Resident Evil 4 is, as our review states, still a classic. It’s phenomenally paced with tense yet methodical third-person shooting that still holds up today. You’ve probably bought it two or three times because of that, especially given the new Resident Evil 4 Switch port. It’s one of the best games of all time and now, you can carry it with you and play it wherever you want, inaccurate Joy-Con sticks be damned. But despite its timeless qualities, it’s still the same game and points out how much Capcom has failed adding substantial new features to its oft-ported magnum opus.
The Resident Evil 4 Switch port is almost an exact copy
The RE4 Switch port, as was the case with almost every other port of it, is the exact game it was on the PS2, which ironically was the entry that added the most content. It’s the main campaign and some of the extras like Mercenaries, Ada’s side chapter, the Plaga Removal Laser 412 weapon, and some costumes. But, as was the case with the PS2 version, Capcom should add more with each successive release even if that just amounts to some more skins and weapons.
Extras can go beyond cosmetics or guns too. The game begs for more behind the scenes footage especially given the infamous failed early concepts of the game and the fact that there is already short documentary about it that was included in some GameCube copies.
However, given the impact it had on the industry, it’s begging for new video content with interviews of its old designers discussing the game’s legacy or even other developers from other teams talking about the title influenced them. Concept art and unused material would even be worth it because Resident Evil 4 is that big of a deal. Special features like this would more solidly codify the game’s importance in a better way than a constant stream of nearly identical ports.
Cleaner menus would make it look newer and autosaving would bring it up to modern standards. The menus don’t look particularly bad but it is still very much a 2005 game and could use some reorganizing. And even if RE4 has sold a good number of copies, autosaves could ease more people into the game since a title without autosaves in 2019 is rather unusual. Capcom has shown that it knows how to welcome newer people to its games and there’s still room for improvement for that in RE4, as shown by its lack of proper subtitles.
There are a few gameplay tweaks that could work too. Switching weapons was always a tedious pain in the ass and a D-pad weapon select like the one found the newer Resident Evil installments since would streamline the game without altering it too much. While the Tetris-style item management deserves to stay, the less time spent in the menus, the better.
Resident Evil 4 is mechanically pretty modern in most respects, so it wouldn’t require that much effort to bump it up to modern standards. Improving the game like this in small ways every few years would make each of the dozens of current and future iterations more attractive. Touches like these would elevate it past being just another straight port of Resident Evil 4.
The coveted Wii version
Capcom has even done this once with Resident Evil 4. The Wii version’s motion controls added a whole new play on the old game, twisting the same old third-person shooting in a way that fit the platform and was legitimately unique. It was ambitious and it’s puzzling why it wasn’t included in the Switch release, even though there wasn’t even Move support for the PS3 port either. No other version has added that big of a feature since and they haven’t been as exciting as a result. The Resident Evil 4 pedigree is worth something but they all have been coasting off that name since 2005 with little else besides that.
The HD releases of the game did coast of the name as their enhancements were menial at best. Muddy textures, similar character models, and the lack of anti-aliasing didn’t make the jump to high definition feel all that worth it. Visually, they were below the bar for the most basic of HD re-releases. It’s why modders have been trying mod actual HD textures into the PC version and give players the true HD re-release they deserve. Capcom didn’t do a good enough job itself even though visual touch ups are the least dramatic ways to upgrade a game.
The most dramatic way to upgrade a game would be to almost completely remake it like the recent Resident Evil 2 remake. That reinvigorated entry made RE2 an event again in a way that slightly smoother textures couldn’t. The new perspective and completely reworked gameplay mechanics were a faithful way to look at a classic game in a modern lens. It was quite extreme but it shows that Capcom is capable and willing to do more work than what it is currently doing with RE4 over and over again. Resident Evil 4 doesn’t even feel that old either, meaning it wouldn’t need this intense of an overhaul. Although a Resident Evil 2 remake-style reimagining would be quite interesting.
It’s almost impossible to shake the desire to replay Resident Evil 4 every time a new port comes out because it’s an incredible experience that deserves another run every few years. But it’s harder to want to gin up the money to pay for it again if Capcom isn’t going to put in the work to add to it, especially given how it launched at $30 on the Switch. Because, with Capcom’s current attitude, it’s purely banking on the clout of the vanilla Resident Evil 4. And that is good enough for some people. But the re-releases could be bigger and better and Resident Evil 4 definitely deserves that.