Review by horror_spooky

Reviewed: 08/25/08

Yeah, it's still awesome

Resident Evil 4 revolutionized the Resident Evil series and created plenty of gameplay elements and mechanics being borrowed by some of the big name titles of today like Gears of War, Ghost Recon, etc. Some fans of the older Resident Evil games have disowned Resident Evil 4 for having an inferior plot, and while I do agree about this, the gameplay is unbelievably superior and this is what should matter the most in a game.

Right off the bat, you will notice intense differences between Resident Evil 4 and its predecessors. For example, instead of being limited to just a few spaces for items, your inventory works like a grid. Each individual item takes up a certain amount of space on the grid and you can rotate the items to fit easier in the grid. I love this system, especially compared to the older system, and while it definitely makes the game easier, it still makes the game more fun to play.

Another rather significant change is the lack of any blue herbs in this game. You know what that means. You can no longer be poisoned! Having recently played through Resident Evil Code: Veronica X and being poisoned by stupid little moths every time I turned around, I do have to say that the fact that you can no longer be poisoned is a huge improvement over the older games. However, they didn’t just omit the blue herb and only allow you access to red and green herbs. On the contrary, a new herb has been added into the game, a yellow herb, which you can combine with green herbs to not only heal yourself, but to increase your overall health.

Your health is always displayed on the screen and it works in a similar system to that of the older Resident Evil games. When you are at full health, your health is green, and then it goes to yellow, and then to red. Leon, the main protagonist in this title, will react differently depending on how hurt he is, so you have some indication all the time about how much you need to heal him.

Instead of static, fixed-camera angles like those found in previous games, you are welcomed by a third-person over-the-shoulder camera angle that works brilliantly with this title. This means that the tank-like movement found in the other games is not around to hinder less-experienced players and on top of that, combat isn’t just some auto-aim fest. Your weapons have lasers on them that you can use to aim wherever you want on an enemy’s body.

Speaking of enemies, you won’t be finding the classic zombies shuffling around in Resident Evil 4, but rather a smarter breed of creature called Los Ganados that can stab you with pitchforks, throw hatchets at you, and dodge your bullets, among other things. These guys will try to overwhelm you with numbers and you are often forced to run away in order to maintain a better vantage point in order to take these guys out.

Of course, there are other creatures in Resident Evil 4 as well, including giant troll monsters and tall beasts that can regenerate their body parts. Some enemies can kill you with one hit, like these clawed creatures that can decapitate you with a single swipe and other Ganados that have chainsaws can take off your head.

Leon can interact with the environment in more ways than any Resident Evil protagonist before him. You can choose whether you want to slowly open a door or simply kick it in (that’s right: load times are rare) and you can push objects in front of doors to prevent enemies from pursuing you…until they eventually break through. Ladders that enemies climb to reach you can be knocked over and Leon can even duck behind cover during intense battles.

From what I’ve described, you’ve probably realized that unlike the other games, ammo is very plentiful in Resident Evil 4. That also means that there is more of a variety of weapons at your disposal, and there is plenty of carnage to be had. Since you can aim anywhere on an enemy’s body, you are probably assuming that you can just blow off heads the whole game, but there comes a point where these creatures come out of the enemy’s neck and try to kill you even after you’ve removed the head.

You won’t find all of the guns in the game just lying around, but rather, there is a merchant who can be found at various places throughout the game who you can sell things to and buy things from. You can even upgrade your weapons using any gold you find in the game to create some ultra-powerful killing machines. While a lot of Resident Evil fanatics have criticized the merchant for being a little too corny, he is still a brilliant gameplay mechanic in my opinion, and a huge reason why Resident Evil 4 is as fun as it is.

Don’t worry, there are still some puzzles in Resident Evil 4, but they have definitely been downplayed. You won’t be spending hours scratching your head anymore. On the contrary, the puzzles are rather easy and simple to figure out, but some of them provide a decent enough challenge without ever getting frustrating. While I definitely wish there were more puzzles to be had in Resident Evil 4, I can’t deny that I was a little relieved when I realized I wouldn’t get stuck anymore, and this keeps the gameplay fresh and engaging.

Ashley Graham, the president’s daughter and the reason why Leon is where he is in the first place, is playable during one portion of the game, but for the most part, you simply order her around. You can make her hide in garbage bins or simply stay put while you take care of business. Unfortunately, Ashley does get in the way a couple of times, but for the most part, she is well behaved.

Even though there is plenty of ammo and health, that doesn’t mean that Resident Evil 4 provides its chare of scary moments. There are plenty of times in the game where something will occur, like say, a giant boulder is rolling at you, and you have to tap buttons really fast or hit certain buttons in a short timeframe or you will face instant death. These moments are brilliantly implemented and even help to make some of the cut-scenes interactive, including an awe-inspiring knife battle towards the end of the game.

Like most Resident Evil games, there are some extras to be had once you complete the game, including an extremely entertaining “Mercenaries” mini-game where you can play as various characters from the main game, including Albert Wesker! There are four levels available to you and you are timed. The goal is to rank up a high score by killing enemies in quick succession and collecting hourglasses that give you more time. You are given a rank out of five stars at the end of each level. There are other goodies and unlockable content to be had in Resident Evil 4 that I am not going to ruin for you, but I will mention that once you complete the game, you can load your old save file and start the adventure over with all of your weapons, which definitely makes replayability reach heights never before seen in any Resident Evil title before it.

Seven years after the events in Raccoon City, Umbrella has apparently been taken down (with no real explanation provided in this game) and now Leon works for the government. His mission is to find the president’s daughter who has gone missing in Europe. Unfortunately for Leon, who is the same Leon from Resident Evil 2 if you haven’t figured it out already, he has to deal with plenty of horrific monsters and even some old enemies. While the plot is already weak, as you can tell, there are plenty of shocking moments to be had in this title and even though everything seems a lot less serious than in previous installments, the game does provide some tense and scary moments.

A huge area where Resident Evil 4 excels in is the graphics department. Water effects rival those of any Xbox 360 game and the environments are even mildly destructible. Plenty of enemies appear on the screen at once with no slowdown and character models are great. Resident Evil 4 is easily the best looking game of the sixth generation and excels in plenty of areas, including animation and physics.

Voice acting is surprisingly decent in Resident Evil 4 even though the dialogue could definitely have used some work. The villagers shout in Spanish at Leon, so while some people unfamiliar with the language will not know what they’re saying, it’s actually a little neat when you have comprehension of the language. Everything flows well and the soundtrack is great, though the music suddenly stops when there are no enemies around, which is a little on the disappointing sides when you want to be scared.

Your first play-through of Resident Evil 4 should take around twelve to thirteen hours, but after that you can beat the game pretty easily, and the game is so fun that you’ll actually feel like playing through multiple times. The Mercenaries mini-game is loads of fun and there are even more extras to be had on top of that. I purchased this title on the day it came out and I’m still playing it. That definitely says something for the replayability.

Resident Evil 4 may have disappointed fans in some areas, but in the end, it’s gameplay is brilliantly done and it still provides the Resident Evil feel. There is tons of stuff to do and you can’t deny that this has to be the best gameplay in any Resident Evil game ever. Now if only the plot had been given more attention, this would be hailed as one of the greatest games of all time, but with Resident Evil 5 coming soon, you can only hope that Capcom has listened to the complaints, as few as they are, from the fans, and will provide a truly horrific and brilliant gaming experience.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Resident Evil 4 (US, 01/11/05)

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