Review by Dbzmaniax

"Game of the Year 2005 for a damn good reason."

Game of the Year 2005 for a damn good reason.

Introduction:

There have been quite a few Resident Evil games over the years, yet I as a gamer have never played one. But after seeing a video of RE4 before its release, I must say that I was blown away, not only by the amazing graphics but by the how fun the game looks to play.

Although I haven't played any games from the series I am aware that RE4 was like a breath of fresh air from a somewhat stale series. Whether or not that is true, I care not, for Resident Evil 4 is one the greatest games I have ever played and I have trouble finding anything bad with it.

I picked up this gem around the time of the Australian launch, yet I was too busy at the time to play it and got bored of playing it for only 2 or 3 hours a week, and therefore put it down. Recently I had an urge to give this game another chance seeing as I was in my summer holidays (AUSTRALIAN TIME!).

I fell in love with it straight away and played it for many hours a day; until I completed it just a couple of days after it was named Game of the Year 2005.

Gameplay:
Score: 10/10

Perfect is all I can say about playing this game. There are few people that say it isn't a very scary game, but after playing it through I can say that it wasn't really meant to be a game that freaks the heck out of you. The scary part of this is being surrounded by hoards of enemies with only 2 bullets and half your health, you freaking out, afraid that you will die while reloading. That is the fear in this game, fear of the enemies. And it can get pretty scary, especially when you have barely a slither of health left and only some handgun bullets and are zigzagging in and out, between bunches of enemies, trying to get out alive.

The main character is Leon S. Kennedy. He is a special agent sent from the U.S to Spain (I say Spain because the people talk Spanish, I may be wrong) to recover the presidents daughter, Ashley. However once you begin the mission you find something is wrong with the villagers there. For some reason they are all trying to kill you, as you'll find out when a Ganado (what they're called) takes a swipe at you with his axe.

As you go on you'll have contact from Hunnigan who will guide Leon. Soon into the game you will meet a man called Luis who will help you out here and there. Finding the presidents daughter is certainly not going to be an easy feat for our hero, Leon Kennedy. Now, I could blab on and spill out some more of the story, but seeing as it's your job to play the game and slowly but surely find out more and more about your mission and surroundings, I think I'll stop with the story here.

'OKAY! OKAY! WE GET THE POINT! BUT WHAT ABOUT PLAYING THE GAME!!!!?'

I have never, in the many years of playing games, found a game that plays as fun as Resident Evil 4 (although it isn't my favorite, Tales of Symphonia holds that spot). You basically start of the game with a pistol and a knife, 2 of the most important weapons in the game. A very short while later you will find a shotgun (or if you can't, which is pathetic, you can buy later). This is probably the most important weapon in the game, especially when there are enemies coming out from everywhere trying to kill you. A couple of shots from your shotgun and you'll be safe, for a little while at least.

Of course there are other guns you can get later, such as rifles and magnums. Where do you get these guns from, you ask? Well do you? Good.

A few guns, such as the shotgun can be found around the place, but for the most part, you're thirst for weapons will be quenched by the Merchants. Merchants are people that you will find here and there surrounded by 2 blue flames on poles. They allow you to sell the items and treasures you've acquired throughout the game, as well as guns you don't want anymore, for whatever reason.

You can buy many items and guns from the Merchants, however don't think they'll all be available from the get go. The farer you advance into the game, the larger the Merchants lists will get. However if you want to get the best guns you'll have to play through the game at least twice. There are many guns to choose from but only a few types, such as pistols, shotguns, rifles, etc. For example there are 3 guns in the shotgun category, the standard shotgun, a Riot Gun and the superior Striker. The good thing about this is that once you want to upgrade a gun you can simply sell your previous gun from that category. As an example, let's say the Merchant finally stocked some Strikers and I have a supped up shotgun I don't want anymore. I simple sell the shotgun for some money and buy the Striker to take its place.

Merchants don't only allow you to buy and sell. They also give you the ability to buy upgrades for your guns which, as with what you can buy, increase overtime. The more you upgrade the more the gun will sell for, so don't be afraid to upgrade your guns while waiting for a better gun in the category, once you're ready to buy the new gun, simply sell your old for a much higher price because of the upgrades. You can upgrade your guns in 4 different categories, Fire Power, Firing Speed, Reload Time and Capacity. Once your guns are fully upgraded you can purchase the Exclusive for that gun which usually gives your gun a major stat upgrade or something else. For example, once you fully upgrade your Broken Butterfly (magnum) you can buy its Exclusive which almost doubles its already extraordinary fire power.

Sometimes in Merchant areas there will be a door with 2 guns engraved on it. Behind the door is the Shooting Range minigame. The first time you will encounter this, I believe is in the Castle area of the game. There are 4 games, A, B, C, D. All have the exact same concept, the only difference is that with each game the difficulty increases. At the first Shooting Range only game A will be available.

Basically cardboard cutouts of enemies pop up and you have to shoot. You get 50 points once you kill an enemy and lose 1000 if you hit Ashley. Headshots for male Ganados are worth 100 points, females are worth 200. If you hit 5 villagers in a row a special target worth 500 points appears.

Doing good in these games earn you bottle caps, which are basically models of characters from the game on a bottle cap. There are four rows of bottle caps to collect. The first row of bottle caps are obtained from game A, second from B and so on. Each row has one rare bottle cap which is won by either hitting all the targets or by getting a high score.

'BLAH, BLAH, BLAH! IS THAT ALL YOU CAN DO? TALK ABOUT HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME ALREADY!!!'

This game is a third person shooter, meaning that you play the game from a narrators point of view, which on a console I find is superior to first person (PC games are a different story). To shoot you must stop, aim and shoot, which means that you can forget about running through hoards of enemies, bringing them down as you zoom by. Personally I prefer this method a lot more seeing as I loathe the damn Dual Analog style of gameplay, which is one of the reasons I can't get into games like Halo (although I will admit it is great).

To carry your items you are given a briefcase, which over time you will learn to both hate and respect, because this little case is your ticket to winning. The more items you can pack into here the better (i.e., guns, grenades, healing items, ammo). However you'll soon face many though decisions as you briefcase will get too crammed. Fortunately you will be able to upgrade its size at the Merchant, unfortunately it takes him so long to get the upgrades. In fact I found myself crammed with junk until I got the 4th and final briefcase which, although did get somewhat full nearing the end of the game, allowed me to hold enough items to be content. Although I did have to pay quite a hefty price.

There are many, many types of enemies to irk you in this game and at times you will find yourself up against five, ten or maybe even more enemies, all vying to kill you. Most can be killed in a few shots will a shotgun or pistol (or one and two respectively, once fully upgraded) however some will require a bit more strategy to kill, such as using a rifle and a special scope to kill the Regenerators (DAMN YOU TO HELL, MONSTERS OF DOOM!), or rapidly shooting at instant death enemies like the chainsaw wielding Ganados (they scare me). Sometimes, once you kill a human enemy, especially if it is a headshot, a parasite will come out of its head, these monsters are harder to kill and can usually attack from far. Closer to the start of the game these can be a real nuisance but later on one or two shots from a maxed out shotgun to the head can blow the parasite sky high.

In the six chapters thing game has there are quite a few bosses, from monsters like El Lago, to horribly mutated humans like ######### (<-- Insert one of many names here). Some of them require certain strategies and conditions to kill while others simply need you to shoot the living hell out of them. Or you could, if you were pretty bad at the game, spend a ton of money on a Rocket Launcher and usually kill the enemy in one shot, although I find it a waste. Heck, the last boss can be killed with one shot from these great, yet cheap (not in cost, though) weapons. Usually bosses leave behind a large amount of money or an item that can be sold for high prices. These help out quite a lot, so it's a good idea to try and kill all the bosses instead of running away from the few that give you the option.

One good thing about this game is that, unlike most games, cutscenes aren't a time to get up for a drink. In RE4 you'll have to stay on guard during the entire game, you never know when something live threatening is going to happen during a cutscene. The game will ask you to press a button/s, usually L+R or A+B. It is good practice to keep your right thumb over the A and B button and your pointers over the L and R just incase you're going to quickly have to dodge something. Or you could get up for a drink and come back and see "YOU ARE DEAD" off the screen. Cutscences aren't the only time you will be asked to push button combinations, for example, if you get an enemy on its knees you can kick it (or suplex sometimes), to safe a few bullets. Or you could stab at them if you're an ammo freak, but that is beside the point. You'll also have to dodge many times during boss battles, if you don't you could die in one hit, and you don't to spend 10 minutes against a boss without sustaining a scratch, and then die in one simple attack because your fingers were a bit slow.

Once you acquire Ashley the difficulty of the game increases a bit, because instead of only looking after yourself, you're going to have to vend of enemies away from here, because if she dies, you get game over, kapish? And if an enemy picks her up you better shoot him before he/she gets away with her, because, as before, you will lose. A good thing about having her with you though, is that she can allow you to get to more areas or complete puzzles that require 2 people.

Now, obviously, both Leon and the Ashley can take damage (Ashley takes more than Leon). Once they're hurt it is up to you to heal them from some of the many healing items, such as herbs and First Aid Spray. The best healing items, of course, are Golden Eggs, which only take one block in you inventory yet heal you fully, as opposed to other methods like the First Aid Spray which takes 2 blocks. Sadly though, these are amongst the rarest items in the game, I got 2 at the beginning and kept them with me until the very end as a last resort. Didn't see any more though. The most common healing items in the game are the herbs. There are 3 types, Green, Red and Yellow herbs. Only green herbs can be used by themselves to restore a bit of health, to use the others you must combine them with a green herb. 2 greens herbs give you back a substantial amount of health. One green and one red (or 3 greens combined) heal you fully. A green/yellow combination heals you slightly and increases your health meter (either Leon or Ashley) by 5%. A full combination heals you fully and increases you health meter.

Resident Evil 4 is quite difficult on the first play through. Expect to die at least many times, in fact I applaud you if you don't, you never know when a life saving button combination is going to have to be pressed (unless you're a cheapskate that has a walkthrough printed out on the table besides you). However on your second play through you'll have the option to buy uber weapons that will make the game so much easier, expect to see your death tally go down a lot (I died 44 times in my first play through, usually multiple times at the same place).

Unless you are replaying the game or going for a quick run (which will be very hard if it is your first run) your time will probably be somewhere from the 17 to 25 hour mark. I completed my first run in 22 hours and 38 minutes, even though I left the game on for long whiles while I took a rest or hopped on the PC. You might find that a bit short but the game does give you two extra modes. Assignment Ada; a mode where you play with Ada and have to collect 5 samples, expect about an hour or 2 of playtime here. The other mode in Mercenaries in which you have to kill as many enemies in 2:00 minutes (with time extensions scattered around the level) and try to get a good rank. Get 4 stars or more and unlock a new character to play with (the character depends on the level. And even after that, you will desire to play the game again, either to try out a different difficult, see how easy it is with your upgraded weapons, try out the special weapons, or if you're like me, want to have another go at the awesomeness that is Resident Evil 4.

Graphics/Sound:
Score (Graphics): 10/10
Score (Sound) : 10/10

Probably the first thing you will notice in RE4 is the amazing graphics. This game has some of (if not) the best graphics of any game this generation, making it a game with damn near perfect graphics (for this generation) and gameplay. As soon as the game starts you will notice the amazing amount of detail that has been put into every aspect of the game, from the detailed character models to the leaves on the floor. And the graphics only get better.

Once you get the rifle try zooming in to areas and you will be able to truly notice the amount of time the developers went into making this masterpiece. From blood spattering when a head explodes to rocks smashing and fire roaring from catapults, it is easy to tell that the developers wanted this game to be perfect and didn't take the easy way. Just look at the paint peeling of the walls in the castles. Everywhere you look in this game you will marvel at the amazing graphics that Resident Evil sport, and in the hours I put into this game not once did I ever notice a framerate drop, not even when surrounded by tons of monsters on the screen. If you're after graphics then this game is certainly one that you'll be crazy to pass off, especially since it backs up its beauty with rock-hard gameplay.

The sound in this game is some of the best I have heard in any game, not because of the actual rhythm, which is great nonetheless, but because of the mood it sets. Try playing this game with the TV on mute and notice how the fun degrades. The spooky music is partly what keeps you on you're toes, ready to pounce at any monster that wants to take a stab at you. You might be walking, not really paying attention, when all of a sudden the music changes to a faster, creepier tune, informing you that enemies are near and lingering until you kill every last one. The Regenerator tune really spooks me. If there is any game that knows how to set the mood than this is it.

The character voice acting is certainly a sight for sore-ears (especially if you've been exposed to the tin can sound of Baten Kaitos). For the most part it is flawless and sounds natural, except for a couple times near the end where Leon acts a bit smug, but it adds some humor to the mix which is alright. One thing you don't want to hear when you're low on HP is an aggressive scream in Spanish, because that can only mean one thing, enemies are near.

I'm not the best at describing sound so I'll sum it up with one simple line: "This game has some of the best (mood-setting) sound and voice acting you'll hear this generation."

Value:
Score: 10/10

What can I say? Only a few days before the writing of this review it was awarded Game of the Year 2005, if that doesn't make it valuable to own then I don't now what does. I will recommend this game to anyone, expect children under 13 or complete wimps. Even if you don't particularly enjoy shooters I recommend you at least rent it, but you'll probably end up liking it. I've never been a huge fan of shooting games but this game blew me away and made its way into my most valued game of all time. If Capcom release RE5 on Revolution I will certainly buy it, but seeing as it hasn't been announced yet I'll keep on hoping.

Anyway, the only people I will recommend to rent this game is those who have won the PS2 version of the game but want to give the GCN version a chance. Everyone else I recommend buying, you'll probably end up loving it like I did.

Tilt:
Score: 10/10

All I have to say is that this game is the FUNNEST GAME I HAVE EVER PLAYED. Nothing can compare to the amount of fun and enjoyment that I got out of this game.

Final Recommendation:

Summary:

Gameplay: 10
Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Value: 10
Tilt: 10
Overall (Rounded): 10
Overall (AVG): 10


Resident Evil 4 is one of the best games of all time. Almost any avid gamer with a GameCube (or PS2) for that matter should enjoy this game and treasure it. I doubt Capcom, or any developer for that matter will be able to make a game much better than this. As with the Silmaril, Resident Evil 4 is a game so perfect that it will be impossible (or let's say close to in this case) to create another game that lives up to the standard that RE4 set in the future. I won't be surprised if this becomes the benchmark for third person shooters in the future.

Resident Evil 4 = Damn Near Perfection.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/27/05


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