Review by Osafune2
Probably the game of it's generation.
This game is probably the best game to have been released on the Nintendo Gamecube; I thought I should say that now to set the tone of the review, because I must say that there is very little wrong with this game. I am a huge fan of the Resident Evil series as some of you readers may know from my glowing reviews of previous instalments, I thought I may as well review this gem as well, and if you ask me it is the best Resident Evil game yet in terms of fun and pure game play, though it lacks some of the other trademark aspects of the series.
This story isnt all that amazing, but it does suffice nonetheless, basically Ashley Graham, the daughter of the President of the USA has been kidnapped by a mysterious group and there have been sightings of her in Europe, when it says Europe it means Spain, but it doesnt say it in case the depictions of Spanish people in this game cause controversy. Enter Leon Scott Kennedy, whom we last saw escaping Raccoon City with the lovely young Claire Redfield, he has since been recognised by the US government for his Zombie killing exploits and they hired him as a special agent and he rose through the ranks until assigned the task of protecting the President and family, so naturally he is to be sent to Europe to investigate. When he arrives, things are not all they seem, the villagers are less than hospitable and there seem to be some strange goings on to do with a cult group named the Los Illuminados who seem to have been using a mysterious parasite called the Las Plagas, and a strange man named Lord Saddler
That is a rough summary of the story, there is a lot more going on to do with destroying the US government, so it seems Capcom has gone with a slight terrorism theme but I will not spoil the story any further.
Wow! That was the first thing I said when I turned this game on. It is a beauty to say the least. The character models of Leon and Ashley are absolutely fantastic, they really look convincing, are animated well and perverts will be pleased to know that Ashley has had some polygons spent on some lovely assets. The villagers, or Ganados as they will be known henceforth, are almost as detailed as the main characters and they each have several distinct attack animations, which luckily for Leon are easy to read.
The environments on this game are suitably drab and dreary, or at least in the village of Pueblo they are, but there is a huge and elaborately decorated castle and a military base on an island to explore, and each looks amazing and this is a real testament to the Gamecubes power because I honestly do not think there is a better looking game on PS2 or Xbox.
Another nice graphical touch is the way Capcom have lovingly decided to give us lots of gore, shooting someone has never been this fun! In a game obviously Ahem, when busting a cap in the ass of an enemy, or anywhere else for that matter, they react accordingly with very convincing reactions except for the fact that they carry on charging you despite taking a 9mm round in the face, but you wouldnt want it too easy would you? It is so satisfying to shoot the enemy in the shoulder with a meaty thud as they lurch backwards, arm limp by their side, you then aim upwards and perforate their skull and their whole body quivers as a globule of blood explodes from their back of their skull. Maybe I am embellishing slightly, but it is still very cool, especially when you can shoot them in the legs and knife them in the face.
So it is definitely full marks for Capcom on the graphics front, almost flawless.
This is where it stands out; it is such a joy to play. There is nothing that gets the adrenaline pumping like being chased by a group of angry Ganados, except maybe horny Ganados. The gameplay has changed a lot since the last Resident Evil game, and some fans are in dispute as to which is better, in my opinion I think the changes are great but I do miss Zombies somewhat.
In previous Resident Evil games, the backgrounds were pre-rendered and as a result it used fixed camera angles to build atmosphere and make the player feel as if he is being watched, while this worked well for tension, it made for some extremely frustrating controls because for some reason Capcom decided to give it the controls of an FPS in third person mode, if that makes sense, basically you always pushed up to move forwards no matter which direction the character appeared to be facing, this was rather clunky and took some getting used to. Aiming also suffered, you would press the aiming button and the character would automatically target the nearest threat, you could then aim for legs, body or head, rather limited it must be said and fixed camera angles made it all the more cumbersome. Oh, and the knife was pathetic.
Resident Evil 4 addresses these past issues and changes them, they have gone for fully 3D environments, which as mentioned before look gorgeous, and also they have an over-the-shoulder camera angle. This works so much better as it completely eliminates the clunky controls and gives the game a much more fluid feel, you could say the atmosphere has been lost slightly from previous games, and you would have a valid point, but it does make it tense due to a slightly restricted view.
Aiming is also excellent in RE4, when you press the R trigger, the camera zooms in on Leon slightly so it is over his shoulder and looking down his arm, and you can then move his gun around freely with the control stick and it has a laser sight to make shooting easier. It gives the game a more tactical feel as you can shoot weapons out of enemies hands and also shoot them in the legs to knock them down and take a quick breather or reload. Also one of the biggest improvements is that the knife is now one of your most useful tools and you will often use it to take down single enemies without expending any ammunition.
There are also action commands in this game, you will sometimes see a little A button prompt at the bottom of the screen and pressing it will make Leon perform that action, you can use this to knock down ladders, kick doors open, leap through windows and most effectively, you can use it to roundhouse enemies in the head like Chuck Norris, you have to stun them by slashing or shooting them in the head first though. There are also Shenmue-esque QTEs or dodge prompts in certain scenes that you must press correctly to get Leon through alive.
Another new gameplay feature is the addition of money, or Pesetas to be exact. You find money in boxes, barrels, crates or from killing enemies etc. and you can use it to purchase weapons of a mysterious, hooded and masked merchant that you see in various places around the game. You can also upgrade your weapons and sell various treasures that you find lying around. This is a good addition I feel and it could have made the game seem cheap and arcadey, if you see what I mean, but it doesnt. It makes life a hell of a lot easier and can sometimes spoil the game I must say.
The biggest aspect of the old games that RE4 has lost is the Survival Horror bit. This game is not scary and there is no longer emphasis on the ammo conservation, or at least not as much as enemies frequently drop ammo for you and it is also found in barrels and boxes all over the place, you can pretty much go all guns blazing on the standard difficulty setting. Healing items are also plentiful and they have introduced more in the form of Raw Chicken Eggs, which you may think would cause salmonella food poisoning, but they seem to heal Leon a little. Herbs are also in abundance and there are also Yellow Herbs which combine with others to increase Leons health when you next use them. To be fair, things get a little harder in Professional Mode and you may have to devise tactics in order to scrape through some areas alive and with ammunition in supply.
This game is also not very scary; in fact, it isnt scary at all except to the very weak-minded and young children. There is gore in plenty, but none of that trademark atmosphere of dread and suspense at what is around the corner, there are a few moments that make you jump but that is about it. The game basically turns into Rambo towards the end which is a real shame in my opinion as I think a traditional style game with the camera and mechanics of Resident Evil 4 would be one of the best games ever made.
Now, you might be expecting a Resident Evil game to be over and done with after completing the main storyline, but RE4 is different. After completing it once you will unlock the bonus mission, called Assignment Ada where you play as the sexy assassin in a mission to retrieve Plaga samples for Wesker, this is very fast paced and really quite fun and you can buy a bonus weapon for Leon to purchase from the Merchant in the main game.
You also get to play the Mercenaries, this is different from the Resident Evil 3 outing, on this one there are several characters, some of which must be unlocked and four levels. You basically have to get as many kills as possible in the time limit and therefore score as much as points as possible, there are time bonuses to be found around each level as well. Mercenaries is great fun and even serves as a sort of multiplayer mode because you can pass the controller around and watch your mates attempt to beat your uber scores. Try and get five star ratings on every level with all characters, you might get something cool
The replay value is immense and is made even bigger by the invention of handicapped runs. These are devised by the player and involve imposing restrictions on Leon as you play through. You might restrict certain weapons, healing items, grenades or whatever takes your fancy, you can also choose not to use the Merchant, these make an otherwise relatively simple game extremely hard and the challenge can be very fun and there is nothing like beating the game using only the Handgun, TMP and Knife.
The gameplay gets top marks because there is so little wrong with it and there is a hell of a lot of replay value to be exploited by the creative player.
The sound and music is good in this game, the meaty thud of the bullet hitting the enemy and the gunshots are all very realistic and there are absolutely no complaints with any of the games various sound effects, some of them are used at an attempt of a scary atmosphere such as echoing footsteps and stuff. Also the voice acting is pretty damn good despite the horrendous one-liners and witty remarks that Leon comes up with.
The enemies have voice acting as well, and if you look at translations, it seems Capcom have decided to have them swear a lot because they are counting on no one who plays this in the UK or USA to understand English, though the game may be censored for Spanish shops, I am not sure. The voices are done rather well and you can see the Ganados lips move which is a nice touch. There are also spooky monks in the castle that mutter under their breath.
As for music, this game is satisfactory, though I never really noticed any beside the fast-paced little number that plays when Leon is in danger. There is almost no ambient or atmospheric music that I remember, I may be wrong but I cannot recollect any as I have said.
Resident Evil 4 is an absolutely brilliant game and one of the best to be released this generation and it will go down as an all time classic. It is so much fun; it has excellent graphics, great gameplay and fantastic replay value. There are a few minor niggles with it that hamper the experience slightly, but they are slight and pail in comparison with the games finer points. If you own a Gamecube then you must do it justice by investing in this game.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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