Ranking every version of ‘Resident Evil 4’
Capcom has a fine track record in remaking the Resident Evil series, with a pedigree stretching all the way back to its fantastic reimagining of the first game in the series on GameCube. In 2019 and 2020, the developer bowled gamers over with Resident Evil 2 and 3, but now it’s aiming to reach the stars with a Resident Evil 4 remake.
The 2005 original is generally considered the best in the series, regularly lands around the top of the greatest games of all time lists, and has a firm place in gamers’ hearts. It’s also been released on pretty much every possible piece of hardware you can imagine. So, with the remake about to blast, suplex, and spin kick its way onto modern consoles, let’s run through all previous versions of the game and sort the wheat from the chaff.
13. BREW 4.0 (2008)
In the late 2000s, mobile gaming was rapidly rising in popularity as phones grew more powerful. Capcom was eager to jump on board and decided that Resident Evil 4 would be a great fit, commissioning a Japan-exclusive port to Qualcomm’s obscure BREW 4.0 platform, which ran on the final generation of dumbphones prior to the iPhone. The end result is more a gaming curio than anything worth actually playing. This is more of a reimagining than a port, splitting the action into small discrete stages, telling the story through still images, and massively downgrading the graphics.
We have to applaud the ambition of squeezing any form of Resident Evil 4 onto a flip phone, but actually playing it looks like a nightmare.
12. iOS (2009)
That BREW 4.0 release would prove to have a long shelf-life, getting a port to the then-new iOS and the App Store in 2009. This has all the flaws of the flip-phone version, though with touch controls added and somewhat better graphics (though by modern standards it looks like one of those PSOne demakes of modern games).
It’s long been delisted from the app store, so unless you’ve got it installed on a creaky old iPhone 3 or 4, you can’t buy or play it. That’s probably for the best. This version also made it to the first iPad, where it’s slightly more playable on the larger screen, but still pretty rubbish.
11. Zeebo (2009)
We know what you’re thinking. What the hell is a Zeebo? Well, with mainstream game consoles notoriously expensive in developing countries like Brazil and Mexico, there was a gap in the market for an inexpensive online-only device for gamers on a budget. On paper, it makes sense. In practice? Well, let’s just say there’s a reason you probably haven’t heard of the Zeebo.
But it got a port of Resident Evil 4, using the iOS version as a base. It features all the same graphical and gameplay restrictions as that version, though at least you can play this version of it with a controller. With the Zeebo online service now long dead, actually playing this is next to impossible, though we kind of respect that it exists at all.
10. Android (2013)
Once again, the old iOS Resident Evil 4 rears its head, this time with a quick n’ dirty Android port. By the time this version hit Android, it’d been five years since the BREW 4.0 release, and the already creaky old port was showing its age. Even so, at least this late release comes with all the DLC added to the iOS version and vaguely higher-resolution graphics. Being an Android game makes it a teeny bit more accessible, though if you really want to blow away Ganados on your Android phone, a far better option is just to emulate the GameCube release and use a controller.
9. PC (2007)
Hooray! An actual version of Resident Evil 4 that’s recognizably what we all know and love. Unfortunately, the 2007 PC port came from a time when Japanese games on PC were afterthoughts at best. This port of Resident Evil 4 is based on the PlayStation 2 version and was released with no lighting engine, low-quality textures, a suite of new bugs and crashes, and does not support mouse control for aiming.
A patch was released to fix the lighting and bugs, though as it’s since gotten a much better PC port (more on that below), this version is best left in the bad memories file.
8. PlayStation 2 (2005)
Resident Evil 4 was originally billed as a GameCube exclusive, with it coming as part of the ‘Capcom 5’ project intended to breathe new life into Nintendo’s purple box. Gamers back in the 2000s were as indignant about console exclusives as they are now, particularly as most prior Resident Evil games made it to Sony consoles. But, as it turned out, they didn’t have to wait too long, as the game arrived on PlayStation 2 less than a year after its GameCube release.
The PlayStation 2 was less capable than the GameCube, but while this version runs at a lower frame rate and has worse graphics, it acquits itself fairly well given the hardware limitations. This also came with the brand new Separate Ways campaign for Ada, which is arguably inessential but fun nonetheless.
7. GameCube (2005)
This is where it all started. We still remember picking this up for the purple box back in 2005 and spending a weekend immersed in Ganados-shooting action. Resident Evil 4 is one of the best-looking games on GameCube and, as it was designed for the idiosyncratic GameCube controller, plays like a dream on it.
The original version has long been superseded by more modern ports, though we still have a soft spot for it all these years later. Even now, it still feels like a GameCube game and is a sparkling example of what a talented developer could achieve on the console. Plus, this version got the iconic chainsaw controller, and that thing just kicks ass in every conceivable way.
6. PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 (2011)
With a coat of HD paint, Resident Evil 4 had never looked better. In 2011 this was by far the best way to play the game, though there are still a couple of caveats that keep it from perfection. In a bizarre twist, the audio was worse than both the GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions and often sounded notably compressed. Also, despite now being in HD, no alterations were made to any textures or environments, and what looked good on a CRT TV came across as blurry and indistinct over HDMI.
But it’s still a decent version of Resident Evil 4, though this is a lazy, no-frills port and we’d soon get better.
5. Switch (2019)
You won’t go wrong with the Switch version of Resident Evil 4. Being able to play this classic on the go is very welcome, and the Switch is more than capable of running the game without any frame-rate or graphical concessions. But there is one disappointing omission that keeps this from greatness.
The Switch JoyCons are fully capable of gyro/motion controls, though this port doesn’t use them at all. It’s a shame, particularly as the excellent Wii version showed how much fun it can be to ensure pinpoint accuracy. Even so, there’s nothing to sniff at here and as the Switch isn’t getting the Resident Evil 4 remake, it remains a fine way to experience Leon’s adventure on Nintendo hardware.
4. PlayStation 4 / Xbox One (2016)
This 2016 release is by far the most widely available to modern players and does the game proud. As you’d expect, it runs like a dream on eighth-generation hardware and, though the graphics are still somewhat dated, it’s gotten a mild HD scrub-up that takes it beyond the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. Other than that, there’s not too much to say. This is the game everyone loves in near-perfected form, is easily accessible to players (and works fine on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X), and is often available at a heavy discount.
3. Wii (2007)
Motion controls can be divisive at the best of times, but even hardcore Resident Evil 4 players admit that this is a particularly great use of the Wii motes. Here, the laser sight is replaced by a targeting reticle controlled by the Wii mote, giving you the best possible accuracy. The only real frustration is that as this is a Wii game it’s not in HD, but as this incredible control scheme has never made its way to other versions we recommend trying it out at least once.
And, if you’re really not convinced by motion controls, you can also connect a GameCube controller and play it as it was originally released. Maybe these days this is something of a relic, but it’s still a bunch of fun.
2. PC (2014)
Capcom made amends for the terrible PC port with this fantastic PC port that does everything you’d expect from a modern release. But the original release isn’t the end of the story, as the modding community has taken this release way beyond the base version. Top of the pile is the jaw-droppingly comprehensive “Resident Evil 4 HD Project”, in which a team of truly dedicated fans has replaced every texture in the game with far superior new versions.
This was a titanic undertaking, with the modders even traveling to European locations to reshoot the original architectural features that the original game’s textures were based on. The HD Project is a true labor of love, and when we replay the original game, it’s where we go.
1. Oculus Quest 2 (2021)
By 2021, Resident Evil had already proved its virtual reality credentials with the terrifying PSVR port of Resident Evil 7. This goes way beyond even that, with Armature Studio (composed of many former members of Metroid Prime developer Retro Studios) porting the game to Unreal Engine 4 and bringing the game to life like never before. The result is absolutely exhilarating and is almost worth the price of an Oculus Quest 2 to play it.
You now control the game in full VR, pulling your weapons off your hip and back, manually reloading during intense gunfights, and the puzzles now bristling with levers and buttons to poke at. Best of all, you can now move and shoot at the same time, which lets you realize your John Wick fantasies as you dismantle the Ganados with shotgun blasts and stylish headshots. As the enemy AI isn’t altered, this arguably dials the difficulty down, but it’s so fun it’s difficult to quibble.
The only flies in the ointment are some unnecessary minor censorship and the omission of the Assignment Ada and Separate Ways modes, but this breathes new life into a very familiar game and is a fantastic way to experience the story in a new way.
Whether the Resident Evil 4 remake can top even this remains to be seen, though the excellent demo bodes very well for the full release on Friday. Expect our thoughts on that very soon.
The Resident Evil 4 Remake lands on PC, Playstation, and Xbox on March 24, 2023.