Resident Evil 4 Remake Review - A Voice Actor's Take
A Masterclass on remakes for years to come
As a voice actor, I have a different take on reviewing things and I really look for and recognize different aspects of games that other reviewers may not. And hey, this is just my opinion so I recommend checking the game out to form your own. This review is Spoiler & Drama Free for your reading pleasure! Enjoy!
The beloved Survival Horror franchise that is Resident Evil provides gamers with heart-pounding action, fear-induced arrhythmia, and explosions galore! Capcom has decided to continue its run of remaking, improving, and capitalizing on the nostalgia of its previous IPs. Nothing wrong with that since almost all Millennials like myself love some good nostalgia. The success of the Resident Evil 1-3 Remakes proves that remastering is here to stay when it is done right. The biggest and most interesting note though is that the first three Resident Evils were much slower than the action-packed and what feels like a nonstop thrill ride that is Resident Evil 4. Could Capcom Cap-itilize on this with their 4 Remake? The short answer is... Absolutely!
Take me back to the Paradise City
Ahhh Paradise... if Paradise is a village in disarray and filled to the brim with homicidal villagers intent on ripping you to shreds in the most graphic ways imaginable AND IN 4k! Well, beggars can't be choosers, and that is exactly what you get in the beginning minutes of the Resident Evil 4 Remake. Playing as Leon S. Kennedy, an overall badass of the highest pedigree who happens to be a federal agent, you are tasked with rescuing none other than the President's daughter, Ashley. As you step into the dark and creepy land of Valdelobos (Valley of Wolves) in Spain, you get the feeling that you aren't in Kansas anymore... oh and that guy just got decapitated. It's a pleasant place I tell you!
Bringing a Classic to Current Gen
It's never an easy feat to remaster, let alone remake, a classic game that is beloved by fans of the series and keeps it the same game in spirit. I for one love the Final Fantasy Series and the Final Fantasy 7 Remake was my favorite remake, but Square Enix completely changed the gameplay, maps, and in the end, the story. This isn't a bad thing at all but left some fans with a sour taste in their mouth.
Capcom however opted to rework the game in terms of graphics, content, and gameplay with more balance and finesse. The graphics are massively more impressive and every section feels darker and spookier than ever before. The original had a brownish-gray look throughout, while the remake is well, take a look for yourself...
Resident Evil 4 does remove some content in regards to maps and content, but they have overhauled and expanded on complete sections of maps that were previously not explorable. It's a win for everyone in regard to exploration and meaningful backstory rather than fluff explorable zones in other games and remakes.
In regards to gameplay the soul of the game's over-the-shoulder distinct, and revolutionary for its time, point of view is still here. The Leon of old used to feel kind of clunky, heck you weren't able to move while aiming... yeah I know. Now Leon is able to move cautiously while aiming, parry incoming melee attacks with his beautiful knife, and even stealth kill enemies!
Capcom has evolved the way to create remakes by keeping the essence of the original, retooling small annoyances in controls, and upping the meaningful content and lore that brings one really deep into the story of Resident Evil 4.
The change of the Voice Acting Guard
A big change, and somewhat of a divisive one in the community, is the voice actors who bring this story to life.
Now, let's get one thing clear. It's never okay to bully, let alone harass someone for anything. What the community has done to Lily Gao is downright embarrassing in regards to people (cough cough "adults") bashing an actor for the decisions that in the end the director or publisher signed off on.
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Nick Apostolides makes his return as Leon S. Kennedy as he was the voice for Leon in the Resident Evil 2 Remake as well. His style and delivery are different from the original but not in a bad way at all. He is a perfect take on the witty yet serious protagonist. The developer/directors of the remake have made some very solid changes in the characters, the biggest one being Ashley Graham (the president's daughter). She went from an annoying, almost squeaky teen-like character that couldn't do anything herself, to a semi-confident college-aged female who understands she's in a bad situation but is able to relatively fend for herself in real life i.e. AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN!
High hopes for developers to continue this refreshing, real take.
Now let's discuss Ada. Ada Wong in the original was much more of a seductress than in the remake. Capcom has also done the correct thing and cast the character with a voice actor who is of the appropriate ethnicity. Something that is changing a lot in the industry. Go Inclusion! Now I do not believe Lily Gao did a bad job at all. They reduced the flirtatiousness of Ada Wong overall and had her match more of the performance in the live-action Welcome to Raccoon City, which some fans do not like and are rather vocal about it unfortunately. Does live-action acting interpret well into video games or animation? Not always, but it typically can assuming the actor is recording in a broadcast-quality location. My biggest issue is in the audio quality. They added reverb and echo-like qualities to everyone in order to make it sound like they are within an old, archaic empty building during most cut scenes, which works. But with Ada's voice, they doubled down on it or the recording quality of the original audio files just wasn't recorded in the right environment. It takes you out of the scene and immersion most of the time, with the exception of when Ada speaks through your controller/the telecom device. That audio actually sounds right so I am leaning towards someone over-processed things in post for her. Again, all of the decisions in the acting choices and audio quality were signed off on by multiple people before getting the game the go-ahead to sell, so if you want to blame someone, blame Capcom's audio department.
I don't and it was a very minimal thing in an otherwise perfect rendition of characters throughout the game. Every character had new nuance even if different from the original and I was never disappointed throughout, though I do miss the "What Are ya Buyin" line and laugh for the Merchant.
I'll say it again...Resident Evil 4 Remake is a Masterclass on remakes for years to come. The quality of life improvements to the game's content and game mechanics along with keeping all of the original essences of the story and acting just puts this remake on a tier that other developers need to take note of in the future. I don't care to buy remakes and remasters as I love experiencing games I originally enjoyed again, but prettier. Resident Evil 4 Remake is not only prettier but adds nuance and surprises around every corner. It's a non-stop thrill ride that will keep you coming back over and again, even after getting your head cut off by a cow-headed psychopath for the 13th time.