| Blood and Gore, Intense Violence
| The Good
Blistering edge-of-your-seat action sequences
| The Bad
Inability to cycle through weapons
Resident Evil popularized the survival/horror genre
when it debuted on the Sony PlayStation in 1996. Despite its
success, the proceeding installments of the series held fast
to a formula that seemed increasingly out of place as time
passed it by. Capcom knew they had their work cut out for
them when they promised to reinvent the diminishing franchise.
After a lengthy development period that saw the game go through
a substantial amount of changes, Resident Evil 4 has
finally arrived. The series kicks into high gear as an all
new ‘over the shoulder’ camera follows you through free flowing
action sequences that build and rebuild to ever increasing
heights. From crescendo to glorious crescendo, Resident
Evil 4 succeeds in taking the series in a bold new action
oriented direction and evolving survival/horror genre as we
As the story goes, Leon S. Kennedy is back six years after
the now infamous incident in Raccoon City. The scene shifts
to a decaying European village where Leon begins his investigation
into the kidnapping of the Presidents daughter. Needless to
say, the townsfolk are a little less than cooperative with
his effort. Upon Leon’s first encounter with a villager, it
becomes apparent that something is terribly wrong. No detective
work is required, an axe slung at the hapless hero will suffice.
Early on in the game you will find refuge in a dilapidated
house. Don’t get too comfortable, a barrage of fierce opposition
will soon begin flooding the premises. No more of the old
‘go-through-the-door-scene-change-safety’ laws apply. This
fresh breed of foe breaks down doors, and even props up ladders
for easier access to the second floor windows or roof.
Chilling ‘blood soaked’ encounters hold true to the games
M-rated status. Hoards of deadly enemies will hunt you with
an intelligence and ferocity not previously seen in the zombies
of Residents Evil’s past. This time out they aren’t
zombies at all. Their breed and origin is revealed as the
plot unravels. Homicidal as they are, your opposition seem
somehow civilized and methodical. They can even be heard barking
orders at each other in their native Spanish tongue. It doesn't
end there, Resident Evil 4 is also host to some of
the best boss battles ever. Going 'blow for blow' with these
ungodly creations is ill advised. Utilizing interactive elements
of the surrounding environment to your advantage is a must.
Enemies are generally diverse, but during some segments of
the game, repetition isn’t uncommon among lesser foes. Thankfully
you won't be allowed much time to notice, or care. The games
difficulty seemingly adapts to your increasing skill level.
Challenges appear insurmountable, yet victory always remains
Hunting down enemies has never been so much fun thanks to
the game’s responsive controls, and easy to read perspective.
The new camera puts you right into the action, bringing the
sadistic Resident Evil world into mind-blowing 3D.
Gunplay is precise, and worthy of a marksmen. You still can’t
run and shoot at the same time, meaning all of the tense 'I-better-reload-quick-or-I’m-gonna-get-my-damn
face-chewed-off!' moments previously seen in the series are
left intact. The absence of a strafe function, as usually
incorporated in a game of this style, only serves to add to
the tension and complements the games simple yet uniquely
challenging game play. Resident Evil 4 retains the
vaguely claustrophobic feel of its predecessors while offering
entirely new additions to the play.
The core game play blends harmoniously with cut scene segments
throughout the game. At some points during the cut scenes
or in-game action, you will be prompted to push variable buttons
on your control pad to avoid a grizzly death of one sort or
another. Quick reflexes are a must. Familiar puzzle segments
of the series remain, but not as the focal point they once
were. Puzzles are a lot easier to solve this time out, providing
well needed breaks between the action. In some cases a puzzle
must be solved during the course of the action, challenging
you to think on the fly at hectic pace. You are treated to
various secrets and unlockables as you progress through a
long quest that will keep you coming back for more.
The games levels are well designed and flow nicely with
the action. You will rarely backtrack or find yourself lost.
On the seldom occasion you take a wrong turn, the games detailed
and easy to read map screen will serve as a proficient guide
to aid you back on course. An extensive arsenal of weaponry
will become available to you as you progress. You will still
be forced to bring up your weapons screen each time you choose
to alter your choice of firearms. The absence of the ability
to cycle through your weapons during game play can become
tedious, and disrupts the games otherwise free flowing action
sequences. Thankfully, holding down the L button will have
Leon switch to his trusty hunting knife which is useful for
conserving ammo, opening boxes or breaking locks.
Ammo, items, and treasures can be found amidst the levels
or stolen from perished enemies. You will encounter a shopkeeper
in scattered areas of the game who allows you to buy, sell,
and upgrade weapons. The currency being any number of the
treasures, weapons or items you have amassed. Weapons and
items are stored in your briefcase, which can be selected
from the menu brought up by pressing the Y button at any time.
Your briefcase is of limited size, so you can't take everything
with you. Some items will have to be sold or simply left behind.
It is up to you to determine which items are of the most value
to you, and the means you will take fit them in your briefcase,
a unique and well thought out challenge in itself.
Leon's frantically paced adventure leads him through beautifully
rendered villages, lush gardens, graveyards, and ornately
decorated castles. The attention to detail is astounding.
You will notice dogs chasing chickens through a diminished
barnyard, or townsfolk going about their daily chores in a
decaying village. Leon kicks dust up into the air as he maneuvers,
his hair swaying with his movement. The fire and water effects
have to be seen to be believed. Never has such hauntingly
beautiful atmosphere been realized in a game. Character models
look and move so realistically it’s almost eerie, as though
this masterfully crafted world has a pulse. Impossibly, the
games solid frame rate doesn’t miss a step, even with 20 or
more characters on the screen. Gone are the pre-rendered backgrounds
and cut sequences, all aspects of the game are brought to
you in stunning real time. Resident Evil 4’s graphics
are both an artistic and technical marvel.
The audio portion of the game remains on par with its awe-nspiring
visuals. The musical scores are well orchestrated and remain
consistently on cue. Moody ambient noises serve to thicken
the atmosphere throughout. The voice acting is equally impressive
and enhances the distinct traits of the central cast of characters.
Unfortunately the verbal interactions between characters are
tawdry. Though the dialogue and story remain weak points in
Resident Evil 4, they drive the action sequences that
define the game.
Resident Evil 4 is a triumph of epic proportions
that is sure to go down in history as one of the greatest
game sequels ever made. High production value is the backbone
supporting this richly engrossing gaming experience. Despite
the games drastic changes it remains a must buy for fans the
series and newcomers alike. Akin to what Metroid
Prime did for the Metroid series, Resident Evil 4
retains the soul of the beloved series it has evolved… evil
- Shawn Cooper