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SummaryResident Evil 4, first playthrough review
The GoodI completed the first playthrough of Resident Evil 4 on the Xbox 360 two days ago. There are no other games like it on this console, and I often wonder why a GameCube/PS2 game gets a release on the next gen Microsoft console at all. They didn't have to port it for us Xbox gamers. They could've easily made it a Sony exclusive and made us feel bad for not buying the machine that runs it. But they did port it and we get to play it right here on our console of choice. That's the number one reason I respect and support this game, and its publisher.
A few important aspects of the gameplay need to be discussed, for you to understand why it is not like any other shooters out there, and why it's often the superior one.
First of all, there is a map. A clear, informative, immensely useful map screen, that can be brought up with a simple press of the Y button. Locations of secret collectibles are marked right there on the map screen, because the designers understood that no gamer enjoys finding small objects blindly without hints. The average gamer can actually find a large number of treasures and items in this game. Meanwhile in Gears of War 2 and 3 I managed to find a total of 4 collectibles in two games (I looked it up and LOL there are 83 of them), which adds nothing to the experience.
Second important aspect: Resource collection. Let's look at how some other modern games do it, for example Dark Souls. There are chests, barrels, corpses and such everywhere in Dark Souls. But how often do you find something good in it? Not often, not often at all. Once you have a reasonably strong set of weapons and armors, there is almost nothing you can find that will mean much of a difference.
How about a modern day shooter such as Max Payne 3? In Max Payne 3 you will pick up many guns and lots of ammo in the levels. However you don't actually need that many guns, nor would you need all that ammo. The only thing you probably wanna pick up every time is the painkiller. And I'm talking about Max Payne which has a Painkiller mechanism. In most modern games you just heal by yourself automatically.
In Resident Evil 4, things are the polar opposite.
In RE4, there are strong weapons and weak weapons, sure. But having a strong weapon doesn't mean squat, because you cannot fire without ammunition for that weapon. Ammunition cannot be bought with money, but can only be found on enemy corpses, or placed on the ground or inside barrels. Enemies do not respawn. That means the total amount of ammunition in this game is limited. Once you miss it, it's gone forever.
Even healing items are limited. Each level gives you a max supply of about 4 first aid sprays, and some Herbs. If you run out of those, then that's it. I don't believe the game dynamically places more herbs in the levels if you run out of health. You can really run out of healing items and have no way to regain your health, AT ALL. Let's put it this way: you will want to pick up EVERYTHING you can possibly find in the levels. EVERYTHING is useful in some way. There is absolutely no filler material in the barrels, chests, on enemy corpses, or anywhere else in the game.
I know this because I have fought quite a few battles where in the end, I got absolutely nothing left in my inventory. No bullets. No grenades. No herbs. No first aid sprays and barely alive. It's a great metaphor, like a black hole that absorbs all I've got, a rainstorm that washes me clean.
And the Max Paynes and Dark Souls's in this world have no idea what that feels like.
Now let's move on to talk about the third aspect of gameplay - the headshot system. Too many games do this wrong. In your average shooter, you can accidentally get a headshot when you aren't actually aiming for the head, or you can aim for the head on purpose but the enemy moves right before you can headshot them. Neither is good shooting gameplay.
Prior to RE4, the absolute best example of "headshots done right" came from a YouTube walkthrough of the XBLA tower defense game Orcs Must Die. The guy in the video was like, "look at me headshot these orcs", and every single time, he managed to get a headshot, for real. I eventually tried it myself and found that I could do it too, if I knew where to aim and how to adjust the angle.
The idea is that, if you want to get a headshot, you can. And that's exactly what's going on in my Resident Evil 4 playthrough. By the fifth world "Island", I was good enough, and confident enough, to be saying, "look at me headshot you, headshot, headshot", and each time I say that, I really get a headshot. There's no other shooter gameplay as satisfying as this. The headshots are out of this world. The crisp sound, the animation of heads being chopped off, the controller vibrating in my hand, all contributing to a full headshot experience that will always remain a highlight of my gaming life.
I would even go so far as to say that no other game can pull this off ever again, because Resident Evil 4 may be the last major title to use the LEFT-ANALOG stick for aiming. That's right. Completely against the modern gaming industry standard, this is a shooter played with the left-analog stick alone, a.k.a. the "Tank Controls" scheme. That means when you're shooting, your right hand is entirely focused on the Trigger button, and nothing else. I feel that this allows for a more steady and reliable shot. But we might never know for sure, because Resident Evil 5 no longer had this control scheme, and likely no modern shooter will ever have it again. The shooting in Resident Evil 4 is a product of its time, and due to its incredibly high quality, will forever remain timeless.
The BadNot enough female character scenes / storyline. I have no idea why character Ada is in the story at all.
Final boat escape sequence is the worst level in the whole game. The boat controls are quite possibly the worst boat controls the surface of the earth has ever seen.
So Leon rescues the girl, and that's it? Nothing more? Seriously? I know she's probably a minor but game producers should give us what we want and let Ashley become our wife in the end.