Resident Evil 4


posted 2/3/2005 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: GC
An area that has really benefited from the new perspective is the combat system. At first it seems disorienting as well and it takes a little getting used to. Instead of utilizing a dual-analog free aiming solution the designers force you to remain stable in order to fire. After pressing the R button the left analog stick controls your aim. Here you can target specific body parts on your enemies through the use of a small laser targeting system. Where you hit your foes is infinitely important, shots to the breadbasket are the least effective while headshots aren’t always the best course of action. It’s also interesting to see the enemies react depending on where they’re shot. Shoot them in the leg and they’ll collapse into a heap on the floor, hit them in the head and their necks will snap back. It’s especially amusing to watch the physics system in work; shotgun blasts can send multiple foes flying backwards in remarkable fashion.

This also leads to some pretty remarkable weapons, although their intriguing elements come from the way that they operate. Early on you start off with a puny and ineffective pistol but soon after, you’ll have the chance to pick up shotguns, sub machineguns and the ever popular sniper rifle. Each weapon can be upgraded in a number of categories and ammo is generally accessible throughout the adventure. All of the weapons have an especially satisfying feel to them, especially the sniper rifle. The blur effect used to represent the zoom is beautiful and catching a glimpse of your foes up close is definitely a sight to behold. You’ll be doing plenty of killing throughout the adventure and the weapon selection doesn’t disappoint. Now if Capcom can only find a way to refine the inventory system, they’d be in business.

It’s difficult for screenshots to depict just how gorgeous this game is. That’s because it’s not just a one-trick pony, it doesn’t fool you with beautiful landscapes or pre-rendered backdrops. The beauty comes from the animation and all of the game’s moving parts. To say that RE4 set a new standard for graphical achievement would be putting it lightly. Everything looks amazing, especially the weather and atmospheric effects. Fire is everywhere but it’s not just a simple animation that repeats itself over and over, it has a life of its own as it billows and sways in the wind. The lighting is just amazing as shadows are cast about, adding new dimension to the scenery. It’s all gorgeous and it’ll be the standard for console games to come.

An area that kind of let me down was the audio; it features support for Dolby Pro Logic II decoders but it doesn’t take full advantage of the hardware. Yes, there’s mulit-channel support and the sound does come at you from all sides, but it’s not done all that well. When implemented properly, surround sound can be used as a tool to gauge where the enemy is coming from. In RE4 the sound just sort of comes from all sounds and is actually more disorienting than it is helpful. Thankfully the audio samples are crisp and the weapon effects are satisfying. The dialogue is pretty well done too (well in regards to Resident Evil, that is) and features some comedic moments that we generally don’t encounter in the Resident Evil franchise. Overall the sound package is average, and when the rest of the game is so polished this is rather disappointing.

It took me about 15 hours of recorded time to complete the entire adventure, tack on about 2 more hours for restarts and deaths and you have a pretty lengthy game. Upon completion, you’ll unlock two new modes, Assignment Ada and The Mercenaries. Both of these features are decidedly more action-oriented than the main adventure and feature no puzzles to speak of. You’ll essentially run through the environments that you traversed as Leon in search of additional objectives. In the case of Assignment Ada you’re tasked with finding five samples of the Plaga so that you can help an old friend. The Mercenaries is an offshoot of the mode that appeared in Resident Evil 2 and requires you to kill as many enemies as you can in the allotted time. Completing the game and these additional modes will unlock new goodies that can be used in the main storyline.

If you own a GameCube you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Resident Evil 4. It’s not just an achievement in technical design and visual prowess, it’s a masterpiece in video game engineering. This is one of the finest video games ever crafted and the first “must buy” title in the year 2005. Get it now, if you don’t have a GameCube, buy a GameCube and then buy the game. It’s that good.

In one word, amazing. The most spectacular, breathtakingly beautiful and compelling video game to come along in quite awhile. If you own a GameCube you need to have this game. If you don’t have one, this is the game that just might make you a believer.

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