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First impressions: Resident Evil 4 for iPhone 15 Pro is a throwback to simpler, scarier times

Published Dec 20th, 2023 9:03AM EST
Capcom's Resident Evil 4 running on iPhone 15 Pro
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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Resident Evil 4 is officially available for iPhone 15 Pro and M-series Macs and iPads. The remake of the 2005 game is an “over-the-shoulder” third-person shooter (thank god) and features redesigned visuals, new character designs and backgrounds.

The game comes a couple of months after Resident Evil Village was also released for the latest iPhone 15 Pro devices. Like this other game, BGR had the chance to go hands-on with Resident Evil 4 a few days before it was officially released.

According to Capcom, Resident Evil 4 preserves “the essence of the original game while introducing modernized gameplay, a reimagined storyline, and vividly detailed graphics to make this the latest survival horror game where life and death, terror and catharsis intersect.”

Image source: Capcom

The story is about Leon S. Kennedy, one of the survivors of the biological disaster in Raccoon City. After six years of the incident, he was recruited as an agent reporting directly to the president of the United States. With multiple missions of experience on his back, Leon is sent to rescue the president’s kidnapped daughter, who is in a secluded European village where there is something terribly wrong with the villagers.

You’ll get everything and more from a Resident Evil game, but the graphics don’t follow

More than reviewing the game, as a tech reporter, I was looking for the same stuff I did when I wrote my first impressions of Resident Evil Village. What makes me cover this game is the iPhone 15 Pro’s new A17 Pro chip.

With 3nm in size, it has 19 billion transistors with a 6-core CPU, two high-end performance cores, up to 10% faster, and 4 performance-core CPUs. Thanks to the new Neural Engine, it can perform 35 trillion operations per second.

With a 6-core GPU, it’s 20% faster than the previous generation while also improving efficiency. One of the exclusive features of this processor is the hardware-accelerate ray tracing, 4x better than software ray tracing, which was previously available with the iPhone 14 Pro.

While the game ran smoothly for most time, I was disappointed with some of the cutscenes. For example, in some scenes, the flashlight was completely pixilated like in a PlayStation 2 game. Even though the hardware-accelerate ray tracing isn’t available for this title*, I expected some of the scenarios would be better rendered.

iMore’s Daryl Baxter also noted similar issues. He wrote on X: “It looks like a PS2 game from 2000. It’s also lagged for me in certain parts.” He even posted a screenshot of Leon’s eyebrows as if it was a monobrow, actually.

The iPhone 15 Pro doesn’t really help as well

iPhone 15 Pro Max Back on table
iPhone 15 Pro Max Back on table Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

These issues mentioned above won’t affect your gameplay. After all, this is the same critically acclaimed title that people played on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. But if you have already played Resident Evil 4 on these platforms, why buy a similar experience for $60? (It’s actually $30 until January 17, 2024, as Capcom is offering the full IAP unlock for half the price)

Also, when I wrote about Resident Evil Village, I noted that the iPhone gets hotter after just a few minutes of gameplay. While this didn’t impact framerates, I’m getting more and more upset with this iPhone, as it’s always warm – and when I need the A17 Pro to show its power, it can get really hot.

That said, the phone gets hotter, the battery drains faster, and I’m not having the experience I expected with an AAA game.

Wrap up

If you’re a Resident Evil evangelist, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun – especially if you haven’t played this title since 2005. With new gameplay mechanics and a revamped plot twist, there’s a lot to love here. But if you’re looking for all these tiny details, you might get a bit frustrated with this iPhone title.

You can find Resident Evil 4 on the App Store and Mac App Store.

Update: * Previously, this story mentioned that even with hardware-accelerated ray tracing, there were some poor renderings, but Resident Evil 4 doesn’t support it, even though the iPhone 15 Pro does.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.