Review by VickersZombie
"I see Capcom has equipped their game with some... ballistics."
The Resident Evil franchise has come a long way for something that has been around for eight years and unlike some other series brought to us by Capcom, they have been mostly games that only got better. Back when Resident Evil 4 was first in production, we were promised a game that would evolve the world of Resident Evil and the way we look at survival horror games forever. I can't speak for everyone that has played the game, but I know I can honestly say that I have seen the light of which the new Resident Evil series is taking, and I like it.
Perhaps the first thing that I, and I'm sure many, fans of the series that were patiently awaiting this game picked up on was the fact that Resident Evil 4 would include a new control system and scheme in a brand new world. And, of course, it is needless to say that Capcom has certainly delivered. Gone are the days of auto-aiming and shooting handguns in hopes of taking down an enemy before he has time to pounce on you. Instead this is replaced with more enemies in a world where you can aim directly at a knee or a leg and fire a single bullet to bring them to the ground, or give a shot to the shoulder to knock them back and stumble. Though what throws this game forward is the addition of the "action" buttons that entails a myriad of different actions that can have Leon leaping out of windows, kicking enemies in the face or even dodging out of the way of certain dangers. This gives you a game that keeps you on the edge of your seat even during the cinema-sequences because you never quite know when you'll have to give Leon a push in the right direction. Finally, players get to do some of what they have been dreaming of doing and I know I can say that I'm satisfied with the results, although I would like to see the game become more interactive, this game seems like it's the first step of many in the right direction. The game could be argued to be quite easy, as you are giving a hefty supply of resources but it doesn't take away from the fun of the game which comes from the adrenaline-rush and the tension that builds up that sticks with you no matter what you have in your arsenal.
One of the top things that people will look to when it comes to a video game and although I can say with complete honesty that I'm not one of those that looks directly to graphics as the first thing (because that'd just be hypocritical from someone who finds as much fun in NES and SNES games), I couldn't help but be blown away by even the first visuals from the Resident Evil 4 promo-trailer and the end result only made things better. And it's not so much the character designs that I am satisfied with (although they are utterly amazing, even in comparison to two more recent GC RE titles, RE0 and REmake!), but the scenery is amazing and the game takes you through such a list of environments that it's mind-boggling and pleasurable enough to just stop and take a look at some of the surroundings or the details of the areas that you find yourself traveling through including such things as realistically whipping flames from lanterns to curtains gingerly blowing in the gentlest of breezes. There's still a while to go before we reach the level of one-hundred percent life-like effects or the degree of such things as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, though Capcom is well on their way with this title.
One thing that has always been a problem in the past for the series of Resident Evil is the voice acting reading verbatim a low-class script. It seems Capcom didn't have a knack for picking up talent for the past titles though this is yet another thing that Capcom has improved upon, another hurdle that they've leaped high over, picking up talent that brings these characters to life in spite of the still rather cheesy B-grade script and even having one returning voice actor that does such a better job with the character that the result is simply mind-boggling. As far as music goes, the Resident Evil series always relied on scares by the soft and eerie music that would leave you feeling chills up your spine like some kind of combination of an Alfred Hitchcock film and a Castlevania game in combination with gentle serene sounds to lower your blood pressure before a big jump. This is completely changed in this game in areas where it has music ranging from the silence but seems to excel in the use of utter silents and allowing any faint sound-effects to set the mood for you until the moment where the enemy spots you and you hear your target screaming in a foreign language to grab you before the Devil May Cry-esque music kicks in to push your adrenaline to a max and get you in the mood for a battle; although it's not the same old music, this is not the same old game and ends up complimenting the game very nicely.
I'm sure we all remember the old Resident Evil games. Every one of them, to date, had something to unlock for the game when you beat it within a specified time which was usually in the range of one and a half hours to four hours, if even that. However, if you're expecting to beat this game in even twice that time, then you're being pretty generous as this game is chock-full of gameplay that can range from fifteen to even twenty-five hours of gameplay depending on just what you decide to do and how long you take. Not to mention the fact that it entails two great mini-games that are unlocked upon beating the game that tops even the mini-games of Code: Veronica and RE2 for the DreamCast/GameCube/Nintendo 64, and of course the harder difficulty unlocked. If you're tired of waiting for a game and end up beating the game in a day or less, and having nothing to do with it once it's completed, then you definitely will not be disappointed with Resident Evil 4.
If you're a Resident Evil fan, you know the story; Umbrella Incorporated, the evil pharmaceutical and popular company, is part of a secret underground set of laboratories that are devised to perform biological and viral experiments and ultimately complete walking-weapons. Of course, Resident Evil 4 takes a step in a different direction while dealing with the lead character, Leon Scott Kennedy, from Resident Evil 2 that resurrects a gaming story that hasn't been touched upon since perhaps even the Legend Of Zelda and Mario Brothers series in being what, at first glance, would be to "rescue the princess in distress" story. Only this game makes it more believable as you find yourself in possession of the character and have to guide her through the dangers as part of your mission, unaware of what awaits you on the other side of a door and how you're going to protect the subject. It could be an over-played and stereotyped plot but this game delivers it well enough that it becomes distant while playing your way through the game and fighting your way through the dangerous environment, however it does leave you with a nasty after-taste by the end leaving you to question just what it was that tied this into the other games. The references are there, I'll tell you this. Just be sure to cover all bases before you judge the story so harshly as many seem to do.
All in all, Resident Evil has evolved beyond what we could possibly imagine and has expanded greatly from a game that relied on cheap scares and abominations and eerie music to give us chills and has replaced it with creatures that, as the trailer says, "defy nature" with a score that is practically non-existent to raise the tension level through the roofs until you find yourself waste-deep in enemies. No one will admit it, but Resident Evil was a sci-fi action game first, and a horror game second. This Resident Evil is merely highlighting, to the max, the first nature that the game has always had and is raising it to levels we could only have hoped for and, hopefully, will continue to advance in this direction and become what I hope will be the best action sci-fi game to grace the screens of gamers everywhere that'll still give you the chance to put yourself in the shoes of the character and imagine what it's like to be stuck in this world, and that was the scare that Resident Evil was good at. Not twisted and sick-minded horror, but a heart-pounding paranoia and anxiety.
The only thing that could be more paranoia-ridden and more heart-pounding is the idea that Capcom won't follow through on this format in what I hope will be the next installment.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/25/05
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