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Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (Wii) artwork

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (Wii) review

"Finally, you can truly aim for the head!"

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition asset

Every memory I had of Resident Evil--or hell, horror games in general--told me not to bother with Resident Evil 4. I had told myself at the time that there's no way anyone, not even Capcom, could properly balance action and horror. Besides, Resident Evil games always left a sour taste in my mouth, because I sucked at them and always ended up rage quitting as a result. And don't even get me started on the play control! Or the tough bosses. Or the limitations on saving. Or the...

I invented as many excuses as I could contrive to avoid the game, but to no avail. There was this peculiar, undeniable attraction I had to it. Something about it seemed rebellious and hip, like the game was flipping off its own franchise by going in a different direction. As a man who wasn't thrilled with the older Resident Evil games, the prospect of playing a canonized anti-Resident Evil title was enticing. I felt like I could join along with the game and flip off the brand too, as if we were both sticking to the man.

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition asset

Assurance comes early in the game for those who bear any doubts about it, as I once did. For seeing the nearly photorealistic visuals (or as close the Wii can get to photorealism, anyway) is the first hint that Resident Evil 4's development was in the right hands. The game utilizes a variety of earthy tones, accentuating the cold "deadness" and despair of the environment. That alone establishes the game's atmosphere and tells you that you've successfully landed in hell. Enjoy your stay!

After plodding through a forest, you come upon a quaint village. The resident Spaniards seem humble enough as they approach you, until you realize they're brandishing hatchets, pitchforks, bows, and dynamite... none of which are intended to be used for farming. You might snicker a bit as you aim your handgun at them, thinking in the back of your mind that the game isn't scary in the least. Honestly, it isn't at first...

Eventually, you drop a few folks and a dozen or so come after you. You kill them and more appear. They swarm and overwhelm you with a creepy cult-like conviction that smacks of backwoods caricatures. That's when the game starts to get tense. You aim your Wii Remote and keep an eye on your ammo, lest you should be caught in the middle of a firefight with an empty clip. So many villagers approach that you think you couldn't possibly fell all of them before they're upon you. But you fire anyway, taking care to aim for their heads. You miss often because your twitching hand, itchy trigger finger, and burgeoning panic are getting the better of you. So you run, and they follow.

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition asset

Hole yourself up in a house if you like, but they'll break in. Take refuge on a roof if you think it'll help, but they'll climb or throw weapons. Nowhere is safe, and no matter how many bullets you have you might find that you can't aim quickly enough to take out all of your foes efficiently. You also you can't seem to execute skull-crushing kicks or throws quickly enough, either. So you have one last option: make a stand. You bump off as many of the villagers as possible, occasionally running for cover as the situation demands it, and soon enough you'll find that you are winning.

...then a chainsaw revs up, and memories of Tobe Hooper's documentary-like classic come flooding back. No matter how badass you feel, Resident Evil 4 will provide you with a reminder that you're the hunted:

Oh, you feel awesome 'cause you offed a bunch of my villagers? Have a chainsaw-wielding maniac, then. My enormous, semi-invisible bugs are easily handled, are they? How does a twenty-foot-tall giant sound? My villagers aren't creepy enough? I take it you're not the xenophobic type, then. Here, let me fix that for you: now headshots cause Lovecraftian parasites to sprout from the villagers' neck-stumps. Is that sufficient nightmare fuel for you?

Worst of all, the game gives you glimmers of false hope. You meet a merchant who will gladly sell you new weaponry and upgrade the arms you possess. If you feel like your SMG or handgun aren't performing worth a damn, then you can boost certain stats like strengthened damage or improved reload time. That way you can run back onto the battlefield, feeling assured that you've grown into an unstoppable superhero with a gun. Then your adversaries swarm you again, and you realize that upgrades are only there to stave death off for a few seconds longer.

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition asset

The ultimate tease, though, is that the merchant doesn't provide anything but new weapons and upgrades. You can't purchase healing items or ammunition. Also, your attache has a very limited about of space, so you really need to carefully decide what pieces of equipment are most important to you. Do you want a rocket launcher or boat loads of healing items?

Regardless of how tough I'm making Resident Evil 4 sound, it's not an impossible game. You will learn after a while that you can succeed, but not without hard work and an astute sense of item management.

Resident Evil 4 is, without a doubt, my favorite of the franchise. For so long I was sure that the only way to make an effective horror game was to turn down the action. Then this game came along and proved me wrong. Resident Evil 4 features a harmonious balance of action and tension, made possible by mechanics that are just slow enough to help facilitate tension without killing the game's pace, massive enemy numbers that are just large enough to instill fear, and a gracious enough array of weapons and upgrades to bolster the action. It's a taut quest loaded with challenging, nerve-racking moments and exciting quick-time chills. Even if you're not a fan of the brand--as I'm really not that much of one--I highly recommend giving Resident Evil 4 a spin.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 26, 2013)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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JedPress posted October 26, 2013:

Nice review. It would have been interesting to hear your thoughts about The Mercenaries, the intense time-attack mode you unlock after beating the game. In any case, I also believe Resident Evil 4 blows its predecessors away.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 26, 2013:

Thanks! I'll look into The Mercenaries. I think I remember one of my friends raving about it, so it might be up my alley.
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yamishuryou posted October 28, 2013:

Mercenaries is awesome.

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