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Resident Evil 4 Demo Impressions

Resident Evil 4 got a very sudden demo this morning – and that means we had a very sudden download to get going. It was well worth it.

Resident Evil 4 put this franchise on the map. The PS1 games sold relatively well. 4 outsold them all and, to this day, nearly all of them put together. It was super successful. That was in part due to the films.

And so while the remakes of 1 and 2 had a bit of nostalgic potential, the sales of the remake are going to be really fascinating. And that would have been true regardless of how the game turned out.

Well, if the demo is anything to go by, then there isn’t much to worry about. It’s managed to capture the spirit of the original while modernising it.

That might not sound like a tall order – Resident Evil 4 is the first of the modern games and the third-person gameplay hasn’t massively changed since then. But actually, the demo shows how far things have come. Little things, like the loss of QTEs, show how dated the original game was starting to feel in a myriad of small ways. Just little tightening in the controls, or in the way Leon moves, show how old our sense of “modern” can feel. Maybe that’s just for the old folks who played it originally.

All of these are secondary surprises though. The biggest, and most obvious upgrade, is unsurprisingly the visuals. The graphics are pretty good. The best update for non-PC users has to be the ability to play at 60fps, although a visual mode is also available for those who want a more graphically pleasing experience. Although experts will be pawing over the footage of the demo in the coming days and weeks, I’ll say I was quite happy with it.

Resident Evil 4 Demo

Another obvious improvement – although expect this to be a controversial opinion in some quarters – is the voice acting. This version of Resident Evil 4 doesn’t feel cheesy in the same way as the original. It sounds a bit more grown-up.

The demo covers probably the most famous section of the original game: the first walk into the village and the subsequent attack. The chainsaw man that gives this demo its name is the final boss although, like the original, you won’t be expected to finish him off.

In a blink it’s over, and you’re asked to jump onto a digital store and buy a copy of the game. But it’s enough to instil real confidence in the return of Resident Evil. It could have been a cheap cashgrab, and it doesn’t feel like that.

Obviously, a demo is always going to be a best foot forward. They’re – hopefully – not putting out something awful. Save that for the full release. So I’m going to stop short of getting too excited. There’s always room for issues beyond the first twenty minutes.

But if the quality here continues, it’ll be well worth a purchase. And, as an aside, it gives me a bit of hope for the rumoured Metal Gear Solid 3 remake. Fingers crossed fans of both franchises end up happy.

The Resident Evil 4 Demo is available to download now. It’s about 10Gb.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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