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VIDEO GAME REVIEWS

Resident Evil 4



Resident Evil 4
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Reviewed By LessonNo5

Finally, after years of waiting, the fourth Resident Evil and the return of Leon Kennedy. After all the hype about "forgetting everything you know about Resident Evil" this is one that I just couldn't pass up. So the day it came out I waited in line behind all the other people that pre-ordered and snagged my copy. I went into this game with the same feelings I had that time I was kidnapped by the Polish Mafia and forced to witness what they ironically called a cockfight. A boilermaker of fear and elation. I wanted the game to be good- Not just good, but great. At the same time, though, I had this feeling that things just weren't going to work out that way. I was wrong... Well, sort of. I'd like to start off this review with a list of the things I'd hoped they'd change for this sequel.

First off, the control scheme. Let's face it, the old "up is always forward" control type just doesn't work with a joystick, and the Gamecube controller's D-Pad is pathetically hard to maneuver with. So I was goddamned ecstatic when I found out they did indeed modernize the controls. If you played RE: Dead Aim, well, then it's pretty much the same. In fact everything control-wise is pretty much the same, including the fact that it takes you damn near an hour to do a 360-degree turn. They added a quick 180-degree motion by button combination, but I found that to be pretty useless during heated battles, unless of course the enemies are swarming in at perfect angles, which they don't. That's by no means a major complaint though, as I always had enough mobility to run and gun.

Second, the camera. Now, I love the old way. The pre-rendered backgrounds in any Resident Evil have never been an issue... But this time around I wanted more. I wanted to see real detail. Again, for this game they basically took Dead Aim's style. Behind the back, slightly over the right shoulder of the main character. This angle is awesome for viewing the surroundings, except for things behind you. And to either side of you. And directly in front of you and slightly to the left. And above you. This was also kind of a pain when aiming... In Dead Aim, you switched to first person when aiming. Instead, this game forces you to line up a shot on this goofy-angle, unless your weapon is equipped with a scope. They give you a little laser pointer to help you, but unless the enemy is right on top of you, it's nearly invisible. Couple this with the strength and quantities of the Ganada (3-4 shots to the head w/ handgun, more if they're infected) and you have a serious problem. More on that part later... But, the thing is that this problem could have been so easily solved. They did it in Dead Aim, but not in RE 4 - Just let us rotate the camera with the C-Stick! You can move it just enough to be totally useless, especially when peeking around for enemies.

Third, the save and inventory systems. The ink ribbon, the dropping important items or weapons to make room, the running back and forth to chests... Tedious things that slowed the game down. These are things of the past in RE 4. Now there are separate lists for key items, and no ink ribbons. Personally, I didn't feel they had to go completely, because it added a little something to the game when you needed to earn saves, but I'll take what I can get. Now you just have to worry about making room for ammo, herbs, and weapons, which is plenty to worry about.

Here's a story on the game. Leon Kennedy has been hired to be the personal bodyguard of a state official. Before he even arrives, the official's daughter is kidnapped and Leon is sent to save her. What's with Leon anyway? Bad shit tends to happen BEFORE he even fills out his W-9's... People better learn to pay up their life insurance if they plan on hiring this guy. Leon goes out to the country to follow the trail. This first part of the game is awesome. Probably the best chapter in the game. I won't spoil it, but getting yelled at in Spanish by some creepy villagers is exactly what I'd hoped for. They just swarm you, and just when you have your tactics down, the Good Doctor comes out to perform elective reconstructive surgery on you with a chainsaw. Make no mistake, every battle you get into in the game is INTENSE. There's a real urgency, even when you have herbs banked away. That's a testament to the sound and graphics. Picture if you will a scene from the first part of the game... You enter a village, they've captured a cop and burned him at the stake, one the villagers spots you, raises a hand and points at you accusingly, then screams something. The next thing you know, all hell breaks loose. After the first skirmish and going through all the things you can do (like dive through windows, knock over ladder to repel attackers, barricade doors) I was in awe.

Then you rescue the girl, and that's when things get a little... Well, horrible. Learn to love her, because she's with you a lot in the game. The only time she's not with you is when she gets kidnapped again and again and again. Eventually I was thinking, "Man, just take her she's a pain to drag around anyway." She's significantly weaker than you. In fact, about half at strong life-bar-wise. She also doesn't use a weapon. So, basically, she wanders around stepping in bear traps, sucking up your precious herbs, and getting kidnapped. Nice. The story line also takes a slight turn for the worse after you rescue her. You switch areas from the creepy village, with dust and smoke in the air, to a clean church. I don't know, I've just never found such areas in games to be that forbidding. I consider the constant clichéd gray-brick castle thing to be really tedious to look at all the time. Really, no area in the game compares to the village, because after a while it all looks the same... Hallways with random junk all over the place to make it look different. Oh well.

The enemies in the game are sweet. No lickers, no hunters, none of that, really. You have the Ganadas, which are normal people that have been injected with a parasite that makes them evil. I wouldn't say they're zombies, per se, as they're technically alive, but they act like it... Especially since it takes a ton of shots to kill them with a handgun. There are several varieties of them, depending on the area you're in. Then you have Del Lagos, a big water creature you only encounter once. There's also El Gigante. You'll get well acquainted with him the few times you meet him. You'll also meet a couple of creatures that are direct mutations of La Plaga, the parasite the Ganadas are infected with. All the creatures are scary enough, and the fact that you can get a really good look at them only enhances that feeling.

The weapon selection in the game is excellent. There are several varieties of each - Handguns, shotgun, rifles, magnums, etc. On top of that, each weapon can be customized like a car in Gran Turismo. You can increase different stats however you choose, and pay for all this with the local currency, petas. Also, you can find different types of hand grenades lying around. Really useful, stock up. The problem is that in this game, you only get weapons from an annoying merchant that seems to be everywhere. He's annoying because he has a few recorded lines of dialog, which he repeats over and over again, every time you do anything. That wouldn't normally be a problem if he had a few more lines or just, you know, shut up once in a while. He doesn't. At least you can kill him if you want, that was satisfying.

There's only on more little point that I'd nit-pick on... There are certain points in the game when something will happen out of the blue and you must hit certain buttons right away or enjoy an instantaneous death. Things like boulders falling, avoiding traps, etc. I've never been a big fan of that. I mean, why spend so much time developing strategy, being cautious, when you enter an area, switch you to a cut scene where you be asked to randomly hit buttons to save yourself? If they were going to go with something like that, I would've appreciated something that made a little more sense. Apparently, the way to win a knife fight is the same as avoiding laser traps, just hit L+R or B+A at exactly the right moment and you're there!

So far this might sound like a list of complaints, and I guess it is. However, take into account that even with all of these minor quibbles, I still gave this a 4.5 out of 5 for enjoyment. This game was a lot of fun. It was scary, and beautiful, and frustrating, and challenging. Not in the same way as other Resident Evil's have been challenging. It's not exactly the crown jewel of the Resident Evil series I was hoping for, but it was worth every second I played it. There's also a ton of unlockable Easter Eggs in the game, and two mini-games once you complete the main game. I thought that was a nice touch, especially since at the end I was left with a sort of "now what?" feeling. I've run through the mini-games and I'd say they're pretty fun. I'm not finished with them but the Mercenaries game (yeah, it's back) is fun. All in all, this game is going to be a classic. The best advise I can give before going into it is exactly what the ads say... "Forget everything you know about Resident Evil."



RATING

(Out of 5)


BEST MINI-GAME
I like the merchants shooting range. If you score high enough you earn collectable bottle caps of game characters. It's hard as hell, but for some reason I can't stop until the collection's complete.
THE WEAPONS
There are a lot of weapons in this game, with no clear best unless you experiment with all of them. Well, here's the list....

HANDGUN: Stick with your starting gun until you get the Blacktail, sell the Punisher to upgrade and forget about the Red9 and others.
SHOTGUN: Your best friend, since Handguns are so weak anyway. Use the one you find until you get the Riot Gun and Striker.
TMP: I found it to be useless. A shotgun's better for when you're surrounded anyway. I'd never buy it, and sell the ammo I find for upgrades to the shotgun.
RIFLE: Don't bother with the extra scope you can buy, it's useless. If you like the rifle, get the semi-auto as soon as you can to avoid loosing your targets, as you do with the bolt-action. Personally, I found the uses for both of them to be limited. They're powerful, but hard to use at close range. Good for clearing outdoor areas from a safe distance, though.
MINETHROWER: Good for clearing out enemies behind defenses and not much else. Ammo's limited... I'd rather just use grenades and a rifle.
MAGNUM: Ammo is really scarce, but it's worth it. Upgrade from the Broken Butterfly to the Killer7 if you're really into the magnum thing. Power-ups for this gun aren't really necessary unless you want to go from shooting the bad guys to smiting them as the Right Hand of God.
ROCKET LAUNCHER: One shot, expensive as hell, and absolutely necessary. Why? Well, it makes El Gigante cry like a baby after one shot. Worth it to me.
SPECIAL: You can also unlock many items in the game. I won't say how or what, but if you earn them it makes your choices a lot easier.


RELEASE DATES
GC - 01/11/05
PS2 - Q4 2005
# OF PLAYERS
1 player
OFFICIAL WEBSITES
www.capcom.com/re4/gui.html
PUBLISHER
Capcom
DEVELOPER
Capcom
ESRB RATING


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