Review by ShadowGuardian9

Reviewed: 10/24/05

I cannot thank Capcom enough.

Resident Evil was and probably still is one of the greatest survival horror series ever, and in some people’s eyes, kick-started the genre into fame. After some incredible sequels and some spin-offs and remakes across the consoles, the newest Resident Evil has been released for Nintendo’s little purple box. After many delays and a mob of eager fans desperately wishing for a solid release, Capcom has brought out Resident Evil 4.

Graphics 10/10

The game is scary, and no better proof is the graphics. Resident Evil 4 pushes the processing power of the purple machine by throwing on the ambience at absolutely every chance it gets. In the dark and suspenseful world of Europe, Leon S. Kennedy must fight through hoard after hoard of mad zombie minions. The big draw in Resident Evil 4 is the now controllable camera. No longer does the game have static camera angles. Although it doesn’t have as ominous a perspective as the previous did, the game makes up for it by providing such an immersive gaming experience. The levels have an incredible amount of spook factor. The game starts in quiet villages in Spain and immediately the game starts its freaky, scary craziness. Each enemy you see is spooky and full of scary character, and when they start teaming up, the game truly proves itself. Although a huge amount of the murderous minions throughout are similar in appearance, they appear in hoards and the game’s frame rate never suffers from it. The minions attack in variety. Some will swing pitchforks, others will throw dynamite. Some will throw axes, others will blow fire. This is where the slick weapon presentation starts and doesn’t stop ever. The weapons are detailed well and each one has its own look and effects upon use. The gory enemies promise a boatload of scares and not once do the graphics in Resident Evil 4 suffer. This is the game to prove what the Gamecube is graphically capable of. Absolutely superb graphics on every possible level.

Audio 10/10

Spooky. The audio picks up right where the graphics left off to create an incredibly immersive world to explore. Leon and the other characters are voiced well, despite the hilariously cheesy writing. The game begins in a short flashback to the previous events of Raccoon City, with Leon narrating it well. Once the gameplay starts, you quickly feel the immense sense of fear the game emanates. The sound effects of crows cawing and the ill wind begins the horror-filled trek into Resident Evil 4. The music tunes out during the quiet beginning, but once enemies appear, the music starts a heartbeat-like score as the enemies approach you. The attacks of each enemy is perfect-sounding. The fire sounds fierce, the axes clang when you shoot them out of the air. Speaking of shooting, the weapon sounds are amazing. Each weapon has its own unique sound, even compared to a similar weapon. The ambience the game creates is staggering, and you won’t find a more atmospheric game on the Gamecube.

Gameplay 10/10

Resident Evil veterans got worried when they heard about Capcom deciding to change their gameplay style for Resident Evil 4. No static camera angles, no typewriter ribbons, pretty much everything about Resident Evil was changed in the fourth installment. In my opinion, the game is absolutely amazing. Leon S. Kennedy, the hero of Resident Evil 2, returns after the events of Raccoon City and Resident Evil 2, this time on a rescue mission to find the President’s daughter, Ashley Graham. Sent to the rural and quite atmospheric lands of Western Europe, Leon discovers that the people of the nearby villages are acting pretty aggressive. Leon quickly suspected Ashley’s endangerment and springs into action. Right off the bat, the player realizes how different the game is from its predecessors. The camera centers behind Leon at all times and shooting is used by holding down the R button and pressing A. Knife attacks are done by holding down the L button and pressing A. The game quickly zooms in to a nice over-the-shoulder perspective, allowing for a precise aiming system with use of a laser-sight and being able to see a nice amount of the enemies around you. This new aiming system also provides the ability to shoot enemies in certain parts of their body. Shoot an enemy in the legs to cripple them or in the head to make them flinch and stumble. At certain times during gameplay, the game will show a contact sensitive alert message. By pressing the button shown on the screen, a certain action will take place. During battle, Leon will execute a powerful kick to make enemy heads explode or dodge an oncoming attack. When facing a window, Leon will jump out for a quick and effective escape tactic. This creates a very fluid and much less confining game space to play in. The intuition of the contact-sensitive system is key in surviving in battle. It also gives the environments a much larger scale and the ability to jump out a window or hop over a fence on the fly makes the fast-paced firefights a heart-pounding and fun experience. The weapon system could have been aided just a bit by adding in a button to switch weapons on the fly, but bringing up the inventory screen with the Y button pauses the game so the player can catch their breath after dealing with hoard after hoard of crazy village minion. The controls of Resident Evil 4 never are cumbersome and are a milestone in action gaming.

The levels take place in only a few areas, but the areas are filled with rooms and subareas to explore. One of the best things about the division of areas is the significantly short load times. Although there is some waiting, the load times are kept to a very solid minimum. Rooms are diverse and there’s always some sort of trick to solving a puzzle or defeating the many enemies. When fighting the enemies, the wide-open environments offer some unique ways to eliminate an enemy. On a high ledge, an enemy can be shot to make them stumble and fall off. Not only that, but the amazing amount of weapons are available. Merchants exist throughout the game and will aid you in your journey to finding Ashley by selling weapons and upgrading already existing ones for a more powerful punch. One minor problem is that the merchant doesn’t sell ammunition, which seems like an obvious idea, although you quickly realize the large amounts of ammo scattered around the environments. Herbs, the Resident Evil series’s trademark in medicine, are still present, allowing for mixing and healing. The merchants in Resident Evil 4 sell a very thorough amount of weapons for use, from shotguns to sniper rifles. You won’t find yourself disappointed in the weapons department.

The enemies in Resident Evil 4 will scare even the most hard-core of survival-horror fans. The swarming Ganado enemies replace the zombies with faster-movement, teamwork, and much more clever attacks. Not convinced? Try a mad chainsaw-wielding Ganado who isn’t afraid to slice your head off. If the basic enemies don’t scare you, the bosses will. Some of the most stellar bosses ever conceived exist in the world of Resident Evil 4. Each one isn’t particularly difficult, but are challenging and scary enough to keep any gamer on edge. The contact-sensitive buttons are used to their fullest in the boss fights and create some of the greatest survival-horror has ever seen.

A major element in Resident Evil 4 is escorting Ashley around. While this may sound like a horrific bit of Ashley getting in the way and dying all the time, the concept is surprisingly effective. Ashley is controlled using two commands, both executed alternatively with the X button: wait and follow. TWO commands and it works brilliantly. Ashley will stay down or get behind you when you shoot enemies, and can be safe-kept in conveniently-placed bins. Yes, if she dies, game over, but she can be given herbs and does give some nice info about what’s around you sometimes. This does get a bit tedious after a while, but right when you start getting sick of the escort, the girl gets kidnapped and you only have to deal with Leon. I hate to say it, but in the case of Resident Evil 4, escort missions can actually be fun.

Remember cut-scenes? Yes, those long, boring cutscenes? Well, no longer can you sit back and watch these. Resident Evil 4 ingeniously integrates the contact-sensitive buttons into the cutscenes. Press the right button combination or face the consequences. This idea creates a strong tension in the gameplay, never allowing you to relax. It is this tension that makes the survival-horror genre excellent, and Resident Evil 4 creates a tense atmosphere that cannot be missed.

Replay Value 10/10

I bought this game way back in January of 2005, and I play even to this day. Completing the story mode can take as long as 20 hours. But you’ll want to play it again. Unlockable weapons and modes, including the very addictive Mercenaries mode similar to the one in Resident Evil 3, make the game full of lasting appeal. After getting all the unlockable weapons and modes, I just recently began the next difficulty, Pro Mode. Even after seven or eight playthroughs and you know all the puzzles and weaknesses of the enemies, you’ll play it again. The incredible atmosphere of the game keeps the scare factor going. Trust me, you’ll be playing this game for years to come.

Final Verdict 10/10

Resident Evil 4 is nothing short of amazing. It single-handedly redefines survival-horror on every level. The over-the-shoulder shooting scheme is sheer genius. And even with a slight emphasis on action, the game will scare you first every time. The graphics create some of the scariest environments ever seen on a video game console and the audio is chilling and does everything to keep the gamer on the edge of their seats. The enemies and bosses are no short of epic and shocking. The replay value is excellent thanks to the wide variety of great unlockables. It is quite possibly the scariest game I’ve ever played and I like it a lot. Resident Evil 4 is an unbelievable achievement in gaming and shows how excellent the survival-horror genre is. It’s impossible to recommend Resident Evil 4 highly enough; this is one of the best, if not the best survival-horror game ever created. Be good to yourself: buy this game. If you don’t have a Gamecube, buy one and buy this game. Never has being scared been so much fun.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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