The King and Queen of Survival Horror!
Resident Evil 4.....
Resident Evil 4..................
Now there is a name which can either be proud to say, or just plain scarred tissue to have in your palms.
Capcoms Resident Evil series kicked off to a good start, original concepts, amazing graphics, hammy acting, great action and suspense.
Well, that's what I felt from the first Resident Evil game!
The first game holds a lot of nostalgia for me, maybe that's why I like it so much?
The re-make on the GameCube proved that it still stokes my coals.. But did I like Resident Evil Outbreak?
No, I did not.
I thought the resident evil series has had it. Two average films, Outbreak.. lightgun games.. Outbreak file 2... There simply isn't anything around which is resident evil that lives up to it's first great masterpiece.
And then I was proved wrong.
Set in a "european village" Leon S kennedy sets out to rescue the presidents daughter from her captors. But who and why was she taken captive?
Its up to Leon to find out!
Resident Evil 4 starts of with all it's motifs intact "This game features violent and disturbing images" etc, etc.
It's even got it's familiar title voice over, saying "RESIDENT EVIL FOUR!!!" when you begin a new game. Brilliant!
Ok, what to expect...
You can choose 50 and 60hz, and also progressive scan. Handy for the future! 60hz is a blessing!
The controls are pretty much the same deal, which is neither good nor bad. If there was too much emphasis on new controls and what-have-you, then the game could become complicated and frustrating to play. Even though the character can be a little sluggish, you cant shoot and run at the same time (although, its hard to aim whilst standing still, let alone running!). The controls fit the game well, and it's surprisingly fun to have the similar control method intact.
The first thing you will notice is the camera angles, the "over the shoulder" or "just behind the shoulder" viewpoint you have to contend with.
Although quite limiting in certain areas, it is absolutely perfect for you to feel completely immersed in this game. You actually feel like you are Leon, not just controlling him.
Sometimes the viewpoint zooms out a little, or concentrates on a particular angle, but it's all part and parcel with the environments. It blends really well, and easy to use. Gone are the days where "no! press up to go forwards, not to go up! you have to turn to go up!". the camera turns with you, so its almost like controlling in a first person point of view.
The aiming and shooting system is great, its a little slow and can be sluggish, especially when into heavy enemy-polluted areas. But it all adds to the tension, if they changed it any more it wouldn't be resident evil!
Aiming can be tough at times because enemies can dodge around and suddenly run at you, but it is easy to get a hang of, and id say after about ten minutes or so of play and exploring you would get the controls down pretty well enough to get into some thick action.
The plot is very cool, sometimes vague, but there is so much to do, its nicely paced, and there is plenty to shoot so you really don't care about the plot at times. I actually forgot about any kind of plot during heavy action scenes, that's how good the action is in this game.
The enemies are not exactly zombies this time. As with any resident evil sequel, the enemies become stronger, more intelligent. To say what these zombies are would spoil the plot a bit for you. So i will just leave it to this - they are more intelligent, they are smarter, faster and a lot tougher than any resident evil zombie to date! (ok, except the crimson heads from the gamecube remake of resident evil...)
All the enemies vary from horrific zombified villagers, to fast moving insects. And there are plenty of surprises along the way!! Trust me!
If i say what enemies there are later on, it would kind of spoil that too. So i'll just say that there is more than just one type of enemy!
The first part of the game is in the village, a series of events unfurl before your very eyes and you get dragged into this sick plot deeper and deeper.
The plot is really interesting, sometimes the one-liners are a little too much like the original hammy resident evil for my liking. But its still really cool. Just don't expect any tear jerking moments.
Your inventory system is really cool, you get to sort it out, buy and upgrade your weapons, sell items you collect (this part is very cool) and all from the comfort from your very own zombified village salesman which pops up from nowhere without any explanation... stranger....
The weapons range from pistols to magnums, shotguns to rocket launchers. The weapons are realistic, and work really well for the game. The selection of weapons is also well balanced and a nice addition to the proceedings.
Hands down, greatest PS2 graphics ever. Gran Turismo eat your heart out with a pitch fork! You could almost think that you are looking at a CG movie, or photo-realistic environments.. they are really that good. Even though some of the locations look entirely different to others during the course of the game, the visuals still keep up the good work. Some environments don't work as well as others and can take away some of the atmosphere. But they all are a joy to be in and look at.
And one most important thing is that the frame-rate is perfect. it doesn't slow down one bit and i can honestly admit that i am proved wrong. I thought that this game was too powerful a concept to have on a PS2. Although the gamecube version is a little better, it's nothing really noticeable. I played both of them side by side to compare for this review, the only difference is that the gamecube version has slightly better colour saturation (looks richer) and some textures are smoother. But really, the frame-rate is the same, it doesn't drop once. Even in huge spanning areas like forests and ... well, you will just have to see!
ooh! And there is a little motif kept in there if you are a fan of the first Resident Evil film. What that event had, this game re-creates it even better! You will just have to play it through to find out!
Whats not to like huh?
There is a lot not to like actually. But only because I am an experienced gamer!
sometimes the controls can become repetitive, run, shoot, run, shoot. There is a lot of shooting going on here. Not that much puzzle solving, not much tension. But it does keep the scares coming (don't expect many "its in the wardrobe!!!" moments here, but what does frighten you, you will fear it later on in the game.
The plot is a little strange, a little too vague, the notes scattered around are not like notes found in previous games. Its more like someones personal diary, or characters you have already met. There aren't really any notes or stories written by people who have been in that particular area.
For me, this kind of took away some of the atmosphere. It was almost as if the plot took a backseat for a little while and then when you had enough shooting, there is a page to read lying next to some bullets saying about a character you have previously met. Easily something which could of been explained in a few seconds of cut-scene.
Another thing with this new game is the cut-scenes. although often breathtaking to watch. You also have to be on your toes, don't just sit back... or you will die!
You have to press a combination of buttons which gets leon out of a jam on screen. You watch him talk to a character, suddenly something comes rushing in with a large axe! Press the buttons which appear on screen before you die!
And you have literally a second to press them before you die.
Although, this is a really good way to keep the tension up, it can become really frustrating. And its not just for cut-scenes. It happens on boss sequences, events and sometimes out of the blue like (like what happened to indiana jones in the first film...)
It's great that Capcom had this implemented into the game, but it is rather more frustrating than anything else. sometimes you have just under a second to press it, and that's it, if you fail, you die. and continue from a particular point in the game, usually at the beginning of the sequence.
And this is what was a bit frustrating. You die, just to do what you did before. There is no real consequence expect live or die.
It would be great to have a little more, actually, a lot more consequences for losing to these button action sequences. Things like maybe losing a chunk of your health, or losing an item, or going on a different route. Something which makes these sequences a little more rewarding to actually get right the next time you get lazy!
Its well implemented with boss fights, because you can dodge attacks if you get the right button on screen pressed in time. But for most of it, you either win or die.
There is a lot of ammo in this game, when enemies die, you get something to pick up (like shotgun shells..) why would an insect be holding shotgun shells or herbs? were they rasta murderers or something? things like this make this game more of an action survival horror, than a conventional survival horror which the first game was.
Also, the game is split into chapters, and after you get to a certain point, you get what is similar the the end of every resident evil game... a points and "save now?" screen showing you how many kills you had etc etc.
Although its a good breather for some, others may see this as its too much like an arcade type of feel to it. Another thing which takes some of the atmosphere of the game away (even though if what it took was barely noticeable)
The Bottom Line
An intense thrill-ride of blood, thrills, cool shooting and exploring action and .. thrills!
The visuals are the best ever on PS2. The enemies are astounding, especially later on in the game. Its also a very long game. I feel its important not to mention how long, or where you get to go.. because I thought "right, there is a large battle going on now.. better get my good guns out!" but then.. once you used all your best weapons, there is more to kill! It never lets up!
The game is very scary, although its no "silent hill", what it does with the plot and the atmosphere works brilliantly and is a joy to play and look at.
Prepare yourselves for some tactical thinking! Enemies are going to kill you, by any means.. even if that means climb through the upstairs window and corner you off whilst your'e shooting their mates in the kitchen!
Prepare for some jumpy moments and real jaw dropping enemies to fight against!
Prepare for some amazing visuals, a game which resident evil outbreak is not and pretty much the best resident evil game yet!
This game holds out right next to resident evil 1. All the classic moments are here, fantastic threats, fantastic feats and exhilarating moments.
You'ed better get your generals cap on, get your guns out, and prepare for some killing! Its either kill or be killed. A game which is not for the feint hearted, a game not for the RPG or tomb raider types.
This is a game entirely of its own class. Everything this game does, other games tried to do. But they did not achieve as great a things as this game does!
Resident Evil 4 is definitely worth the full price it is now, if you can, get the chainsaw controller! its really cool! All parts of this game ooze quality, presentation, sound design is top notch (although some more variety could of been good at times).
This game is worth the investment, its long, has lots to achieve, poses a rather enjoyable and challenging.. challenge! and above all, its a game you will want to play again once you finished it.
Resident Evil 4, by far the BEST game of 2005.