Setting the gold standard

Daniel Lim

Rarely does a game help to set the tone for a whole generation, but it does, it represents a pinnacle of gaming at the time that helps to form the foundation for future games to lean onto.

Among those that are still seeing releases well into today’s gaming is the Resident Evil series, which had its humble start in 1996 on the PlayStation. Since then, each release has set the standard for thriller and survival horror games to improve on.

Among the releases, one game under the series is Resident Evil 4.

Originally released on the Nintendo Gamecube in 2005, Resident Evil 4 helped to set a new standard for the series, shifting from the stationary camera setting that was found in previous titles, from the first Resident Evil to Resident Evil Zero, to a third-person perspective.

While the third-person perspective is synonymous with current games, it was regarded as a revolutionary change to the series, as the shift brought players closer to the action, rather than being as a separate entity viewing events unfolding from the fixed camera angle.

Resident Evil 4 is also a game that pioneered a more action-orientated focus for Resident Evil which, for better or worse, helped to set the high-octane pacing of future games to come in the series, as well as influencing the evolution of the survival horror and third-person genres.

Various ports of the game have made their way to many platforms, from the PlayStation 2 of the same console generation, to being remastered for the newer console.

Artwork for Resident Evil 4. PHOTO: CAPCOM

Resident Evil 4 takes place in 2004 and put players in the shoes of protagonist Leon S Kennedy on a mission to save the United States (US) President’s daughter Ashley Graham in a rural village in Spain.

Along the way, Leon faces up against a slew of mutated beings infected with a mind-controlling parasite known as Las Plagas.

The game is enjoyed by many, not only in its original form, but also through the various ports and remasters. One such remaster that came unexpected from Capcom, the developer and publisher of the game, was for the Virtual Reality (VR) platform of Oculus Quest 2, which now goes by the name of Meta Quest 2 as part of Facebook’s attempt at rebranding the platform.

Released this year, Resident Evil 4 VR was rebuilt from the ground up in the popular game engine Unreal Engine 4 and, as such, many of the game mechanics are also reworked for VR.

Previously, players would be looking over the shoulder of Leon in a third-person perspective.

In this VR remaster, players are now embodying Leon himself. This also extends to the use of weapons. In VR, players can grab the weapons on the body which mimics where the weapons are seen on the character in-game.

Another major change made is to the movement.

The VR remaster is in favour of a modern rendition of free movement, for example the fight against El Gigante, the enemy’s overhead swings that could be deadly in the original game can now be easily sidestepped in the VR version. This robs some of the nuance and charm that is found in the ports that are faithful to the original.

Resident Evil 4 VR is not for first time players who are just immersing themselves into the platform. This is due to the use of smooth locomotion that mimics how movement is done in the original release, which can be jarring for some and, at worst, can induce motion sickness.

While there are options for a more comfortable experience with the use of teleport for movement, playing with smooth locomotion not only gives players a massive in-game advantage but is also sometimes mandatory, especially in vehicle section such as the battle against Del Lago which mostly takes place on a boat, to the mine-cart portion, where despite the various comfort options, can be disorientating.

Combined with the sometimes jarring transitions to cutscenes or in-game actions, such as climbing ladders and certain interactions like awkward Quick Time events, this can bring players out of being immersed in the world.

Even with its setbacks though, Resident Evil 4 VR is still a faithful recreation of the original vision. With updates on the horizon such as the Mercenaries Mode which has become a staple in modern Resident Evil releases, Resident Evil 4 VR is the complete full game experience that retells the story faithfully in VR and is a must-have for players looking for a more lengthy and complete VR games.