Review by Raistlyn

"A game so good, not having it should be a crime."

Resident Evil 4 is one of the best games out on the GameCube. Plain and simple. Everything about this game is done with nothing but high quality. Sound, sights, controls...
Resident Evil 4 delivers exactly what action gamers want. Fun and boatloads of action.

Graphics: 10/10

The game's graphics are stunning. EVERYTHING is done in mind blowing detail. Torch lights create moving shadows over walls, fog rolls over waterways, character models are top-notch... Everything is seamlessly brought together to deliver an amazing scene set in a rural part of Europe to a castle, to a military island base.

In the previous Resident Evil games, you dealt with a fixed camera most of the time, if not all the time. In Resident Evil 4, the game is played just over the right shoulder of Leon giving you not quite a first person perspective, but not quite a third person perspective either. While it's going to take some getting used to, especially if you're a fan of the other Resident Evil games, it is a big deal in itself to be able to check out everything from any angle. Unless of course, you're running into a wall or something.

Aside from being able to roam freely around the areas without the burden of a fixed camera, you can also tilt the camera around corners to get a sneak peek of enemies who may be waiting in ambush. There are very few graphic glitches in this game because let's face it. No game has perfect graphics. The flaws in the graphics of this game however, are too small to notice without hours and hours of searching at just the right angle, in just the right area. None of which interfere with the game itself.

I have yet to see graphics better than these. No other game compares as far as I'm concerned, and I've played a lot of games.

Now, you can't buy a game just for it's graphics, but let's face it here. This is one good looking game. No doubt about it.

Sound and Music: 10/10

Crystal clear audio can make or break a game in my personal opinion. Every bit of script in the game is heard. There's no speech being drowned out by music in this game. Villagers will yell to alert others to your presence, you can hear howling in the distance, leaves rustle beneath you, your footsteps have different sounds when you run and walk. Stuff like that gives the game a more realistic feel and sound. Want to step it up a notch? Well, the game also supports surround sound for a much more atmospheric feel.

The music of the Resident Evil games has never stood out, but it's meant not to stand out. The music of the Resident Evil games has been to add a sense of fear to a situation of life or death. It is a survival horror game after all. Every music piece in this game gives you the feeling that you are not safe, and that something could happen at any moment.

Gameplay: 10/10

Certainly the most important part of any game. This is where the game shines brighter than anything has ever before.

Resident Evil 4 offers an entirely new way to play the series. In the previous games, you could aim straight ahead, upwards, or downwards. In this game, you can aim wherever you want. You can shoot enemies in their left leg, right leg, head, arms, weapons, torsos...anywhere. You could even fire off blankly into space. While aiming your weapons, the camera zooms in a bit to offer more of a first person perspective, although you can still see Leon's head, shoulders, and back unless you are pinned against a wall, where you will see the just the weapon being held by Leon's arms.

Aiming the weapons of the game are a snap too. You ready the weapon with the R button, and fire with the A button. You can set your vertical aiming to be either normal or inverted to better suit your playing style. Each weapon, except for the ones that zoom in have a laser sight on them for you to know where each shot will go. Think it makes aiming at distant targets easier? Well, it can, but for the most part, the marker on your target fifty yards away is going to be so faint, that you'll need to close the gap. Just so you don't get the feeling that you can sit back and snipe throughout the game. It is an action game after all. A lot of it is centered around running and gunning. Split second decisions can mean the difference between living and dying, taking damage or getting away unharmed.

There are two very minor flaws in the game that *may* affect your take on the gameplay and those are.
1) There is no strafing in the game. Sidestepping was never part of the Resident Evil series, and this game holds true to that.
2) You cannot move while aiming a weapon. Again, you could never move while aiming a weapon in any of the other Resident Evil games, so it's not like the game has lost something precious.

There have been, however, some major changes that seperate this game from the others in the gameplay department.

For example, your inventory system has been completely redone. Instead of having the normal 6 or 8 slots for weapons, healing items, or ammo, you have an attache case which consists of a number of boxes. Items take up certain ammounts of space, similar to the inventory and stash system of Diablo II. If a particular item cannot fit a certain way, you can rotate that item to make it fit. If it still cannot fit, then you can open up a temporary inventory to the right of your attache case allowing you to rearrange items to make whatever it was you were adding to your case fit.

The game has a currency system. Pesetas or Ptas. for short. Throughout the game, you will run across merchants where you can sell off unwanted equipment or treasures you'll find along the way. The merchant also sells maps, larger attache cases, weaponry, weapon accessories such as stocks and scopes, and healing items for you. Also, you can upgrade weapons in the game to make them more effective. After you have upgraded a weapon to it's fullest, a special "exclusive" upgrade will become available allowing that weapon to receive an added bonus ranging from additional firepower, to adding additional rounds to the gun's ammo capacity...and even increasing the chance that you can decapitate an enemy with one shot!

As far as aiming goes, and shooting enemies wherever, there are certain areas which will make enemies stagger or kneel down allowing you to execute melee attacks such as kicks or even head splitting suplexes! Hours of fun!

Aside from what you play, the AI has been completely redone for the game. In the previous Resident Evil games, Zombies...well, there are no zombies in this game! *gasp*
Catch your breath and settle down. This residents of this game are just as evil as the other games' have been.

As you progress through the game, you'll find out what happened to the villagers and know exactly what you're fighting.
The main difference between this game and the others is that the enemies _think_ so to speak. Instead of a zombie walking straight towards you with it's arms outreached, the enemies of this game wield weapons (even chainsaws!), formulate plans, climb ladders and stairs, operate machinery, attempt to surround you, throw weapons, cover their faces to protect their faces, and RUN. Yes, they can run towards you. While they'll move at a slow pace most of the time, the enemies will run to cover long distances to kill you giving you less reaction time than what you may be used to.

The environment is also interactive to a certain degree. Explosive barrels can be detonated with a shot. You can shoot down large boulders onto enemies. You can put torches out by knocking away the wood being burned. Oil lamps can be shot down, you can ring bells...but hey, the environment is usable by more than just you.
In certain areas of the game, you'll notice an enemy uprooting a tree and using it as a polearm to kill you. Rocks can be picked up and hurled at you, same goes for steel I beams atop a construction site.

Because the game can be very fast paced, another feature added to the gameplay are button sequence prompts. These are limited to A+B, L+R, or repeatedly pressing A or B to achieve a task. These tasks can range from simply dodging an attack, to turning a crank, to saving your life seconds before you would have drowned to death. And don't think that these button prompts are limited to when you're actually playing the game. Don't put the controller down for a second because you never know when a button prompt will appear during a cutscene. That's right. Interactive cutscenes. The action never stops.

Aside from the main game, after you complete it once, you will unlock new weapons, a couple of mini-games, an extra costume, and a harder difficulty mode called "Professional."
The two mini games unlocked both have an additional special weapon to be awarded once they are completed.

Replay Value: 10/10

Beat the game already? Well, you can carry over your current inventory to a new game...complete with all the new and shiny weapons you unlocked. The special weapons from the merchant are expensive to buy, so you'll probably need to head through the game again to purchase them. Or you could try starting a new game and giving yourself a handicap as to which items you use. While there is no menu to switch which items are available, applying yourself to these "handicapped runs" will give you a big sense of self satisfaction.

In short, you can always play through the game again, and since this action packed gem of a game is as fast paced as it is, it never gets boring...even if it's your tenth run through the game and you know exactly what to expect. It simply doesn't get boring. It will probably stay in your GameCube for months on end.

Challenge Factor: 10/10
Learning curve: About 45 minutes - 1 hour.

The challenge rating DOES NOT MEAN that the game is excessively difficult. It simply means that the game is well balanced in terms of challenge along the game's progression. There are areas where the game is pathetically easy. There are areas which can be downright frustrating. But for the most part, the game gives you a good balance of difficulty in the beginning of the game, but not enough to offset the fact that you still may be learning the basics. Once you start progressing, the difficulty picks up in terms of enemy numbers, AI improvements, tougher enemies and bosses, protecting someone, ammunition conservation, and just making you use your head to get yourself out of a disadvantaged situation and into something more secure.

Conclusion: 10/10
There are very few games that I would ever give a perfect score, but this one certainly deserves it. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasy VII are the only other ones that come to mind. Both of which are more than 7 years old. I simply can't find something wrong with the game. I really can't. This is a game that developers should look at before making something sub-par to this. I think a new standard has been set with this, and it will certainly be a challenge for future games to raise the bar and surpass what this game has to offer.

Rent or buy? BUY IT. NOW.
A game so good, not having it should be a crime.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/30/06

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