Review by NazgulCentral
"Atmospheric action horror with creamy chainsaw goodness."
Is this the best game out for the Gamecube at the moment? That's difficult to say, it's certainly up there. This game creates unrivalled atmosphere and tension and delivers some superb set pieces that keep you on the edge throughout, and it's certainly addictive, helped by the bonus game "The Mercenaries".
Story 8 (out of ten)
The story is a tad clichéd in premise. The daughter of the President of the United States has been kidnapped by psychotic Spanish nutters hell-bent on world domination. However it is the subplots that help keep this game together.
For example there is a familiar face that returns and in a way helps the main character, Leon Kennedy, in his quest, plus there is the introduction of a new villain (the antithesis if you will to Leon) late in the game which begins to make things very interesting, with the two new faces battling it out for a sample of the parasite that has caused most of the damage in the game. As mentioned before, the main enemies are Spanish natives, which bare many zombie-like characteristics. The plot is very dark where these guys are concerned; they have been injected with the aforementioned parasite, which puts them under control of Emperor Palpatine look-alike Saddler.
I don't know about you but I find the concept of that quite disturbing, and on the first playthrough the various notes and memo's develop this plot, and coupled with the images seen during the credits forces it into the player what has happened.
Graphics - 10
I'm not much of a graphics whore, I can get by with NES standard games (if it's good), but I can certainly spot some good work when I see it. The intricate detail on even minor things such as flies buzzing around a mouldy cow carcass or the grass blowing in the wind is presented excruciatingly well. A lot of work has gone into this game graphics wise, and the more you play the game the more you appreciate the fine work.
Controls - 5
Crap. That's the best word to sum them up. I'm a seasoned Resident Evil player, and am used to them, but that doesn't stop them from being crap. What with the complete overhaul story-wise, enemy-wise and graphics-wise you would have thought the developers would have taken the time to mix them up a bit.
No, you still have to hold B to run, still have to stand still and shoot, and there is still limited control over Leon. The aim system is slightly crap too. While many have grown used to it, I still can't get around how you can miss someone at close range with a magnum. The aiming system incorporates a laser site that shows up on targets, yet as Leon has to stand still, the camera stays slightly to the side of his shoulder, meaning the aim is slightly off. This can be VERY frustrating in areas where you are swarmed by enemies.
What's also bad about the controls is that Leon moves slower than a milk float. His sluggish movements when you need him to haul ass can cause severe frustration and generally it's no good trying to run from enemies, they can usually outrun you.
Gameplay - 8
The main portion of the game is quite simple. Get from A to B, insert key here or there or complete a puzzle while killing a fixed amount of enemies along the way. To summarise it like this does not do the game justice though.
Areas like the village and castle create such an eerie atmosphere that on the first play through it can be quite nerve-racking at times, such as hearing a chainsaw firing up or hearing the slow chants of deranged monks as they shuffle (or sprint) their way towards you. As mentioned before, some of the set pieces in this game are stunning to behold, such as the mine kart ride at breakneck speeds through a dusty mine shaft, with seemingly countless villagers, armed with pitchforks, chainsaws or hatchets hopping on for a ride as you go.
The game is also quite generous in terms of the arsenal offered to you to blast your way through the game. The weapons contain three different types of shotgun, four types of handgun, and various explosive devices that make it great fun on repeated playthroughs.
Ammunition for these guns is sometimes variable. The more guns you carry, the more likely it will be for ammunition to be very spread out. Chances are, most people will stick with a handgun or shotgun most of the time, unless you have unlocked a weapon that offers infinite ammo.
One of the key aspects of this game is Ashley, the President's daughter. Once rescued early in the game, it is very much a case of protect and escort until her next kidnapping (she gets taken sporadically throughout the game).
The biggest problem with her AI is that she is incredibly stupid. It is almost as if the programmers have given her a case of dumb blonde syndrome. Most of the time she will just sit on the floor and cry, which I suppose is what I would do in her position, yet it makes for a frustrating time, especially if she suddenly decides to stand up in front of you as you get ready to fire a high powered rocket launcher. Thankfully, Ashley is only with you for a quarter of the game, and you are largely free to look after yourself most of the time.
The bosses, always very important in a Resident Evil game are somewhat varied. Some, like an oversized troll that looks like he has nothing to do now Lord Of The Rings has finished is extremely fun to dispose of. However, the main bosses are typical Resident Evil, and in that sense, are boring. That is definitely just my opinion though, a lot of people like the boss the Resi series offers, yet I have always been uninspired by final mutations. The bosses in RE4 are no different, large grotesque eye candy with tentacles (always tentacles), are good to look at but no fun to kill. The evil Lord Saddler become such a good villain that you want to take him on how he looks normally, but no, he has to mutate. So in this case, the sub-bosses are far much more fun to kill than the main ones.
Overall the gameplay is exceptional, although one could argue it offers nothing truly groundbreaking, it is still a hell of a lot of fun to do, and still maintains a Resident Evil feel in my opinion. People have commented about the loss of zombies and the lack of the "survival horror" feel to the game has lessened the appeal, but that is not so. It is very much a Resident Evil game, and it is refreshing to see that Capcom are willing to expand certain aspects of their series.
Replayability (if there is such a word) 6
I know, I said before the Mercenaries game is addictive, but, like the main game, once completed you find yourself not willing to play it as much. The actual main game is good for at least two or three more replays, it is fun to test new weapons or just try a different approach, but after that certain parts of the game become a chore and the fun goes.
The enemies begin to grow very annoying, such as the stupid flying insect things or the Spanish nutter with a glow stick that electrocutes you within 3 metres despite unloading a magnum shot to his face. The second disc is an extreme let down. First time through, it is a lot of fun, but the design is very bland and disappointing in comparison to the village and castle settings, and the enemies just do not have any fear factor at all.
Perhaps it would benefit from a period of time in between each playthrough, I have completed this game seven times in the last week, and to be honest, I'm fed up now.
The extras that come with the game are fun though, and prolong the life somewhat, such as an extra assignment with one of the characters in the game (I won't spoil who it is, even if the majority of people know who it is), which is good for one or two playthroughs, and the Mercenaries game is excellent. This game is like a shoot em up version of Crazy Taxi; kill as many people as you can in a time limit whilst picking up bonuses and time extensions. There are four characters to unlock there which guarantees at least a day's work, and twenty separate five star ratings will unlock a weapon of Godly proportions.
However, as said before, once everything is unlocked there is nothing to offer. This is certainly not the fault of the game, and my overall score is not affected by the replayability factor.
This is an excellent game that will keep you enthralled for at least 80 hours of solid gameplay, and it is only with repeated playthroughs that minor flaws become apparent. Except for the controls, which were crap to begin with.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/25/05
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