The Oculus Quest 2 in the corner of my room had been collecting dust for some time. My uncle was visiting from Pakistan last week and he really wanted to try it. He enjoyed playing Beat Saber, one of the top titles on our best VR games list, but after he left, back in the case it went.
But I recently downloaded Resident Evil 4 VR, a virtual reality port of the 2005 classic. I grew up playing Resident Evil 4 on the GameCube as a kid, and had fond memories of taking on the role of Leon Kennedy on a bizarre hunt for the president's daughter through a zombie infested village. Back then, it was seen as a major hallmark for video game story telling. Now, it's a bit cheesy. Either way, the gameplay mechanics and world were deeply realized for the time, and it's still considered by many, including us, as the best Resident Evil game.
And Currently, there's a good deal on for Cyber Monday for the Oculus Quest 2, and that makes it now a great time to hunt down the VR headset.
Courtesy of Capcom, I was provided a code of the game. Immediately, Resident Evil VR felt familiar yet fresh. It was the same world I remembered, with all the secret items and gold-dropping crows. But I felt immersed in it in a way that was beyond that of the squat CRT television in my parent's bedroom.
Simple actions of grabbing my gun from the side holster and sliding in a new clip of ammunition were weirdly satisfying. Grabbing the knife from the sheath strapped around my left pectoral, and being able to toss that knife between each hand felt like more than a gimmick; it felt empowering — especially in a game where ammunition is limited and the enemies can be relentless. I'm sure from the outside I looked properly silly, but in VR, I was an action-movie hero.
Because VR needs to take very specific design considerations for game developers, I'm in awe of how well Austin-based developer Armature Studio has brought the game over into a simulated 3D environment. Not only have many of the textures and graphics been revamped, there are objects you can poke and prod, and they'll react as they would in the real world.
For example, when walking around villages, there will be these crosses with skulls hanging off each arm. With my hand, I can tap a skull and see it swing back and forth. It's a small detail like this — which Armature could have left alone — that gives the game that added layer of immersion.
In my playthrough I learned that there's skill involved in VR. When watching IGN's live gameplay video, I was taken aback by all the unique moves the player was making while peeking around corners or running through hordes of enemies. It really showed the varying levels of freedom a player can take in Resident Evil 4 VR, based solely on how much they themselves want to immerse themselves in it. A player can simply choose to point and shoot, like using a television remote. Or the player can hold the handle of the gun with both hands for added stability, making it feel more high stakes.
And I think that's part of the power Resident Evil 4 is bringing to the VR space. I'm sure that there are far more immersive VR titles, one that were made from the ground-up with physical movements and motion controls in mind. But new franchises can be intimidating to new players. And Resident Evil 4 VR gives longtime gamers a comparative perspective.
Going through the comments in the IGN video linked above, many were not only surprised at the way in which Resident Evil 4 VR was being played, but how the experience was so unique from the GameCube original. The game from 2005 can give players a base context while the VR remake can put that context in a virtual reality framework. That contrast, I feel, can help lifelong gamers see the value in VR. I mean, it certainly did for me.
I still plan on going through and finishing Resident Evil 4 VR, even if I can only play for thirty minutes at a time before needing to take a break. But with rumors of a PS5 and Xbox Series X Resident Evil 4 remake percolating, I can at least say for myself personally, it won't have to live up to the original, but rather this VR remake instead.
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