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Resident Evil 4 VR Review – Breathing New Life Into A Familiar Feeling

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I’m divided when it comes to whether or not someone should play Resident Evil 4 VR. If you have never touched the original RE4, you should not go into this version under any circumstances; anything that makes (and does, for that matter) matter would go completely over your head in VR. 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 costs.

As the name suggests, RE4VR is just that. It’s Resident Evil 4 but in VR. There’s an immediate novelty to the game’s shift in perspective – bringing it to first person allows for an intimate look at the game world that third person could never afford. Effectively being a remaster of a 16-year-old game, RE4VR sometimes shows its age – mainly when it gets close to certain textures and muddy assets – but it doesn’t look bad at all. As someone who’s played the original more times than I count, getting to see a 1: 1 recreation of RE4’s levels, characters, and monsters was consistently fun.

Changes specifically to VR are also welcome in most cases. The giant interactive case where protagonist Leon Kennedy holds all his weapons and equipment is a blast to assemble in VR. Seems as close as it gets to making it in real life, even if you’re more or less playing Tetris with guns. Speaking of which, the weapons are fantastic. I had a great time holding iconic weapons like the Red9 handgun and Striker shotgun and taking a good look at the extra details. Ditto for items from around the world such as keys, money, and herbs. Anything can be picked up and examined before throwing it into your inventory. I’m sure I looked like an idiot to all of my neighbors who were constantly looking at my hands, but they had no idea that I was watching a yellow grass up close for the first time – their downfall.

Combat received RE4VR’s biggest overhaul, and that’s what sent me to the moon. Famous, the original changed the typical third-person camera perspective from fixed angles to the now modern behind-the-back view. But it still featured tank controls, meaning Leon only moved in the direction he was facing. In addition, he could not move while aiming or shooting. While groundbreaking for the time, there is a clear narrative and mechanical dissonance in the gameplay of the original. The game features Leon as a Badass American action hero, but once you get it under control you keep buzzing like the same old fool from the old Resident Evils. RE4VR abandons this model altogether if you choose to play with full motion enabled instead of teleporting. I cannot recommend it enough; it marries mechanics and history in a way the original never did.

Running freely in a combat arena profoundly changes the way enemy engagements work in RE4. Rather than trying to line up with a row of enemies, doing as much damage as possible before they got to me, I was constantly on the move, adapting my playstyle to the present moment and acting out. offensive against enemies rather than defensively. Right off the bat I had a blast shooting enemies like a John Wick in VR. I thought RE4 would never feel “new” to me at this point in my life again, but RE4VR completely changed the way I played one of my favorite games. It was fresh, exciting, and totally different from every part of RE4 I’ve had in the past 16 years. For the first time in ages, I wasn’t going through the moves, and iconic moments like first meeting the village, El Gigante fights, and minecart roller coasters have rarely been more fun.

Putting RE4 in first person also does a lot of horror – though it’s still not the scariest thing you can play on the market. There is an inherent tension in being surrounded by enemies in VR, especially when you are overwhelmed. The many insanely tall bosses are also incredibly menacing when you see them towering far above you. More than once, RE4VR put my heart in my throat as I frantically tried to foil the threat closing in on me. Sometimes this exacerbated some issues with tracking two-handed weapons, which wouldn’t register one of my hands or input such as cocking a shotgun or aiming a scope. Fortunately, it was rare, but it still resulted in some boring deaths. Until I unlock the Striker, which allows me to shoot an automatic shotgun with one hand like I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2 – but cooler.

In 2020, I played the original RE4 three times back and forth. This is something that I’m used to play for comfort; I can charge and go for it without thinking too much about it. RE4VR has completely changed my relationship with a game that 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 dubious need to have a Facebook account to play an Oculus game, I couldn’t recommend RE4VR highly enough. It’s like breathing new life into an old familiar feeling.

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