Review by Archmonk Iga

Reviewed: 09/28/09

Resident Evil 4 on the Wii is TRUE survival horror.

I have to admit that I had never before played Resident Evil 4 until I picked up this Wii remake. I did know, however, that RE4 was a revolutionary title with its original release on the Gamecube, not just in regards to survival horror, but in regards to all genres of videogames. And while I may have never played through RE4 on the Gamecube (or PS2 or PC), I think it’s safe to say that this amazing game is truly at home on the Wii.

A completely revamped control scheme and a bizarre new storyline brings us back into the eyes of Leon Kennedy, a US government agent and survivor from Raccoon City, who is sent to a mysterious village in Europe (no specific country is given, but the residents are speaking Spanish…) to rescue the president’s daughter, Ashley Graham. His goal is to find Ashley and escape from her kidnappers in one piece, but we soon find out that such a mission is easier said than done. Even before he finds Ashley, Leon understands that this is no ordinary kidnapping… the people involved are a part of a freakish cult called the “Los Illuminados,” and instead of a small group of kidnappers, it seems the entire village has been infested and has a part in this conspiracy. Did you expect anything less? Both in terms of gameplay and in story, the Resident Evil franchise has been changed forever with its fourth installment. While the blueprint for its story is nothing that will win any awards, its presentation is both original and enticing… oh, and perhaps best of all, it’s scary as hell.

This was originally a Gamecube game, and it looked fantastic on that system. The Wii’s graphical abilities don’t surpass its older sibling’s that much, so in a way the graphics are still quite well done. The characters, including all the enemies, are given perfect detail, whether their skin is oozing and wrinkly like one of the Los Illuminados or silky smooth like a certain red-dressed mystery woman (whose dress was given a lot of attention, apparently). The environments are dreary and dark, with nearly perfect lighting in every location. They set the mood very well, and every new area you visit will both excite you and frighten you. And of course, all the gore that will be erupting is always easy on our violence-craving eyes.

Those nice things being said, this is a game from 2005, and Capcom seems to have done nothing to improve its look even a little bit for this current-gen system—there are some iffy textures and shadings that pretty much scream past-gen. Nonetheless, RE4 has an art style that most definitely succeeds in what it sets out to do.
GRAPHICS: 8.5/10

As with previous REs, number 4 believes in the “less is more” theory, or rather the “less is scarier” theory. There is occasional music when there are enemies around or when you’re near a save point, but it’s nothing very memorable. As a matter of fact, I kind of wished that there was no music during battle, because once the music ends, you know that there are no more enemies around. It kind of spoils the excitement and jumpiness of the battle, and it’s something that has irked me with past REs. At the same time, the sudden silence could cause you to release a sigh of relief. Guess it’s all just personal preference.

As for the voice acting, I would say it’s almost perfectly spot-on. Just about every character’s voice fits him/her very nicely, with perhaps the exception of Ashley, whose voice just never seemed to sound quite right. Some of the enemies’ voices are especially excellent, because they really can give you goosebumps.

The sound effects are also great. The guns sound fine, sure, but it’s the dripping water, the buzzing flies and the creaking doors that really are what makes this score go up. Not to mention the squishy sounds that are made every time blood is shed. Good times.
SOUNDS: 9/10

RE4 has a completely new control mechanic, one that thankfully works well and is easy to figure out. It is a sort of over-the-shoulder third-person control. You can walk or run forward and back, strafe, and turn with the correct button and joystick combinations. Moving and shooting still cannot be done at the same time, which is a bit of a bummer, but the fun factor is high enough otherwise to forgive that. The red laser is replaced by a reticle that can be aimed by controlling the Wii remote… and it is this fact alone that makes RE4 so much more comfortable on this system than on any other. Upon writing this review, I have begun playing RE5 on 360, and it just doesn’t work nearly as well when you have to use a joystick to aim. With that knowledge, I’m also assuming that it’s the same case with RE4 on the GC or PS2. You have so much more control and you feel so much more powerful with the remote that you can’t imagine the game without it.

When it comes to the game’s non-control issues, RE4 still hits a home run. Leon is capable of wielding a buttload of different kinds of guns, all of which can be upgraded many, many times. As with any other shooter, you will quickly favor a particular kind of gun over others, but they all are really quite fun to use (especially with the awesome aiming control). To reload, simply flick your wrist while aiming.

Leon can also wield a knife for short range fighting, which can be swung with a flick of the wrist—it works well enough, but if you don’t feel like doing that, there is also a button combination to use.

The enemies vary greatly throughout this game, which is a giant sigh of relief in a world of survival horrors that recycle the same foes over and over. And best of all, they make the game truly challenging and scary—this is real survival horror. The boss fights are no joke, either. I’m not going to spoil anything, but every single one of them is a blast to fight and requires both quick reactions and the use of everything available to you (and that doesn’t just include your own items).

Throughout this gigantic village there are bazillions of hidden items in barrels, boxes, or just hanging out on their own—ammo, money, herbs, and sellable items galore throughout the entire game. I’ve gotta give Capcom props for all the secret stuff hidden in all the nooks and crannies of this game, and every time you find something (which happens a lot) you feel a little bit of pride. Thanks, Capcom!

Puzzles and QTEs have also made a comeback in RE4, both of which are a little bit silly. They don’t hamper the gameplay in any way, but the QTEs, which now implement the Wii’s controller, seem like they were just plopped in the game to make it more “Wii-ish.” As for the puzzles, well there’s no complaining from this end about them. I personally hate puzzles in horror games because they bring down the pacing, but RE4’s are so ridiculously simple that it doesn’t bother me too much.

Now for a couple of things that bring the experience down just a tad. The in-game menu is a real pain to work with—the briefcase setup is just fine, but it’s the navigation that suffers. A little more simplicity would be nice. Similarly, reaching down to press the 1 button to view the map becomes a too-frequent necessity. The map looks nice, but a cute little mini-map would have been even better. Finally, while we all absolutely love the new control scheme, Leon does turn just a tad bit too slow during the more intense battles.

But aside from a few minor complaints, RE4 just plain feels great. It’s scary and fun, and there is so much to do and see that you won’t want to turn your Wii off.
GAMEPLAY: 9.5/10

Leon’s journey can average around 12-ish hours for first-timers, but there’s no doubt you’ll want to replay it again and again on harder difficulties. You’ll also want to uncover all the bonus features that the game holds, including the equally fun (but shorter and less satisfying) “Separate Ways,” which stars Ada Wong. And that’s just one bonus feature—there are tons more where that came from. RE4: Wii Edition is most definitely a keeper.

The RE series is the mother of survival horror, and while its position as the scariest game franchise is probably no longer existent (see: Fatal Frame), there’s no doubt that it’s still one of the, if not THE, best. It still is scary, but it also has such a high level of fun that every survival horror game made after it will be compared. While its Wii edition is not what made it such a classic, Resident Evil 4 for the Wii is nevertheless a nearly flawless videogame experience.
OVERALL: 9.5/10

Thanks for reading =)

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (US, 06/19/07)

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