Review by Dunkeroo23
"A true masterpiece that reinvents survival horror"
Back when the Resident Evil series debuted on the Playstation in 1996, it was an instant success as fans were hooked to the zombie-killing blood fest. The game featured advanced visuals and suspenseful gameplay that had never been witnessed in a videogame before. Nine years later, Resident Evil 4 makes its way onto the Gamecube and manages to greatly expand and improve upon every aspect of what makes the series so popular. The Resident Evil series defined the modern survival horror game Resident Evil 4 reinvents it.
In this game, you assume the role of U.S. agent Leon Scott Kennedy, the protagonist of Resident Evil 2. This time around, Leon's assignment is to rescue the President's kidnapped daughter, Ashley. Reportedly, someone who looks similar to her has been spotted, which has led Leon to this mysterious European village. What Leon will find out is that this town is no ordinary one, and his mission to rescue Ashley will lead him to uncover some of the horrifying secrets of the village.
While the storyline manages to keep you interested, it doesn't stray far from the typical plot of rescuing the President's kidnapped daughter at any point in the game. Although it does feature some nice subplots and side stories about the secrets of the village and other familiar faces you might come across, the storyline isn't one of the game's strengths.
Storyline score: 7
Resident Evil 4 truly does reinvent the survival horror genre because no longer is it just pure survival horror. Instead, it features the perfect blend of stealth, action, and suspense in an expansive environment. On top of that, it progresses at just the right pace and has that occasional puzzle and many RPG elements.
The shooting system in this game is near perfection. Holding the R button will ready the current firearm you have equipped, and the A button will fire it while the B button will reload the firearm. Aiming the firearm is done with the Control Stick, which is so precise that you can easily aim for individual body parts, which makes a big difference. If you shoot an enemy in the head, they'll go down in two or three shots. But if you are low on ammo, you can shoot the enemy in the legs and they'll temporarily falter giving you time to approach and kick them. That, or you can use your handy knife available throughout the game, which is great for close-range combat.
The game also sports a variety of different firearms, but it would have been nice to see a few more. It features your typical handgun, shotgun, rifle, machine gun, etc., and each have many different models. In addition, each weapon can be upgraded throughout the course of the game in areas such as fire power and reload speed, which is where the RPG elements come into play. This time, however, weapons are bought from occasional merchants, but you still have to find the ammo for them. Merchants also sell recovery items like First Aid Sprays, weapon upgrades, and other miscellaneous goodies. They can also buy from you any unwanted items that you have found - for half the price of course.
The controls of the game have been largely reinvented as well. Controls have always been a problem in past Resident Evil installments, but the ones featured in Resident Evil 4 are some of the best ever in any action game. If you tilt the control stick to the left or right, Leon still rotates around while standing in the same position, except this time there is so much more freedom. The system is precise yet flexible, and moving Leon around is never an issue throughout the game. He can even do a 180-degree spin maneuver, which is extremely useful. Leon also sports the typical walk and run, although it's disappointing that they didn't expand on this and make his movement tilt sensitive. Walk and run are the only two speeds available in the game, and it's frustrating that Leon can't move faster in the game when you have a two-headed monster coming at you.
The camera system is top-notch as well. It stays behind Leon at all times, although the game puts some cinematic feel into it when it occasionally changes the zoom or angle. However, more flexibility is needed with the camera angles as well. The game only has one camera angle, which is probably all you're going to ever need, but at times it zooms too much on Leon and can restrict your vision of surrounding enemies.
As far as the actual action of the game, Resident Evil 4 is unrivaled. It starts with the enemies of the game, which are some of the most horrifying and unique creatures ever created in any videogame. The game does away with the typical zombies, and instead replaces them with these Villagers that are almost human-like. They talk to each other (in Spanish) and will even devise plans to trap you. This is evident in the opening fighting scene that introduces the game. Although the environment is so large and expansive, you'll find yourself being surrounded by these Villagers from all directions. They'll start to slowly close in on you, and you'll be forced into one of the houses where the Villagers will slowly break in from every entrance. You'll then have no choice but to run upstairs and jump out the window from the second story. That is just an example of how suspenseful the action in this game is. Enemies will constantly come at you and you'll either have to shoot the hell out of them or run away as fast as you can. Some of the enemies can be downright scary.
The boss fights in this game are on a level of its own, which so twisted and creepy and often times very, very massive. While you still have to gun them down, each boss requires a different strategy to defeat, which can be a lot of fun. But the game also puts you in some unique situations that add so much variety to the game. Sometimes you'll be teamed up to shoot the Villagers and stop their advance, while other times you'll have the added responsibility of protecting somebody else or be riding in a fast-moving mine cart while having to shoot enemies. And, overall, this game does has its fair shares of shocking moments and you'll be on the edge of your seat the whole game literally, as Resident Evil 4 features these new action buttons. Basically, at any point in the game a button combination could pop up on screen to perform a crucial action where you will have less than a second to react to. If you fail to react fast enough, the game is over. While it can be frustrating, it really adds more of an interactive feel to the game. But the good thing is that it doesn't take you back to the most recent save point if you die, which in this game is a typewriter, but instead the game has a convenient checkpoint feature which never takes you back too far.
But again, Resident Evil 4 is not just all action. The game will mix an action scene with a calm but eerie and silent sequence. It'll throw puzzles in from time to time which present a challenge but aren't impossible to solve. It'll have an occasional cut scene, which are never too long but advance the story nicely, and even some really addicting mini games.
Gameplay score: 10
If there's one thing in this game that could possibly overshadow its near flawless gameplay, it's the jaw-dropping visuals. Resident Evil 4 is by far the most best looking title on the Gamecube, if not the best looking game on any console period. Seriously, the graphics in this game are that good. From the moment you first control Leon, you'll notice the incredibly detailed environment around you that is almost photo-realistic, from the trees to the water to the mountains. But the effects and lighting in this game are where it really shines. The weather system is exceptional, as the transition between the calm, dim dusk sky to the pouring, thunderous night is perfect. If you look up in the sky at night, you can see the clouds move before you or lightning as it strikes. In one level, Leon enters a room full of lava. Everything in the room because blurry and all you see is red and orange, and you can almost feel the intense heat.
The characters and enemies in this game look great, from their immense detail down to their facial expressions, and some of the creatures are worthy of being in Jurassic Park. The cut scenes even use the in-game graphics, yet still are some of the most impressive cut scenes ever because the in-game graphics are so good. You even get that cinematic feel because the game runs on a 16:9 widescreen ratio by default. The animations in this game are so smooth and the cut scenes are very well choreographed. The amount of objects and detail on the screen at a single time is incredible, yet the game never drops its steady frame rate. The Resident Evil series has always been known for its advanced graphics, but Resident Evil 4 takes it to a whole new level.
Graphics score: 10
The sound in this game seems to fit the current situation perfectly. If enemies are approaching, suspenseful music will start to play. Like the graphics, the sound effects in Resident Evil 4 are very detailed. You'll hear the rain as it hits the ground and the strong wind, and even crickets at night. There are literally sound effects for nearly every action that you do that add so much to the realism of the game. As far as dialogue, the Villagers will mumble in Spanish while Monks will recite their chants. In the cut scenes, the voice actors do an exceptional job portraying the characters, and the script has some very funny moments. All of this added to the full experience of the game and really put you into the action.
Sound score: 10
Resident Evil 4 presents a solid challenge. You are bound to die many, many times throughout the game and some of the puzzles can be pretty tough. It should take most gamers at least 15 hours to complete the main storyline the first time through, which is a very decent length for survival horror games, but the game features so many extras as well. There are tons of unlockables after you complete the game, from mini games to side missions. They also give you many incentives for playing through the game again with extra stuff from the beginning. Also, there is a Professional Mode available after you defeat the game, which presents a very tough challenge. With all that, Resident Evil 4 easily features 25 or more hours of gameplay and trust me, it's one of those games you will find yourself playing over and over because it was so fun.
Replayability score: 9
From its balanced and suspenseful gameplay to its incredible visuals and attention to detail, Resident Evil 4 has it all and sets so many standards of what a videogame should be. It is one of the single greatest games ever created and has exceeded all expectations and then some. No one should hesitate to pick this game up and it's definitely a must have for any Gamecube owners. Again, Resident Evil 4 redefines the survival horror genre.
Final Score: 10/10
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 06/28/05
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