Resident Evil 4|
Release Date: 1/11/05
The series that started it all is back with a whole new meaning to the “R” in Resident Evil: Reinvention, Revolution, and Redefine. The Resident Evils that have been given to us in the past few years are small quips on the already spotty trail that was left after Resident Evil 3, but Resident Evil 4 takes the genre it created and redefines it into, what I believe is, the best game created to date.
Now, many of you naysayers will be quick to fly off the handle and vehemently defend Super Mario 64. Fear not, as Super Mario 64 is the best game to ever be produced, as it revolutionized gaming as we know it. But enough about that, let me explain why I believe Resident Evil 4 is deserving of all of its accolades that it has been receiving recently.
The game places us in the familiar shoes of now U.S. Secret agent Leon Kennedy, best known for his role in Resident Evil 2, arguably the best survival-horror game to be created. Leon’s mission as an agent is to rescue the presidents daughter, who has been abducted by a religious clan in an undefined (in the game) European country. What Leon doesn’t know is, his mission is about to get him closer to the residents than he would ever fathom.
One of the first things that people will notice about Resident Evil 4 is, as the commercial implies, “Forget everything you know about Resident Evil”, everything as we know it has been changed. The series has taken a more mature turn in its storyline, and it goes very far beyond the old pin-on cliché of the T-virus. Along with this change, pretty much everything else about the game is different as well. First off, the world is fully rendered in 3D, giving leave of the static pre-rendered environments that were scathingly popular back in the late 90’s. Not only is the world rendered in 3D, but it is also the best looking console game right now, and might be for a long time to come. Yes, I am including Halo 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3’s graphics into my equation, and I can confidently say that Bungie and Konami fall well short of the graphical benchmark that Capcom has set here. Characters are given an almost unreal amount of detail, most notably: Ashley, the president’s daughter.
Ashley’s body is full of contours and curves, so the game is given a chance to really show what its real-time shading technology is capable of. On top of this, she is also given articles of clothing that have their own physics to them, hell, if Leon bumps into her chest too hard, her breasts will bounce back in response to the movement. Besides Ashley, Leon also sports an impressive amount of detail as well, his hair will move in the direction that the wind blows, and his legs are decorated with different pieces that equipment that you will acquire through the game. Finally, there are the villagers and side-characters that are also given a striking amount of detail, which you will be able to witness up-close as they attack you, or safely from the scope of a rifle, whichever you prefer. There is a impressive amount of different models, ranging from overweight middle-aged men, pregnant women, and monks that have a little more than purification in mind for you; it all encompasses a very nice variety of adversaries.
As mentioned beforehand, the game features some truly spectacular shading, some of which need to be seen in-person to truly be believed. When the game eventually reaches nightfall and a thunderstorm brews in the distance, you will witness how the game will scare you in ways you wouldn’t imagine. For example, you will be walking within the village, and a thunder flash will occur, allowing you to see the silhouette of a villager on top of a house, in which you may check again, at which the flash will occur again, and the villager will be on the ground rushing at you. Along with this, the game features some of the most beautiful environments that have been witnessed in gaming, some rivaling that of Half Life 2. When you reach the caverns late in the game, I dare your jaw to not drop as you witness the light fog calmly floating within the area as the sun barely breaks through the roof of the cavern, whilst the cavern’s roof slowly lets off small bits of rock that fall in a light smoke to the water contained below.
A truly amazing sight to behold, truly.
But where would be without the scare factor in a Resident Evil game? Let me just say that Capcom has really topped themselves here with the bold decision to make the villagers speak only Spanish (don’t fret, main characters speak in English). As we all know, the series has been known for it’s less than horrifying grunts and groans from its trademark zombies, but we’re not dealing with zombies anymore, so the voice tracks are taken a notch up in this department. If you are spotted by a villager, you will hear his shout a command or warning in Spanish, this may not seem like a big deal to some, but the prospect of hearing commands in a language that I can barely translate only build upon the copious amounts of pressure and fear that the game places upon you to begin with. The voices range from the hearty bellow from a larger character, or the undecipherable shriek of a woman as she lunges at you at the least second, either way, it can become truly terrifying at times.
As you may notice when you start up the game, Resident Evil 4 is presented in Dolby Pro Logic II, in which it should be. It is almost a necessity to have a 5.1 speaker system while playing this game. Most people think that surround sound is merely an excess that is never properly utilized in console gaming, but RE4 is here to smash that stereotype. With a 5.1 system, you will be able to locate the shouts and footsteps of villagers faster, you will be spooked by a sudden rumbling or shout that occurs behind Leon, thus occurring in your rear speakers, you will be even further engaged in the game than you already are.
Aside from that, the soundtrack is filled with many tracks that will make someone leave the room in a cold sweat if they stick around for too long. Please keep in mind that I have played all of RE4 in complete darkness, as it should be played, so let this be your perspective. Even minute areas have an impressive track that accompanies it, just in case your blood pressure was going down for some reason. One of the best tracks in the game would be the Save Room track, as it is truly a soothing tune right after you were being assaulted by a large force of enemies, it will be something you look forward to.
But where the real meat of this game lies is in the gameplay, and what a grand system it has turned out to be. Resident Evil 4 features a camera-view that is kept behind Leon’s right shoulder at all times, and can be moved to different viewpoints with the quick movement of the C-Stick. This allows the player to fire away at the closest enemy while broadening his view to scope out the surrounding area for an escape route or spot approaching forces. The only problem with the movement is that Leon doesn’t have the ability to strafe, he has to turn himself around to face in a certain direction, but it’s not a very big qualm since you are constantly moving. Another interesting game element that the game places upon you is in-game reloading (you can also: Gun + Combine + Bullets in the menu), which takes away the ease of being able to reload your gun in the Item menu, if you choose to do so. This will make you think twice about the number of bullets you use in battle, along with adding to the intensity of having to reload while you are being attacked. But not to worry, Resident Evil 4 gives you more than enough bullets to actually have a good time fighting, because everything from boxes to enemies themselves yield bullets to curative items, thus accelerating the games pace.
But, no doubt the biggest and best inventory reinvention is Leon’s Attaché case. Long gone are the days of Item Boxes, the Attaché case features a grid system that is familiar to the system in Diablo, where each item takes up a certain item on the grid, and if you don’t have enough room (you can re-arrange the items any way you like to accommodate space), you just can’t carry it, case closed. This system is very gratifying when you finally figure out the right set-up to accommodate an extra gun or First-Aid Spray, and keeping it organized can affect your battle tactics, mainly because if you keep your case neat, you won’t be so hasty to exit out of it because you overlooked an item you thought you didn’t have. One of the many ways to add to the Attaché case is via The Weapon Merchant. Resident Evil 4 parts ways with its old system of OSWP (On Site Weapons Procuration), and puts in it’s place the merchant, the only place you can purchase weapons in the game. You will find the regions monies, Pisa, scattered throughout the game, whether it be from defeating enemies, to finding it in a box, either way, it is essential to the games completion. From here, you can purchase weapons, tune them up (Firepower, Firing Speed, Reload Time, and Capacity can be upgraded), or sell valuables that you may have found. It is possible to go through Resident Evil 4 with only the Handgun and the Shotgun, but the variety of weaponry is a nice additive for the games replay value.
Spoilers aside, Resident Evil 4 is a game that is a non-stop, pulse-pounding adventure that will not let go of you from it’s opening cinema to it’s dramatic conclusion. Every single second of this game is designed to either: amaze you, scare you, intrigue you, or give you a laugh at times. Either way, Resident Evil 4 is the very definition of what a videogame should be, and not playing it would be a mistake to anyone who owns a GameCube.
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Published on: 2005-01-26 (14754 reads)[ Go Back ]