Review by BlueYoshi579
"So much hype, before and after release. Does RE4 live up to it all?"
Overview: Resident Evil 4 was supposed to be a great game, a welcome departure and upgrade from a series that was starting to get stale. Did it live up to those very lofty expectations? No.
It exceeded them.
Graphics: Some of, if not the, best graphics you'll ever find on the Gamecube.
The Lighting effects, generally some of the most difficult for programmers/designers, is spectacular. The villagers torches behave like torches, scattering light randomly rather than in uniform patterns that are more like light bulbs than torches. At normal settings, the scenes are neither too bright or too dark, given the story and setting of the game.
The Water effects are great. In the rain, players can see the water bouncing off of Leon's shoulders. Standing pools of rancid water don't have a simple layer of scum, all the water is dirty. Jumping into water creates realistic splashes. Objects are actually immersed in water, rather than seeming to push it away like many games do with submerged objects. The first boss battle shows excellent detail when the boat moves through the water, as well as when Leon has the misfortune of falling in. And one can almost get distracted by staring at the pools of water within the castle.
The unique character models are spectacular. Leon is actually wearing his clothes, rather simply being wrapped in it. When he walks, folds appear momentarily in his pants. The characters' faces show plenty of detail and look very realistic, to the point where the game resembles a CGI movie. The hair details are possibly the best. Gone are days when hair was simply one big mass on the head. One can actually differentiate strands of hair on a decent TV. The faces are also incredibly lifelike in their expressions, as well. It is easy to tell when the villain in simply toying with Leon, when Leon is angry, or when Ashley is frightened. However, it should be noted that the basic enemies are not quite so amazing. Although they still look pretty good, better than main characters in many games, they can get repetitive after awhile, and sometimes they're a little dull. I'd mention their lack of expressiveness, but that's a spoiler, and you should be shooting them, not questioning their motivations or emotions.
All in all, the graphics in RE4 are probably the best in any console game so far – although this does not include games coming up (specifically the new Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess game) or games on the Xbox 360. 10/10.
Sound: The voice acting and sound effects are great, although that's about it for sound.
Recently, most video games have been on a string of crummy voice acting (Tales of Symphonia in particular). RE4 breaks away from this. No character has an inherently annoying voice, although sometimes Ashley does sound a bit off at times, and can say a bit too much in gameplay, but it's not really that bad.
Sound Effects in RE4 are very well done. The enemies actually talk, rather than simply attacking you in complete silence. This adds a lot to the experience, as you can easily tell that they're not pleased, even in you don't speak Spanish, as their tone of voice is quite clearly one of anger. One need not know Spanish to realize that the enemies want to kill Leon. The creatures in the game share this murderous tone of voice (although they don't actually say anything intelligible). Other sound effects, such as rain, weapons, and flames are also quite sharp, and not too easy to mistake for something else. One can easily tell when metal hits flesh, stone, or flails in the air.
There's not too much to say about music. It's usually appropriate, but doesn't play much of a role in the game.
Overall: It's not perfect, but it's still very good. 9/10.
Controls: The controls of RE4 are very simple. You move with the Control stick and/or D-Pad, point your gun by holding R and aim it with the Control Stick/D-Pad, Perform Quick Action Commands with A+B or L+R (more on these later), Run with B, investigate with A, Fire With A in Aim Mode, Arm your knife with L and slash with A, and move the camera with the C Stick. The only drawback is that shifting your aim quickly can be a hassle (like all console shooters), although you can remedy the problem by moving both the Control Stick and D-Pad. This is the only control issue in the entire game, everything else is exceedingly simple.
Overall: The enemies are slow enough to prevent any real aiming troubles, so 10/10.
Gameplay: Overall, the gameplay of RE4 is the biggest draw. It is simply amazing.
Difficulty: As long as you can shoot decently and manage your ammunition, you'll never be hopelessly stuck at any point in the game. The game is very easy for the first few minutes, although it does throw you into a rather tight spot a little earlier than is necessary. But it's nothing you can't get through with a little guesswork and some good old trial and error. If you rush into situations, you will feel overwhelmed. However, if you actually take the time to come up with some semblance of a plan, which generally involves keeping all the enemies in front of you and away from you, then you should be fine. RE4 takes a step off the beaten Resident Evil path by making you a more active combatant. It is now more advisable to kill enemies than to run, because you now have the firepower, and running usually attracts more foes think you'd look great with your head at your feet.
That is, unless, you're facing one of the bosses. The first boss is a special case (I won't spoil it for you, but be ready for one hell of a fight), but the other bosses usually throw most of your conventional strategy out the window. Several are far too large to try to knock down or escape, and the others are too fast and too strong to stay close enough to to get a clean shot with a powerful weapon like a shotgun. This brings plenty of fresh gameplay, because you usually have to find some creative way to defeat a boss, or be almost constantly on the move, which creates an incredibly intense and fun experience.
Quick Action Commands: At many points in the game, you will called on to dodge all manner of threats or attack enemies by performing Quick Action Commands. For these, a button combination, using the buttons A, B, L, and R will pop up on the screen. Sometimes, you will have about 5 seconds to react, and you may not even have to. Other times, your very life will be on the line, and you will have hit the right combination within roughly 2.25 seconds to save yourself. Hitting the wrong combination makes it virtually impossible to make up for your mistakes. One scene includes about a dozen QACs, and challenges many veterans of the game on every playthrough.
Story: The story is fairly simplistic, early on. Leon Kennedy, from Resident Evil 2 fame, now works for the US President, protecting him and his family. The president's daughter Ashley went missing in Europe, and Leon's searching for her. You'll get most of these details in the first few sections of the game, although if you're interested, be sure to looker around for notes, as they provide a bit of plot advancement (they're generally not easy to miss, because they stand out naturally, and glow). The story isn't entirely too interesting, but fans of the series will definitely want to pay attention to the game, as it has major implications for the Resident Evil Series. If you don't really care much for the story, then I'd suggest watching the cutscenes and radio conversations that aren't with Hunnigan, because they provide some great comedy, although I get the feeling that wasn't always Capcom's intent. I've had some fun times just spouting random lines from the game with friends.
Replay Value: Amazing. Your first playthrough will probably take you less than 20 hours, depending upon your skill as a gamer. But that's FAR from the end of what RE4 has to offer. There's a new difficulty level, extra guns (which make for a fun time if you feel like taking out your rage on a certain hated enemy or boss), an extra mode that is very challenging and fun to compete with friends in, hundreds of little things to notice, think about, and discover, and all sorts of player created challenges. I've played this game from beginning to end over 20 times, and only 4 of those were basically the same. There's nothing quite so fun as challenging yourself in all sorts of ways, such as Single Weapon games, No yellow herbs playthroughs, no Merchant playthroughs, speed challenges, Survivor Challenges (Go as far as you can go without recovering any health at all), Accuracy challenges, and Shooting Range challenges. You can probably come up with a few good ideas of your own, as well. Playing through such a great game takes along time to get old, and by that time you should be skilled enough to get to know the game all over again with some tough challenges.
Overall, RE4's gameplay alone exceeds the entirety of MANY other games. It is as close to perfection as video games have come in too long. 10/10.
Rent or --- Buy the game. Now. Otherwise, you might miss out on the best game of 2005, and maybe even the Gamecube-Playstation 2-XBox generation. I would even recommend getting both the Gamecube and PS2 versions if you can. The Gamecube has superior graphics and is a little bit smoother, but the PS2 has more options, a more in-depth story, and offers you another copy in case other people in your life start hogging the game (very possible). Not to mention, without the game, you'll miss such classic lines as this:
Villain: I've sent my right hand to dispose of you.
Leon: Your right hand comes off?
Resident Evil 4: Classic.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/14/06
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