2005’s Resident Evil 4 needs no introduction. The fourth entry reinvents the series by shifting the focus away from horror to action. It says goodbye to fixed camera angles and hello to a third person perspective. It turns Leon S. Kennedy from a rookie cop with the worst first day ever to a badass government agent who suplexes cultists for breakfast.
When Capcom first announced Resident Evil 4, it was intended to be a Nintendo GameCube exclusive. The publisher struck a deal with Nintendo to make five games exclusive to Nintendo’s purple lunchbox, one of which was Resident Evil 4. Due to the GameCube’s weak sales, Capcom changed plans and announced the game would be coming to the PlayStation 2 in addition to GameCube.
It’s 2023, and not counting the impending remake, there are 12 ports of Resident Evil 4. From consoles to computers to mobile devices, there are many ways to play the beloved classic, but which ones are the best? Let’s break down Resident Evil 4’s ports to see which ones hold up and which ones don’t.
Resident Evil 4: Mobile Edition (iPhone/iPad/Zeebo)
Originally made for Japanese mobile phones, Resident Evil 4: Mobile Edition would receive ports to the iPhone and Brazil-exclusive Zeebo console in 2009, following an iPad release next year. It’s also the worst way to experience Resident Evil 4.
Take Resident Evil 4, strip it to the bare minimum, and you have this bizarre port. While it’s impressive seeing the game running on mobile devices, the novelty wears off when you realize how bad it looks and plays. Using screen prompts to move and shoot lacks the responsiveness of a controller, and the campaign butchers the original game into a series of stages.
Where the game struggles most is its presentation. It’s understandable a mobile phone port wouldn’t look as good as its console counterpart, but the graphics are a joke even by mobile phone standards. Classic locales and characters look like roadkill and the framerate chugs constantly.
When you consider they got games like Grand Theft Auto III running on tablets and phones, Mobile Edition’s horrid visuals are even more inexcusable. Resident Evil 4: Mobile Edition shows just because you can port Resident Evil 4 to everything doesn’t mean you should.
Resident Evil 4 (PC)
2007 saw not one but two Resident Evil 4 ports, one for PC and the other for Wii. Released by Ubisoft, the original PC port of Resident Evil 4 sounds like a winner. It has all the content and even features exclusive content not found in previous releases, like easy mode.
Where it stumbles is the controls. Instead of utilizing mouse and keyboard like any other PC game, it uses keyboard only. The result is a lot of finger cramping as you move, shoot, or complete quick time events. Even more disappointing is the weak visuals, which lacks the impressive lighting and shadow effects found on consoles.
There’s no reason to bother with this port, especially since the much superior 2014 PC port is readily available and blows this release out of the water in every way possible. Unless you do YouTube videos on weird ports, skip this one.
Resident Evil 4 VR (Oculus Quest 2)
Released in 2021, Resident Evil 4 is the most recent port of the original game. What makes this version unique is its VR. Through the power of the Oculus headset, you step into Leon’s shoes and fight your way through Plaga-infested rural Spain.
Resident Evil 4 VR is the most unique port in this list. Even if you know the game inside and out, the VR perspective puts a new spin on an old game. You have so much freedom of movement than you did before, and because it’s VR, you can do silly things like shoot Ganados gangster style or slash them senseless with the knife.
So, why is this version ranked so low? Once the novelty wears off, what you’re left with is a 2005 game made easier by the fact you have complete control of Leon’s movement. It breaks the game and any tension the original game creates is thrown out the window by how unstoppable Leon is.
Resident Evil 4 VR is by no means bad. It’s fun to mess with, but there are better ways to play the game. Plus, those with motion sickness should steer clear.
Resident Evil 4 (PS2)
Released nine months after the GameCube version, Resident Evil 4’s PS2 port includes the original game and new content in the form of a bonus campaign and new costumes and weapons. The bonus campaign, “Separate Ways,” explores Ada Wong’s side of the story, while the new weapons include the PRL-412, a laser that one shot kills all Ganados.
While it’s no slouch in terms of content, its graphics are. Textures were downgraded to fit the PS2’s weaker hardware, resulting in a game that looks good but not great. Because of this, all cut-scenes are video files instead of in-game cinematics.
While this version lacks the graphical fidelity of the GameCube original, this is still a solid port. The added content and great gameplay helps this port stand toe-to-toe with later re-releases and makes this title an essential part of any PS2 owner’s collection.
Resident Evil 4 (Nintendo GameCube)
While the original release of Resident Evil 4 lacks the extras found in future re-releases, it does include one rollercoaster ride of a campaign. Resident Evil 4 threads the needle between action and horror.
One moment, Leon’s back is against the wall as he fends off bloodthirsty villagers. The next, he’s dishing out roundhouse kicks to Ganados and making quick work of scary monsters. Each chapter delivers something new, whether it’s a set-piece moment, a new enemy type, or a new gun for Leon’s attache case.
By eschewing the fixed camera angles, the combat is more fast-paced. An ever-expanding roster of weapons gives you plenty of options, while the enemy roster shakes things up by pitting you against foes that require different tactics, like the blind Garadors or creepy Regenerators.
Like other Resident Evil titles, Resident Evil 4 doesn’t skimp on replay value. From bonus weapons to alternate costumes to extra game modes, there’s plenty to do after the credits roll. The original Resident Evil 4 is a lightning in a bottle game, and it’s just as satisfying to play on GameCube as it is on modern consoles.
Resident Evil 4: HD Version (Xbox 360/PS3/PS4/Xbox One/Nintendo Switch/PC)
In 2011, Capcom remastered and re-released Resident Evil 4 for Xbox 360 and PS3. Since then, the game has been ported to every HD console. If there’s one way to experience Resident Evil 4, it’s through this remaster.
As far as Resident Evil 4 ports go, this is as good as it gets. You get HD graphics, a buttery-smooth framerate, and all the extras from previous releases. PC owners rejoice because Resident Evil 4 has a competent PC port in the form of the “Ultimate HD Edition” released in 2014.
While the Nintendo Switch version lacks trophies or achievements, it benefit from the Switch’s portability. Nothing makes a bus ride more bearable than committing small-scale genocide on rural Spain.
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (Nintendo Wii)
As great as the HD remasters are, the definitive Resident Evil 4 experience is Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition. What makes this version the best? The Wii remote.
Say what you will about the Wii, but when motion controls were done right, they could be a refreshing way to play games, and Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is no exception. Aiming with the Wii remote lets you react to threats more quickly and offers better accuracy than an analog stick. Being able to shoot Ganados precisely makes enemy encounters more manageable without trivializing the combat.
Motion controls are sparingly utilized. Knifing enemies can be done by shaking the Wii remote, and most QTE’s require a quick waggle instead of a button press. If the Wii remote isn’t doing it for you, plug in a classic controller and play away.
Add in the fact this edition features the sharp visuals of the GameCube version and the extra content of the PS2 port, and you have the best Resident Evil 4 experience.
Ranking Resident Evil 4’s Ports – Conclusion
Capcom is no stranger to re-releases. They re-released Street Fighter II ad nauseam in the 90’s and did it again with Resident Evil 4 in the 2000’s. While re-releasing Resident Evil 4 is an easy moneymaker, it ensures the game won’t be forgotten.
While I hope the Resident Evil 4 remake is the final nail in the Resident Evil 4 coffin, we can at least take solace knowing the original will always be there. Some of these ports hold up as well as a chainsaw through the neck, but others like the Wii and HD versions are, to quote the Merchant, “A wise choice, mate!”