Review by KitaKitKeru
"'Leon! Help! Leon! Heeeeelp! Leon! Help! Leon! Heeeeelp!""
Ah, the infamous cries of Ashley Graham being carried off by some Ganado or Illuminado twit. Music to my ears It will be music to yours too, soon.
Resident Evil 4 (or Biohazard 4 in Japan) is a wonderful survival horror/action game for Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2 (though I will be reviewing the GCN version and not the PS2 port. Note: I hate Capcom for porting it to the PS2, because as a GameCube exclusive it ALWAYS ended those dang "Nintendo GameCube is a kiddy console" arguements). An acclaimed game, it was voted Game of the Year by Game Informer Magazine, GamePro Magazine, GameSpot, SpikeTV, and Blender Magazine, as well as as GameCube Game of the Year by GameSpy, IGN, and Home Theater Magazine. It was greatly honored as #2 in Nintendo Power's Top Nintendo Games Ever listing.
You're probably thinking, "Wow, this game has a darn good-looking award cabinet. is it worth my while to pick it up?"
Well, let's analyze the points of the game so you can better understand the game and it's high points. You decide if it sounds good:
Story: The backbone of any survival/horror game. RE4 does not disappoint in this area. The story is a bit overdone (person finds virus, infects people, plots to take over the world, plus U.S. agent saves President's daughter ala damsel in distress) but RE4 pulls it off well with plenty of twists and mysteries to be solved. It has enough ties to previous RE games (but I won't spoil any) to still feel like you are in the RE universe. Agent Leon Kennedy (who comes straight out of RE2) is tasked to find Ashley Graham, the daughter of the president. The search leads him to a strange location in Europe, met by some rather unwelcoming villagers and creatures. Are they human...or,,.?
Graphics: People really go overboard on how they love the graphics in this game. Granted, they are good in some parts, great in most, but there are some flaws. RE4 uses the little Cube's graphical power to support incredibly realistic textures for the creatures and characters. While the textures may be incredible, the models are not as good. You can tell that there are a LOT of polygons put into the characters, but they weren't used as well as they could have. Human characters (with the exception of Leon) could use a lot more work. Clearly the developers used all the graphics on Leon and the big baddies and everything else was fed the scraps.
Control: No problems here. The controls on RE4 are mapped well onto the 'Cube controller well so it feels like second nature. My only gripe is that they could have made the 180 turn (executed by pressing up and B simultaneously) easier. Perhaps mapping it to the D-Pad?
Gameplay: The backbone of ANY game, period. The gameplay in this title is the most immersing experience I have had. Enemies are much smarter than the RE zombies, plus they come from all sides, bearing pitchforks, sickles, and, I must not forget: CHAINSAWS. Mr. Chainsaw is one of the best parts of the game. Shoot him several times before he comes to behead you. Yes, he can behead you. That reminds me of all the violent ways Leon can die in the game. If you don't keep your wits about you, Leon can me beheaded, impaled, have his face eaten off (his head eaten off as well), smooshed, shot, and various other fates.
No wonder it's rated M.
The camera is always behind Leon's back (which is a major step up from the hindrance of bad camera angles in the previous RE games) and it pays off. The game flows so much smoother with this angle, you'll never want to play any other RE game before 4. Another attribute to this is that enemies can sneak up behind Leon and Ashley without you knowing it until you receive a nice scythe to the shoulder. It adds a lot of depth to the creepiness of the game, most notably fear of the unknown.
The aiming system in RE4 is beyond great for a third-person perspective. You aim, you shoot, with laser precision. What really impresses me it the hit zones on enemies. If you get the perfect headshot, the head will explode into a million gorey pieces. If you hit the leg, the enemy will fall onto the ground for a few seconds, allowing you some valuable reloading time. If you hit the eyes, the enemy will be blinded for a few seconds. If you hit the arm, the enemy will drop their weapon. Incredible.
Ashley provides some strategy to the mix. To avoid losing the game, Ashley must not die or be taken away by an enemy (which is when she will scream, hence the title of this review). Leon can tell Ashley to "Wait" or "Follow Me" to help in areas. However, if Ashley is carried off, you must shoot the kidnapper-without accidentally hitting Ashley, of course. It requires some real thinking to know what exactly to do with Ashley in areas.
Boss fights are beyond incredible. Most have some very gruesome ways to kill off Leon (and Ashley in some cases) in one hit. Some are big (Del Lago and El Gigante) and some are...still big (Bitores Mendez and Krauser). All are scary. Good job, Capcom.
All your items must be fit into an Attache Case. It holds a limited amount of stuff in it, depending on how organized your case is. Have a well-organized case and you'll be able to fit more stuff in. Put your items in all hanky-panky and you'll run out of space quickly for your much-needed guns, ammo, and health items. You can buy bigger Attache Cases from the Weapons Dealer (also known as the merchant) to fit more stuff. The Weapons Dealer proves to be invaluable as he sells you guns and scopes with the PTAs that you collect along the game, as well as the ones you get from selling items to him.
Weapons include handguns, rifles, knives, TMPs magnums, rocket launchers, as many guns as you can think of, all with precise and distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Another notable feature is Button Actions. Press the two buttons displayed in time (usually 1 to 1.5 seconds) or Leon is history. You need good reaction time to stay alive. Some Button Actions will require you to tap a button repeatedly, such as running away from a boulder or swimming out of the way of the lake monster Del Lago. Another example of Button Actions is when an enemy gets too close for comfort to Leon, the A Button can be pressed at a certain time to kick or suplex the enemy. Very cool indeed.
Sound/Creepiness Factor: I combined these categories because they work together to make an unforgettable experience. Whenever peril is looming (usually peril that Leon can't see at the time) the music will become dramatic and sadistic. You almost imagine how Leon will die next when the music captures your ears. Like I said before, the camera angles create a fear of the unknown that is unfathomably intense. Nothing is creepier to me than when the dramatic music starts, you hear a creepy "plop" sound and non-human scurrying, You turn around to see nothing but the hall you just passed through, so you turn back around, and walk forward, knowing that there is something there that you can't see, something that can kill you, something that WILL kill you. It's not even funny.
The only thing that hinders this creepiness is that not once in the game does Leon act scared. Never. He displays his too-cool tough-guy attitude even when he's getting his head chainsawed off. If he actually got scared once in a while, this game just might have gotten a 10 out of me.
The voice acting in the RE series has never been good, but RE4 changes the mold. The voice acting is excellent, except for the lone "Leon! Heeeeelp!" cries from Ashley. All are pulled off with emotion and feeling.
Rent or Buy? If you can afford 20 bucks for a great thrill, I suggest you buy it. Rent it if you're looking for a thrilling night, Try being in your gaming space, after dark, lights off, playing RE4. It's crazy. I've tried.
Overall: Resident Evil 4 is, simply put, a must have game for all mature GameCube owners. It's level of immersion is unsurpassed by any game to date in my humble opinion, Fighting through uncharted places in Europe for your life has never been so fun, and unless there is a Resident Evil 5 on the horizon (and Capcom would be crazy to not make one after this grand success) it probably never will be again.
Average Score: about 9/10
My Non-Averaged Score for GameFaqs: 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/22/06
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