Resident Evil 4 is simply one of the greatest games ever released and it manages to deliver many exciting and memorable moments.
The first Resident Evil debuted in 1996 for the PlayStation and each entry after that one has been different to the previous, and the series remained as one of the best in the survival horror genre. Its fourth part was first published for the Nintendo Gamecube and for many people it’s the best game in the series. That very same game is now available for the PlayStation 2 and it’s an excellent conversion in almost every way. Resident Evil 4 has some characteristics that make it stand out from every other action game: its fast pace is relentless and its presentation is impeccable. The adventure is really engaging and is full of bonus materials and extras that are a thrill to find.
This version is great even compared to the original release. The game develops a unique atmosphere, the graphics are remarkable and the controls are intuitive. It also supports Pro Logic II and widescreen high definition visuals, if you have the necessary hardware. Extra content was added to the already critically acclaimed main adventure released for the Nintendo Gamecube. A new short story was included called Separate Ways, in which you assume the role of the beautiful spy Ada Wong. This story lets you see another perspective of the main plot and some key elements of the storyline are explained. For Separate Ways, new cutscenes were added and the difficulty is set to challenge you after you finish the main game. But besides some new specific mechanics and weapons, Ada shares the same movements and control scheme with Leon.
Some new costumes and special weapons were included as bonus material as well. That is pretty much all the new content, it’s not a lot, so if you already have the Gamecube version it’s not worth getting the same game again, especially as you have to beat the main game to access to the new features. From the graphical perspective the game looks great on the PS2, but nothing compared to the Gamecube as it displays brighter colors, better looking characters, more detailed environments and faster loading times.
If you are an action game fan you’ll love Resident evil 4 and you don’t need to be familiar with the story. Of course some of the characters, environments and imagery were taken (or inspired by) previous games, but there are not key points from the storyline that aren’t explained or anything like that. The main protagonist is called Leon S. Kennedy and he has to rescue the daughter of the American president, as she was kidnapped by a sect somewhere in Europe. At the beginning, ellipsis is used frequently as some key parts of the story are omitted creating the special effect of not knowing what is going to happen next. When it does happen it’s usually surprising and unexpected. This atmosphere of constant tension and danger builds up constantly up to the end. Some of the boss fights are unforgettable and the cinematics are incredible.
You’ll encounter grotesquely looking enemies, but this time around they are not even zombies. Designers took a lot of risks creating Resident Evil 4 and the new fearless and menacing opponents will be hostile towards you no matter what. These Spanish –speaking enemies will start attacking you without a reason and is your mission to find out why. Enough about the slow and unintelligent creatures that followed you around as they tried eating your brain, this time around zombies gather in groups, are smarter and follow basic instruction from their leaders. Their behavior is incredible as they surround you, alert their friends and act realistically. These creatures are unpleasant and memorable, but wait until the story unfolds and you know more about them.
The controls are really precise and they serve their purpose well, as the cinematic presentation always lets you stay aware of your surroundings. The camera remains over the shoulder of your character no matter what and it never gets in the way. It zooms when you use a weapon and comes back when you walk or run. Most weapons have a laser sight that works as a guide to let you know exactly where (or who) you are aiming at. The combat is extremely accurate and fun but unfortunately you can’t run and fire your weapon at the same time. Most of the times, your weapons won’t feel overpowered, even a headshot is not a sure thing to kill an enemy. Most of the times they receive the shot, complain a little while they crouch and then they’ll attack you once again. Of course this has the clear intention of demonstrating these creatures are inhuman and are incredibly strong, but it’s awesome in the way you have multiple tactics for confronting them. You may use incendiary grenades and watch as they burst into flames or use regular grenades and watch as they are fly into the air. All this features are capable thanks to the powerful physics engine that allows such realistic movements.
The game manages to create a lifelike, tense environment and you’ll frantically try to kill your foes (wait until you hear the beautiful sound of the chainsaw). The pacing is great too as at times; you can focus on defeating enemies or solving simple puzzles, and sometimes both. These puzzles are usually rather simple, nothing like the ones included in the first three games and the only thing they do is confirm the game is orientated more towards the action-adventure. They are used to break down the pace and are easy to solve without getting stuck. Overall, the gameplay is awesome and it was clearly influenced by some old horror movies.
Leon will find many items and weapons to help him survive the attacks of his enemies. Each weapon has a unique feel to it and the aiming is so precise that you can shoot foes right into their heads or knees and watch as they fall down. You can’t shoot when moving, nor strafe while running around though. Nevertheless, Resident Evil 4 is full of realistic effects that are fun to watch and rewarding to perform. Leon can also open doors slowly or choose to kick them violently, all these details contribute to create a feeling that makes sense when you are surrounded by dozens of creatures and you quickly have to find a refuge.
Even though you my wander around as you’ll need to revisit certain locations more than once the game is pretty linear. For example, there may be some open-ended places but only one door to access to. In case you need it (chances are you won’t) you have a map that shows your exact location and exactly where you need to go next. This helps the fast-pace nature of the game move more towards action and that is why there are a lot of movie sequences that are interactive and you’ll need to press a button (or a combination of buttons) to avoid instant death. The buttons are usually random so you can’t be careless. These events also appear during certain battles against bosses and help those be even more epic.
Resident Evil 4 is not a difficult game, but it takes some time to get used to it. Most of the challenges you’ll find are easy to overcome even when it looks impossible. Save points are strategically scattered in the different environments and you’ll feel liberated every time you find one. Ammunition is not scarce but at various points you’ll think twice before wasting it. It may be annoying to have to open your inventory over and over as you have very limited space and this requires to constantly switching between items combining herbs or equipping bigger weapons. Sometimes you’ll feel you’re playing Tetris as you continually have to move and rotate items for new ones to fit. Some RPG elements were included which add a sense of progression like the eventual increase of health and the possibility to upgrade your weapons. To do so, you’ll encounter a mysterious man who also offers to buy items and lets you improve every aspect of your guns (power, capacity, ammo and so on).
The game is lengthy and should take you about 20 hours to beat your first play-through. It’s an excellent game to show to your friends and it’s a shame a cooperative option is not available, at least to play the Mercenaries minigame. Mercenaries allows you to play with several characters against various time attack challenges where you are supposed to kill a succession of zombies to score points before time runs out. Once you finish the adventure, a couple of extras and bonus are unlocked to keep you entertained for many more hours. For example, some new costumes and figurines of every character that can be rotated to view up close are included as unlockables.
The visual presentation of Resident Evil 4 is outstanding and it all helps to create an eerie atmosphere difficult to replicate. Almost everything is interactive and highly detailed and it’s great just to look at the environments. There are some minor flaws like arms that can be seen through doors, but it’s not something unforgivable as the game looks excellent. The voice acting in the game is ridiculous and repetitive and if you pay attention you’ll hear men speaking Spanish with a Mexican accent. The rest of the sound effects are appropriate and the musical score is perfect.
This is a fantastic conversion of a groundbreaking game that includes several appealing extra features. Not only Resident Evil 4 looks great but the control is both intuitive and comfortable. The story is incredible and seems taken from an old horror movie so, if you haven’t played this game already you simply need to as Resident Evil 4 has the potential to become one of the greatest classics of the last years.