Resident Evil 4 Remake Hands-On PS5 Preview. I’ll be honest: when I first read that Capcom were remaking Resident Evil 4, I was sceptical. After all, surely Resident Evil CODE: Veronica would benefit from a complete overhaul? It’s older, and objectively more dated in terms of visuals and gameplay. Resi 4 still looks the dog’s bollocks in comparison and plays great today.
Still, after going hands-on with about 30 minutes of Resident Evil 4’s remake recently, I was shocked at just how much it not only looked better, but felt like a new game entirely.
Yes, there’s still familiar elements; the village, the Los Ganados, Leon’s awesome bomber jacket, but it’s far from a prettier version of a game you played 17 years ago.
Resident Evil 4 Remake PS5 Hands-On Preview
Resident Evil 4 Remake is a darker beast. It’s bleak, oppressive, and absolutely oozes atmosphere. The 2005 version didn’t slouch in this department, but blimey, everything is amplified so much more here.
For example, the outskirts of the village is almost unrecognisable thanks to the blanket of trees covering the skies. Leon seems more isolated than ever, and there’s the feeling of claustrophobia is palpable – an odd thing to say considering you’re outside, but there’s no other way I can describe it.
The village’s houses look dilapidated and filthy, while the malevolent residents are caked in grime and look unkempt; their red eyes positively radiate malice, and feel more inhuman than the original game’s foes. In short, it’s a gorgeous looking game.
That’s not to say everything was completely unrecognisable. The village section I played comprises the start of the game through to when the bell tolls in the aftermath of the first major Los Gandos fight, and it’s great to see muscle memory still comes into play.
Within minutes, I was blasting enemies in the face or knee before following up with a stylish kick, blowing heads off with the shotgun in close range, and lobbing grenades into crowds for maximum carnage. And yes, the chainsaw-wielding maniac is just as tough as I remember.
Combat feels intuitive and smooth thanks to the control scheme, which should be familiar to anyone who has played the modern Resi remakes. Pulling back on the trigger and firing feels weighty thanks to the adaptive triggers on the PS5 pad, and unlike the original, you can move and shoot, adding a bit more freedom to encounters.
Leon’s got more than a few tricks up his sleeves too. I was surprised to see a dedicated crouch button added, which is activated by pressing circle and allows you to sneak past enemies unseen, delivering a grisly instant knife kill to the throat.
Meanwhile, it’s also possible to parry incoming punches and weapon strikes with a timely press of L1, which gives you an X prompt to deliver a meaty roundhouse kick to your attacker.
One particular element that sees to have been given greater attention is the combat knife. This weapon is always at the ready like before, but can now be upgraded to increase its durability; you are also given the option of using it in a scuffle for one-hit kill, or mash X to throw off your opponent – but you’ll suffer a bit of damage in the process.
This is a pretty nice addition and adds a new wrinkle of strategy to combat, as you weigh up the cost of using your knife as a quick means of escaping or saving its durability at a cost of some health.
Enemies are vicious buggers and will attack you in groups, but are much more aggressive and harder to target due to increased manoeuvrability. Some will hang back and chuck farming tools at Leon’s pretty face, while others will rush you and throttle the poor chap.
Brand new set pieces also come into play. I was shocked to pass through the barn only for it to be set on fire (sending the peaceful cow inside into a murderous rage, attacking anything in its path), while the chainsaw Ganado blocked off my path by destroying a nearby building.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and the big fight in the village – already an adrenaline-pumping segment in the original RE4 – is absolutely nerve-wracking here. And I loved every second of it.
Fans needn’t worry that Capcom is looking to remove all sense of familiarity though. The attache case inventory is back (it’s now a 3D object!), as is the ability to upgrade your weapons (although I wasn’t able to do so in the demo). Enemies still drop items such as currency and ammo, as in the original.
Oh, and don’t fear, Leon still has time to wisecrack: the infamous ‘bingo’ line is here in all its glory.
Overall, I was more than impressed with my hands-on with Resi 4’s ambitious-looking remake. Yes, I still think CODE: Veronica deserves an overhaul, but there’s no denying that this latest remake is ticking all the boxes at this early stage.
RE4 has never looked or played better than in this remake, and the darker, more sinister tone looks set to inject the proceedings with more horrific edge, which is welcome in my book. As long as Capcom can deliver the same care and attention to the rest of the game, RE4 Remake is set to be an instant classic.
Resident Evil 4 Remake is due out on March 24, 2023 for PS4, PS5, PC and Xbox Series X/S.