Review by Pinball

Reviewed: 01/18/05

You don't have to be a fan of the previous RE games to enjoy this one


If you are NOT a Resident Evil fan, you'll be wondering if you'll like this game. Chances are you will because Capcom decided to start over with a clean slate with Resident Evil 4. Gone are the clunky controls, fixed camera angles, pre-rendered backgrounds, limited ammo, dumb zombies, annoying puzzles, etc. You either loved the previous games for that or you hated them. That's what separated RE fans from non RE fans. I myself didn't like the previous games because of that, but as soon as I heard how Capcom was re-inventing the series with the new improvements, RE4 definitely caught my eye.

This time around Capcom has improved the series in every way by making the game in full 3D, adding much smarter enemies, adding less annoying puzzles, and most importantly making the controls perfect.

I was not a fan of the previous RE games, so you can bet this is not a biased review. Anyway, on to the review.

Story 8/10

The story is pretty simple. You play the role of Leon Kennedy, a US government agent and you are assigned the task of rescuing the US president's daughter who has been kidnapped. You are sent to Europe on a solo mission to rescue her.

Gameplay 10/10

Awesome gameplay. I haven't had this much fun playing a game in years. The game keeps you in the edge of your seat the whole time.

You start the game in a run-down village and the first thing you notice when you enter a cabin is this creepy looking guy. When you ask him a question regarding Ashley (the president's missing daughter), he turns around and tells you to get out (in Spanish, that is). You order him to freeze but he keeps coming at you with an axe in his hand. You have no choice but to kill him. Well, you'll soon find out that all the villagers will do whatever it takes to kill you as soon as they see you.

Luckily, you have a lot of weapons at your disposal throughout the game to neutralize threats. At the beginning you'll face a lot of the human villagers with your trusty knife and your 9mm handgun. This time the the enemies aren't as dumb as the zombies, so expect the human villagers to knock down doors, climb ladders, and enter through windows to get you. You can kill them by shooting them several times in the head or chest. Although you will find out later in the game that shooting some enemies in the head isn't a good idea (you'll find out why when you play the game). If you are in a tough situation, you can shoot the villagers in the knees. Once you do that, they will fall down for several seconds giving you time to reload or run away. If they get too close to you, you sometimes get an option to kick them away from you, which is good. If they get ahold of you, you can shake them off by rotating the analog stick quickly. At any rate, if you decide to run, you can hide in a cabin, or climb a ladder so you can get up a roof. You can then knock down the ladder if you want to prevent the villagers from climbing up to get you. Like I said before, the villagers are smart, so even if you knock down the ladder they will place it back up. If you are hiding in a cabin, the will try to bust down the door or enter through the windows. Most of the time they will come at you in groups and from all directions so you always have to make sure you don't get distracted killing one group because another group may be coming behind you. This makes the game tense because you get the feeling that you are not safe until all of them are dead. You also have to be careful because some enemies will throw axes, grenades, and more at you. Also, throughout the game you will face other enemies other than the villagers including beasts and creatures that simply defy the laws of nature.

The environments are quite open ended. The game doesn't feel as linear as one would think. There are many pathways and or levels within the environments. Not to mention that there are a few traps you have to be careful of. There are puzzles and doors you need to unlock to get to where you need to go next. Don't worry, there aren't many annoying puzzles.

You'll find herbs, treasures, gold (money) and ammo scattered throughout the environments. So it's a good thing if you like to explore. Of course, once you kill enemies, most of them will drop stuff like ammo, herbs, gold, precious stones, and more. As you progress through the game you will be able to meet a Merchant. You will be able to sell stuff to him, as well as as buy guns like rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, and much more. The only thing is, you can't carry all the weapons you want at the same time so you have to choose carefully which weapons you are going to carry. You can only carry as much weapons as your case can fit. Luckily you can later upgrade the size of your case so you can fit more stuff. Not only that, you will also be able to to upgrade all your weapons individually. You can upgrade each weapons fire power, reload speed, and firing speed. Of course, this costs money so you have to choose wisely.

After a few chapters you will find Ashley. You have to escort her out of the village. However, the villagers will not let you escape easily with her. You can give her commands to either wait or follow you. You will need to protect her at all costs because if she dies or if the enemy takes her away, you fail the mission. You can also heal her if you need to. In addition, you will also have to work together with Ashley to solve some puzzles.

Now let me talk about the boss battles because this game contains some of the best and most original boss battles ever (not to mention some of the coolest bosses ever). You will face bosses including weird creatures, beasts and more. In order to avoid some of their attacks you'll have to pay attention and react quickly because some commands will quickly flash on the screen at the appropriate time. If you don't press the buttons that appear on the screen quickly, you won't be able to attack, dodge or counter attack when the right time comes. For example, if a beast grabs you, you'll quickly have to rotate the analog stick to stab him in the hand so it can release you. Sometimes you'll need to press R+L quickly to dodge an attack, etc. You always have to pay attention because the commands are random. So if you die against a boss and try again, you may see different commands the second time around.

Overall, the gameplay is simply amazing. The game will keep you on your toes the whole game. You'll have to face a lot of enemies at once, you'll need to avoid traps, solve puzzles, unlock doors, and face awesome bosses. You'll need to use strategy at times and you'll need to choose your weapon carefully. With soooo many weapons at your disposal, the game is a lot of fun. For example if you see six villagers coming at you at the same time, you can try and blast them with the shotgun, or throw a grenade at them, and send them to hell.
Adding to the tension, the music sounds pretty eerie. So turn off the lights, turn the volume up, get an extra pair of clean underwear, and start playing.

Graphics 10/10

WOW! The graphics are simply amazing. Easily the best looking GameCube title to date, and one of the best-looking games ever released on a console. However, Capcom managed to pull this off by making the game run in letterbox mode only, AKA, fake widescreen. This may turn off some of you, but personally I love it for several reasons. Mainly because the whole game has a cinematic feel and because you can't see the whole screen which adds to the tension.

The game sports gorgeous characters models, detailed environments, crisp textures, and unbelievable effects (nice rain effects and fire effects). Did I mention the fire looks totally real? The water reflections are awesome too. Capcom made the game so detailed that even Leon's hair moves as he walks or when the wind blows.

The bosses look incredible. My jaw dropped the first time I saw this huge beast released by the villagers. I swear it looked like the whole intro sequence was computer generated. I couldn't believe the whole cutscene was done in real time using the game's engine.

The graphics throughout the game are pretty gritty, and they make the mood of the game seem very creepy.

All in all, the game sports superb graphics, detailed character models, visual effects and environments that are second to none. Not to mention that game runs at a steady framerate of 30FPS (even when there's A LOT going on on the screen at the same time). Good job Capcom, I don't know how you did it, but you did it.

Sound 10/10

Not only is the gameplay and the graphics awesome, but the sound itself is very, very good too. The music helps add to the game's creepy mood and tension. A times the music it's eerie. When there are enemies nearby you'll hear tense music, but if there are none, the music tends to be a bit more relaxing but still quite creepy.

As for the sound effects, they are superb and detailed. You'll hear in detail and realistically as rain falls, every time you reload or shoot, and every time you step on different surfaces whether it's grass, concrete, or carpet.

The villagers speak Spanish, and they will even curse at you. They say a variety of thins in Spanish like "Get him!", "[s-word]", "It's a stranger!", "Behind you, idiot", and much more. It's a lot more fun if you speak Spanish (like me) or if you at least have a basic understanding of Spanish.

The character voices are very well done. Leon's voice, Ashley's voice, and all the character voices in the game fit each character perfectly. The lip-synching in this game is also very well done.

All in all, the sound effects and the music deserve as much praise as the graphics because without great sound, the game wouldn't feel as tense and realistic.

Controls 9.5/10

Very easy and responsive . Gone are the clunky controls from the previous RE games. You move Leon with the left analog stick, you use the C-stick to move the camera around, you use R to aim, A to shoot, B to run, and L to draw your trusty knife quickly. Those are pretty much the controls. Simple, no? The only thing is, if you need to change weapons you have to press Y and change them from the inventory screen. I just wish Capcom had assigned the Z button (used for accessing the map) for cycling the weapons. Oh well, it's only a minor gripe. Other than that the controls are perfect. I know Capcom could've added an option to strafe but I'm sure they didn't because they wanted to add tension to the game. That way it's harder to know what's around the corner.

Final score 10/10 (not an average)

You don't have to be a previous RE fan to enjoy this game. If you hated the previous games for their tedious puzzles, lack of ammo, dumb zombies, or clunky controls, you'll be glad to know that Capcom has fixed all those problems. It's like the RE franchise has been reborn. To me, this game was a revolutionary step that reinvented the series, and I tip my hat to Capcom for having the guts to do so.

Yes, there's gore, blood and violence in this game. So this is a game that shouldn't be given to 7-year old, Billy. It's rated M for a reason.

Having said that, this is a game that shouldn't be missed by anyone, specially those RE haters who might think the game is the same as the previous games but in 3D. If you are still skeptical, the game deserves to be at least rented.

With awesome gameplay, superb graphics, great sound, responsive controls and a quest that lasts about 18-22 hours, you have yourself a classic that shall be remembered for many years to come. If you don't have a GameCube, this game alone is worth purchasing one. Believe me.

If you want to wait for the PS2 version instead go ahead, but you will be missing a chance to play a game that is Game Of The Year material until the PS2 version is released at the end of this year.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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