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Resident Evil 4 has never felt so influential

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In 1996, the original resident Evil Arrived on PlayStation – Tank controls, fixed camera angles, campy one-liners, and more. It was a major rebuttal to the game design mode, minimizing action and platforming in favor of puzzles, scatters, and jump scares. Although it was not the first to do so (it had many predecessors), it was certainly the most popular. But even so, it was clear that Capcom’s developers were toying with ideas that were too ambitious to convey on the hardware of the time. They refined their survival-horror philosophy over the next nine years, updating a control scheme here, softening a jagged pixel there, until 2005, when they released resident Evil 4 on the Nintendo Gamecube. And just last week, Capcom opened a window to the moment the series, and video games as a whole, changed irreversibly.

I imagine the possibility of remaking resident Evil 4 Capcom paused. Unlike the first three numbered games in the series, which had clunky control schemes and many counterintuitive puzzles prior to their remake (which range from phenomenal to offensively okay), resident Evil 4 Update was not needed. It’s available on most modern platforms, it controls better than many new releases, and apart from an uneven third act, its pacing is immaculate. That its remake manages to improve on many aspects that didn’t really need improvement is its greatest achievement. (That third act is still weak, though.)

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Resident Evil 4 Remake's Leon is a badass (for once).

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Image: Capcom via Play Gamez

Playing through Capcom’s reinterpretation today, it’s easy to make sense of its fluid gameplay loop: exploration, scavenging, crafting, item management, and third-person combat all feed gracefully into one another over the course of the game, which encourages Is Some backtracking, but it’s largely a linear adventure through semi-open areas and sandboxes. In 2005, this structure flew in the face of earlier Resident Evils, which took place primarily in Metroidvania-esque confined settings – a mansion, a police station, or the back alleys of a Midwestern town.

that gameplay loop is at the center of it resident Evil 4Ancient pacing of. When you’re not fighting hordes of zombie-like enemies in white-knuckle fights, you’re scavenging areas for important items. You might encounter a puzzle, or a jump scare, or a miniboss, or engage in a few minutes of mindful inventory management before moving on. The moments between battles are quiet enough to help you catch your breath, but involving enough to keep you in that elusive flow state.

Good pacing, the old saying goes, is best when you don’t notice it. But like most design criteria, people slowly started paying attention resident Evil 4Good speed. Bill Gardner saw it while serving as lead level designer bioshock, Cliff Bleszinski drew from this when creating Gears of War. Cory Barlog studied this while directing the massive 2018 overhaul of God of War.

Dead Space Isaac is targeting a new Phantom Necromorph Leaper in the hangar.

Image: Motive Studio / Electronic Arts via Play Gamez

The intricacies of the game were not lost on the developers at EA Redwood Shores. In 2005, they were in the idea stage for a capability system shock 3but played Capcom’s survival-horror game and decided to makeresident Evil 4 in space.” His version would lean into sci-fi horror, taking tonal cues from Foreigner, event horizonAnd Sunlight. There will be an everyman engineer whose primary combat skill depends on his proficiency with welding equipment. It’ll focus on scavenging, crafting, light puzzle solving, and close-quarters combat with zombie-like enemies, and 15 years after its initial release, it’ll get its own remake, two months before resident Evil 4,

dead SpaceWith his tight over-the-shoulder perspective and obsession with laser sights, maybe resident Evil 4The most obvious disciple of Rebranded as Visceral Games, its creators also took after Capcom in their sequels: dead space 2 And 3Like resident devil 5 And 6, Represented a gradual evolution from survival-horror to survival-action. The creeping dread gave way to an intense adrenaline rush. the dead space sequel Work (Resident Evils didn’t, ushering in another franchise reinvention.) Resident Evil 7: Biohazard), but until dead Space 3 was released, it was only a third-person shooter with a veneer Of horror and blood.

Just months after the conclusion of the Dead Space trilogy, developer Naughty Dog released last of usYet another third-person survival-horror game that owes its existence to resident Evil 4, With a flow of intense close-quarters combat ranging from environmental puzzles to scavenging to inventory management, much of which is spent traveling with a smaller, more vulnerable companion, it’s not a stretch to call resident Evil 4 Re-imagined as Cormac McCarthyen’s Road Trip. It’s clear that game director Bruce Straley and creative director Neil Druckmann drank just as much as the designers at Visceral Games.

Joel and Ellie travel through a dense forest in The Last of Us Part I

Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

In yet another cosmic coincidence (or perhaps in the collective subconscious whatever alignment we’ve been given as a result of dead Space And resident Evil 4 remake within two months of each other) last of us resurfaced in the zeitgeist in January with its long-awaited HBO adaptation. In many ways a one-to-one retelling of the story from the 2013 video game (aside from several changes of location and an episode’s worth of backstory for an earlier minor character), last of us Follows Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) westward across America, forging a picaresque series of disconcerting encounters with a pseudo-father/daughter.

in returning the last of us part 1, resident Evil 4And dead Space With 2023 in such quick succession, I am struck with a new appreciation for their particular kind of survival horror. resident Evil 4 The remake, like so many games in recent years, signals that its creators have convened at the altar. the SopranosLeon S. Kennedy, Luis Serra and Ada Wong’s story with a narrative twist that emphasizes the question of whether humans will ever In fact Change. It’s an idea heavily researched dead Space, last of us, God of warand its sequel, ragnarokVery.

Why? Because it works: The structure of these games invites and emphasizes casual, overt dialogue between a caretaker and their ward, often during long stretches of careful scavenging or environmental puzzles. The sudden moments of terror are all the more powerful for the contemplative, almost meditative scenes that serve as bookends.

Leon S. Kennedy stands next to Ashley in the Resident Evil 4 remake

Image: Capcom

For all its good qualities, last of us Landing on HBO as well doesn’t particularly stick to its video game source material Because We didn’t spend hours watching these characters during the in-between moments — its performers were, perhaps understandably, left lying on the cutting room floor. The ending of the adaptation is a stark reminder that video games can do wonderful things with those moments.

The story of Resident Evil is one of constant reinvention, as the series, like the infected humans populating its narrow corridors, has always mutated under its skin, eager to become something else entirely. resident Evil 4 It did just that in 2005. and although Capcom scrapped the formula resident devil 5 And 6Other studios followed suit: Visceral Games, Naughty Dog, and even Sony Santa Monica, partially set to repackage Lightning. resident Evil 4,

that the 2005 game has returned shortly after with a shiny new dead Space And last of us Re-emerged, a little more than original. In his review of the remake, and considering both the success and diminishing returns of Capcom’s recent first-person Resident Evil entries, Michael McWhorter wondered, “Where do they go from here?” in play resident Evil 4 Again, and seeing the products of its impact cycle back in the spotlight in 2023, I’m struck by the same question. But I’m also wondering: Who Will Resident Evil Affect Next?

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