Resident Evil 4 (GameCube) review
" Resident Evil 4 "
Resident Evil 4
You're agent Leon Kennedy. Being thrown into a deranged town inhabited by zombie-esque denizens, you're asked to rescue the president's daughter, Ashley. You must do whatever it takes to cross this seemingly impossible hurdle, crushing any and all foes in your path. This will not be some brisk traipse in the park, however, for the enemies that are thrust at you are not without brains and they will employ devious schemes intent on seeing your demise. The evil that lurks behind the face of this operation must be eradicated and this is your job in Resident Evil 4. Brace yourself.
Before you think anything about this game based on the previous iterations in the franchise, bear in mind that this is a completely original, reworked, and more thoroughly satisfying entry that far surpasses it's predecessors and any competitors in it's genre. You need not be a survival horror buff to enjoy the display of finely crafted gunplay and fear factor integrated into this game.
The first notable aspect of the game is the behind the back perspective given to the player. Given a laser light on nearly every firearm, you are able to blast away to your heart's content with utmost accuracy. This combined with the unique view presents an ambitious take on gameplay that is seamlessly blended in and feels silky smooth when controlling. When enemies are flooding in from all around you, that claustrophobic sense of being trapped creates an atmosphere that creates panic, hysteria, and a renewed sense of urgency. The satisfying sensation that ripples throughout your body after you demolish a vicios intruder's head to infinitesimal bits of gore is one that simply has never been matched in all my time of playing video games.
Once you have Ashley by your side, trailing your every step, one would assume that she would a laborious chore that is a never ending nuisance. Well, fret not, for she is actually not that bad and in some parts she'll even give you small hints on puzzles. Keepingher out of harm's way adds a fresh dimension to the game and is one that is not just cliché. If she is killed or is dragged away by an enemy, your mission is over so keeping on eye on her is just as important as watching your own well being.
Controlling Resident Evil games are usually a chore. Forget it. I can't even begin to tell you how nice it is to see Capcom finally fix my major gripe. Movements, for the most part, are fluid, and most of all, the actual things you do (shoot your gun, manage your inventory,etc.) are done with relative ease. Leon can now jump through windows, push down ladders and interact with the environment a lot more than usual. What's more, the button to execute these things is simply the A button. Very easy.
While you're traversing the beautifully laid out environments, you must decide which way you want to execute your plan. One is given the option of taking the slightly stealthy approach and using a long-range rifle to down enemies from afar, or going in guns ablaze letting loose on the trigger. The gameplay, if need be, could be summed up in word: Intense. There never is a dull moment found in this gem and it keeps you wondering what will be around the next corner. I highly advise people over the age of seventy to steer clear of this title because of times when you will become close to soiling your pants (or having a heart attack ). Jumping out of my seat after an unsuspecting housewife or messed up man surprised me just as the tension went down occurred an innumerable amount of times. One thing I especially liked was how a well placed shot (say, in the legs) would have an effect on the enemy and cause them to have realistic reactions to it.
Adding to the freak-you-out moments is the sound. A lot of the aural ambience really disturbed me. Already being entirely immersed in a game is a thing in itself, but adding eerie, creepy music that's played in a low town pushes me over the top and into the realm of believing I'm in Resident Evil. I'm in this crazy story trying to save the president's daughter. You hear a steadily constant drone of music that sort of puts you in a trance and all of a sudden a deformed creature pops out and scares the crap out of you...It's an unbelievable sight and sound.
If you've ever played any other RE games, you already know that it was integral to your success that you ration your ammo to the fullest. This aspect is thrown out the window in RE4, as ammo is commonly found in abundance. While there were times when I would have to resort to other guns because of lack of ammo, it was few and far between. As a whole, it lessens the burdens and lets you play the game freely.
Boss battles are thrilling to say the least. While some could have upped the difficulty level a degree, they were all challenging in their own right and caused my heart to race. Similar to bosses in most games, there is always a key weakness that must exploited in order for victory to occur. Needless to say, a sense of satisfaction is felt after beating a boss. Mini bosses, per say, are sprawled throughout certain parts like a guy with a chainsaw. Let him get to close to you and your melon will be lopped off in a very gruesome cutscene. Speaking of which, this game, as you could guess, is not one that should be explored by little Johnny. This very possibly may the goriest game I've experienced, but it doesn't seem like an unnecessary thing. The immersion factor wouldn't be quite as high without it.
Exploration is encouraged, rewarding you with loot to sell to the nearby merchant, allowing you to buy new weapons and even upgrade the ones you have. You can upgrade every gun's carrying capacity, strength, reload time, and firing speed. Some guns, like the shotgun, need a major upheaval in the firing speed department and the upgrade option allows myriad possibilities. One new, and highly innovative system exists within the cutscenes. What used to merely be you watching the CG, is now an interactive task that forces you to push onscreen prompts at certain points. Say, for example, there's a video of a guy lunging at you. Instead of watching your character dodge without any effort by you, the game makes you dodge the attack by pushing the right buttons. Push the wrong one's and you're toast. Game Over. Push Start to continue. This is a very unique way of keeping the gamer's attention at all times, and I like it.
While we're on the subject of cutscenes, I must say that the visuals in RE4 are without a doubt the best the Gamecube has to offer. Everything is shimmering with life. Dead corpses drip blood realistically to the floor. Grisly features of the enemies are unprecedented and the texturing is jawdropping. Outside trees create the necessary atmosphere, and the sky and general environments are rendered gorgeously. The carnage especially excels graphically, creating a sense of awe at the work put into it. Splattering blood and fluids that emit from enemies' bodies really engross you in the action, and are sure to keep your mouth open while you play.
I found that puzzles weren't used quite as much as I'd like. It seems Capcom maybe wanted to attract the common consumer more because the puzzles that are found aren't all that elaborate and can be solved in mere seconds. This isn't necessarily a complaint, though, because what they substituted for the puzzles-pure action- is truly done brilliantly.
I've owned every system since NES to now, and not one game touches the utter perfectness of this game. This is the most well rounded, cleverly portrayed, finely polished game I've ever played. I can see myself playing through it 10 - 15 times. If every developer in the video game industry put half the effort Capcom put into this, every gamer would be in perpetual utopia.
Community review by Linkamoto (February 23, 2005)
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