Resident Evil 4
Review by GavLuvsGA
"Has the Resident Evil series jumped the zombie shark? I don't think so..."
Having played all of the previous Resident Evil games, I was very excited about getting this and went down to the nearest branch of Game to buy a copy as soon as I could. I was a little worried at first; the game was apparently going to be very different in style to previous games, but my Resident Evil experience would not be complete without this.
Gameplay - 8/10
It does take some getting used to at first, but it's actually quite fun. The gameplay is much more linear than the previous Resident Evils, and with a different viewpoint - the camera remains right behind your character, rather than being at fixed angles around the rooms, which is good in that it's somewhat easier for beginners to master the controls. Also, the game is separated into a number of Chapters. I'm not sure if this is really necessary, though.
The enemies are different to those from previous games - starting with hordes of villagers, who are the equivalent to the zombies here. Unlike the zombies, this lot are often very intelligent, with the ability to climb ladders and use various weapons. Some of them chuck bombs at you, and deadlier still, some of them imitate Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and attempt to take your head off! These people can be very daunting at first, especially as they will often attack you in large numbers. The improved camera position, however, does make is somewhat easier to aim at the enemys' heads. Later in the game, the enemies get even deadlier weapons, including catapults from which they unleash balls of fire (these can kill very fast indeed).
Some of the traps found in this game are truly nasty. Explosive wires that are barely visible can be found in various parts, and man traps on the ground. And if that wasn't hard enough, for a lot of the game you will be having to escort a girl named Ashley and make sure she isn't killed. At first when I read about this I assumed it was a reversion to the system used in Resident Evil Zero, but it's a lot more complicated, since Ashley cannot defend herself, and you will constantly find yourself going after her when she gets kidnapped by the enemy, if you are not careful.
The game also introduces button mashing. I'm not overly fond of this, but at times you will be given the instruction to mash one or two buttons quickly - to avoid a rolling boulder straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, or to duck and avoid an enemy. You also are gifted with the ability to jump, although you can only use this in certain places - such as jumping off ledges and over chasms - though there is no chance of actually falling to your death, as the game controls where you go itself.
The other major elements of old Resident Evil Games - the puzzles - remain, though there seem to be less of them. There are also a number of impressive bosses - such as probably the largest monster I have ever seen in a Resident Evil game, and a zombified whale which you must harpoon.
The game does, however, seem a lot less focused on gathering miscellaneous items to insert in other locations and open doors, and most of the items you find are healing items, ammunition and money - and treasures that you can trade for money.
Oh, yes. You get money here, to sell for weapons and other items. This is found littered in boxes, and carried by some of the enemies, most of whom drop some sort of weapon when killed. You can carry a number of weapons at a time, and you seem to have somewhat more item space than in previous games - which is just as well, as the game has dispensed with Item Boxes (much like in Resident Evil Zero). To add to that, the game dispensed of the Ink Ribbon system and allows you to save whenever you reach a typewriter. Some of the save points do seem way too close together, though - at many points they appear at the start of a chapter, just after you were given an opportunity to save without a typewriter.
The other big change is the health system, which is a little easier to understand, as the amount of health you have is shown by a coloured bar, and you even get the opportunity to increase it, using the new items, yellow herbs. This is a useful thing as many of the enemies can be very tough, and it saves frustration.
Overall, the gameplay makes me think of the new Prince of Persia games, only with better weapons and without the ability to turn back time. Also, just to make things easier, you can actually restart from the preivous savepoint or checkpoint without resorting to hit the restart button, which is useful if you do something immensely stupid.
The gameplay takes a while to get used to, but after a while, I found myself hooked.
Story - 9/10
The story returns to Leon S. Kennedy - a lookalike of Gareth from The Office, last seen in Resident Evil 2, and only mentioned in passing in Code: Veronica X. It wasn't what I was expecting after the ending of Resident Evil Code: Veronica X, but it's a good idea to return to this character.
The game takes place somewhere in Europe (evidently in Spain, although when I first saw the hordes of pitchfork-wielding mobs I thought I was in Transylvania). The game opens with Leon being driven to a village in a truck. One of the drivers gets out to take a leak, and in a complete subversion of just about every horror movie cliche, is not attacked.
Leon is left in the village, where he finds out that the locals are rather hostile - to say the least, and must rescue the president's daughter, Ashley.
This is about all I can say without giving away too much of the story, and after a while the story starts to look something like Resident Evil meets Harry Potter meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Wicker Man meets Twin Peaks. There is a seemingly endless parade of colourful, and frankly bizarre bad guys - including, of all things, an evil dwarf. There is also a man called Luis who gives a number of walk-on appearances throughout the game, saying a few lines, then giving excuses and dashing off. However, the story is very compelling. The Umbrella corporation, familiar from the other Resident Evil Games, is replaced a a mysterious cult. Near the start, there's a pretty cool cutscene where the villagers are drawn away from attacking you by a church bell ringing and begin to walk towards the church. I found myself thinking of the Morlocks summoning the humans in The Time Machine.
I'm not as fond of Leon as I am of the original characters - Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, but in this game he seems somewhat more interesting than he was in Resident Evil 2. There is some great dialouge, and some great banter between Leon and his contact, who constantly appears to give him advice. Ashley would probably be the most annoying character in the Resident Evil series, were it not for Sherry Birkin from Resident Evil 2, and feminists are likely to be annoyed that she is a far cry from the usual tough, assertive, female characters that are typical of the Resident Evil Games (Jill, Claire and Ada, for example), as she takes on the role of a damsel in distress.
Sounds - 8/10
The sounds are very good. Just hearing the villagers voices is somewhat chilling (though nothing like as terror inducing as a certain boss character from Resident Evil: Code Veronica X).
Most of the voice acting is good, despite a few slightly cheesy efforts. Playing the game just now, I recall entering one room and hearing slightly overdone maniacal laughter echoing throughout the place - I was expecting a walk on part from Gruntilda, the witch from the Banjo Kazooie games. There are some interesting uses of accents in this game, with some characters sounding either German or Russian, while the merchant speaks in what sounds to me like a cockney accent.
Ashely's high-pitched screming voice may get on your nerves, though.
Graphics - 10/10
These are even better than in Code: Veronica X if that's possible. The gameplay and cinemas are, for once, equally sharp, and at times I actually thought I was still watching a cinema when the gameplay has resumed. Some of enemies are genuinely freaky (particularly the parasites that appear after you've decapitated certain enemies. The only real flaw is that at times, the screen seems a little too dark.
Play Time/Replay Value - 9/10
This game should keep you occupied for some time, especially as - like most of the other games in the series - this uses two discs. This game is difficult to put down.
Final Verdict - Buy
You will need to buy this game because of the sheer size of it. You will probably not get your money's worth out of just a few days' rental. This is also one of the best games in the Resident Evil Series.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/06/05
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.