Capcom has performed a delicate balancing act with the “Resident Evil” remakes. The developers have been able to satisfy fans of the original games while also drawing in a new generation of players into the franchise with the modern updates.
That approach will be put to the test when the “Resident Evil 4” remake launches later this month. It’s the title that changed the trajectory of the franchise and is one of the best examples of a wholesale revamp to the series. It’s beloved in a way that few entries are and has seen numerous iterations on the Wii and the Meta Quest 2.
One of the secrets to the remakes’ successes is how the developers have preserved the essence of the originals. That dedication goes all the way down to the real human models that inspired the characters. When choosing the face that would eventually become Leon S. Kennedy, director Yasuhiro Ampo said they looked for a visage that they believed the original team envisioned, and that’s how they settled on Romanian model Eduard Badaluta.
“It’s not based on something you want on a paper,” he said it was “more of a gut feeling.”
IMPROVING TWO ELEMENTS
That’s the approach they took as Capcom recently offered a deeper glimpse of the remake. Although Ampo said it stays true to the original, the developers wanted to focus on improving two elements: the story factor and depth of the action.
With the story, Ampo said there were parts of the narrative they couldn’t tell in the past because of limitations. The “Resident Evil 4” remake fleshes this out with more interactions and increased conversations among characters. In the in-depth trailers, Capcom showed that in how Leon and Ashley talked while battling enemies.
That improved storytelling also comes in the form of extended and reimagined scenes. In the original, the initial fight with Krauser was a quicktime event, but in the remake that’s turned into a full-fledged boss battle. Ampo said the team wanted to increase the tension of the fight, and with the two engaged in hand-to-hand combat, they appear to accomplish that.
GRANULAR COMBAT WITH OPTIONS
When it comes to the action element, the biggest change is with the combat knife. It used to be a weapon of last resort in the original, but in the remake, it has more utility. It can be used to parry almost any attack including ones by bosses. With a well-timed button press, Leon can survive assaults that would normally kill him.
The developers saw the knife as a benefit in the stealth gameplay that they added. Now players can sneak up on enemies and even bosses to deal heavy damage. It’s all part of an effort to create more options for players in combat.
That was shown in the battle inside a castle as Leon fought enemies up close with his guns while also switching to his sniper rifle to shoot exploding barrels through the tower parapets. It was the only way to stop projectiles hurled by catapults.
In another scenario, players can appreciate the granularity of the combat. Leon will face dynamite-throwing enemies. The adversaries will hold onto the explosives, hoping to cook them, but if players can aim well enough and shoot their hand, the sticks will explode leaving nearby foes dead.
Another situation I saw plenty of times was Leon shooting Ganados in the leg in order to slow them down and create an opening for a roundhouse kick to the face. Players can even dodge enemy attacks if they find themselves cornered.
DEALING WITH ASHLEY
One of the bigger issues “Resident Evil 4” faced was that part of the game became an escort mission, and some fans didn’t like babysitting Ashley Graham, the U.S. president’s daughter. In the remake, the Capcom developers tried to take advantage of the new technology to improve that experience.
Ampo said in the original game, Ashley’s actions were a simple follow and stop. In the remake, the team created better AI so she can act by herself most of the time. Players will still order her around, but now they have the option of keeper her close or asking her to fan out.
That decision creates a risk and reward for each confrontation. If Leon asks her to stick close so he can watch her, she’s open to attacks. If he asks Ashley to take cover, she’ll be relatively safe from enemies but it could be easier for adversaries to abscond with her on their shoulders. Although Ashley doesn’t have a health bar, she can be hurt enough that she collapses making her easier for enemies to kidnap.
NEW COLLECTIBLES AND PERKS
Lastly, the “Resident Evil 4” remake features extras in the form of attache cases. Players can customize the look of them and they even have different perks. Along with this, players can add up to three charms that also offer bonuses.
Ampo said the boosts are minor. To get a customized case color, players will have to do quests they find, which reward them currency for the new aesthetic. Unfortunately, he didn’t mention how you can obtain charms. He said players will have to find that out themselves.
The “Resident Evil 4” remake is scheduled for release March 24 on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Series S and PC. Players should expect a demo soon.
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