Which Is The Superior Resident Evil 4 Follow-Up?


I just finished up The Evil Within and might have a Steam user review up in the next few days. It got me thinking about all the third person shooters that have tried to directly take after Resident Evil 4. I’d like to do a full article on that idea someday, but for now I’ll settle for tossing out quick comparisons now that I’ve played all the games I think are candidates.

Evil Within feels like Shinji Mikami’s own attempt to follow-up his seminal 2005 creation that popularized action horror, possibly in response to games like the original Gears of War, Capcom’s own Resident Evil sequels, Shadows of the Damned (which Mikani had a hand in), and the first Dead Space. Those are what I consider to be the main RE4 followers.

RE4’s own actual direct sequel, Resident Evil 5, is probably my lease favorite successor to that game. The first reason is because it just doesn’t do enough differently from RE4, as if Capcom didn’t know where to take what Mikami handed it. At the very least RE5’s encounters and levels didn’t feel as imaginative as RE4’s — what is what allows RE4 to hold up to this day. I know a lot of people really like RE5 as a co-op experience, but I still hate how co-op was forced onto that game. Generally, I consider all the other games I’m about to talk about to be better sequels to RE4 than RE5 is in terms of taking what it started and pushing it forward.

Of them, Gears is certainly the most different in terms of genre — it’s a straight-up action shooter that also popularized the cover mechanic, but the first entry in that series also might borrow the most overtly from RE4. One particular enemy and many of its encounters are direct callbacks to that game. Gears of course however eventually became very much of its own thing with a lot more inspiration outside RE4 going into its gameplay, which is what likely allowed it to become the most famous and most played RE4 successor.

Shadows of the Damned also ends up probably feeling quite different from RE4 in the end, mostly to keep up the reputation of being a “Suda 51 game” from what I remember. I actually probably remember the least about Shadows of all the games I’m talking about right now, but I do remember it being a pretty snappy over-the-shoulder shooter with fun and varied combat. One thing about it though is it’s possibly the only RE4 successor that manages to carry over that game’s levity and sense of fun in the subject matter. All the other games I’m mentioning have a constant seriousness about them, where RE4 never feels tonally awkward because it knows it’s a dumb action plot. Though, I’ll admit Gears’s fantasy setting gives it a lot more room to confidently do crazy things, especially compared to most popular shooters today. Again, carrying the “Suda brand” is likely what allowed Shadows to be like this.

Of all RE4’s successors, the most faithful in my opinion are definitely the original Dead Space and Evil Within, and I think for most people which one is better will be a matter of preference.

Both games directly echo RE4’s sense of pacing and tension. All three games really like putting you in precarious situations where you’re locked up with powerful enemies or other dangers. More importantly they echo its combat variety based on managing the flow of the enemies rather than just shooting them. Personally I think Evil Within does this a bit better than Dead Space. My biggest issue with Dead Space was always its ammo distribution — I always have far too much of it which trivializes a lot of the game. Even the way items spawn in the first two Dead Space games feels mechanical to the point where I can see what each game is doing. Evil Within emphasizes economic use of resources a lot more without making me feel like ammo drops are rubber-banding, which in turn brings out more of that game’s combat variety.

Where a lot of people will probably give Dead Space the edge however is in its story presentation, which I admit is probably better than every other game in this post, RE4 included. Of course Dead Space does this by following in System Shock 2’s footsteps and does a fine job of it. It does everything it can to present its storyline in an immersive way. On the flipside narrative happens to be Evil Within’s weakest point. It’s about as generic as a horror story can get.

Another thing to note, Evil Within and Dead Space do a great job with secret and extra content, particularly post-game content — also one of RE4’s strong suits. A new game plus where you keep all your upgrades and weapons is a great way to get people to play through a singleplayer game more than once. Optional unlockable locations and items is also something both games do well.

Resident Evil 6 is probably the biggest missed opportunity here. When I really dug into its controls and core systems, I realized it could have been a real next stage of evolution from RE4’s base. Where all these other games (except Gears) iterated on RE4, RE6 feels like a whole new setup simply based on RE4’s action horror spirit. It’s just let down by a collection of terrible encounter design and, in my opinion, more forced co-op.


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