It’s hard to believe that it’s been 16 years since Capcom and Shinji Mikami released Resident Evil 4 — one of the most dynamic and revolutionary sequels in modern video game history, and it shows how much of an impact the game has made on the industry and still continues to do so to this day thanks to how much of a risk Mikami took to change the formula and create something almost entirely new from scratch.
Released in January 11, 2005 for the Nintendo Gamecube as part of the “Capcom Five” exclusives that were promised to the system, Resident Evil 4 was a grand departure from its Survival Horror roots — choosing to focus on action and an over the shoulder perspective that turn the game into a third-person shooter game that was entirely different from its predecessors. Gone were the fixed camera angles and almost all Survival Horror inspired elements that made the game scary. In its place came something that bordered on fast paced action and upgrading your weapons to fight enemies that were not zombies — birthing a new kind of subgenre for the series that fans have dubbed as “Survival Action”.
As a direct sequel, RE4 put players in control of returning protagonist Leon S. Kennedy — who has since become a government agent working under the direct orders of the President of the United States. Taking place six years after the events of the Raccoon City outbreak of which he is one of the few survivors, Leon travels to a remote area of Europe on a mission to save the president’s daughter Ashley Graham — who was kidnapped by a cult known as the “Los Illuminados”. While it seems like a standard rescue operation, not all is what it seems as the villagers and cultists Leon encounters all exhibit strange behavior — leading to an adventure that once again involves biological monsters and a conspiracy that may endanger the entire globe if he doesn’t put a stop to it.
Despite initially being a Gamecube exclusive, RE4 was eventually ported to many other systems — starting with the PS2 in October of that same year, and then eventually to succeeding console generations thanks to HD ports and special editions that incorporated motion controls such as the Wii. Having 11 ports in total, the game is the very definition of surviving longer than its intended lifespan, and getting rereleased by Capcom for as much as they can justify adding graphical enhancements and putting it on a new console that can take the game portable such as the Nintendo Switch.
16 years and counting. That is definitely an impressive legacy — and if the rumors of an RE4 Remake are true, then it will definitely continue on.