In 1996 the gaming world was taken for a spin with the original Resident Evil. It began a genre and a legacy unlike any other. Resident Evil 2 followed in 1998 and then Resident Evil 3 followed in 1999. Afterwards the series went on to have a lot of spinoffs and eventualy remakes. Some of them were pretty good such as Resident Evil Code Veronica on the Dreamcast while others like Resident Evil Survivor were questionable. Nevertheless as the series pressed on two things became clear. The first was that it would be a while before we got a real sequel to Resident Evil 3... the second was that the series was becoming stale. The fixed camera angles were becoming a nuisance and the tank controls--which some people had been turned off from at the very beginning--were also becoming old. Even more than that, Resident Evil came into the next generation with a hell of a facelift and yet it was still doing the same thing it had always been doing. Resident Evil Zero was a beautiful game but by then the problems with the series such as those camera angles, the controls and a cramped inventory (hampered more by the fact that the game got rid of those magic boxes). After nine years... a change was in order for Resident Evil.
Resident Evil 4 spent a while in development because of trying to figure out a decent plot and ways to change it around. At first what we were going to get was something a bit more paranormal. Something that might've been reminiscent of Silent Hill. The original screens and video to accompany this, if you ever get a chance to see them, are creepy. In the end, however it was abandoned for reasons unknown. Instead Mikami took the series in a different direction and changed some gameplay mechanics by adding an improved shooting mechanic and a dynamic camera that follows the player around. Some of those controls weren't altered too much, but it didn't really mattered since the camera now hovered over your shoulder and followed you. It may not sound like much, but this is Resident Evil. A series that for the most part refused to change until this moment. But it worked. Instead of pre-rendered backgrounds we were now able to run in fully 3D environments. But the biggest change was that we no longer had to deal with plain old shuffling zombies. You're getting something very different here. For some of the hardcore Resident Evil fans these changes were a little big to handle. For those who were tired of playing the same game for nine years, the changes were welcomed and beloved. The changes were actually so well welcomed that Resident Evil fans consider it the best in the series (overriding those who think the changes are too much). Resident Evil 4 isn't just considered the best of the series, it's often considered one of the greatest games ever made.
Returning from Resident Evil 2 is Leon S. Kennedy who now works for the Secret Service. The President's Daughter has been kidnapped by a cult, and they're sending Leon in there to rescue her. His mission is to find the President's Daughter, secure her and bring her back to the United States unharmed. He tracks her down to a village but when he arrives there he discovers that the inhabitants are acting a little strange. The first one he meets in fact attacks him. After shooting him dead Leon discovers one thing: This is not a zombie. He's far worse than that. As Leon dwells deeper in his search for the President's Daughter he discovers that there's something a lot more to this cult than simply kidnapping the President's Daughter. And as Leon goes through his adventure he'll run into old friends, new allies and an adversary named Saddler, the leader of this cult. What begins as a mission to save the President's Daughter ends up being a mission to stop a huge global conspiracy.
Resident Evil 4 doesn't have a really original plot, but Resident Evil has never really been about originality in the sense of plot. The franchise has always digged into conspiracies but the stories themselves have always been fairly simple and straight forward. Resident Evil 4 is no different. The writing isn't the strongest, however. Some of the writing is downright cheesy. None of it is awful, and you have to give credit to how far Resident Evil has come in terms of writing and voice acting. There's nothing as horrible as, "Here's a lockpick, it might help if you--the master of unlocking--take it with you," and none of the voice acting is laughably bad, but that doesn't mean it's all good. You can almost picture the voice acting reading some of the lines and thinking, "I have to say that... in this situation?" At the very least you'll never turn the volume down. Not to mention that Leon is such a likeable character that you rather appreciate some of his cheesy one-liners.
It's also important to get out of the way that in terms of graphics, Resident Evil 4 was unquestionably one of the best looking games of its generation. The environments are spectacular to look at as are the movements of your enemies. Even today Resident Evil 4 still holds up rather well graphically. And it runs so smoothly. The load times are quick and snappy, rarely taking you out of the action. At least on the Gamecube (we'll get to that later). The atmosphere is also pretty good. Resident Evil 4 may take a very large action oriented approach to its style, but it's still got some surprises and some scary moments. There are times when the music will creep you out, and there is plenty of blood, gore and gross out stuff. So Resident Evil 4 may be action oriented but it doesn't abandon horror entirely. In fact you might find more fear in Resident Evil 4 because of its graphics. The monsters here look positively creepy in comparison to Nemesis. You'll go back to Resident Evil 3 thinking why running from a giant turd is supposed to be scary when you've got the monsters of RE4 chasing you (that doesn't necessarily make the other Resident Evil games less creepy, by the way).
Along with the graphical enhancement is also the games incredible gameplay upgrade. Resident Evil 4 fixes nearly every problem that the original games had before we got to this point. The shooting mechanic? Far better. Before Resident Evil was a more point and shoot like a tank. Here where you aim is pretty important because you have more control. Imagine, if you will, a third person shooter. If you shoot an enemy in the legs they'll fall over. The most vital spot is, of course the head. But with being in much more control it also means a bit more freedom. And because you're not traveling down the corridors of a mansion, police station, lab or the narrow streets of Raccoon City, combat feels more free in Resident Evil 4. Thanks to the power of the Gamecube more enemies can flood the screen. Some of the fire fights you'll get into are absolutely stunning and chaotic. This is helped more by your enemies being far more aggressive. The original series had enemies like Hunters, Lickers and the like... but you were mostly facing zombies. Slow shuffling zombies. The game sort of had to do this, however, because the tank controls made things a little sluggish. Resident Evil 4 doesn't suffer from sluggish controls at all. As such your enemies are more aggressive. They'll run at you... and not to bite you, but they'll actually be brandishing weapons. From simple knives to pitchforks and much later in the game... maces and guns.
This is part of the reason the shooting system works. If you shoot them in the legs they'll stumble and fall. The AI isn't so bad, although you will get the feeling you're fighting a lot of mindless enemies at times. But they're much tougher, and aside from the standard Granados you'll also fight other monsters who will tear you apart. The amount of enemies is incredibly diverse.
Another strong suit with Resident Evil 4 is that its weapon acquisition is better. From time to time you'll run into a merchant who will sell you new weapons and first aid sprays. He doesn't stock every weapon. His stock increases as you go through the game so that you can't get too far ahead of yourself. Not only that, but each weapon you buy can be upgraded. The Fire Power, Firing Speed, Reload Speed and Ammo Capacity can all be increased. The system actually works. You'll also find treasures to sell to the merchant as well as picking up gold from your defeated enemies (and sometimes they'll drop ammo). For Resident Evil it makes everything easier. You can't buy ammo, but Resident Evil 4 isn't exactly scarce with the ammo. You can also carry A LOT of items. Instead of having eight slots, Leon has a case he carries with him at all times that can be expanded. For those concerned with inventory management in the previous Resident Evil games Resident Evil 4 fixes all the problems with inventory. If your inventory ever gets full, it's because you're being a packrat. Plain and simple.
That doesn't mean the game is easy as you'll find yourself in trouble a lot if you're inexperienced; particularly with the games quick time events. At certain points you'll be playing and get involved into moments that involved you running or quick dodging from something. Failing often means death, and this is where Resident Evil 4's only really big problem comes into play. A lot of these Quick Time Events are trial and error. The button combinations aren't always the same. It keeps you involved and paying attention to the sequences, but it's still rather frustrating to be stuck at a moment for a couple of tries because you weren't quick enough for a moment you didn't see coming. Or because you failed and they changed the buttons on you so you fail again. That trend with Quick Time Events seems to have started here. At first it's cool, but Resident Evil 4 sprinkles them in a little too liberally.
The best part about Resident Evil 4's experience, however, are the bigger than life boss fights and the pacing of the game in and of itself. Resident Evil 4 has colossal boss fights within it. That keep you on your toes. Each fight, however, is very unique. Many of them amount to so much more than just running around and shooting. There are moments where you'll be quick dodging, or when you'll have to keep moving. It's good stuff. Better than that, however, is that Resident Evil 4 is constantly throwing surprises at you. Just when you think you've experienced all that you can, it ups the ante and keeps on rolling. The adventure is also worthwhile. The first time through you might find yourself playing for 15-25 hours (that's still longer than Resident Evil 5) AND it has A LOT of replay value and a lot of extras to unlock, including a mercenaries mini-game as well as Assignment Ada which is a little like a second campaign. It's just all out fun.
At first the game began as a Gamecube exclusive. But thanks to the consoles small userbase, it eventually found its way to the PS2 to help sales. It worked. Better than anyone hoped. And also because it included even more extras such as more unlockable costumes and a whole campaign for Ada called Separate Ways, which was playing through the story from Ada's point of view. It's great stuff and made the PS2 version worth checking out even for those who played the Gamecube. Although it suffers from limitations. The graphics on the PS2 just aren't as smooth as the Gamecube version. This is clear in the Gameplay versus Cinematic moments. The difference between a cinema and the in game engine is obvious. Likewise, there are load times. To the point where you see it say: "Now Loading" where as on the Gamecube it was a bit more seamless.
The game also got a release on the PC where the graphics were very badly stripped (but there was a patch released to make it look awesome) and the keyboard controls were just all around terrible (luckily you could buy a game pad). Lastly, there was a Wii version released where there were Wii controls placed in there. That's actually the best version of the game. It doesn't look any better than the Gamecube version but the controls are flawless and showed that the Wii could be used to play such a game. Unfortunately Nintendo hasn't gotten a single game that wasn't made by Nintendo that was so flawless since. It's unfortunate. And while you may think strapping on Wii Controls doesn't change the experience, it really does. If you haven't played RE4 (somehow) and you own a Wii, you might as well pick it up. It includes everything that was in the PS2 version. Console wise, you can't do any better than the Wii version. Make a note of that because it'll be a really long time before I compliment the Wii like that again when it comes to a multiplatform release.
Resident Evil 4 earns its honor for being something revolutionary when it first came out. At the time it was new... much of its mechanics had been attempted by the time, but never truly mastered. Since Resident Evil 4 has come around the only game that seemed to really truly be able to imitate it has been Resident Evil 5. There's no such thing as perfection in gaming, but Resident Evil 4 comes awfully close.
Resident Evil 4 on GameCube is flawless. The graphics are stunning, the sound is intense, and the gameplay is very smooth. There are no zombies in this title, but it still manages to be quite scary. This time, the main enemies are virus infected humans that can still think and yet, just plain menace you to no end. The story is superb, with quirky supporting characters that add top-fun value to the cinematic scenes. I have already played through it three times, and countless times on the unlockable … more
In RESIDENT EVIL 4, Leon Kennedy, the main character of RESIDENT EVIL 2, returns. Leon is now a special agent of the U.S. government. The President of the U.S. has had his daughter, Ashley, kidnapped and Leon is sent to rescue her. Her location has been determined to be in a small, remote European village. Leon is dropped off at the location by two police officers. Leon attempts to communicate with the locals but they try to kill him. Leon survives the initial encounter, but the police officers … more
What do you get when you take the classic Resident Evil formula -- shambling hordes, red and green herbs, and plenty of firearms at hand -- and then make the enemies smarter and faster, revitalize the gameplay by updating the control scheme, add some of the best graphics ever seen on a home console, and throw in some film-quality voice acting to boot? What you get is Resident Evil 4, the best Resident Evil game in the whole series. RE4 is definitely … more
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
In Resident Evil 4 you'll know a new type of horror, as the classic survival-horror action returns with all-new characters, controls and storylines. We last saw Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil 2 - a rookie cop in Raccoon City, fighting to stay alive. That was six years ago. Since then, government forces have managed to control the zombie threat and Leon has become a Federal agent. When the President's daughter is kidnapped, Leon tracks her to a remote, hidden fortress in Europe - where he'll relive the horror he faced six years before. Players will face never-before-seen enemies that make Nemesis seem like a kitten. You'll be wishing for the usual Resident Evil zombies!