Review by ParasolRKO
"This is NOT a product of the Umbrella Corporation."
At the risk of not spoiling anything for anyone, I'll be very basic.
The Resident Evil (Biohazard in Japan) series is what many gamers think of when they think of titles in the "survival horror" genre. Although there are many other great survival horror games such as Silent Hill, Eternal Darkness, Cold Fear, etc., Resident Evil has always been my favorite. Upon the release of the original Resident Evil for the Playstation, I was instantly hooked. This game had it all. The basic premise of the story was that you were one of two special operations (S.T.A.R.S.) police officers, either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine. Whichever character you picked, the S.T.A.R.S. team was assigned to search the woods for the crashed helicopter belonging to their comrades, the Bravo team of S.T.A.R.S.. Following an encounter with several...mutated creatures, seemingly dogs, your squad flees to an isolated mansion. Upon searching the mansion, you begin to find mutated creatures, as well as the Resident Evil trademark...zombies.
After the events at Raccoon City, which spanned several games, Capcom decided to take a new direction, but not -completely- abandon their old format, using tie-ins to the older games. Welcome to Resident Evil 4. There were several different versions of this game in the works, ranging from the protagonist being chased by a man with a hook for a hand all the way to the version that we have today. Early previews for the game received mixed reactions, as many fans were uncertain as to how good the new story would be. For the most part however, the fanbase seems to be really pleased with Resident Evil 4. What makes this game so great? Down to the nitty gritty!
Gameplay - 10/10
As previously mentioned, many people were uncertain as to how the new style of gameplay would work in the latest chapter of Resident Evil. However, this game really pulls it together and shows everything that a game SHOULD be. The control system for this game is simply wonderful. Everything about the Gamecube controller feels natural, from running to firing at a mob of enemies. Some people could complain about having to go back and forth to the inventory screen to switch guns, look at treasures, etc., but I personally found no problems with it at all. Everything feels as it should in Resident Evil 4, with little to no control problems at all. This game detaches from the old Resident Evil control scheme, in which pressing up would move you toward the direction you were facing.
Newcomers to the Resident Evil series may get a bit discouraged when first starting this game. Even though I have played every Resident Evil up until this point, the difficulty takes some getting used to. The auto-aim from Resident Evil 3 and Code Veronica is gone, replaced by a brand new hit zone aiming system. Based on this hit zone system, enemies can be hurt in different places on their bodies. By using a laser that is automatically on your weapon of choice, you can take careful aim at the body parts of an incoming enemy. An enemy is running toward you with a stick of dynamite in his hand? Shoot the dynamite before he gets close, detonating it as soon as the bullet hits. An enemy is running toward with with a knife or a scythe? Shoot him in the arm to make him drop the weapon. The same applies for shooting enemies in the legs and head to cause them to stagger or fall, which brings me to my next point...
The new action system! I found this system to be really innovative and different. Did you ever wish that you would just be able to JUMP over that pile of wood in past Resident Evils and just go around it as opposed to taking a detour around the whole city to get past it? That's long gone. Now, you are able to jump from windows, jump over logs, and even attack enemies using this system. If you shoot an enemy in the leg, they will instantly fall to their knees. At this point, you can run up and deliver a kick or a suplex to them, hurting or even killing them in the process. This is also very effective when used after a gunshot to the head to keep crowds from getting too close. The new action system really adds a new dimension to this newest title in the Resident Evil saga.
Also, be on the lookout for QTEs. Quicktime events are events that usually will keep you from getting killed. When certain dangerous situations arise, the player will be given a pair of buttons, either L+R or A+B. At this point, the player must hit these buttons in this split second. If he or she fails to do so, they are usually treated to a cutscene involving Leon's extremely gory death. This element REALLY keeps gamers on their toes, especially at a certain point where they must respond to several quick time events that happen in only about a thirty second period.
Story - 9.5/10
The only reason that this story doesn't get a perfect ten is due to lack of closure. It is now the year 2004, six years after the Raccoon City incident. Veteran Resident Evil players will remember Officer Leon Scott Kennedy, one of the protagonists of Resident Evil 2. He barely made it out of the zombie-infested city along with Claire Redfield, and helped to uncover the truth about the doings of Umbrella, an insanely powerful pharmaceutial corporation.
What really bothered me about this was the endings of the past Resident Evil games. It seemed like that at the end of EVERY other Resident Evil game, the hero/heroine would make some sort of a comment about fighting Umbrella ("That's it..This time, they've gone too far!" "We're not finished yet..We still have to take down Umbrella."). However, Umbrella is literally snuffed out in a one minute, ten or so second cutscene, giving gamers no closure at all. The official explanation is that the United States government issued an indefinite suspension of business decree to Umbrella, causing their stock prices to plummet. And as Leon Kennedy says: "For all intents and purposes, Umbrella was finished". Just like that. Not only did I find Umbrella to be the coolest thing in a video game ever, it gets snuffed out with little to no explanation, aside from "The government shut it down". However, certain events that will remain unnamed occur later in the game, giving gamers the impression that Umbrella might not be dead after all, giving those old school Resident Evil fans hope.
At any rate, fast forward to 2004, six years after the Umbrella/Raccoon City incident. Leon Kennedy is now working for the President of the United States, as supposedly a member of the secret service. Assigned to go look for the President's missing daughter, Ashley Graham, who was abducted from her university, Leon takes some interests in rumors stating that she was seen in a European village somewhere. Taking the initiative, Leon travels to the country to find out that the villagers are not as they seem. Have Umbrella's secrets traveled all the way across the ocean to another country, or is there something else going on here? These questions will haunt you as you frantically search for the President's daughter.
Graphics/Sound - 10/10
Simply put, the most amazing audio/video I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. This game has to be the most beautiful thing I've ever witnessed. From the atmospheres of the villages you first search in, all the way to an isolated island, this game really delivers in the graphics/audio department. Rain drops bounce off of Leon and Ashley as they should, and the atmospheres do a great job of freaking you out. Also, the death scenes in this game boast some of the goriest scenes that have ever been witnessed in the Resident Evil series. From Leon getting his face melted off, revealing every organ in his head, to Leon getting decapitated by a chainsaw, this game never ceases to shock and amaze in the gore/graphics department. The sound also provides a great background to the wonderful graphics. Thunder will coincide with lightning, usually surprising you every time. While many people say that this Resident Evil isn't as scary as the past ones, I will have to disagree. Due to the enemies as well as the graphics/sound that are provided in this game, I still feel freaked out and overwhelmed at times, even on multiple playthroughs.
Replayability - 10/10
Oh yes. VERY much so. Boasting two minigames, and new challenges each time, this game is definitely one to played over and over again. Completing each of the minigames merits you a new weapon to use in the main game, ranging from a .45 Magnum to a Tommy Gun used by gangsters in Chicago a while back. You'll want to play through the main story again, just to use these new weapons. Don't think that the minigames are a piece of cake either. One especially will have you tearing your hair out, as Resident Evil 3 fans can remember. Also, there is Professional mode, which is a harder version of the main story. This is unlocked after the game is beaten once, and it definitely puts a new spin on things. Point is, you won't get bored with this one for a long, long time.
Final Word: Don't even disgrace this title by renting it. This game is definitely worth the fifty clams it costs. Boasting multiple costumes, unlockable characters, unlockable weapons, etc., there are many reasons to play it over and over again. Heck, you may even want to play it again just to experience the feeling of helplessness that you get when you hear that first chainsaw revving up...
This is NOT a product of the Umbrella Corporation.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/19/05
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