A fantastic opening scene to a worthless game.
Why, it's been ten years since I sat in the dark, trembling, navigating the twisted halls of that horrifying mansion. Yeah, I was a lot younger then, so I guess it was a stretch for me to expect the same level of sheer horror with the fourth installment of this famous series, but the opening scene left me feeling very, very optimistic. No, I guess I wasn't as scared as I once was, but I was more than entertained.
The opening scene leaves you, Leon, trying to make your way through a village of angry, ravenous villagers. Survival horror at its best, this is exactly the kind of game I'd been looking for. They're not zombies, but they're just as stupid, and this time they're armed with pitch forks and knives and torches, and then there's this freaky guy in a hood with a chainsaw!
You quickly find yourself without ammunition, having to barricade yourself in a house, make your way outside along the roof while the never ending flood of angry villagers pour in from the windows and through the door and all seems completely and utterly hopeless.
The game goes straight to crap after that, but I'll touch on that in a moment.
There are many improvements over previous Resident Evils, most notably the aiming system. No longer are you bound by the evil camera's placement. Now you view Leon from a sort of "just behind the shoulder" view, and use a laser on your gun to determine where you are aiming. This allows for a lot of very precise aiming. You can use it to easily take the head off a raging villager, or knock the pitchfork out of their hand, or even hit their stick of dynamite, blowing up everyone around them.
The graphics are nice, too. And the inventory system is much more manageable, as well.
The Bad? Well, pretty much everything. The game has such a lovely opening scene, I just don't know what happened. The game does a complete 180 at that point. Rather than fighting your way through a hopeless situation where you have no ammunition and angry villagers are trying to kill you and you seriously have to THINK ABOUT HOW YOU ARE TO SURVIVE...you are suddenly given an almost infinite amount of ammunition and hundreds of cult members are thrown at you. It was almost like a really bad version of Serious Sam.
There are no zombies in this game. Not really. Yeah, they walk like zombies, and they groan, and they're not all that smart, but they're not zombies. They're sedated cult members and/or people infected by parasites that cause them to be violent. Violent, but slow. Like a zombie, but not quite a zombie.
The village in the beginning had this creepy guy with a bag over his head and a chainsaw. An absolutely horrifying thing, running from that guy as he corners you in one of the crumbling buildings in the intro...then you realize he's just "Bad Guy #3" and you can just expect him to come by again and again, another lifeless nobody that you have to kill with your never ending supply of ammunition.
The cutscenes look nice, but the dialogue is embarasing. Sometimes I can't tell if Leon was trying to be serious, or if he was just really, really, really bad at comebacks. And the big bad cult leader boss guy was obnoxiously arrogant, or just plain stupid. The fact that by the time you reach the end of the game, and you've killed enough people to fill a small country and he STILL thinks you're a "stupid American" who is no threat to him is just...it's not scary. It doesn't make him seem like a bad guy. It just makes me pity him and wonder how a guy like that managed to get any followers at all.
Resident Evil 4 also allows you to loot GOLD BRICKS and GOLD COINS from the fallen. That's right, Resident Evil 4 has some sort of wacky economy, and Leon isn't too picky with what he grabs off the bloody corpses weighted down with bullets. You can use this money to purchase new weapons and new upgrades for your guns from a strange merchant who has absolutely zero depth and there is never any explanation to why he is there or where he came from or why he shows up in the middle of the cult's sacrificial ceremony. Scary? Mysterious? Intriguing? No, just retarded. At least you can kill him. But you can't loot him.
Resident Evil 4 takes you from Awesome Village Town Intro to Underground Cave to Mysterious Cult Church to Mysterious Cult Mansion to Mysterious Cult Castle to Mysterious Cult Secret Hideout and even Mysterious Cult Island. One muster also wonder who the insane architect was who built Mysterious Cult Castle, what with the sole key to a certain area being the combination of two other keys, one which must be located in the middle of a lava filled dungeon, which would otherwise serve no purpose. Ah, but it wouldn't be Resident Evil without absolutely insane architecture.
The Bottom Line
The game is worth a rental just to play through the beginning areas. Your heart pounding as you run away from a horde of angry villagers, running along the rooftops and through windows and around the farmland in a futile effort just to survive is awesome.
Everything that follows though, it just stupid. It's the same stuff we've been seeing in the last three installments, but with about ten times the amount of zombies -- and they're not even zombies. They're slow, handicapped cult members with the occasional plant growing out of their neck.
Just play Serious Sam. It's more colorful, it controls better, and the weapons are better.