Review by Mister Sinister
Aside from the radically different plot (which really isn't), this is a very enjoyable title - worth looking at :)
My brother and I always play Resident Evil games together. Since I'm the nesher of the two of us, I watch him and try and freak him out by going "OMIGOD LOOK OUT !!" and throwing myself at him from across the room.
Ordinarily it doesn't work, but sometimes the results are hilarious.
Could that quote ^^^ be applied to this game as well ?? Or is it another piece of Resident Evil LEGEND ?? Read on ...
OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME
You play the role of Leon Kennedy in this title, having been picked up by the U.S. Government following on from your experiences in Raccoon City in earlier Resident Evil games, and recruited and trained-up as a secret agent.
Since the Umbrella Corporation has been taken to task for its involvement in the Raccoon City disaster, it is something of a non-entity these days, and so what's a secret agent to do ? That's right - find OTHER ways to occupy his time.
Your primary objective is to find and rescue Ashley Graham, the President's daughter, who has been kidnapped by a cult and taken to Europe. From there things get PRETTY interesting !!
GRAPHICS - 9/10
The Resident Evil series have seen graphical improvement after graphical improvement, and this is no exception - the sprites, their mannerisms and animations are all first-rate, all the way throughout the game. The cultists are suitably freakish, and can send a chill right up your spine when they spot you from the distance, as they point at you and then charge at you, which can cause you to experience a NUMBER of biological events that I won't go into here.
The incidental effects (flames, explosions, helicopters flying past, animals running about, doors and windows opening and closing etc., etc.) are all VERY very well done, and the game retains a very polished and professional feel to it.
One thing that I would really like to see them do in one of these Resident Evil games is work out a better way of clipping the sprites when they hit objects that are on a waist-level, as (I don't know about you, but certainly) I find it periodically agitating moving around rooms (or rather, watching my BROTHER move around rooms), having to use his stomach as a guide as to where to move around table edges and similar are concerned ... but that's a very minor gripe in comparison with what is, without a shadow of a doubt, a VERY impressive set of graphics indeed.
Like a good horror movie, the game shocks you when it wants you to be shocked, so when Leon looks behind doors and things, miniature cutscenes kick in to draw out the horror of seeing certain things for the first time (there is one shortly after his arrival in Europe as it happens, and it still chills me to this day ... the pitchfork ?? Gross).
The effects that are given to the Las Plagas in their myriad of forms are also VERY well done, and really quite freaky (mentioning no names *cough* boss fight *cough* *cough*), so you can expect an eye-busting thrill-ride with this title.
The larger cutscenes (such as when you have prolonged dialogue with other characters, lead-ins to boss fights etc., etc.) are all very very professionally done as well (but we expect nothing less from Resident Evil titles these days).
Should you die ... and trust me this will happen a lot ... there is also an animated depiction of your death as the words pop up on-screen to tell you that you didn't survive having that chainsaw shoved in your face (shock, horror) or that giant stamping on you, all of which will make you want to heave ... and then play again ;)
SOUND - 9/10
Character dialogue is almost all spoken, and whilst I usually have slight issues with the quality of the voice-acting in games such as this (where the characters are speaking in English, but where the dialogue has obviously originally come from non-English speaking native writers), as the English speakers sound decidedly forced.
Whilst there are instances in this game where that takes place, with the Resident Evil series in general this seems to be getting less and less commonplace (I still remember some of the dialogue from the original Resident Evil title on the Sony Playstation which made me laugh - "Blood. I hope this isn't CHRIS' blood" and others), which is very encouraging.
The sound-effects are broad and varied, and used to GREAT effect in the game to produce all manner of responses from you, the player. Creaking floorboards lead you to believe somebody is above you, the cries of enemies behind that think you might be somewhere near cause you to instantly freeze and take stock of your current situation, and so on.
The music in the game is put to a very similar effect, so going back to my favourite (or LEAST favourite) mini cutscene - when Leon arrives in Europe, enters the hut and finds the pitchfork - the music that is used during that tiny portion of the game adds a HUGE swell of anticipation to the gruesome climax. The game really does sound like a horror movie, and this is GREAT (when you come out from behind the cushions to appreciate it).
One sound-effect which you will find PARTICULARLY scary is that of the chainsaw. I will say no more, but if you hear it ? Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuun !!!!!
CONTROLS - 8/10
The game handles very well, although as with most 3d action/adventure games there is that irritating "I cannot quite see where I'm going in the room, so I must bump my way around this object and keep clicking the appropriate button to see if there's anything to pick up" scenario that crops up periodically, but it's nothing you won't have experienced a dozen or more times before, if you're used to playing this type of game.
There are scenes in the game (cutscenes) where you have to press combinations of buttons to achieve success or failure (failure usually resulting in death), so you must be very familiar with the controller and its layout in order to avoid grim death during those.
Leon (and Ashley) both respond quickly and accurately to the majority of your commands, so there should be few instances where you are jumping up and down on your controller screaming "I TOLD YOU TO GO THAT WAY YOU STUPID *£$£"%!* !!", although this might happen from time to time.
There is also a rather frustrating inventory in the game, where you have to slot your items around quite often to make them fit as best they can, and discard anything that is too large to fit onto your person. It's realistic, but time-consuming.
However in spite of these minor irritations, the control system works very well for the game, and shouldn't cause you any massive problems.
PLOT - 5/10
Hokay. Now, considering the main selling point of this game was that it was NOT just another survival horror Umbrella Corporation releasing loads of zombies because they're evil megalomaniacs who want world domination or anything NO !! NO ZOMBIES in this game - that's what they all kept saying. No zombies.
A Resident Evil game WITHOUT zombies ?? However could this come to be ??
Play the game for 30 minutes and you'll see that they didn't lie - there are no "zombies" in this game ... however there are disturbingly zombie-like villagers who are possessed by (I don't want to spoil it but) something that makes them behave almost EXACTLY like the zombies from ALL the other resident evil games, but with a very slight twist.
This came as something of a gut-kicking to me, who was expecting (from the hype) something really quite different. What I was left with was something that screamed to me that they really just couldn't be bothered to move away from their award-winning formula, to try something REALLY new, and that disappointed me somewhat.
It isn't that the game's plot is terrible, nor that they haven't TRIED to step away from their old plotlines - it's just that the overall plot really does hark back to what you've seen and experienced many many times before, so if you're like me you'll come away with a "Great !! But ... yyyyyyyyyyyyyeah" kinda feeling after playing through the whole game.
There are a number of additional characters that make appearances in the game to try and keep things interesting (Ada Wong and Jack Krauser really pep things up, for example), but all told I was quite disappointed with the plot of the game - I have to be honest.
GAMEPLAY - 8/10
In spite of the inadequate plot-shift, the game plays very well indeed. All the experience that the game's developers have gained from the Resident Evil titles they have released beforehand has been brought to bear for this game, so it really is both a chilling and enjoyable experience in terms of the action, the puzzles (some of which are very challenging), the character interaction (although sometimes the dialogue can still be a little stinted), and the drama.
It will take you a reasonably long time to complete the game, and you are very unlikely to do it in a single sitting, so you will wind up thinking about it whilst you are at school/work, trying to work out how to get around that particular puzzle, or trying to understand why this character has done that thing.
These are the hallmarks of an additive and enjoyable game.
The characters that you interact with are generally quite strong, and have their own reasons for being where they are, and for helping or hindering (or appearing to do either or both to) you during play.
The boss fights are very enjoyable, and generally VERY large in terms of their graphical scale which is appropriate, and the game maintains a playable and doable feeling to its difficulty throughout (although there are times when my brother laughingly snapped his fingers at me a couplea times and said "C'mon ... walkthrough ...", which I found rather amusing).
If you are a fan of the Resident Evil series, then I see only one reason for you to potentially dislike this game, and that is if you cannot get down with the "massive" (shyeah right) plot change that has taken place. Aside from that you should get a lot out of it.
REPLAY VALUE - 6/10
Whilst there are hidden secrets, better weapons to pick up, special weapons that you can use to TOTALLY dominate your foes and many other little bits and bobs to try and keep the replay value of this title high, it is, to my mind, a VERY, very difficult thing to try and keep somebody so interested in an action/adventure game that they will want to sit down and play it through from scratch again.
My brother and I played it all the way through, but I can honestly say that it is highly unlikely that we will do so again, as it's a very long, very involved and very drawn-out process to play the whole game from start to finish.
However, if you are a BIG fan of the series, then for you I would give this title 8/10 for its replay value - it's the pinnacle of graphical prowess and the atmosphere created during play is just like a good horror flick.
VALUE FOR MONEY - 8/10
When you consider that you are buying a title that serves to highlight the improvements and refinements made during an entire series of similar titles, and to demonstrate the power that a console title can still have on you, then I think the game represents great value for money. If you have been suckered into the hype surrounding the game as I was, and are expecting an experience vastly dissimilar to previous Resident Evil offerings ? Then you will be a tad disappointed, but the game does still represent good value for money.
OVERALL - 8/10 (This is NOT an average)
Resident Evil 4 is a very well-presented and polished title that boasts the best graphics, sounds, and a blend thereof that rivals, if not tops, any other title in the series in my opinion.
The controls are responsive, the puzzles are varied and complex, the villains are truly villainous - all that is great.
The major drawback of the title is, to my mind, that it does not venture far enough away from the tried-and-tested zombies on the rampage plotline that has flowed throughout the other Resident Evil titles, to make it the breakthrough title which the series was looking to benefit from.
The plot makes the game feel more like an "or we COULD have told the same story like THIS" experience than a "wow, this is SO different !!" one, and that, for me, is why this title doesn't get a 9/10.
MAIN GOOD POINTS
* Beautiful graphics
* Great sounds
* Stunningly atmospheric game to play
* Good and varied selection of puzzles to complete
MAIN BAD POINTS
* Plot is basically a rehash of the other Resident Evil plots in terms of its main point (the zombies)
SO SHOULD YOU GET IT ?
If you are a fan of the series then you will have already made up your mind. If you are new to the series then this is one of the best titles IN the series in terms of the gameplay experience, but one of the worst (in my opinion) in terms of its plot.
I can see no reason NOT to recommend you buy it, and I won't be selling my copy, but I can only hope that NEXT time the Resident Evil peeples dane to say "this is really different, honest", they actually follow through with it.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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