Resident Evil 4 VR Review – Breathing new life into a familiar feeling

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I’m not sure if anyone should play or not Resident Evil 4 VR† If you’ve never touched the original RE4, by no means should you jump into this version; anything that made it (and makes) important in VR would be completely over your head. However, if you’ve played Resident Evil 4 – especially if you’ve completed it multiple times over the years – then RE4VR should be played at all cost.

As the name implies, RE4VR is just that. It’s Resident Evil 4 but in VR. There’s an immediate novelty in the game’s perspective shift: putting it in the first person gives you an intimate look at the game’s world that the third person could never afford. Since RE4VR is basically a remaster of a 16 year old game, RE4VR sometimes shows its age – especially when it comes close to certain muddy textures and assets – but it doesn’t look bad in any way. As someone who’s played the original more times than I count, getting the chance to see a 1:1 recreation of RE4’s levels, characters, and monsters has been consistently amusing.

Changes made specifically for VR are also welcome in most cases. The gigantic interactive attaché case in which protagonist Leon Kennedy holds all his weapons and equipment is great to assemble in VR. It feels as close as possible to doing it in real life, even if you’re more or less just playing Tetris with guns. Speaking of which, the weapons look fantastic. I had a blast holding up iconic weapons like the Red9 pistol and Striker shotgun and getting a good look at the added details. The same goes for objects around the world, such as keys, money and spices. Everything can be picked up and researched before throwing it into your inventory. I’m sure I looked like an idiot to all my neighbors who were constantly staring at my hands, but they didn’t realize that I was looking at a yellow herb up close and personal for the first time – their loss.

Combat got the most significant overhaul in RE4VR, and it’s what sent me over the moon. Famously, the original changed the typical third-person camera perspective from fixed angles to the now-modern view behind it. But he still had tank control, which meant Leon only moved in the direction he was facing. In addition, he could not move while aiming or shooting. Though revolutionary for its time, there is a distinct story and mechanical dissonance to the gameplay of the original. The game presents Leon as an American Badass action hero but once you get him under control, you’ll still stumble around like the same old fool from the Resident Evils past. RE4VR completely shuts down this model if you choose to play with full-motion enabled instead of teleporting. I cannot recommend it enough; it marries the mechanics and story in a way the original never did.

Free running in a combat arena radically changes the way enemy combat works in RE4. Instead of lining up with enemies and dealing as much damage as possible before they reached me, I was constantly on the move, adapting my playstyle to the moment and attacking enemies instead of defensively. From the start I loved running around and shooting enemies like some virtual reality John Wick. I thought RE4 would never feel “new” to me at this point in my life, but RE4VR has completely changed the way I played one of my favorite games. It felt fresh, exciting and completely different from any RE4 playthrough I’ve had in the last 16 years. For the first time in ages, I stopped going through the moves, and iconic moments like the early encounter with the village, the El Gigante battles, and the minecart roller coaster have rarely been more fun.

Moving from RE4 to first-person also does a lot for its horror – although it’s still not the scariest thing you can play on the market. There’s an inherent tension to being surrounded by enemies in VR, especially when you get overwhelmed. The many impossibly large bosses are also incredibly menacing when you see them towering far above your head. More than once, RE4VR stabbed my heart in my throat as I frantically tried to outsmart the threat coming at me. Occasionally this exacerbated some issues with two-handed weapon tracking, which wouldn’t register one of my hands or an input like cocking a shotgun or aiming a rifle scope. Thankfully this was few and far between but still led to some nasty deaths. Until I unlocked the Striker, which let me fire an automatic shotgun with one hand as if I were Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2 – but cooler.

In 2020 I played the original RE4 from front to back three times. It’s something I usually play for comfort† I can load and overshoot without thinking much. RE4VR has turned my relationship with a game I know better than most. If you’re a RE4 fan, have access to an Oculus Quest 2, and don’t mind the morally and ethically questionable need to have a Facebook account to play an Oculus game, I can’t recommend RE4VR enough . It’s like breathing new life into an old, familiar feeling.

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