Resident Evil 4
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: 18th March
Players: 1
Words By:

Resident Evil has enjoyed a long and successful time on the PlayStation and Gamecube but people felt like the series needed a change to breed new life into it, and that’s what Resident Evil 4 brings to the table.

Set 6 years after the Raccoon City incident with the Umbrella Corporation now finished, RE4 starts off with the game’s hero Leon S. Kennedy (from RE2 fame) now a member of the President’s task force sent on a rescue mission in Western Europe to save none other than the President’s daughter. She’s been spotted near a village in the middle of nowhere but when you go investigate you find the villagers aren’t quite what they seem…

The first thing you’ll notice that’s different from the previous Resi games is the viewpoint, no longer is it from fixed positions above the character it’s now a third-person over the shoulder view. The viewpoint really gets you involved and you feel as if you’re right there. The controls are pretty much the same as before even with the view change. Push up to walk forward, hold ‘B’ to dash, ‘R’ to bring up your weapon, hold ‘L’ to bring up your knife, ‘Y’ to bring up your inventory and ‘A’ for actions. The context sensitive action button is a really neat idea and lets you pull off a variety of cool moves like kicking doors open, kicking stunned villagers, jumping through windows and knocking down ladders - the list could go on for a while.

Aiming is assisted by a laser sight on your weapons, the view gets tighter in on Leon directly over his shoulder and you have to place your laser where you want to shoot - it’s a lot better than having a big old crosshair on your screen.

People who hated the item box system from the Resi games of old will be pleased that Capcom have done away with it, now you’ll have an upgradeable backpack that gets larger with every upgrade. Another annoying feature gone from the past games is the need for an Ink Ribbon to save your games, now you can just save at a typewriter any time you come across one. Also, due to the Gamecube’s lightning fast loading times the ‘opening door’ scenes between areas have been taken out altogether as well.

One of the best things about RE4 has to be the new enemies. These guys aren’t your stumbling and sluggish zombies; these crazed individuals will run, dodge and wield all sorts of weaponry to try stopping you in your mission. If you aim at their heads long enough they’ll protect themselves with their arms, and run blindly at you or try a quick little sidestep. Your heart will start racing when you’re trapped in a house surrounded by them, they’ll bash down the doors, windows and even use ladders to get to the upper levels. It’s the neat little touches that bring the battles to life, things like shooting the arm that they have a weapon in will make them drop it, or shooting their legs will get them to the floor quicker, being able to hit their thrown weapons in mid air and being able to blow a chunk out of a door with the shotgun (and then shooting through the hole). Or you could just simply blow their heads off in spectacular fashion!

You’re not solely up against villagers with pitchforks and hand axes though. From time to time you’ll come up against chainsaw-wielding loonies who take four times as many hits and can lop your head off in one swipe, or a huge troll-like monster that’s the size of a house and can swing trees at you! Of course there are plenty more enemies, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise(s). The boss battles are also top notch.

To despatch of the hundreds of enemies you’ll of course get a great assortment of weaponry. The usual array of pistols, magnums, shotguns, a rocket launcher, mine launcher, grenades, sub machine guns, and for the first time in a Resi game, a sniper rifle, which is really cool for popping heads! All of the weapons, bar the rocket launcher, are upgradeable; fire power, ammo capacity, reload rate and firing speed. You’ll have to buy and upgrade the weapons from a travelling merchant. A cool way to get money other than picking it up from the dead is to sell treasure; some treasure can be combined to create more expensive treasure to get the ‘big bucks’ rolling in.

On your mission you’ll go through a few different environment types; wooded areas, a castle, a militarized zone, sewers and the obligatory labs. You’ll also get a load of action set pieces and they’re all stunning. There have been so many times when I’ve shouted “ahh you gotta come see this!” and you think that’s the highlight of the game, then 10 or 20 minutes later another bit comes and blows that away! The way I’ve been talking about it, the hordes of enemies, the action set pieces seems like it’s a total action game, but while it is more action-packed than previous games you’ll still find classic Resi-type puzzles which break up the pace nicely. Capcom have also chucked in a cool play mechanic for when you find the Presidents daughter; where you’ll have to protect her from being carried away you can tell her to wait or follow and you’ll have to catch her if she jumps off a high ledge. Don’t worry about her getting in your way though, because she’ll duck if you aim a weapon in her direction.

I suppose the only negative points would be the fact that the control system and the backpack inventory system isn’t that different from previous games. The iffy thing with the backpack being that when you pick up items from time to time they get put in dodgy places, leaving single spaces and taking up to much room, which leaves you having to sort out your items. I also found myself sometimes accidentally switching to map or treasure view, but these few niggles don’t detract from the game.

Graphically the game is stunning, everything about it looks amazing; highly detailed characters, great looking levels. Environmental effects such as rain, water, fog and dust all look superb. The engine also allows for many enemies on screen and still stays at a consistent frame rate. Fans of gore will be delighted to hear that the blood and exploding enemies look really cool as well. People have complained about the ‘fake’ widescreen but I’m sure this was deliberate, not only to keep the frame rate up but (I feel) it all so adds to the effect of the viewpoint.

The sound is amazing with Dolby Pro Logic 2 support. You’ll hear the villagers coming from all around you as well as all the little ambient noises like drips and birds etc, while these are only minor things still add to the overall atmosphere. The music gets your heart pumping and changes depending on the situation. Voice acting is decent as well.

So overall not only is it one of the best Gamecube games around it’s also one of the best games on any format, just amazing in every department. There are also things to unlock to add extra longevity to an already long game (by Resi standards) and a lot of enemies to kill along the way (my total was over 900!). You’ll also bump into a few familiar characters. Go buy it.

Best Bits

- Plays great, looks great, sounds great.
- Anyone for heart-racing excitement and exploding heads?
Worst Bits

- Some iffyness with the backpack, but nothing much.

by: SteMacD

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