This past March marked the 20th anniversary of seminal survival horror series Resident Evil. The celebration has seen developer Capcom re-release a number of the fright-inducing franchise’s entries including, most recently, Resident Evil 4.
As fans of what’s widely considered the series’ highpoint are well aware, this is not the first time we’ve been invited to slip back into protagonist Leon S. Kennedy’s shearling-lined leather jacket. Originally released on Nintendo’s GameCube in 2005, the title’s since appeared on nearly every platform — PS2, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, PC — save George Foreman’s grilling machine.
The latest incarnation, currently creeping onto new-gen consoles, is the best and most complete since 2014’s PC remaster, Resident Evil 4 HD Ultimate Edition. Like that release, the Xbox One/PS4 version sports 1080p visuals, 60 frames-per-second gameplay, and all add-on content, including the Ada Wong-starring ‘Separate Ways’ campaign and fan-favourite arcade mode, Mercenaries.
The resolution bump and peppier frame rate breathe some fresh life into Leon’s quest to rescue the President of the United States’ daughter from a group of crazed cultists. Whether getting up-close and personal with a fork-wielding foe or tangoing with a mutated monster that swallows up half the screen, every nerve-fraying encounter looks surprisingly current.
Of course, all the tech trickery in the world can’t remove the muddiness from decade-old art assets or make stiff mechanics feel as smooth as they do in contemporary shooters. Limited camera controls, context-sensitive interactions, and typewriter save points also remind us the game isn’t quite as youthful as Leon’s boy-band hair would suggest.
“Every nerve-fraying encounter looks surprisingly current.”
Aging textures and dated design choices aside, though, RE4’s art direction and combat hold up incredibly well. Freeing a virally-infected freak of its brains from behind Leon’s laser site-equipped pistol is still one of the most satisfying experiences you can have while clutching a controller.
If you’ve played the aforementioned Ultimate Edition on PC, there’s no reason to cash in your green herbs for this version. If you’re a console gamer fancying another trek through the creepy European countryside, however, this the best RE4 port you’ll find on the platform.