the OG RE4 remains a compelling game experience even eighteen years later, as evidenced by its re-release on practically every platform in existence, even recently in VR! It didn’t need a remake. But Capcom was pretty sure that it would make a lot of money, and it sure seems to be doing that.

I can’t say that I’m hugely surprised to see what appears to be a majority of people saying that the Remake is superior to the original, or even that there’s now no reason to play the OG aside from “historical value.” I very much disagree, but I’m not surprised. For those who have enough distance from the original, or who dip into it for only a few minutes for quick comparison purposes and notice the tank controls and clearly inferior technical graphics, etc., the OG might seem fairly easy to write off. The truth is that the Remake and the OG are very different experiences, despite all the surface-level similarities—which is hopefully something that’s come across in this blog. That difference is a good thing, since we really didn’t need a carbon copy of the OG RE4... we’ve already got the fan HD remaster for that.

But the question that keeps coming to my mind in thinking about these two games is this: the original RE4 was released eighteen years ago, and I—and a fair number of other RE4 devotees—am still playing it today (hell, I played it through yet again in preparation for the Remake just a month or so ago). Will the Remake still be played to any appreciable degree in eighteen years?

In a sense, this is a ridiculously unfair question for the Remake, because while I have difficulty imagining that it will still be receiving any appreciable attention two decades from now in the same way that the OG has, this actually has little to do with the Remake’s merits. The problem is that the OG had a huge impact and influence on the gaming world, spawning such third-person action games as Gears of War and Dead Space, and influencing countless others.

By comparison, the Remake does nothing drastically new, and it was never supposed to. It’s a very polished big-budget video game that has reviewed and sold very well, and will probably also do well come this year’s awards season... and then I suspect we shall all move on to the next thing, because ultimately this is another one of those. We’ve seen this before, and not just because it’s a remake, but because it exists in the wake of eighteen years of the original’s influence... not to mention that Capcom is likely to continue to make more like it.

All of this means that the OG will almost certainly end up being more enduring, and it’s self-evidently more “important” in the history of video games than the Remake will ever be... but that doesn’t actually help us decide which one is a more compelling gameplay experience.

Does it?

Maybe I just have Stockholm syndrome. There are rose-tinted glasses, and then there are rose-tinted glasses. There are the kind that you peer through to a fond experience from eighteen years ago, and they make the heart grow fonder, or at least dull the memory of the imperfections. And then there are the kind that you peer through to an experience that you’ve never stopped having, so that you know every peak and valley like the back of your hand, until they’ve all become old and dear friends.

I am wearing the latter pair of glasses. They’re fused to my face and I can’t take them off. I’ve never really stopped playing RE4 since it first came out, and as a result, it’s impossible for me to be all that objective about it—though true objectivity when it comes to the experience of an entertainment product is, of course, sheer illusion. Nonetheless, the fact that RE4 is one of only three games to which I continue to return with some frequency after two decades says something.

I continue to believe, fully cognizant of my bias, that the original has a magic that the Remake didn’t quite manage to replicate, great as it may be in itself. Part of that is the context, as described above, but not all. The original was a once-in-a-generation type of game whose gameplay was almost unfathomably well-tuned, some of the pieces imperfect on their own, but combining to create a near-perfect whole. Given its troubled development history, and that even Shinji Mikami hasn't been able to replicate it since, I chalk a lot of that up to a very happy accident.

The thing I will always remember about first playing RE4 is that I bought it at release despite not even owning a Gamecube. I was in college at the time and living in the dorms. I knew a guy who had a Gamecube and would be gone for the weekend. And so that first day, I sat down to play, with a few other guys just sitting there watching. I ended up playing for eleven straight hours without stopping to eat... and my audience seemed almost as enraptured as I was. At the time, there truly was nothing else like it. It was the video game equivalent of seeing God.

I’ve only had a handful of experiences with games that were that intense, and in every instance I can think of, it was an experience of something genuinely new that inspired genuine awe—like the first time my cousin showed my brother and I his new Playstation, or the first time I played Demon’s Souls. In that sense, I knew right from the word “go” that the RE4 Remake could never give me that same feeling that the original gave me, and that I still see echoes of through those rose-tinted glasses of mine.

The Remake never really stood a chance.

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This is a fantastic post! This is the kind of deep analysis and understanding of game mechanics I wish professional game criticism had more of. It's pretty much everything I could want in a critical evaluation of mechanical changes in a remake of RE4. Thanks for sharing!

I haven't played the remake yet, but the original truly is one of the finest games ever made and I expect I'll end up feeling similarly to you.

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@icemael: Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! Sorry about all the little grammar errors, I read it again just now and found a bunch of them that are now corrected.

I agree that I wish there was more of this type of analysis in professional game criticism, but I suppose the reality is that the industry is so huge and broad now that professional critics largely don't have time to maintain such a tight focus on just one product, they're constantly needing to bounce to the new thing. In that sense such analysis will probably continue to be found mostly on message boards and on YouTube channels that devote themselves more fully to specific titles.

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I've been having trouble getting into the Remake. It feels . . . inessential is maybe the word? Unlike the last couple of remakes from the PS1 era titles, the original RE4 is still a pretty damn good game and has already been remade several times. It just doesn't feel like this one was really needed.

I think that's especially true when this one was so intent on really, truly, remaking the experience. As you point out, there are so many little changes that, while making for different game, aren't necessarily making a better one. I think the most damning thing I can say about the new version is that if you forced me to pick between the original or the remake as the only version I could play for the rest of my life, I'm not so sure I'd pick the remake. I'd at least have to think about it for awhile.

I especially think this new version is trying too hard to have its cake and eat it too tone wise. It wants to be more grounded, but still wants to have dumb action movie moments. But I just don't think that level of fence-sitting really works for this game and the whole thing feels a little neutered. The Salazar statue sequence comes to mind. The original chase involving a Gundam-sized statue hounding you was a great kind of over-the-top stupid that would only happen in a video game. Now it's just replaced with what amounts to a puzzle fight against a flamethrower. It's still stupid, but it's not a good kind of stupid.

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cikame

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I really want to be a part of this conversation but as much as i need to play this to know what they did and why i disagree with it :P, i cannot qualify doing that at the price they're asking so it's going to have to wait, BUT I WILL BE BACK.

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Justin258

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This was a really good read. Much like the poster above, I would love to see more video games get specific nuanced discussion of pure gameplay mechanics in this style. Even when that does happen, it's usually too dry or drawn-out to be interesting. This isn't either of those, and I'm glad to have read it.

For my part, I haven't played the RE4 remake yet. I'm going to, I suspect soon, but not right now. I suspect I'll have similar feelings about it - it will be a fun retread of something I've played a million times with some different ideas, but ultimately you just can't replace that original. I know at least a few people who will never touch the original game simply because you can't move and shoot at the same time and I find that kind of attitude infuriating.

Which leads me to my next point. I will tell you, as sincerely as possible, that I think RE2make is just a superior game to the original, in every way. Not just graphically, but also in the way it controls, in the way it tells its story, in that you don't have to use fucking ink ribbons to save (at least on normal). I imagine there's someone out there reading such and just dying a little inside. To this hypothetical person, clearly the original holds up, clearly the RE2make is just a fun thing to play once or twice and then forget about. If I play RE4make and then say it definitely doesn't replace the original while saying that the RE2make definitely does, I'd probably feel like a bit of a hypocrite there. I can't get irritated at people saying the RE4make is obviously superior to the original and then turn around and say that the RE2make is obviously superior to the original.

...I should probably also go finish the original version of RE2, I never really did that. Stupid ink ribbons.

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@justin258: So much of it really does just come down to whether you've played an old game before and have some kind of attachment to it. I'd like to think that most people would agree with you about RE2, but as you say, undoubtedly there are folks out there with a real attachment to the original game even now.

The thing I struggle with for RE4—and that I spent the concluding section of this piece trying to work through a bit—is that I genuinely believe it's aged better than the vast majority of games. There are all sorts of old games that I've tried to return to over the years, only to find after fiddling with them for ten or fifteen minutes that I really felt no desire to play all the way through them again. RE4 is the extremely rare exception.

Yet I'm acutely aware of my rose-tinted glasses, and I just can't say I know for sure what I would think of OG RE4 if I came to it in 2023 never having played it before. I'd like to think I would still love the hell out of it, but it's impossible for me to be sure. In that sense I have to give people who are saying they prefer the remake the benefit of the doubt. The only attitude I find impossible to swallow is "the remake is superior in every sense and now the original can be thrown on the trash heap and never played again except for historical value." Like, dude, no, f**k off. The original remains too good a game to be written off like that.

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notkcots

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Great write-up! This is exactly the kind of mechanical analysis I've been looking for about the remake.

The inconsistent stagger procs on enemy head and leg-shots is a big let-down. Personally, I didn't much care for the way the shooting felt in the RE2 and 3 remakes. Enemies were bullet-spongy and barely reacted to your shots. I understand it from a narrative perspective, what with the zombies and all, but it made the combat feel floaty and janky, like a PS2 B-game or something. It really sucks that they carried those same flaws into the remake of 4, where the enemies are mostly just normal people who have no reason to be impassive when shot in the face.

One of the things that makes 4 still feel so good is how incredibly responsive the ganados are to the player's combat tactics. There are so many different targetable zones on their bodies, and shooting each of them translates into very different and very immediate animations. Combat strategy is all about intelligently managing your enemies' stagger and attack states by careful shot placement and management of the i-frames from your melee attacks. When you got good at the combat, you could utterly dismantle huge mobs of enemies, and it felt incredibly satisfying and bad-ass. Randomizing whether or not a shot will proc a stagger state on a ganado breaks that rhythm, especially with the more sluggish movement that you mention. I guess it's to make it less of an action game or something, but it seems very misguided.

Any thoughts on the updated voice work, sound effects, and music? As someone who has also played the original many, many times, I'm very partial to the original versions of the audio. Luis's new voice actor, in particular, seems to exude much less charisma and charm than the OG one.

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@notkcots: I do think that the bullet-sponginess of zombies in the RE2 remake (I didn't play the RE3 remake and don't plan to) and the lack of reactions felt OK to me in context because it was more squarely a horror game, and killing stuff didn't actually reward you in any way aside from making it less annoying to backtrack. It was some extra incentive to just avoid them where possible. But I agree with everything you said about the OG RE4 feeling so good partly because of how responsive enemies are to your actions. The Remake, by contrast, feels more chaotic, random, unmanageable.

As for audio, I think it's... fine? I had actually started to write a short section on audio and graphical differences between the two, but ended up deleting it because I don't think I have anything particularly worthwhile to say about either one. I could quibble here and there, but broadly speaking I think both games look and sound good. The OG did have noticeably great gun sounds at the time, but I also think games have better gun sounds in them in general after eighteen years, and I don't feel a super strong attachment to the rest of RE4's SFX.

It's worth noting that there's a DLC that will switch the music and some sound effects back to the OG's. It comes bundled with the deluxe edition of the game, or can be bought separately for three bucks. I should have thought to do one of my three plays with that option turned on, but I just forgot. It doesn't affect vocal performances because of course the game has a new script, but the music and sounds for stuff like picking up and combining items, etc., are still in there.

As for the voice acting, while I might broadly prefer the OG voices, I'm pretty sure that's mostly just because I'm so used to them. Luis actually felt like one of the better ones over the course of the game, it's possible that you've just heard too small a sampling. He has some pretty decently jokey/sarcastic lines later on. But preferences when it comes to voice actors are so subjective, so who really knows.

The only voice that I found vaguely irritating in the new game was Ada's. She sounds a little... haughty? Like a mean girl in high school? I thought that before I found out that people harassed the actress enough about it that she deleted her Instagram account, which... ugh. Why are these people such assholes? Yeah, she had my least favorite vocal performance in the game, but leave the poor woman alone. It wasn't that bad.

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Your final thoughts feel like mine when it comes to Crash Bandicoot 2. They remade those games, and 2 technically looks nicer. But the game doesn't play as tight, the colors aren't as striking, and I just love the original. Even the CD case has a cool holographic thing. N. Sane Trilogy can't compete!

With that being said, I beat RE4 like 15 years ago and didn't really like it. But I love the remake. Small tweaks like moving and shooting, the Ashley changes, and the fresh coat of paint made this game click for me for the first time. It feels modern, whereas someone without nostalgia can play a previous RE4 remaster and feel like they're playing something old. Partially because of the dated graphics, even if it's smoother and runs at 60.

So was it necessary? I thought no, but I'm having a great time now so the answer is actually yes. Maybe not for you, but for a new potential audience.

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#10  Edited By AtheistPreacher

@csl316: Yeah, I guess it depends on what you mean by "necessary." Arguably anyone who hasn't seen the appeal of the OG by now probably isn't going to. The Remake is undoubtedly capturing a whole new audience. I meant it more in the sense that these two games are self-evidently way more similar than the other remakes have been to one another, switching from the fixed camera angles and so on... and that RE4 has aged much better in general than its predecessors.

Also, it's funny, both you and @justin258 mentioned the "moving and shooting" aspect, and it's something that I didn't even talk about explicitly in this piece. I probably should have. But to me the fact that the OG didn't allow shooting while moving never bothered me because the game was designed around the limitation, whereas Leon's greater mobility in the Remake arguably doesn't even manage to fully counterbalance the increased mobility of your enemies. To me it just doesn't seem like nearly as big a change as some folks seem to think it is. Which is also why I'm with Justin in finding it bizarre that there are people who would refuse to even give the OG a chance because it lacks mobile shooting. That would seem to be putting the cart before the horse.

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cikame

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#11  Edited By cikame

I mentioned this before but i have a hard time dealing with the concept of playing a remake instead of the original, that's not always the case we've talked before about whether the RE2 and 3 remakes were necessary and most would agree including myself that they absolutely were, some people didn't like the gameplay of the originals even back when they were new, and while they're still awesome games to play now it's easy to honour them with a modern take.

With RE4 it feels like... someone listening to a cover of a Michael Jackson song and never listening to the original, what if they remade Die Hard and the original got buried? Original RE4 will always exist it's not going anywhere but plenty of people will pick the remake simply because it's newer, they'll still have a good time and that's great, but part of me is always going to feel a burning sensation from that.

Yes i shouldn't care what people play and enjoy, but it does hurt when i hear people passing on the original just because it's "old" and i don't want them to miss out.

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csl316

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@atheistpreacher: The stationary thing was super off-putting to me at the time. Why? Because I played RE4 after Gears of War. It just felt so clunky and unnatural. I'd run away, stop, and then the zombies would slow down, rinse and repeat. It was designed to be that way, but it always felt archaic to me. It made sense in the old games but I was comparing it to then-modern third person shooters. So between that and a campaign that felt five hours too long, I never played the game again.

In this game I don't feel bolted to the ground. And even though I'm not exactly running and gunning, it still feels way more freeing to me than before. Like, I'm still standing there a lot, but just having the option to move makes it feel so much better against the standards of 2023.

There really isn't an argument to be had here. It either bothers you or it doesn't. I actually plan to replay this one so it's a huge improvement to me.

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CreepingDeath0

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#13  Edited By CreepingDeath0

Fantastic write-up! I found myself pretty consistently agreeing with you on every point. I just finished the Remake this evening and I honestly can't imagine myself going for a second playthrough, let alone returning to it in 10+ years time. I am, however, giving some serious thought to revisiting the original with the HD mod...

This is one of those games that I think time won't be kind to. Everyone is riding the hype train right now but I could very easily see public opinion turn on it in the next 6 - 12 months.

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Justin258

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@csl316 said:

@atheistpreacher: The stationary thing was super off-putting to me at the time. Why? Because I played RE4 after Gears of War. It just felt so clunky and unnatural. I'd run away, stop, and then the zombies would slow down, rinse and repeat. It was designed to be that way, but it always felt archaic to me. It made sense in the old games but I was comparing it to then-modern third person shooters. So between that and a campaign that felt five hours too long, I never played the game again.

In this game I don't feel bolted to the ground. And even though I'm not exactly running and gunning, it still feels way more freeing to me than before. Like, I'm still standing there a lot, but just having the option to move makes it feel so much better against the standards of 2023.

There really isn't an argument to be had here. It either bothers you or it doesn't. I actually plan to replay this one so it's a huge improvement to me.

I imagine @atheistpreacher can expand on this a lot more than I can, but for me RE4's "plant your feet when shooting" thing really makes you think about positioning. You need to make a stand somewhere, where are you going to do it? That, when combined with the predictable behavior of guns against enemies, makes choosing a position and deciding what to do in that position a lot more impactful than just running to a spot, shooting a few bullets, then running to another.

Gears of War and the original Dead Space allow you to aim, shoot, and move all at the same time - but in both of those games, you move so slow while aiming down sights that you might as well not move most of the time. Aiming, shooting, then moving is by far more effective. Dead Space gives you Stasis to deal with enemies getting too close and Gears makes you do a version of "positioning and planting your feet" by forcing you to take cover in the vast majority of encounters, so those devs knew that their movement speed while aiming was too slow to really mean much - it's there because most people seem to think it "feels right", which is pretty much a summary of your second paragraph.

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csl316

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@justin258: Yeah, feel is the the thing for me in this remake. The core combat design hasn't changed much aside from slightly more mobility on both sides.

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Yeah, this certainly seemed the least necessary of the modern remakes. I personally think 2 was the peak with the over-the-shoulder perspective married with the location mastery the original trilogy traded in.

There's a lot less to tinker with and I could probably only get excited if they turned Resident Evil 4 into a throwback of the older games. Possibly something more akin to the beta versions that were all scrapped during production.

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I wish I had something to add to this thread, unfortunately I've made the decision to wait for a sale and Capcom being one of Sony's most frequent sale partners is only partly to blame for it. I really liked the demo, but I didn't love it (also, as I said in the demo thread, I found it to be definitively not gorgeous the way many have) and upon realizing I should actually play one of the many post-PS2 iterations of the game I've purchased...I'm also having a really hard time with the original?

I'm a tank controls apologist through and through, I don't see any problem with it, but every time I boot this game I absolutely cannot stop trying to manipulate the camera with the right stick, which the original game does do but in an incredibly disorienting, pan the camera without affecting the character movement way. Combined with how much of modern gaming is still mined from the ore of this game's skeletal remains, I can't stop trying to play it like something other than what it is and it's making it difficult to soldier on.

I absolutely understand the timelessness of the game in theory, especially if you're a more adaptable sort than I am. But I was a little denuded of my enthusiasm for the remake, which was pretty high, when I realized I might not even be able to find my own pair of rose tinted glasses, or I have but the prescription's far too out of date. It's a little depressing, in the lightest interpretation of the condition.

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Justin258

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@nodima said:

I wish I had something to add to this thread, unfortunately I've made the decision to wait for a sale and Capcom being one of Sony's most frequent sale partners is only partly to blame for it. I really liked the demo, but I didn't love it (also, as I said in the demo thread, I found it to be definitively not gorgeous the way many have) and upon realizing I should actually play one of the many post-PS2 iterations of the game I've purchased...I'm also having a really hard time with the original?

I'm a tank controls apologist through and through, I don't see any problem with it, but every time I boot this game I absolutely cannot stop trying to manipulate the camera with the right stick, which the original game does do but in an incredibly disorienting, pan the camera without affecting the character movement way. Combined with how much of modern gaming is still mined from the ore of this game's skeletal remains, I can't stop trying to play it like something other than what it is and it's making it difficult to soldier on.

I absolutely understand the timelessness of the game in theory, especially if you're a more adaptable sort than I am. But I was a little denuded of my enthusiasm for the remake, which was pretty high, when I realized I might not even be able to find my own pair of rose tinted glasses, or I have but the prescription's far too out of date. It's a little depressing, in the lightest interpretation of the condition.

I have played through RE4 multiple times and even I have to "get used" to its movement every time. And it can take a little while, primarily because my brain is expecting this to control like Gears of War. It usually takes an hour or so. Remember that pulling back on the analog stick and pushing the run button will do a quick turn-around, something that I find really helps with that game's unusual movement mechanics.

I bought the remake on PC after finally finishing Dead Space yesterday afternoon. I have played about 4 hours of it and @cikame's Geralt comparison feels spot-fucking-on to me. I hated it at first, I almost refunded the game after the first village shootout. I've since tried to get used to it and I have, but I still think movement feels clunky and bad. I think I'm probably going to play at least some of the original sometime soon just so I have fresher memories, but I recall that original game being much snappier and much better after getting used to the movement. Tank controls might be unintuitive compared to modern control schemes, but they are fast and snappy. Leon in the 2023 game feels sluggish and laggy and just... bad.

And I don't recall RE2make or RE3make having the same issues... but I played those games pretty much entirely with a mouse and keyboard. I was attempting to play RE4 on my couch with a controller. I'm going to try it with a mouse and keyboard in a little while to see if I feel the same way, but I don't think M+K will change much for me.

As far as other thoughts go... I don't have much gathered yet. It's fine. I can't possibly see it replacing the original as the "better game" in the same way that, say, Black Mesa is just better in every way than the original Half-Life, at least for me.

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This is a really good post, thanks for writing. I just finished my first playthrough of the remake this weekend, and as someone who has also played the original many times over the years (most recently last year) and considers it possibly my favorite game, your thoughts echo mine very well across both pros and cons. The combination of unreliable staggers + more sluggish movement in particular took me FOREVER to get used to, I was at least halfway through the game before I felt somewhat comfortable in normal encounters. Playing my first playthrough on hardcore probably didn't help either, but I believed the difficulty selection screen's advice lol (which suggested hardcore if you played the OG). By the end I had found a better rhythm, which relied on staying in motion when in doubt as to avoid the slow wind-up run time in case I needed to move. I also started relying more on grenades as CC later on, as you mentioned they are now better for that than shotguns (though I still stuck to the striker out of stubbornness for what I want the shotgun's role to be!). The knife changes are also a mindfuck, as I had to retrain my brain away from the OG's combat loop to never waste durability on slashing enemies, and that took a while. The remake on the whole rides a weird line where it is both close enough to the OG to be recognizable and I want to play it similarly, but also just different enough that that doesn't really work. I think I may have preferred it to be a cleaner break in some ways, more of its own game so that the line wasn't so blurry.

Anyway, I did end up enjoying the remake overall by the end, though I can say with full confidence that I reject the idea that it's a strict upgrade or replacement to the OG. I can see how some would prefer it, but it's a different enough game that I think it as best presents as an alternative, with neither version being the universally agreed upon definitive one. Then for someone like me (or you), the OG will always win out, not only because of nostalgia and how impossibly impactful it was (which is huge!), but also because I legitimately do still prefer it's mechanics, movement, and combat loop.

@justin258: I also struggled with the movement in RE4 remake, having just finished Dead Space remake before it as well (which I think controls very well). Out of curiosity I booted up both the OG RE4 and the RE2 remake after I finished RE4 remake to directly compare how they feel. Not that I did a super scientific study here, but OG RE4 felt like easily the snappiest movement of the 3 to me; both the ramp up to running and the quick turn are lightning fast (not to mention swapping weapons is instantaneous). To my surprise though, RE2 remake didn't feel that much faster than RE4 remake; not as much as I was expecting given my memories of it. I do think the ramp to run is a little faster than in RE4 remake, but my current theory is that the movement in RE2 remake never bothered me simply because it never demands you be faster than you are. The zombies in that game move much slower than the ganados in RE4 remake, you never fight huge hordes in RE2 remake, and you are generally in confined environments like hallways to boot. Put another way, it's a different game that supports different movement, and I felt that RE2's movement worked well for the game it was. RE4 remake's movement feels extra slow compared to how fast your enemies move, how big the rooms are, and what you are asked to do, which likely makes it feel even slower than it actually is (though I also do think it is a little slower than RE2 remake). I think that dissonance is a large part of my frustration with the movement, and that things like the knife counter feel like subpar quick fixes to smooth over just how slow the player is compared to the enemies.

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cikame

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@justin258: 2 and 3 remake aren't quite as sluggish as this but they do feel floaty, the difference is it fits the context of those games better, when 2 and 3 first came out they felt "real", at least as far as our late 90's minds were concerned, it's easy to outrun a zombie but the tight corridors and small rooms of the PS1 games kept it claustrophobic and that feeling is passed on to the remakes... in 2 more than 3.

From the first gameplay we saw i knew they'd made a mistake, they carried too much over from the previous remakes, the original 4 wasn't anything like 2 and 3 it did new and exciting things and the zombies were gone, it still had tank controls and that defined its unique gameplay but movement and aiming was snappy and responsive. Despite improved controls the new combat design ensured the player could still be surrounded, backed into a corner or bullied by new enemy types, but the sluggish movement in 4 remake feels like 2 and 3's intentional hampering of the players abilities, like you're dodging cars on a motorway wearing iron boots.

This is an extreme example but i would want a remake of 4 to be more inspired by something like Vanquish, i want it to be flashy and crazy like the original was, back then every 3rd person shooter that came out had its own mechanics and ideas, slo mo, melee attacks, grabs, dives, wall running, anything to make it stand out, RE4 had loads of unique ideas that made it so impressive so i would have thought the first thing on a design doc for a remake would be "invent a new never before seen 3rd person horror/action game", instead they... borrowed the previous game, inherited its problems, made movement worse and added parries...

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#21  Edited By AtheistPreacher

I remembered another omission from the new game that I didn't include in the write-up: in the OG you could choose to open doors slowly with a single button press, or kick them open with a double button press, doing some damage and stunning enemies on the other side. It's not a massive thing, but I did miss it when I first started playing the Remake and realized it wasn't there anymore; it was a fun mechanic and actually quite useful at times. It was even possible to do silly things like kill Dr. Salvador using only a door.

@majormitch said:

(not to mention swapping weapons is instantaneous)

And of course this is actually one of those ridiculously dated things about the original that I also failed to mention in my write-up: that you can't switch weapons except by going to the attache case. It saved them creating weapon switch animations! But by not having those animations, it did have the funny side-effect of actually being advantageous to the player, because as you say, the weapon swaps are literally instantaneous!

@majormitch said:

To my surprise though, RE2 remake didn't feel that much faster than RE4 remake; not as much as I was expecting given my memories of it. I do think the ramp to run is a little faster than in RE4 remake, but my current theory is that the movement in RE2 remake never bothered me simply because it never demands you be faster than you are. The zombies in that game move much slower than the ganados in RE4 remake, you never fight huge hordes in RE2 remake, and you are generally in confined environments like hallways to boot.

This was interesting to hear. It's been long enough since I played the RE2 remake that I really had no memory of how the movement felt, but I likewise don't recall it being a problem. And I think your explanation makes complete sense. It was really a core concern of mine going into the RE4 remake: that the dev team wouldn't change enough of the combat mechanics from the RE2 and RE3 remakes to make an RE4 remake whose combat felt good against its larger number of even faster/more threatening enemies (as @cikame also just mentioned). And movement definitely seems like an area where they should have made an adjustment.

EDIT: Oh, and one other unrelated thing, but worth mentioning.

Headshot staggers being inconsistent is definitely true, but it's also not the full story. I only realized after doing an S+ run on Pro that there's definitely damage threshold nonsense layered on top of the inconsistency. E.g., a headshot with your starting pistol to even a village ganado on Pro usually won't stagger them with two or even three shots. You need to have an upgraded pistol, preferably a Blacktail or Red9, to stagger them consistently at that highest difficulty setting. In that sense it's even more of a "feature not a bug" than I thought it was. It makes that first big village fight on a fresh Pro run feel positively unfair, because there's so little you can do to stop a ganado who's rushing forward to grab you.

The counterpoint to this, which I think is probably fair, is that the Pro difficulty mode isn't actually designed to be played from a fresh save (despite the devs including some challenges that ask you to do just that). It's instead balanced around being played in NG+ with fully upgraded guns... and a difficulty setting like that is actually something I wanted out of an RE4 Remake.

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cikame

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@atheistpreacher: I kept forgetting to bring up my damage issue with the remakes, when i played RE2 remake i started on normal and found the combat really unsatisfying and that's clearly by design, they wanted it to feel muddy and urge you to slip past zombies instead of kill them, like the original, headshots aren't really rewarded unless you get the incredible small chance of a critical hit and their heads explode... but that's no fun :P.

After failing enough times the game recommends the assisted mode so i gave it a try and it transformed the experience, zombies are a lot more affected by gunfire, exploding heads is more common it improved the satisfaction of the combat a lot. I'm currently playing 3 remake and started on normal again totally expecting to go back to assisted and i did, unfortunately they kinda ruin it by giving you an assault rifle and obscene amounts of ammo from the get go, but i still think it's better now that the frustration has been removed, playing for fun is fun, this isn't Dark Souls i don't need to be punished right now.

So when i do finally play 4 remake i'll probably have the same conundrum, i'll start on normal but if it feels like the controls and inconsistent combat mechanics get in the way of the fun i probably won't hesitate to use assisted again.

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#23  Edited By AtheistPreacher

@cikame: Yeah, I very much agree that I didn't love the OG RE4 because it was hard. Even though the game itself recommended "Hardcore" mode for those who had beaten the OG, I stuck to Standard because I was pretty sure the higher difficulty would just lead to more aggravation. But Assisted might just be a little too easy to be all that fun for me. You can turn off the aim assist they give you, but you also have health that regenerates when you're critical, and bosses go down like punkers. But you'll just have to judge for yourself whenever this thing is on deep enough sale for you.

I am sort of interested to try at least a bit of a fresh run on Hardcore to see how that actually feels--probably better now than it would have for my first play, now that I've gotten used to the game and know what to expect--and also to try doing some of a Pro run from NG+ with upgraded guns... I haven't really done that yet because I've been doing the weird challenge runs with bonus weapons like the Infinite Launcher and the Chicago Sweeper, so I still don't have a great sense of it. But I imagine I might leave it be for a while before I try that. E.g., I'm still interested in playing through the new the God of War Ragnarök NG+.

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Loading Video...

A great comparison video, it's obvious what their opinion is by the video title but considering it's just gameplay footage it's a fair assessment, this is what a fan of the original is experiencing when playing the remake.

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@cikame: Interesting video. It's definitely hugely biased in its editing, though. It will show elements that are present in the OG but not the Remake--e.g., the woman impaled with a pitchfork at 3:54--but then skip over new scenes in the Remake that were added in other areas as replacements. For instance, in the new game there's a scene of Leon finding sacrificed women at the Forest Altar; it isn't shown in the video but arguably has the same function as the pitchfork-impaled woman, and there's no real equivalent in the OG that I can recall.

Still, I watched about the first fifteen minutes and it made me appreciate the OG's sound design even more versus the Remake, which definitely feels a little dull by comparison.

Would also be interesting to see a video like this that uses the fan HD mod for the OG.

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Curious how the tone of this thread has held up. As I said in the Black Friday thread, I held true to my promise earlier in this thread that I'd wait for a sale because of the impression the demo gave me...only to then hold out a day too long and grin-and-bare the full price.

Turns out I think this game is fuckin' rad. It reminds me of many other amazing games, but more than anything like FF7R I'm really enjoying how often I'm thinking about what the game used to be vs. what it is, and whether it's actually any different or tricks are being played on me. Hell, I'm simple enough that I was charmed by the brief homage to God of War '18, as simple as it was.

I'm also pretty stoked on how propulsive this game is; what I saw and read about its "side quests" and whatnot made me worry if the game was filled with busy work to seem more modern, but no, each chapter is about an hour long, sometimes half an hour or less, and that brisk feeling is wild in 2023.

Lastly, I do hate that the game is clearly scarier, and more difficult, than it was. Between this and Alan Wake 2 I've got a lot of personal inventory to do regarding how much more of a gaming wimp I've become twenty years since survival horror was a genre du jour, but every 20 minutes or so I find myself wanting to play anything else just so I'm not so stressed out. Having said that, I also then soldier on and realize, no, I'm just gonna dump munitions into plague-ridden villagers same as I ever did.

Also, I did tap out of the original RE4 shortly after my original post in this thread. Didn't even make it into the church. It pains me a little to admit it but I'm just not nostalgic enough, or gamer enough, to sit in the sort of middle distance that game lingers. By that same token, as much as I understand all the complaints about the various cosmetic/aesthetic choices regarding Leon's behavior in this game...I'll always be the guy that thinks GTAV and Red Dead II are two of the most engaging avatar experiences video games have to offer, so clearly I want animation priority over "responsiveness". If the lighting and enemy behavior remove some of the original's comedy, Leon's clumsiness offers the same from another angle, plus I find the dodge mechanic nearly as impressive as Last of Us Part II's, in that the spaces all feel very tangible.

Which is funny, and admirable, considering so much of this game is Video Game Personified©. Hell, you get bonus points for punching gravestones!

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#28  Edited By AtheistPreacher
@nodima said:

more than anything like FF7R I'm really enjoying how often I'm thinking about what the game used to be vs. what it is, and whether it's actually any different or tricks are being played on me.

It did tickle me the number of times that the Remake re-created an area from the OG exactly, but then made you proceed through that area in the opposite direction. For anyone who's played the OG, but a long time ago, yeah, I imagine that sort of thing would really screw with you in a fun way.

@nodima said:

I'm also pretty stoked on how propulsive this game is; what I saw and read about its "side quests" and whatnot made me worry if the game was filled with busy work to seem more modern, but no, each chapter is about an hour long, sometimes half an hour or less, and that brisk feeling is wild in 2023.

Yeah, the "side quests" are largely nothing-burgers. The three "strong threat" missions feel like the only "real" ones in that they offer substantial reward for substantial extra risk, while the rest involve killing rats or shooting medallions. Nothing that will slow you down substantially, but they also don't add much. Overall, as you say, the game does move along, a quality that it shares with the OG.

@nodima said:

Lastly, I do hate that the game is clearly scarier, and more difficult, than it was. Between this and Alan Wake 2 I've got a lot of personal inventory to do regarding how much more of a gaming wimp I've become twenty years since survival horror was a genre du jour, but every 20 minutes or so I find myself wanting to play anything else just so I'm not so stressed out. Having said that, I also then soldier on and realize, no, I'm just gonna dump munitions into plague-ridden villagers same as I ever did.

Yeah, the Remake is definitely harder on balance. I think I'd even go so far as to say that the Remake on Standard feels harder than the OG did on Professional... and then the Remake has two more difficulty settings above that. And it also leans more toward horror and less toward cheese. In both cases I generally prefer the OG. The exception is that it's nice that the Remake has a NG+ mode that can properly challenge players who have fully upgraded their weapons; the OG simply doesn't have that, and it makes NG+ a bore.

@nodima said:

Turns out I think this game is fuckin' rad.

It sure is. I ended up placing it at #3 on my GOTY list, behind only Remnant 2 and Hitman: World of Assassination. I can definitely see myself making a return to it at some point down the line when I have a bit more free time.

A nice thing about an eventual return play will be that I've finished doing all the challenge run nonsense Capcom wants you to do, including beating the highest difficulty on a fresh save, and the super-fast timed runs with limited saves, and doing runs without healing and without talking to the merchant, etc. The timed runs in particular I hated, because RE games are so much about being careful and scrounging, and it feels so wrong to just run past loot (and why is your "rank" at the end of a play solely based on time, and not at all on shot accuracy or hits taken?). But I have a bad habit of wanting to be completionist about this kind of stuff if it gets me cool gameplay-changing gear, like the cat ears that give you infinite ammo.

Anyway, all that junk will be finished for me the next time I fire up the game, so that I can play it again in the style I want without needing to worry about fulfilling strange conditions. I'll be interested to see what I think of it after giving it a little distance. It's still never going to surpass the OG in my eyes, but it's nonetheless possible that my opinion of it could improve. We'll see.