In a similar way to the Resident Evil Origins Collection and the Resident Evil Revelations Collection, Capcom has decided to bundle its three most recent Switch ports into one physical package. Labelled the Resident Evil Triple Pack, it includes not only series jewel Resident Evil 4 (appearing on cartridge following its digital-only release earlier in the year), but also Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6. Buyers beware, though - only the first game actually comes on the cartridge, with the other two being download codes. Capcom has made an unwelcome habit of this practice, although many fans who have waited for a physical release of RE4 will be happy enough to get their hands on that, regardless of what else is included digitally. If you're after more in-depth looks at each game, check out our individual reviews of Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 respectively.

There's no doubt that Resident Evil 4 is the star of the show here, and arguably of the entire celebrated series. On Switch the sun-bleached, drained colours of rural Spain (or rather rural ‘unnamed European country’ where they speak a Mexican Spanish, of sorts) are as subdued as they ever were. The muted colour palette chosen for the third numbered sequel (fourth, if we count Zero) is incredibly restrained and contributes enormously to the oppressive environment Leon S. Kennedy encounters while tracking down the President’s kidnapped daughter.

Resident Evil 4 always required a period of adjustment after adding a hefty dose of action to the series' patented survival horror, but it creates a potent mix and the game remains a treasure; a masterclass in pacing, escalation and restraint. Riddled with the Las Plagas parasite, the pallid villagers, cultists and henchmen are a refreshing change to the shambling zombies of previous entries and force you to strategise during combat. The game was revolutionary when first released back in 2005.

All told, Resident Evil 4 still works very well, particularly in portable mode on Switch (in fact, it’s in that context that the Switch version works best). The visual experience scales down better to the smaller 720p screen and something about having it contained between your hands arguably better suits the constraints of the game’s design – it 'feels' more natural. In terms of convenience, this version is certainly the easiest way to play Resident Evil 4.

The foundation of the game is alive and well, although after all the third-person action shooters we’ve played in the intervening years, for both new and returning players alike it takes a while to adjust to its way of doing things. Once ahead of its time, it now feels very much a relic of a different era, Quick-Time Events, inventory management and all. The lack of gyro controls is disappointing after how well the pointer controls worked in the excellent Wii version (although thankfully they have been patched in to the other games in this triple pack). Fortunately, the mechanics beneath the surface still hold up remarkably well, even with all the caveats and slight disappointments this version throws up.

Resident Evil 5 went further down the 'action' branch introduced in RE4 and threw in co-op gameplay to boot. Taking place in the fictional African town of Kijuju, series veteran Chris Redfield returns having joined the anti-bioterrorism organisation BSAA (and apparently has also been hitting the gym a lot). Teaming up with newcomer Sheva Aloma, he’s tasked with capturing a pretty shady character called Ricardo Irving, who is about to sell a bio-organic weapon on the black market.

Chucking aside the weird religious cults of RE4, Chris Redfield’s adventure brings back multiple classic characters and monsters, and ultimately drives the story in a direction that still, to this day, feels like it could have been a fitting finale to the entire series. The core gameplay mechanics remain very similar to RE4, except… well, there's more. There’s more of everything here, including much-criticised QTEs. The overall pacing is pretty relentless, and it often feels like you’re never given a break to catch your breath. While it certainly leaps away from the horror of previous entries, some of the set-pieces are pretty spectacular.

Of course, despite feeling very similar to Leon Kennedy's adventure in terms of gameplay, there’s one very distinct difference with Resident Evil 5: the game is fully playable in co-op, and is actually built around this concept. Should you choose to, you can play online or in split-screen mode, and it’s undoubtedly a better experience if you can play with a friend. Playing in single-player mode, Sheva is quite comfortably one of the worst AI partners in gaming. She has absolutely no restraint with her items, spraying healing herbs at the first opportunity and firing her weapons with reckless abandon despite having the aiming prowess of a Stormtrooper. She’s also prone to getting herself in sticky situations; we lost count of the number of times we had to resuscitate Sheva from near-death or start an area from scratch after she got herself killed. So yes, whether it’s with Pro Controllers or just a couple of Joy-Con, playing with a friend is definitely the way to go.

Performance-wise, it’s a noticeable downgrade from the remastered versions seen on other consoles, but it’s certainly not as disappointing as some might have you believe. The framerate is admittedly a bit concerning at times. It runs uncapped, which means it mostly runs slightly above 30fps, but there are plenty of moments – particularly during more intense gameplay sequences – where it will drop well below. Visually, there have also been some sacrifices. The impressive motion blur from the original release of the game is completely gone here, and some of the textures have taken a hit. It’s disappointing knowing that these features are missing, but in practice, it’s probably not something you’re going to notice much unless you examine the Switch version side-by-side with the game on other platforms.

In addition to the main campaign, there are additional modes to keep you busy. The Lost in Nightmares DLC is included, where you’ll play out one of the key flashbacks in the main game exploring one of Oswell E. Spencer’s estates in a blatant homage to the first Resident Evil. Clocking in at roughly one hour, it’s not exactly a meaty story, but it’s certainly a more subdued experience than the over-the-top action seen in the campaign, and offers a nice insight into some of the franchise's more iconic characters. Desperate Escape also takes about an hour to complete, and is more in line with the gameplay of the campaign. The delightful Mercenaries mode also returns, and tackling these areas without having to worry about babysitting an awful AI partner is a huge relief.

Finally, we arrive at what most consider to be the nadir of the franchise, although we'd argue that it isn't quite the rock-bottom for the series that it felt like back in 2012. Now that Capcom has steered the ship back on course with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and a delightful remake of Resident Evil 2, we can look back on Resident Evil 6 with fresh eyes and appreciate it for what it is: an absolutely bonkers action title. Does it hold a candle to the earlier games in the series? No. But it’s also not quite the atrocity many make it out to be.

Bringing Resident Evil’s 'action era' to a grandiose conclusion, the sixth main entry is crammed full of recognisable characters, huge set-pieces, and perhaps the most impressively over-the-top iteration of the Mercenaries mode to date. If Resident Evil 5 dialled the action up to 11, then Resident Evil 6 rips the dial right off and shoots it with a rocket launcher. The main story mode is split into four campaigns, each of which is comprised of several meaty chapters. Co-op play is once again thrust into the limelight, and whichever campaign you choose to start with (apart from Ada's), you can either play it with a buddy or settle for an AI partner.

The good news here is that playing on your own is a much more tempting prospect than it was in Resident Evil 5. Capcom nailed how an AI partner should behave, and you’ll never feel like you need to spend time babysitting, reviving, or managing your partner’s inventory every 5 minutes in Resident Evil 6. They pretty much just look after themselves, leaving you to worry about your own backside.

The gameplay is another evolution of the over-the-shoulder view. General movement is a huge improvement from previous titles, ditching the tank controls completely to allow for a more aggressive approach to combat. You can dive in any direction, shoot from the ground, kick and punch enemies at will, and perhaps most crucially, move and shoot at the same time. Even for a straight up action title, the controls are remarkably versatile, and you’ll feel like you’re more than equipped to take on even the most fearsome of foes. This is a large part of why Resident Evil 6 was so lambasted upon release, because it effectively removes all sense of fear, but it actually feels really good in practice if you’re willing to embrace it as an absurd action game rather than a survival horror title.

There are, of course, multiple areas where the gameplay falls short. The herb system is frustratingly complex and to exacerbate this issue the menu system as a whole is horrendous, with each playable character having their own unique menu design. It’s needlessly complicated, and if you want to alter anything in the options menu, you’ll spend a good few moments just figuring out what each icon actually represents. And yes, QTEs are sprinkled generously throughout the game, so if you’re not a fan, then just brace yourself.

The story itself is pretty hit and miss, overall. It feels like Capcom ran out of steam here, because the plot feels pretty inconsequential for the most part, and it's downright awful at numerous points. Even the returning protagonists feel like shadows of their former selves. Thankfully, smaller moments really stand out: defending a gun shop from swarming zombies, storming an apartment block to locate survivors, riding atop a speeding train whilst fighting off a hideous bio-organic weapon, and many more memorable scenes make for a tense, exciting experience.

Aside from the main campaign(s), Mercenaries mode returns and it’s genuinely better than ever. Multiple characters and costume unlocks encourage multiple sessions, and there’s a good selection of stages to choose from. Performance on Switch is much the same as its predecessor. It runs well enough for the most part, mostly hitting 30fps throughout the campaigns. It dips here and there, but unless you’re actively looking out for it, chances are it won’t hinder your enjoyment of the game that much.

Conclusion

While this 'second trilogy' compilation offers diminishing returns in terms of quality, Resident Evil 4 still shines brightly, even if the Switch port deserved a little more care and attention. The real draw here will be that game in physical form, and as always it is very disappointing to see that the other two titles must be downloaded. If RE4 is all you care about, getting the fifth and sixth entries as downloadable 'extras' isn't a bad deal and there's fun to be had in the latter two games, although you'll arguably need a friend to get the most out of them. Even Resident Evil 6 - much maligned as a series low point - can be fun if you’re after a straight-up co-op action shooter. As a collection of the 'action' branch of mainline Resident Evil games, this isn't a bad offering at all; just make sure you've got the necessary memory space for the downloads.