The now iconic action cutscenes have been augmented with gesture controls. While button combos flashed onscreen during critical moments in earlier versions of the game, now swipes and shaking motions dictate Leon’s split-second actions. Cutting a rope or running from a boulder feel much more visceral now, and the knife fight with Krauser has a realistic and physical edge to it. Turning levers is accomplished by actually holding the remote on its side and rotating it faster and faster. While there are still a couple of combos, the gesture cues make the cutscenes more immersive than ever. Jerking my hand in panic to avoid a hazard is infinitely more natural than scrabbling to press a couple buttons. Capcom has managed to avoid the gimmicky feeling of most Wii games that try to cram in gesture controls, and developers would be wise to follow RE4’s example.
As icing on the cake, RE4 Wii allows both the classic controller and GameCube pad to be used, just in case you feel like playing old-school. Doing such reverts the aiming back to the old laser-pointer style, and the Cube controls are completely untouched for the original experience. Playing with the Virtual Console controller is pretty awkward and lacks rumble, but it’s still a nice “what if” feature and is a somewhat workable comparison to the PS2 pad. It seems that RE4 Wii was built around the concept of choices, and Capcom gives gamers a healthy selection.
As far as I’m concerned, the new controls alone merit a purchase for anyone who already owns it on another platform. It’s the GameCube loyalists who are in for an extra treat. Many Nintendo fanboys were in a froth when they learned that not only was their “exclusive” masterpiece being ported to the PS2, but with added content as well. Now, they get the last laugh. RE4 Wii has all the additional goodies from the PS2 and PC ports, but with the best graphics and controls as well.
For starters, the “Separate Ways” chapters, absent from the GCN build, are included. The PS2 port had lower polygon counts, smudgy textures and lacked several lighting effects, but Ada Wong’s side missions have been retroactively restored to the beauty of GameCube standards. Separate Ways fills in a lot of story details and feels like a full-fledged expansion pack, and playing as Ada is decidedly kickass. For Cube owners, this addition is worth the price of admission.
The third costume set is included, which places Leon in a 1920’s gangster outfit and Ashley in an invincible suit of armor. A final special weapon rounds out the package—the P.R.L laser cannon, which for all intents and purposes is RE4’s BFG. For extra polish, all of the cutscenes have been redone in real-time. Gone are the days of the PS2 and PC’s blurry, poorly compressed pre-renders.
The rest of the game’s original content remains in its entirety. You still get the in-game shooting range, the arcade-style Mercenaries levels and the Assignment Ada mini-quest, in addition to the 20+ hour main game.
Still, for all of its content, RE4 isn’t exactly bulletproof. The game has aged gracefully, but it is two and a half years old. The visuals were breathtaking back at the beginning of 2005, but they’ve tarnished in the face of the endless shader effects that drip from even the most pedestrian of Xbox 360 titles. Its textures are sometimes muddy and low res, and in some areas jagged polygons are apparent. The game’s impeccable art direction is what ultimately saves it. The care paid to every minute detail, the eerily accurate representation of humans and monsters alike…RE4 will always be a beautiful game, because it is such a lovingly (and grotesquely) crafted work of art. The grungy village segues into the gothic but elegant castle, which moves abruptly into the hard, industrial island setting and the unnerving hospital. Just for completion, though, Wii Edition features true 480p progressive scan and 16.9 widescreen, both visual modes that the GCN version lacked.
What’s really sad is that RE4 is probably the prettiest game on Wii to date. If such a graphical feast was possible on the lowly GameCube, then there is no excuse for most Wii games looking shit-awful. It goes without saying that third party developers need to put more elbow grease into their Wii games, but I’m turning a hard eye to Nintendo here, the people who should be pioneering their own console. Even after two years, Capcom is still making them look bad, but I’d better get down from my soapbox before I trip and sprain something.
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