Review by Longsword24

"Forget everything you know about Resident Evil? Forget Survival Horror? Sadly, this turns out to be true."

Capcom are well know as the creators of Resident Evil, the game which catapulted Survival Horror into popularity. The original Resident Evil was released in 1996 and rapidly grew to be a favourite among gamers. Since then, Capcom have spawned an additional three games in the main series, one remake of the original game and a large number of less well known games. (Examples include Survivor and Gaiden which were largely forgotten due to obvious reasons)

Capcom announced that they were working on their next chapter of Survival Horror, which was to be called Resident Evil 4. As with any major gaming series, people started to notice that Resident Evil was starting to get very repetitive. (i.e Start game, solve puzzles, proceed through game, arrive at secret laboratory, use an MO disk of some sort, kill last boss with rocket launcher e.t.c) and so, it was announced that Resident Evil 4 would be taking quite a different turn.

While I agree that the series was in need of some refreshing, Capcom's idea of revitalising the series basically involves throwing everything which made the older games decent out of the window (metaphorically of course). Resident Evil 4 can not be called Survival Horror. The previous Resident Evil games all had an element which made them spooky but not once, in the 20 some hours of playing through this game on my first run, was I scared. I'm telling the truth.

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Story
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The story is not terribly impressive. The protagonist is returning character, Leon S. Kennedy, who was last seen after escaping Racoon City with fellow survivors, Claire Redfield and Sherry Birkin, at the end of Resident Evil 2. Leon has been picked up by the government and given special training for the Secret Service. Once his training was finished, he was given assignment of protecting the President's family.

Due to an unfortunate coincidence, the President's daughter, Ashley Graham, is kidnapped shortly after Leon completes his training. She is thought to be hidden in a remote area of Europe so Leon is sent to retrieve her. Upon arriving at a remote village, Leon notices that things aren't quite what they seem.

From this point on, the story revolves around Leon and Ashley escaping with a bit of "Fire as many shots as you can while the screen is filled with monsters" action in between. While the story is not dull enough to send you to sleep, it certainly could have been better. All in all, I have no major complaints here.

Final Score - 7
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Gameplay
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The gameplay is easy to get the hang of. The control's are simple to learn and I will give Capcom this, the game doesn't make you want to throw your television out of the window. The days of fixed cameras are now nothing more than an (extremely) fond memory. The camera is situated directly behind Leon, so you can always see what is directly in front of you. While this may be more "user-friendly" it is also one of the main reasons which killed the scare-factor. Basically, if there is nothing on the screen and you can hear something then that means it is probably behind you. This leads to no surprises at all.

The difficulty of Resident Evil 4 is my biggest gripe. This is quite possibly the easiest game I have ever played. There are three difficulties. Easy, Normal and Professional (which must be unlocked). Don't be worried though, this game is never difficult. While sure there is an abundance of enemies, there is also a HUGE abundance of ammunition. Most of the enemies will drop an item of some sort (be it money, healing items or ammunition) so I never once ran out.

One new addition to the series is the arrival of the merchant. This man pops up in several locations and helps you out by selling you weapons, buying treasures giving you more money, and upgrading your items. While this idea could have been tolerable, he helps make the game ridiculously easy. You can, for example, buy a Rocket Launcher from the first merchant. A ROCKET LAUNCHER!!!!!. While true it only has one use, it basically stops any bosses being difficult.

Puzzles, to be frank, no longer exist. If there is a Door X in any location then, Key/Lock/"Puzzle" Y will be in the same room and will be blindingly obvious.

Final Score - 7
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Graphics
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I will be honest, the graphics are definitely impressive. While I think they are overrated, it is probably my own fault I didn't enjoy them so much. Instead of seeing graphics that are better than most games, I saw graphics that were worse than a select few. This is, however, my own problem. The fire effects in this game are the best I have EVER seen in a game. The locations also look nice enough to keep you interested. Sadly, I don't think too highly of the monster graphics but no game is perfect.

Final Score - 8
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Sound/Music
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Far from terrible but unfortunately far from fantastic as well. The music is quite good but is also another factor which kills the atmosphere. Whenever you hear a particular music track it will usually get you geared into a mood for shooting as many monsters as you possibly can. Considering that this is the objective of the game, the music is good at doing what it was designed to do.

The sounds however, get ridiculously boring very quickly. The Villagers in the first third of the game are, to be frank, the most interesting aspect of the game. The speech of the villager's is amusing and manages to keep the mood of the game. Later on, you will meet Monks and Zealots in the second major area. Sadly, this area gets horrifically repetitive as the Zealots basically recite the same words over, and over, and over, and over again. At one point, you can hear a group of Zealots chanting the same speech for minutes on end. In the final third, the common monster's are soldiers. Again, their speech gets quite repetitive early on.

As the monster sounds are the most common things heard in the game, this results in the first area, The Village, being the best place in the game. There are other monsters in the game, but meeting them tends to be a rare occurrence so listening to people chanting/shouting/screaming as put a bullet in their face really kills the score.

Final Score - 6
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Location
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There are three main areas in the game. These are, The Village, The Castle and The Island. When you first see the Village, I can guarantee you will probably be impressed. Everything looks like it should, the ramshackle old houses, the mud and blades of grass on the ground, the cracks and other pieces of damage on the walls of the buildings. For some reason, as you proceed through this area it always seems to be something new, and so, it will keep you entertained every step of the way.

The same can not be said of the Castle however. While it is nice to have a new area to be interested in, the initial impressiveness of the graphics have by now worn off. The Castle is impressive for the first ten minutes. Then, you will notice that the next few rooms look excruciatingly familiar. The Castle then gets very repetitive and boring.

The Island however, is a huge improvement. Once again, each new room seems to be a new area to explore and to clear of any danger. The Island looks nice (or rather, looks really horrible but a nice in one sense) whenever your inside the buildings or outside on the island itself.

Final Score - 7
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Characters
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Decent. I have no issues with the character's in Resident Evil 4. The bad guys in particular have excellent voice actor's. The villains of this game are character's who you are supposed to hate and believe me, you will have no problem with despising their guts. Most of the heroes are people who you can easily like and want to survive. Sure, Leon can be quite cheesy at times and Ashley grows to become the most annoying character of the entire series but I still quite liked them.

No, my only (slight) quarrel with the characters, is a certain *s/he who will not be named for spoiling reasons* character who manages to return from a seemingly certain death. As this is quite well known to happen with an individual named Albert Wesker, I could overlook it but it still ticked me off a little.

Final Score - 8
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Buy or Rent
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I would recommend it as a buy. If you are not a fan of the Resident Evil series, then you will like this game. If you are a fan of the Resident Evil series, then you may be slightly annoyed at the way it is played but should be able to overlook it's flaws for at least one run through of the games.

Pros
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+ Good Voice Acting
+ Good Graphics
+ Acceptable Story
+ Cool music in most places
+ Interesting Characters
+ Very good initial impression
+ Decent Controls

Cons
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- Gets very repetitive
- Lack of varied types of monsters
- Pathetically easy gameplay

Overall Score - 7/10
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Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/06/06


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