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April 2021

Resident Evil 4

Platform(s): GameCube, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: May 21, 2019

About David Silbert

I'm a recent college graduate from Boston, MA. When I'm not writing for WorthPlaying, I'm probably researching Celtics trade rumors or struggling to keep up with the growing library on my Nintendo Switch.


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Switch Review - 'Resident Evil 4'

by David Silbert on July 22, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

In Resident Evil 4, players rejoin Leon, who is now a U.S. agent with a top-secret mission. He has been tasked to look into the abduction of the President's daughter, and his investigation has led him to a mysterious location in Europe.

Buy Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 is widely considered to be one of the greatest games of all time. While the greater Resident Evil franchise, with its thrilling action and gory set pieces, has captivated audiences as far back as the '90s, it is 2005's RE4 that consistently ranks at the top of fans' greatest hits lists. Whether it's the series-altering jump to fully 3D graphics, the radical shift to a behind-the-shoulder camera, or the added focus on tense gunplay and cinematic storytelling, there's no shortage of reasons why players still hold RE4 in such high regard today.

While the beginning of 2019 saw the release of a new entry in the series, Resident Evil 2 Remake, publisher Capcom has not shied away from highlighting the series' past. As part of a larger movement to bring legacy Resident Evil games to a new player base, Capcom recently re-released Resident Evil 4, this time on Nintendo Switch. A $30 port of the remastered version of RE4 that hit PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2016, RE4 for Switch features all the same qualities of the aforementioned versions along with the added portability of the Switch console.

While more RE4 is hardly a bad thing, RE4 on Switch feels like a missed opportunity. The story, characters, and incredible atmosphere all translate to the Switch handheld seamlessly, but the control scheme feels clunky and outdated, especially compared to recent series entries. To add insult to injury, the Switch remaster also suffers from many of the same issues that plagued the PS4 and Xbox One versions, such as the lack of English subtitles and, more notably, the absence of any sort of motion controls. Couple this with the fact that Capcom is essentially charging $30 for an experience that retailed in 2016 for $20, and it's hard not to be disappointed by the final product.

For those new to RE4's story, know that it's great. Several years following the zombie outbreak of Raccoon City, government agent Leon Kennedy travels to a remote village in Europe in search of the U.S. president's daughter, Ashley Graham, who is believed to be held captive in the region. Within moments of arriving at the village, it is clear that things are amiss; the locals have become hostile, infected by a mysterious virus known as Las Plagas. Armed with a handgun and limited ammunition, Leon must investigate the secrets of the village in order to save Ashley and stop a world-threatening conspiracy.

By all accounts, it's typical B-movie material, complete with some cheesy one-liners and hackneyed plot threads. However, RE4's narrative is elevated by some fantastic voice work (Paul Mercier as Leon is a particular stand-out), gut-wrenching story twists, and truly menacing villains. The world of RE4 is often harsh and brutal, and the dark material and moody characters go a long way toward providing a real sense of immersion for players.

This immersion is reinforced by RE4's visuals. Though admittedly aged compared to what must have felt cutting-edge in 2005, RE4's graphics still manage to pop on the Switch, from detailed village squares to eerie castle hallways and terrifying enemies. The same goes for the soundtrack, which mixes tense, pulse-pounding music with more atmospheric tracks (including the excellent "Save Theme," which plays when recording your progress at one of many in-game typewriters). It all comes together nicely on the Switch, ensuring that the core audiovisual experience is preserved for newcomers and veterans alike to enjoy.

Unfortunately, where RE4 fails to deliver on Switch is with its gameplay. When RE4 was released in 2005, its gameplay was lauded thanks to tense encounters, realistic bullet damage, and the ever-present need to conserve ammunition and manage inventory space. In today's day and age, however, the game simply lacks much of the same magic.

What was once a new, fresh control scheme now feels slow and clunky. Unlike stick controls in modern third-person games, hitting left or right with the left stick in RE4 turns Leon in the respective direction. A press of the right stick, meanwhile, angles the camera's view of Leon, as opposed to altering where the player is looking.

These simple control differences might seem small, but they impact the game in far-reaching ways. As opposed to popular shooters like Gears of War and Uncharted, where players can aim and shoot freely while moving, RE4 forces players to stop when drawing a weapon, with zero control over movement or the camera mid-combat.

This is hardly news to anyone familiar with the "tank controls" of the older Resident Evil games. In fact, the control issues wouldn't be such a sticking point, if not for the realization that a definitive edition of RE4 released back in 2007 on the Nintendo Wii with much smoother, motion-based aiming. That Capcom couldn't find a way to integrate motion controls into the Switch port, given the hardware's gyroscope capabilities, is head-scratching; the decision to charge $30 for the experience despite the lack of improved controls, meanwhile, is just plain insulting.

There are other quibbles I have with RE4 on Switch. Oddly enough, there isn't a subtitles option when playing the game in English, although there is when playing in any other language. The title also lacks any sort of sensitivity options for aiming — a shame, given the already disappointing controls. Again, these may seem like minor grievances, but given the rather steep asking price, they make RE4 an admittedly tougher sell.

Make no mistake: Resident Evil 4 is still worth experiencing on Switch, especially if you are new to the game or the series. The thrilling story and immersive atmosphere still hold up today, even if the cumbersome controls and finicky gunplay do not. However, those spoiled by the phenomenal Wii version of RE4 — or even some of the more modern entries in the series — will find admittedly less to love when looking back on Leon's chilling escapades.

As the game's iconic merchant might say, buy at your own discretion, especially when there are "a lot of good things on sale" elsewhere on the Nintendo eShop.

Score: 7.5/10

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