Review by ferronlee
"Evil has evolved. Be prepared for the ultimate horror."
What is there to say about Resident Evil 4 that hasn't been said already? It is perhaps one of the most hyped / talked about games of recent times. Not all of this talk being good. There was huge uproar from hardcore Resi fans when the changes were announced all those months ago. I am ashamed to say I was one of those people who hated the idea of all these changes. Gone are the pre rendered backgrounds. Gone are the seemingly overlong door loading times. Gone are the fixed cameras and awkward angles and most importantly gone are the fan favourite zombies. Resident Evil has evolved. The questions are has it evolved well? Does it live up to its hype? The answer to both is a certain YES.
The story is set six long years after the destruction of the infamous Raccoon City. Resident Evil 2 star Leon S. Kennedy is now working for a secret organisation controlled by the president. His mission: Find and rescue the president's daughter. His solo mission takes him to a mysterious village somewhere in Europe. Naturally the villagers are not pleased to see him The journey begins.
The first thing I noticed was how smooth the game controls. The control system is almost identical to that of previous Resident Evil title. Only this time the game is fully 3D and the camera is behind Leon at all times. The previously flawed controls have been miraculously fixed by the camera improvements. Basically the game controls like a dream. With these improvement there should be no annoying situations where you find yourself stuck on the corner of a wall. As I often did in the previous games. Holding down the right shoulder button brings up your gun. Auto aim has thankfully been scrapped; instead you can shoot the enemy anywhere you like, with a lot of help from the laser that is attached to the gun. The genius of these improvements literally sent shivers down my spine with pure excitement.
The graphics are without a doubt the finest I have ever seen. The attention to fine detail is award-winning worthy. From the smoky atmosphere to the creepy woods and the bugs. There is so much to look at. I found myself spending more time than I needed to in certain areas just admiring the surroundings. All this detail helps create the perfect atmosphere of fear and dread. Something Shinji Mikami and co. are experts at doing. I often questioned whether or not I really wanted to see what was behind certain doors or not. Naturally I did. With help from the brilliant sound this game oozes with intense atmosphere unlike any other game.
The boss fights are enough to take anyone's breath away. They require a bit more brain works rather than shoot, run, shoot. Each boss has a certain weakness in which you have to discover and exploit. These fights are easily on par with the boss fights in the excellent Metroid Prime series.
The game certainly shows its influences. Another factor that Resident Evil has always been good at. The previous games clearly being inspired from the old George Romero Zombie flicks. Resident Evil 4 looks to different horror films for inspiration. The village area is clearly influenced by the 1974 horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. With it's chainsaw wielding mad man and human monsters as well as its farmland location and claustrophobic heat. The castle reminded me of Hammer horror with its cult theme and over dressed villains in their robes and masks. The later parts of the game depicts the 1980s horror films with its more monster based enemies. They reminded me of horror icons such as Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th. None of which are a bad thing. It's almost as if you're living out these movies all in this one game. That's enough to make any horror fan happy.
My first play through took just over 20 hours, which as any Resi fan knows these games usually don't last half as long. But I found myself getting slightly annoyed in the last third of the game. It stopped feeling like a new Resident Evil game and started felling like just another Manhunt or The Suffering. Both of which are great games, but not what I wanted from Resident Evil. I also thought the so-called story really started to fizzle out and lose my interest. But this didn't really effect my overall enjoyment of the game. The first two thirds were phenomenal.
To all those who are concerned you do get a chance to breathe and explore areas. It's not constant action from start to finish. There are typical Resi style puzzles to contend with, none of which are too tricky and most importantly the partner character Ashley is not annoying like they usually are. I actually enjoyed her company or what little there was of it. The story is fairly weak but it does enough to keep your interest at least until near the end. The previous stories have not been forgotten about. There are still some solid connections to the old games that will not confuse new Resident Evil Players.
This game is not perfect, but it is as close to perfection as action games get. Overall I am extremely glad of the changes and improvements. The series has changed for the better. Long live Resident Evil.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/26/05
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