Review by MystSexton

"Survival Horror At Its Best"

I had a little bit of doubt when it came to the story of Resident Evil 4, but everything seemed to come together in the end. Capcom managed to move on from the T-Virus, and at the same time created something brand new that still goes with the world of Resident Evil. There wasn't any magic, voodoo, or anything fantasy like that, but rather something that was reasonable.

The story moves along at just the right pace with Leon first being ignorant to the entire situation, and learning more and more about it right up until the very end. The story does not drag on or get boring as the game progresses, but instead more intriguing as you see just how far the story goes.

Resident Evil 4 keeps you wondering for a good portion of the game, and then slowly but surely feeds you what is going on. Although there aren't too many ties to the previous games, ithe game's background and events are certainly interesting and will keep you hooked until it's all said and done.

One of the big changes from the past Resident Evil games is brand new gameplay. Resident Evil 4 features a brand new aiming system, as well as camera angles to go along with it. Instead of your typical aiming style, you now have the ability to aim with precision because of the brand new over-the-shoulder camera view. Head shots are no longer random, and must be achieved by - get this - actually aiming for their head. The Resident Evil series definitely needed this addition.

Another major gameplay system is the brand-new Action Sequences. At certain points during the game, you will be prompted to tap or press a certain combinations of buttons to avoid certain death. This feature is also used in encounters with enemies - whether it being a common enemy or a boss. This is used not only while fighting, but also when interacting with your environment (Ladders, Windows, Fences, and so on). This feature is definitely a great addition to the game.

Apart from the big gameplay changes, there are also a few small, but great, things to take note of. One very useful feature is being able to easily switch your current weapon with the knife by pressing the L button, which is useful for breaking boxes, barrels, and other item-holding objects. Another feature that definitely makes things more convenient is the fact that enemies now drops items, ammo, and money, making your use of ammo not totally go to waste.

The enemies in Resident Evil 4 are another plus with each one of them being varied and unique. Apart from the Ganado having different outfits, you also find ones having different special weapons, attacks, and defensive features, such as masks, shields, and other things, making you have to use different strategies at different times in order to get by. The other enemies featured in the game were also fairly unique, and required a wide array of strategies to defeat.

Resident Evil 4 is much more intense than its predecessors. throughout the game, there are plenty of moments where you will feel absolutely overwhelmed - which isn't a bad thing in this game. The intensity of battles in this game really gets your adrenaline rushing and keeps you on the edge of your seat until it's all said and done. And then before you know it, you're at it again facing yet another hoard of enemies.

Like Resident Evil Zero, there is also some co-op gameplay featured in this game, but luckily, it's not too excessive to the point where it gets annoying. When you are traveling with Ashley, you pretty much have to look out for her, but she isn't stupid enough to randomly walk into danger. It's all a matter of being aware of your surroundings and taking things slow, which isn't too much of a problem in this game.

The controls in Resident Evil 4 have not advanced too much from the previous games in the series, although they work just fine. Apart from the addition of the Action Sequences, new aiming, and the easy knife switching, the controls seem to move a lot smoother than they once did. The quick turn and other normal game mechanics are still in this installment, but everything seems to flow much better this time around.

Resident Evil 4 introduces a brand new system for purchasing and upgrading weapons. You'll randomly find Pesetas (PTAS) for buying weapons from the Merchant, or you can sell treasures or other items to him for more PTAS. Throughout the course of the game, new weapons and upgrades will become available, and you're left to decide when to purchase a new weapon or upgrade an existing one, which is a great system that makes you do a bit more thinking rather than senselessly shooting everything (although I'm not about to complain about that).

Another thing that has been majorly revamped is the setup for your inventory. Key Items and Treasures are stored separately from Weapons, ammo, and healing items. You start off with a small-sized Attache Case for storage of items, which can be upgraded with more spaces later on. You are given the ability to rearrange things in the case as you please to free up space or better organize your items. This adds some more realism to the game in the fact that you can only hold what you can carry (or in this game, what you can fit in the case).

You will rarely find yourself bored of playing this game in this game. Because of the enemies and sheer intensity of the game, you may find things to be challenging at some points, but you will keep asking for more. Resident Evil 4 is definitely among the best in terms of gameplay.

The visuals in Resident Evil 4 compare to some of the best you'll see in video games to date. From the rippling water effects to all of the game's areas, it's obvious that astounding graphical detail was put into everything. It seems like Capcom has spared no expense working to make every character model in the game as realistic as possible in terms of facial expressions, motion, outfits, reactions, and more.

This huge amount of detail was not only put into characters, but also into all of the game's environments. Capcom focused on not only making things like as realistic as possible, but also on the small things, which shows a lot of effort on their part. As you progress through the game, each area varies quite a bit, but still the detail remains the same.

One very impressive thing to take note of is that every cutscene in the game is rendered in real-time, and is not pre-made, allowing for a lot more variation (your character's location, the state of your surroundings, and so on). Cutscenes do not interrupt gameplay and seamlessly start as they are triggered in the game, allowing for a more cinematic experience, especially if you're stuck watching somebody else play.

Overall, Resident Evil 4 is visually a masterpiece. Amazing detail has been put into every aspect of the game, and there's no doubt that it paid off in the end.

I'm not one to often take note to the music and sound effects in video games, however, the sounds of Resident Evil 4 were outstanding and worked perfectly with the atmosphere of the game. The music changes dynamically in each area from when you enter it, to an encounter with an enemy, to when it's all said and done. The music helps builds suspense throughout the game, especially during the times when you're low on ammo or health, where the last thing you need is a suprise attack from enemies (which will surely happen).

Unlike in previous Resident Evil games, the voice acting in this one is very well done. All of the actors seemed to have done their best to make it as believable as possible, and I certainly think they've succeeded. However, all of the sound effects in Resident Evil 4 are just as much perfect as everything else. Whether it is walking across a wooden floor, kicking open a door, or blowing off the head of an attacking enemy, the sounds of the game fit realistically. One key thing to any horror-themed game is fitting audio, and Resident Evil 4 has definitely excelled in that area.

Resident Evil 4 is a very fun game to play through. The enemies can sometimes be quite unpredictable, so it isn't always the same boring thing over and over. Some parts can be quite challenging, but it's all the more relief you feel after getting past it. And if that's not good enough for you, completing the game will unlock a "Professional" difficulty level that will make the game quite a bit more difficult.

Like in most Resident Evil games, Capcom also threw in a bunch of other extras to keep you playing. Upon completing the game, you will also unlock two mini-games. One is a mercenaries battle mode features four different stages of killing as many enemies as possible, and the other is Assignment Ada, which is a small game featuring Ada Wong.

The different bonus weapons in Resident Evil 4 are definitely great additions to the game, but they can get a little stale if you use them over and over. You can obtain three bonus weapons, which are the Infinite Launcher (Rocket Launcher with unlimited ammo), Chicago Typewriter (Tommy Gun), and the Handcannon (.50 Caliber Magnum).

Unlocking these weapons also add to the replay value of the game. Both the Infinite Launcher and the Chicago Typewriter cost 1,000,000 pesetas each, which usually takes a full play through to get. The Handcannon is free once you score a 5-star rank with every character on every level in The Mercenaries mini-game. After that, you have to shell out about 700,000 pesetas to obtain unlimited ammo, which takes quite a bit of time.

Also, there is another noteworthy feature, and that is playing through the game again on "Round Two" mode, where you get to keep all of the weapons you had at the end of your previous game. On that note, all of the extras and the sheer enjoyment of playing through the game is more than enough to bring me back to it again and again.

Combine all of the above elements and you have yourself a damned good video game. Resident Evil 4 is no doubt the best game currently on the GameCube, and quite possibly on any of the next-gen consoles. After playing this game, any doubt I've had in Capcom's reinventing of the series was eliminated. Not only has Resident Evil 4 reinvented the series, but it also reinvented Survival Horror. Bravo Capcom.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/06/05

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