Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 01/11/05 | Genre: Survival Horror
Capcom's Resident Evil series has been terrifying the gaming populus for many years now, but the developers felt it was time to mix things up a bit. The newest game in the series, Resident Evil 4, puts a new spin on the series, but don't worry if you've been a long time fan; despite all the changes and new additions, the game feels like Resident Evil through and through.
The basic premise for the game is this: the President's daughter Ashley has been kidnapped by a mysterious group and is being held in a small European town. RE 2 star Leon S. Kennedy makes his return, and as a member of a government black ops group gets assigned to the task of saving Ashley Graham. He finds his way to the European town where the girl has supposedly been sighted and things take off from there.
The game plays similarly to its predecessors, but with a few improvements. Control of your character has been refined, and is better for it. Weapons are now equipped with a laser sight for easier aiming which is a huge improvement over the generic aiming of the past games where you aimed low, mid-level, or high. Also, some guns with scopes allow you to zoom in using a first person perspective and target your enemies. Another new addition to this game is the ability to buy new weapons and items. You'll find money hidden in crates, and some enemies will drop gold when killed. You can collect these coins and trade them to a mysterious wandering merchant found in various locations throughout the game. Your character is able to hold a lot of items this time around, but gone are the storage boxes found in most of the earlier RE games.
Another thing that sets RE 4 apart from the other games is the emphasis on action. Fans of the series know that it was always a struggle to conserve ammunition throughout the game. RE 4 is a little different in that you can usually find plenty of ammo for your weapons. It's a good thing too because the action is more intense this time around. Enemies come at you in not just waves, but hordes. This makes the gameplay experience more action-packed than previous games; but fear not, the atmosphere is still spooky and the suspense that the series is renowned for has survived in tact.
If all those new additions aren't enough for you, the developers have thrown in some Shenmue-esque QTE events. That is, at certain times, buttons will flash on screen and you must press them quickly in order to complete the event. Sometimes these catch you completely off guard and pop up in the middle of a cutscene. More than a few times I had set my controller down to watch the scenes unfold and found myself lunging to hit the buttons in time--ah, good times, good times.
On the technical side Resident Evil 4 is about as close to perfection as we are likely to see on the current machines. The graphics are phenomenal; environments are incredibly detailed and the character models look absolutely amazing. The animation is great as well and enemies will react according to where you shoot them on their bodies. In fact, aiming at an enemy's legs and taking him to the ground is a great strategy that will prove to be a necessity in many situations. The music and sound effects fit the overall mood of the game perfectly. The sound plays an integral part in creating the bed-wetting atmosphere of the game.
Now I know that a few of you out there are probably curious as to the voice over quality, and I'm happy to tell you that it is just what you'd expect from a Resident Evil title: somewhat cheesy and over-the-top. The dialogue was humorously written, and the voice actors do a great job of taking their lines and running with them. The voice acting in Resident Evil has become a trademark for the fans and I truly hope to see this continue in the future. I tip my hat to the voice actors and actresses for their work in this title.
If I had to gripe about something in the game it would be that QTE events too often lead to immediate death. This can become slightly annoying if you're trying to watch the story unfold or just catch your breath after an action sequence and suddenly you miss your chance to hit the buttons. Then you must go through and watch the scene over and over until you successfully complete the QTE events.
One thing that really must be pointed out is the addition of continue points in the game. The developers deserve some sort of medal or award for implementing this feature. Finally, for the first time in RE history, dying doesn't necessarily equate to going all the way back to the last time you saved your game. Instead the game automatically stores continue points for you at various times while playing so that when you die you can start from there instead. Also, you are given the option in the pause menu to restart from the nearest continue point if things aren't going your way. Whoop whoop, my friends, whoop whoop.
In the end Capcom has developed another great game in a great series. They added enough to new goodies to the game to attract more players, but also managed to keep the RE feel that fans have come to love. The game succeeds in all respects and not only deserves, but demands a spot in all GameCube libraries. Long live one of gaming's finest.