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Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  Mar 02, 2005
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Dark. Interesting. Terrifying. Amazing.

The Good

From the first few seconds of this game, you are pulled into a world filled with pure dread. Not so much as what may be lurking around the corner anymore, but above you, below you, and just anything in the general vicinity. Gone are the days of cramped hallways and tight spaces. Leon Kennedy now deal with sprawling woods, expansive lakes, caves, villages.... And if you think these wide open areas diminishes the fright factor in any way, you'd be dead wrong.

The new enemy is not longer slow-witted or sluggish anymore. This new threat will chase you down, screaming to its kind to join in on killing you. Locking yourself in a place doesn't work anymore. They'll throw bombs through the window. Running upstairs doesn't help anymore. They've already put up a ladder outside, and are coming through the windows for you. It's not so much little jumps and scares anymore. It's a swarming, overwhelming "I am totally screwed" attitude that perseveres throughout the game.

Graphically, this is about as good as it gets for Gamecube. Sure, games like Metroid Prime, Final Fantasy, Soul Calibur II, and the other RE games are stunning, but this looks like an interactive movie. The transition between cinematic to gameplay is seamless. It's beautiful. Detailed, disgusting, but just jaw-dropping.

The same goes for sound. The silent ambiance while walking through the woods is creepy. So are the moments of wading through water, or passing a creaky door. The music, when it happens, pushes up the tension as it always has the the previous installments, and it works just as well here. And the voices? No more goofy "Master of Unlocking" comments. The new dialogue is intelligent and well-acted. It keeps the mood with the more "serious" approach to conversations.

Gameplay has been so defined for this, it needs its own paragraph. Gone are the days of stiffly moving troopers who take forever to get through a door or climb a ladder. Same for not being able to climb over something that should be, or pointless puzzles to solve, or even the common sense question of "why doesn't he just shoot the lock off?" It's addressed. And it puts the game on a whole new lever. Game for aiming weapons. So much better done. So more intuitive. Not to mention being able to buy things now, and upgrade weapons. Plus, the knife is no longer a stored item, but a secondary one that can be used at all times.

The Bad

There's not a lot that I can say in this category.

I miss the storage boxes, though you can increase and rearrange items and item space. But there are times that I wished that I had the convenience.

The game is also presented in widescreen. Some people may not like this, but after years of watching DVDs, it wasn't until much later until I realized this.

People may also miss the "zombie" aspect that has always been Resident Evil, but this new alternative is in many ways, much more disturbing. The slow-moving and groaning zombies could send chills, but screaming villagers running full speed at you, especially in packs, gets pretty intense.

The Bottom Line

Resident Evil 4 has taken everything good about the RE series, threw it in a blender, and the results are astonishing. This sequel improves on the entire series in such major ways, that it's very impressive. And yet, it stays true to its roots, which most majorly reworked games have difficulty remaining to. The changes are intelligent, well executed, and long overdue.

If you like RE, the changes are going to keep you involved. If you've had issues with previous RE games, there's enough differences to warrant a look at this game. It's no longer zombies and cramped hallways, or illogical puzzles and bad voice acting. And the main character now moves and reacts sensibly. More than ever before.

It surprises me that people can still criticize Gamecube for having "kids games", or not being able to reach a broader audience. Critics should be silenced after playing this game, and Nintendo fans should rejoice for having such a brilliant game to call their own.

When the dust clears, this will become one of the newer "classic" games, and a high mark on the series as a whole.

Highest possible recommendation, with a few more positive comments thrown in because it deserves it.