1998, I had my first encounter with the Resident Evil franchise. I rented
Resident Evil 2 and got hooked. I immediately ran out and bought
the game, finished it, and never played another Resident Evil game
again. Well, I take that back. I started the original Resident Evil but
never finished it. I did, however, play Dino Crisis, which was
a similar game. They all started to feel the same: Same awkward, frustrating
controls. Same pre-rendered backgrounds.
2004, Resident Evil 4 made its debut on the Nintendo Gamecube
to rave reviews. The trademark annoyances of a Resident Evil game
had for the most part been chucked out the window and a re-tooled control
graphics, and a new emphasis on action took their place. At the time,
I didn't own a Gamecube, so I skipped it. When the game was released
on the PlayStation 2 in late 2005, I didn't give it a second thought.
Then the price dropped to $19.99 as it became a "Greatest Hits" title
for the platform. I finally decided to see what all the hoopla was about.
years after the events in Resident Evil 2, Resident
Evil 4 takes place in the Spanish countryside. Leon S. Kennedy,
who was the rookie cop in Resident Evil 2, is now a U.S. government
agent. As the game begins, Leon's been dispatched to retreive Ashley
daughter, who's been kidnapped by unknown forces. As he searches for
clues, he comes across a village of zombified townspeople and, as he
searches for Ashley, he must also figure out how to avoid death at their
increasingly mutated hands.
a PlayStation 2 game, the graphics are gorgeous. After playing quite
a few Xbox 360 games recently, Resident Evil 4 did not stand
out as an ugly game. It supports progressive scan and a widescreen aspect
so, even on my HDTV,
it looked quite respectable.
Evil games, as I've previously mentioned, had been well-known for
their frustrating control schemes. Resident Evil 4 features
a new and less-frustrating control mechanic. However, it's still somewhat
If you're used to playing
third-person action games that give you free reign to do as you please,
the button combinations required to get Leon to aim his weapon and look
around will, initially, feel awkward. As the game progresses, it begins
to feel less restrictive but never feels completely natural.
I won't reveal any plot-specific spoilers, the game throws a lot of interesting
enemies and situations at the player. Thankfully, the puzzle-solving
elements that were a large part of Capcom's earlier survival horror games
have been given a backseat in favor of much more action-oriented elements.
Ammunition, once a rare commodity in the Resident Evil universe, is plentiful
and you'll never really find yourself in danger of running out completely.
item management has also been improved. By giving the player a large
(and upgradable) attache case in which to carry items, there is no time
wasted trying to find typewriter ribbons to save or worrying about stashing
safe. You will occasionally have to decide not to pick up an item if
you run out of room in the case but, thanks to the inclusion of a merchant
who appears at various points throughout the game, you can always stock
up on items at a later time. (Strangely, the merchant never sells ammo,
but he will buy your extra ammo.)
new element are the Shenmue-like Quick Time Events, which require
the player to stay frosty even during in-game cinematics. These unannounced
events will require the player to quickly press a combination of buttons
L1 and L2 or X and O) to avoid getting shot, punched, or squished. If
you do manage to get killed, the game doesn't make you backtrack too
much. Usually, you'll restart close to where you died. (Just for the
record, I died 69 times according to the game's summary at the end.)
Evil 4's best asset, however, is the world in which it takes
place. The remote countryside setting, which is beautifully portrayed
graphics, gives the game an atmosphere of dread that fits perfectly.
When coupled with the bizarre, yet compelling, storyline,
Resident Evil 4 is simply classic.
from the initially awkward controls, I can't think of any major problems
with Resident Evil 4. It provides roughly 20 hours of solid
entertainment for a great price if you just play the main storyline.
set of missions, "Separate Ways," featuring Ada Wong, is also available
once you complete the main game. Their inclusion makes the whole package
an even greater value.
a combination of a great story, impressive last-generation graphics,
and a killer atmosphere, Resident
Evil 4 gets my highest recommendation.