Review – Resident Evil 4 VR
I caved in. I swallowed my pride and grabbed one of those fancy Oculus Quest 2 headsets. Facebook got a few hundred bucks from me. I still advocate for VR gaming and believe it is the most innovative niche in the industry nowadays, but prior to the release of the Quest 2, there just wasn’t a system out there was cheap, practical, and powerful. However, this neat little gizmo is light, cheap, completely cordless, and most importantly, can run some really cool games like Demeo, Moss, Zombieland: Headshot Fever, and much more. The system was in dire need of that one killer app to convince the masses to give it a shot. Who would have thought that Resident Evil 4 VR would become such killer app?
Yeah yeah, laugh it up. Yet another version of Resident Evil 4. Is this the fifteenth, sixteenth version of the game released ever since 2005? How can a game so old be considered the killer app for a brand new kind of gaming technology? I get what you mean. The big problem with VR is that, through the eyes and brains of a newcomer, it’s hard to imagine how good a game can be in such format when watching a 2D trailer on YouTube. If you’re not new to VR, you can use your imagination to fill in the blanks; that ain’t the case for the newbies.
Yes, at its core, Resident Evil 4 VR is plain old Resident Evil 4. It retains the level design and visuals from the Gamecube port in particular, albeit upscaled and re-polished to look more appealing in a higher resolution. Ganados will try to sneak behind you and yell “detrás de ti, imbecil”, puzzles are the mostly the same, the lab sections are a pain, Ashley is still a nuisance. If you have ever played RE4 in the past, you won’t have a problem with this port. With that being said, despite being mostly the same game, Resident Evil 4 VR changes things up in a way that basically turn it into a borderline brand-new experience, mostly for the better.
The new perspective fundamentally changes how the game is and should be played. The original Resident Evil 4 was a slow-paced game. It introduced the world to a brand-new aiming system, all while retaining the tank-like controls from the previous games in the franchise. Resident Evil 4 VR is even less of a horror game in this regard. Thanks to the free-form movement provided by the Oculus Quest 2’s controllers, you have complete control over Leon’s movements. You can run from one point of the map to another quite quickly, moving the camera around with dexterity, and being able to shoot while running. It’s even more of a VR Doom experience than Doom VFR and Doom 3, when you stop and think about it.
That also means that the ganados are a lot more agile and aggressive than their non-VR counterparts. They don’t slow down when they get near you, since you don’t need that extra time to enter aiming mode when standing in front of them. You can dual wield a pistol and a knife, a machine gun and a pistol if you want, all while moving around, so they are put in a more competitive state against you. In no moment I felt as if Resident Evil 4 VR was harder or more unfair than its non-VR ports. On the contrary, in fact. I’m already used to free-form VR movement, all thanks to games like Sniper Elite VR and Farpoint, so playing this once-survival horror like a lunatic FPS felt like second nature.
Resident Evil 4 VR is one of those “floaty hands” games, and while this might look uncanny when looking at screenshots, you don’t pay attention to them that much during gameplay. The weapon placement and gameplay is so good that you will always be able to pay attention at what’s in front of you, all while letting your hands work freely without ever looking at where your guns and ammo are located. I’d pick up a handgun with my right hand, grab ammo from a waist pocket with my left hand, reload it like a boss, grab a knife with my left hand, and go full Rambo into a horde of villagers without a sweat. It’s a fantastic control scheme that takes mere minutes to get used to.
There is just one issue with Resident Evil 4 VR‘s control scheme, and that’s more of an issue with the Quest 2 controllers themselves: holding a larger weapon with two hands feels unnatural. Having played so many games with the PSVR AIM controller, where holding said kind of weapon feels like second nature, going back to make-believe shotgun wielding feels clunky. Nothing you cannot get used to, but it makes you wonder if Oculus will ever release a rifle-shaped controller in the future. It’s something I’d buy in a second.
Resident Evil 4 VR manages to port the cinematic feel of the original RE4 with more fidelity than expected. Sure, cutscenes are presented in a theater-like way, taking you out of the experience as a result, but I don’t think there was any other way this could have been fixed. A few lines of dialogue and cutscenes have been cut, but nothing too dramatic. The cheesy dialogue is still here, for the most part. The soundtrack is still great and the ganados will still shout curse words in Spanish whenever they can. Finally, QTEs have been reworked. Surprisingly, for the better. They are mostly motion-based, and require even less reflexes than before. Furthermore, they’re now fully optional. You are able to turn them off completely on the main menu.
At the time of writing, Resident Evil 4 VR does not include a Mercenaries mode, nor Ada’s campaign. The main campaign, that borderline neverending journey through villages, castles, labs, and everything in between, is all you can enjoy at the moment. The former has already been confirmed, however; it will arrive in a free update later this year. Given how more action-packed this particular port of RE4 is, I can only imagine how addictive the Mercenaries mode will become in VR, especially considering how portable and “pick-up-and-play-friendly” the Oculus Quest 2 is as a whole.
More than just a fantastic killer app for the Oculus Quest 2, Resident Evil 4 VR is a killer app for virtual reality in general. Unlike Half-Life Alyx, this is a phenomenal shooter available on the cheapest, most readily available, and most comfortable VR system in the market. It features everything you have always loved from Resident Evil 4, but in a brand new perspective that turns what was already fun and immersive into something even more intense and memorable. Even if the behind-the-scenes shadiness makes you feel uneasy about purchasing a Quest 2, Resident Evil 4 VR is worth the admission ticket.
Even if the assets were taken straight from the Gamecube version, and the level of gore has been reduced, it’s immersive as hell. It looks great on the Quest’s excellent screens, and it runs smoothly.
Now this is true VR gameplay. Free-form movement that isn’t as sickness-inducing as one would have imagined, hyper-realistic aiming and shooting, and an overall control scheme that’s really easy to learn and master. With that being said, wielding a large gun with two hands never feels natural.
The usage of surround sound isn’t as impressive as I would have liked from a VR game, but it gets the job done. As for the rest of the sound design, with the exception of a few removed voice clips, it’s the same soundtrack and voice acting we have loved since 2005.
Fun Factor: 10
This is the most fun I have ever had with any version of Resident Evil 4. That must account for something.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Resident Evil 4 VR is available now on Oculus Quest 2.
Reviewed on Oculus Quest 2.