Review by mistershoeshine

"Survival Horror No More"

The first game I played on Playstation was Resident Evil. It came in a big black box that claimed it was a survival horror game. It was. Resident Evil 4 is the latest in the series mainstream storyline. This review may contain slight spoilers for those who haven't played the game.

Sound: 8/10; The sound is very much similar to past Resident Evil games, sound effects are excellent with various moaning and weapon fire sounds. The only problem with the sound really is the lack of BGM. You really only have two songs, a fighting baddies song, and a relaxing lets save song. The music doesn't really add anything.

Controls: 10/10; The controls are excellent, think Metal Gear Solid 3 but with third person aiming as opposed to first person. The camera just goes slightly over Leon's shoulder when he aims, and all his weapons feature a laser targeting system. At different points and cut scenes in the game you also have to press certain button combinations in real time, such as pressing L + R to dodge a knife in a cut scene. Although this has been done in past games, RE4 implements it well. At no point in the game do I feel like I died or had any difficulties from the game controls, and that says a lot.

Story: 4/10; What story? Basically Leon is on a mission to rescue the Presidents daughter Ashley who was seen in a remote village. The villagers don't give him a very warm welcome to say the least. After that initial cut scene in the beginning of the game, the story really drops out of the picture. There are brief cut scenes, but none of them really add much depth to the story, most of which is told in notes and memos. The story is very straightforward as well, and most gamers familiar with Resident Evil or Silent Hill will find it to be much more on par with an action movie, not of a horror film. My biggest complaint with the story is how it has absolutely nothing to do with the main storyline of Resident Evil. Umbrella is history and is only briefly touched upon in the main game. No zombies. No viruses (the game features a new parasite, but its not a viral weapon per say). This game could easily have been called Save Ashley and they could have called the main character Lenny and no one would know it was an RE game.

Game play: 5/10; Let me first say that the game play is very very fun and that is where the 5 points are solely derived. Watch a cut scene, fight 20+ villagers/monks, watch a cut scene, fight boss and repeat. That's not just a scene, that's the whole game. Its very fun to shoot the villagers, and the game features an excellent targeting system but it gets repetitive very fast. I think the main reason for this is that there is little variety of enemies in the game. You have villagers with pitchforks, axes, maces, and dynamite. And later on add monks with bow guns and shields. There are also a few different types of creatures that fly, craw, etc; but you don't see nearly as many of them. The best enemy by far is the chainsaw man/woman who kills Leon instantly if he gets too close. Regardless of who you are facing the strategy is the same, shoot them with handgun in legs until they get to close and surround you, switch to shotgun, fire, repeat. The bosses are somewhat the same; it's just a matter of finding their weak spot (if any) and firing at it. Unlike past RE games, the bosses are easy, unlike it past RE games where you could expect to use all your healing supplies and ammo to barely get by (sometimes even being forced to start a new game because you don't have enough ammo to take down a boss).

The game features a new continue system new to RE. If you die, you can simply restart at the last door you opened or at checkpoints, this rarely sets you back 5 minutes. You can save as much as you want and don't need to worry about hording ink ribbons. There is also very very little backtracking in this game, once you get thru a room (the game itself is divided up by chapters) you usually don't ever have to go back thru the same area unless you are treasure hunting.

Ammo and supplies are plentiful in the game; most enemies and animals will drop handgun or shotgun ammo, although it is sometimes very unbalanced for example having 300 handgun rounds and 4 shotgun rounds. There is also a merchant for whom you can buy new weapons and upgrade current weapons (for example increasing the firepower or reducing reloading time) with money that some villagers drop or you find at random. You keep all your items in an attache case, which has plenty of room for all your weapons and supplies. Your key items are held in its own spot and there is no limit on how many you have (even though the game rarely makes you obtain keys). No longer is it an eight-item limit, and you have to decide if you want the helmet key or a shotgun.

Leon also features a health bar, similar to most action games, that he can expand by combining certain herbs (the blue herb has been replaced with a yellow one, as nothing can poison Leon). Herbs, although not as present as ammo, are readily available and you can purchase first aid sprays from the merchant.

The reason this disappointed me was because the past Resident Evil's really were survival horror. You had to cling to your ammo and supplies, because if you ran out, you weren't getting any more. The focus of the game was to dodge enemies, only use weapons when absolutely needed, and heal only when absolutely needed. Taking damage would make your character move slower, thus increasing your risk as well. This made the game fun and scary. Resident Evil 4 doesn't do that. There is not a single enemy in the game that cannot be killed (with the exception of one boss you have to dodge for a few rooms) and you can easily get thru the game without dodging or conserving anything. Save points are almost every other room, and if you die, so what, you can start at the same door. The game will even adjust its difficulty for you if you die too many times. The game even lets you purchase an unlimited amount of rocket launchers to instantly kill any boss if you have difficulties. Although the game is still fun, its in a different way. This just isn't the formula of a Resident Evil game.

Gamers new to the series will definitely enjoy the game for its fun, although repetitive game play. Overall I think fans of the series will still enjoy the game, as soon as they realize that after they hit new game and an announcer says “Resident Evil”, that's where Resident Evil Ends.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 01/26/05

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