The Resident 2 and Resident Evil 4 remakes are masterpieces, but which is better?

Resident Evil 4 remake
(Image credit: Capcom)

In 2019, the Resident Evil 2 remake changed the face of survival horror. Not only that, but Capcom's reimagining of Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield's misadventures in Raccoon City set a new standard for modern video game retellings – one which every game in this space has been compared against since. In fact, so well-realized was the Resident Evil 2 remake, that its successor's retelling was under immense pressure to make lightning strike twice the following year. The Resident Evil 3 remake failed to hit the same heights as its forerunner, however, which in turn raised our expectations for the fourth main series entry's modern retelling last month. 

If you've read our Resident Evil 4 remake review, you'll know that Capcom indeed succeeded in doing one of the best horror games of all time justice – 18 years on from its GameCube debut, and four-and-a-bit years after RE2 ripped up the remake rule book. RE4's return is nothing short of exquisite. The question is: which is better? The Resident Evil 2 remake? Or the Resident Evil 4 remake? GamesRadar+'s Jasmine Gould-Wilson and Joe Donnelly are split on their views.  

The Resident Evil 4 remake is top of the mountain

Resident Evil 4 Remake Chainsaw Demo screenshot PS5 showing Leon fighting in Village

(Image credit: Capcom)
Jasmine Gould-Wilson, GamesRadar Staff Writer photo
Jasmine Gould-Wilson

 "I wouldn't hesitate to call the Resident Evil 4 remake the perfect game" 

Choosing between these two games feels a lot like Sophie's Choice, but I have to admit: Resident Evil 4 remake comes out on top when compared with its 2019 predecessor.

Oh please, put your pitchfork down and save it for the Ganados. Armed to the teeth with puzzles old and new, secret weapons, and stark character growth compared to the original, 2023's Resident Evil 4 reimagines just as much as it recreates. Where the original presented Leon at the helm of a comedy of horrors, the remake is significantly darker. Much like Leon, whose brow-beaten expression and fewer instances of shocked voice lines indicate just how done with this crap he is, Resident Evil 4 remake sees the most iconic game in the Resident Evil timeline all grown up and armed with a sawn-off shotgun. 

Resident Evil 4 benefits from having a larger, far less claustrophobic map to remake, where I feel RE2's intentionally site-specific locale means there is only so much Capcom could do with it. As much as the RPD could be considered a character in itself, I just don't feel the Resident Evil 2 remake pushed the envelope all that far. Don't get me wrong, it's still one of my favorite games ever. That being said, all it really did was trade the fixed-camera perspective for over-the-shoulder third-person, and which game in the series made that famous in the first place? That's right: RE4. 

Resident Evil 4 remake

(Image credit: Capcom)

"Exploring the world of Resident Evil 4 remake is just so, so much fun".

The remake takes the original and supercharges it for modern audiences, binning the tank controls and giving Leon the newfound ability to actually walk while aiming. Not only that, but it adds elements that truly enhance our experience. My favorite example of this is the expanded lake exploration, with all the harpoons you could ever hope to chuck and the incredible Red9 pistol hidden away on a wrecked boat. The shooting range is also available a little bit earlier in the remake, something that I'm not ashamed to say I've spent more than a couple of hours trying my hand at while taking a break from the main story.

Exploring the world of Resident Evil 4 remake is just so, so much fun. Sure, Resident Evil 2 remake is perhaps a better example of some of the best horror games, but the sprawling action-adventure machinations of RE4 appeal to me as a fan of open world RPGs, too. Once they add Ada's mission back into it via that sweet DLC, I wouldn't hesitate to call it a perfect game – and certainly, sorry to say, a better game in general than Resident Evil 2 remake.I want to see what the body deformation systems introduced to RE2 look like when pushed a little further, because being able to shoot slugs into a zombie's elbow and see the flesh slowly slip away from the bone is disgustingly gratifying. The relentless artificial intelligence seen through RE4 highlights how claustrophobic the series can be when the camera is properly locked behind a shoulder, and how fun the franchise is when it leans into schlocky humor and oversized scenario design. If the two Remakes have shown me anything it's that, as good as the Biohazard and Village were, Resident Evil can still feel revolutionary when it goes back to its roots. 

Now, whether a brand new third-person Resident Evil game can succeed without an existing framework to follow – the excesses of game design in the late '90s and early '00s is really a sight to behold – remains to be seen, but if anybody can do it, I'd wager that the Remake teams will need to have a say in it.  

Na, the Resident Evil 2 remake is number one

Leon and Claire in Resident Evil 2 Remake

(Image credit: Capcom)
Joe Donnelly, Features Writer on GamesRadar
Joe Donnelly

 "The Resident Evil 2 won't be dethroned"

Don't get me wrong: the Resident Evil 4 remake is great. It's excellent, in fact. It is so good, that if Capcom's remake specialist duo of Yasuhiro Ampo and Kazunori Kadoi had skipped straight to number four, reworking and rebuilding it for modern hardware having not bothered with the others, I'd be totally over the moon. I'd spend the rest of this column gushing about how infinitely more credible its world feels; how small gameplay tweaks such as reshuffled mid-boss positioning kept me guessing throughout; and how cutting other end-of-zone baddies entirely improved pacing and flow tenfold. All of these things remain true, but the fact that Ampo and Kadoi had already worked their magic on Resident Evil 2 with such wonderful results a few years back, has kept that game at the top of the pyramid for me. 

Part of this is a personal thing. When I first played OG Resident Evil 2 in 1998, I was 12 years old. I hadn't long started high school, and shared stories of blasting zombies and cracking incongruous puzzles in the playground with a group of mates who were similarly enthralled. I couldn't believe how realistic it all looked (yes, even during that preposterous giant alligator chase), and, believe or not, I was impressed by the standard of its voice acting, at least against the first game's properly ham-fisted style.  

Resident Evil 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

"But I'm not one of those people, and have always placed RE2 above RE4."

By the time Resident Evil 4 rolled around in 2005 I was 19, working full-time as an apprentice plumber and out partying most of the week and all of the weekend. I made time for Leon S. Kennedy's rescue mission in the Spanish mountains, of course, but I think my age and life at the time away from games skewed my love for RE4 – if I'd been a few years younger or older, and therefore less distracted by other things, I might look back more fondly on what many survival horror fans consider to be the greatest of all time today. 

But I'm not one of those people, and have always placed RE2 above RE4. And given just how much the Resident Evil 2 remake needed to improve on the 1998 PSOne-era original – in visual and audio terms; with level and character design in mind – that's why I think the Resident Evil 2 remake is better than its RE4 counterpart. Moreover, the similarities in setting between 2021's Resident Evil: Village and the Resident Evil 4 remake induced a degree of subliminal familiarity to the latter for me, which robbed it of the jaw-dropping scope of the original. 

Ultimately, though, there really is nothing like the Raccoon City Police headquarters as a survival horror setting – nor is there anything like its cast of nasties, from its zombie to its Lickers, poison spiders, and that big scary bastard Tyrant T-00. Both tales are great, but Leon and Claire's story is better. Sorry, Ashley.    

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Joe Donnelly
Features Editor, GamesRadar+

Joe is a Features Editor at GamesRadar+. With over seven years of experience working in specialist print and online journalism, Joe has written for a number of gaming, sport and entertainment publications including PC Gamer, Edge, Play and FourFourTwo. He is well-versed in all things Grand Theft Auto and spends much of his spare time swapping real-world Glasgow for GTA Online’s Los Santos. Joe is also a mental health advocate and has written a book about video games, mental health and their complex intersections. He is a regular expert contributor on both subjects for BBC radio. Many moons ago, he was a fully-qualified plumber which basically makes him Super Mario.

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