Review by IceSix

"The Gamecube finally shines"

The Resident Evil dates back to the first year of the Playstation - if you take in account that it was really an experimental title; it's amazing how far Capcom's gone. This new installment in the popular franchise proves once again that they are the masters of the Survival Horror genre.

RE4 opens with a recapitulation of the events of the previous RE games, and following a short car trip - you're thrown into Leon Kennedy's shoes. The very first thing you'll notice is the graphics - which are something to gawk at in themselves. Where previous titles relied on pre-rendered backgrounds; RE4's world is completely rendered in 3D - and this works extremely well with the new and intuitive gameplay mechanics. It's amazing what an overhaul Capcom put into their game; considering they're known for recycling, and milking their series. Almost every aspect of RE4 is an improvement over its predecessors - from controls to enemy AI to story - RE4 plays like a dream.

The new controls are ingenious; and Leon is able to perform many actions his counterpart protagonists couldn't - and easier. The control mechanics revolve around a simple context-sensitive 'action command' (A button) which allows him to perform a multitude of actions from opening doors to kicking an enemy. Though simple; this adds a certain depth to RE4 that was lacking in the first titles. The rest of the Gamecube controller is also used to its full potential; the 'B' button serves to run - the 'L' button draws Leon's dagger, which is useful to break barrels and boxes; which contain valuable goods - the 'Y' button opens the newly designed menu, and the 'X' button is used to relay orders to Ashley; whom Leon rescues early in the game. Of course, Leon's movements are much more fluid than they used to be in RE2 as well. This is important due to the game's new emphasis on action.

RE4's action differs from previous Resident Evils because the series' crop enemy 'the Zombie' is no longer present. Replacing them are villagers (or Ganados) who, for one reason or another, are bent on putting an end to Leon. These new enemies are smarter, faster, and more agile than your average zombie. From climbing ladders to throwing pitchforks to even wielding chainsaws; these new enemies pack a lot more punch than any zombie ever could. Fret not though, RE's classic moody and dark 'feel' isn't subjugated by this new focus on action. It just makes things a lot funner; but still delivers classic RE scares. Though Leon will harness many (try at least 5 times as many as other RE games) weapons; the enemies have an incredible endurance to them - and the fact that they are able to process intelligible thought makes it much harder for Leon to carry on his quest. This also adds a new level of action-oriented strategy that was absent in RE before this one - you really have to think of the best way to take down your opponent. I don't want to spoil anything but; the enemies in this game are quite simply amazing - the AI never fails to impress, and just wait until you get to the incredible Boss battles; you're in for a challenge.

RE4's story is also told much better than in its predecessors. Though the classic themes are still there, the new ingeniously directed cutscenes are dealt with with a lot more skill and art than before; and the game immerses you into its world in depths that the other games simply couldn't. Though the Umbrella corporation is decimated; the game offers plenty of twists and turns that are reminiscent to the stories of its first games; and just adds to them. Though it may not tie into the first games very often - the story is definitely one of the best parts of RE4. There are still 'files' scattered through the world that reveal crucial information, and the overall pacing of the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat. It's not an understatement to say that this game offers plenty of suspense; suspense and a lot of thrills.

In summation, RE4 is an amazing title; and proof that Gamecube is a powerful machine. The graphics - though dark, are beautiful; and the audio blends in with the action perfectly. The gameplay is fluid, fun, and delivers the chills custoary to the series - while reinventing it in some parts where previous titles lacked. Though the game is beautiful, fun, lengthy and an overall achievement; I can't give it a 10 because I simply don't think its perfect. Not because it suffers from flaws (where even MINOR flaws are almost impossible to detect) but simply because it's impossible to gauge perfection. Resident Evil 4 definitely delivers as the best of the series, takes the top spot in all survival horror games and in itself is a pretty damn good action game. All in all, it's a masterpiece that you want to do yourself the favor of playing.


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/14/05

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