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Resident Evil 4 Remake VR Review

Look, I don’t need to tell you how great Resident Evil 4 is. You’ve either already played the original 15 times by now in any number of its various re-releases over the years, or were delighted to experience it for the first time with the phenomenal remake earlier this year (which
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). There was even a VR port of the original that came out just two years ago. But now, on top of it all, there’s a PlayStation VR 2-exclusive VR mode for Resident Evil 4 Remake, raising the question of whether it’s worth going back for yet another run through this horror classic from a different perspective. The answer may not at all surprise you! Yes, as it turns out: if you take an amazing horror game and give it a similar VR treatment to that of fellow residences of evil Biohazard and Village, it’s still amazing (and often even more chilling) in true first-person. But it’s also an imperfect port, with some finicky controls and tons of jarring cuts into third-person since, equally unsurprisingly, a remake of a game that first came out 17 years ago pretty clearly wasn’t designed with virtual reality in mind.

What we said about Resident Evil 4 Remake (not in VR)​

Whether you're a fan of the original or a newcomer with a hankering for some action-heavy horror of the highest quality, Resident Evil 4 is like a parasite-riddled Spaniard: a total no-brainer. Its combat is friction-free but no less stress-inducing thanks to its ferocious cast of creatures, its story rapidly shuttles through a series of action scenes that are diverse in structure but uniformly unwavering in intensity, and its world is rich in detail and full of fun and often snarling surprises. Its improvements over the original are too numerous to list, from simple quality of life changes to completely overhauled boss fight mechanics, and with the exception of the disappointingly diminished personality of the merchant, the team at Capcom has barely put a foot wrong. Whaddaya buying? Only the most relentlessly exciting Resident Evil adventure of all time that’s been rebuilt, refined, and realised to the full limits of its enormous potential. A wise choice, mate. - Tristan Ogilvie, March 17, 2023

Score: 10​

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Just about everything you know and love about Resident Evil 4 Remake is also true of its VR Mode, so seriously, if you haven’t seen our Resident Evil 4 review or don’t know what I’m talking about, go read that first just above. Just like playing on a flat screen, you’ll get attacked by pitchfork wielding mobs in farms covered in sickly livestock and deeply troubled dogs, dodge fiery shrapnel fired from catapults manned by medieval cultists, go on the world’s worst fishing trip, and buy guns from the only British person allowed to own firearms, and all of that is every bit as awesome, but VR seriously ups the horror and immersion. It felt great to be able to stare down the barrel of weapons I’ve been familiarizing myself with since the days of my youth and tell the President’s life-sized daughter to shut up and get behind me. Plus, being surprised by a zombie that pops up behind you without warning is especially horrifying when they’re right up in your face, rendered in the beautiful high-definition goriness that is Resident Evil 4 Remake. The haptic feedback on the controllers and headset also add an extra tactile touch whenever you fire a weapon or get rocked by a nearby explosion.

By contrast, first-person made RE7 and Village much more VR-friendly.

That said, Resident Evil 4 Remake obviously wasn’t originally intended to be played as a first-person shooter, much less in VR, and that’s very apparent every time you climb a ladder, step in a bear trap, dodge an enemy attack, or roundhouse kick some unlucky brainwashed peasant because you’re jarringly swapped into third-person for a short out-of-body experience before getting thrown back into first-person again. By contrast, the VR modes for Resident Evil Biohazard and Village are both much more VR-friendly because they were designed to be played from first-person. It certainly detracts from the immersion when you’re suddenly watching some other guy lie on the ground after taking a hit and have to stand there waiting for that dude to get back on his feet so you can continue playing.

And instead of engaging with the world around you in VR, like clicking an elevator button with your finger or sliding open a latch on a locked door, you just click a button prompt and watch it happen in front of you. Compared to Biohazard and Village, where you actually get to manipulate the world more intimately by doing things like putting a key into a keyhole and turning it in your hands, Resident Evil 4’s VR mode is significantly less interactive. Even when you go to finish off an enemy on the ground or sneak up on them for a stealth takedown, you enter a weird view where you can see part of Leon’s head, and that doesn’t quite feel right. Since all the cutscenes are done in third-person too, they just stick you in a black void with a giant screen in it to watch the story play out like you’re in the Sunken Place. I don’t know that there was ever going to be a good solution to these issues due to the fundamental differences between what Resident Evil 4 is and what a great made-for-VR game entails, but it’s definitely reminiscent of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.

The Resident Evil VR formula is still extremely good in most regards.

The good news is that, wonky perspective issues aside, everything else follows the same Resident Evil VR formula, which is extremely good in most regards. Reaching for weapons on your belt and back before unloading them at the parasitic life forms in front of you, running away from a giant troll that’s about to stomp you flat, and sneaking around to eliminate enemies from stealth all feel awesome. I even finally got to feel like I had good aim without the aid of a laser sight thanks to the effectiveness of first-person iron sights that just isn’t reliable over the shoulder. And for those in need of special comfort accommodations, a variety of options are available to reduce your chances of experiencing motion sickness, like tunneling and snap turning, which are always appreciated.

There is a bit of wonkiness with combat in VR, though. For example, you might make the horrible mistake of accidentally throwing a grenade at your feet when you meant to grab your knife, both of which are positioned on your chest right next to one another. Or when using a weapon with a scope on it, you’ll have to hope the automatic detection that determines which eyeball the scope is held up to selects your preferred one, otherwise you’ll find yourself struggling to reposition the weapon on your face so you can aim properly. Most of these are minor issues that mostly take some getting used to before you git gud, like how reloading can take significantly longer in VR early on when you don’t know what you’re doing, making you feel like a hilariously underqualified special agent. But once you get your feet wet with it, the payoff of feeling like an actual zombie-slaying superhero is well worth that learning curve.

Also, owing to the impressive specs of the PSVR 2 and the attached PlayStation 5, Resident Evil 4 is one of the best-looking VR games I’ve ever played, and it’s especially impressive when compared to the next-best option of playing the non-remake VR version that looks downright butt-ugly from start to finish. Similarly, the fantastic audio design in the base game is enhanced in the VR experience because now you can hear zombies chanting in the next room and tremble before the terrible roars of giant bosses. That high quality is hardly surprising given how great the regular game sounds and looks, but it just hits different in VR, and that novelty is absolutely worth strapping a screen to your face for at least a couple hours.

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