So good, it's scary (yeah, that was lame).
Publisher: Capcom/THQ Australia
Mon, 5 December 2005
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In this month's Hyper magazine (which everyone should buy because, for one thing, there's a Buttonhole ad in there) Resident Evil 4 (aka RE 4, or Resi 4) came second on their "readers' top 50 games of all time" list. That tells me a few things. Firstly (and most obviously) it shows how popular and highly regarded the game is. Secondly, since we have a pretty similar audience to Hyper in various ways, it leads me to believe that most Buttonhole readers would also rank Resi 4 as a big favourite. And finally, as a result of those other two things I just mentioned, it means that I'm probably not selling this game to many people. Rather, I'm probably just preaching to the converted.
But I am happy to write this review anyway, because I didn't get to cover the original Gamecube version. Besides, I reckon a game this cool deserves to be talked about as much as possible. And who knows? There just might still be a couple of people that read this who aren't already familiar with RE 4 that I can attempt to plug it to. Stranger things have happened.
First and foremost, this is an outstanding port of a game that many people (including myself) thought would be more than the PlayStation 2 hardware could manage. I don't own the Gamecube version, but I have seen it action (and played it, naturally) and it is probably the most graphically impressive title on that format.
|One size fits all |
RE 4 seemed to be pushing the little (oft unjustly ignored) 'cube to its limits. So, I didn't think they'd be able to get it running too well on Sony's less technically capable machine. Well, they did and I'm glad to be proven wrong (it doesn't happen often). Sure, Resi 4 on PS2 doesn't look quite as superb the original version, but it certainly comes amazingly close. This is, without doubt, the single most attractive game I've played on PS2. The tremendous music and sound effects are all intact too. On top of that, this version has a bunch of extra content added as well. Capcom, you magnificent bastards!
The Resident Evil series debuted on the original PlayStation. The first Resi wasn't as revolutionary as some people claimed, most of game's style and content had been done before in titles such as Clock Tower and Alone in the Dark, however it was very impressive in its day. The graphics were amazing for the time, blowing zombies heads off with a shotgun was a definitely a highlight and there was a strong element of kitsch appeal involved too (the B grade full motion video sections). From there the Resident Evil franchise has had many ups, as well as a few downs.
For me, when Silent Hill came along, Konami beat Capcom at their own game. If I was going to play a horror themed game with shitty controls and outrageously convoluted (albeit quite clever) puzzles, I'll go with the one that has some truly creepy moments and a stylish setting. Silent Hill was the superior series in that respect, for my tastes.
Fans had been asking for a real overhaul to the Resi series. It seems Capcom was listening (not exactly something they're renowned for) and Resident Evil 4 is like a total rebirth of the franchise. It keeps enough familiar elements to not alienate long-time fans, but they've basically created a new and improved formula. I think any gamer would love this one, regardless of whether or not you've ever had much interest in the Resident Evil series before.
This is way more of an action game than any of the previous Resi titles (I'm not including the spin off games, like Outbreak, here) and it works brilliantly. Is it still a "survivor horror" game? I guess it depends on your definition of that term. It isn't much like what has become the standard style for that genre, but it is still a horror game and you are trying to survive- so in that sense I suppose it still is one. Perhaps you could say it is a re-establishment of what a survival horror game can be. Either way though, this really is one of the best and most fun action games ever made. Hence the high rating those Hyper readers gave it I guess!
Some of the things that rock about Resident Evil 4: The weapons are varied, upgradeable and all of them feel excellent to use. The enemies are beautifully designed, really awesome to look at and enjoyable to kill. They're also great at ganging up and chasing after you, which causes a sense of panic (as well as an adrenaline rush), especially those zany chainsaw wielding dudes with the sacks on their heads. The levels themselves are stunning, wonderfully constructed and a blast to explore.
There's still some puzzle solving involved too, but that never gets in the way of the action (in fact, usually it just enhances it) and it is much more logical and straightforward here. Plus, solving the puzzles no longer requires such ridiculous amounts of backtracking (there's a bit of that, but not enough to be frustrating) as it often did in past RE games.
|Don't bring a tiny handgun to an Ogre fight |
Every time you think you've seen everything the game has to offer, you'll get to another section that blows your mind even more than the last. There's an abundance of funky secrets and sweet extras to be found. The bonus mini-games are actually fun (which is pretty rare for most non-Zelda games). The boss fights are some of the coolest and most well implemented in any game ever. I could go on with the praise all day!
Resident Evil 4's plot is also top notch. I won't go into the storyline, because I don't want to ruin it for those aforementioned two readers yet to play the game (and I can't be bothered), but it is paced very well and kept my attention throughout. The voice work and dialogue is really good as well; there's a slight amount of cheese grated on top every so often, but usually that just adds to the flavour.
Do you want to know what's bad about the game? Someone always does. Okay then, sometimes I wished the ammo didn't run out so quickly. I can understand them wanting to make you use your head a bit, ensure that you try out many weapon types and increase the challenge (as well as keep it somewhat in line with the other Resi games) but at times I felt it was a bit too restrictive and deterred slightly from the action packed style of the game. The loading times can be a bit of a drag. Then there's the…nope, that's all. I can't think of anything else about it that I didn't like. I'm sure there was more, but the good easily outweighs any small problems the game might have, to the point that you forget them entirely.
If you already have the Gamecube version, you probably don't need to get this PS2 port. It does have quite a bit of new stuff thrown in though, including a whole new side quest. So, if you're really hardcore, you could probably justify having a second copy in your collection. If you don't have a Gamecube, but you do own a PlayStation 2 (or, for whatever reason, you are yet to grab a copy) you shouldn't hesitate in purchasing Resident Evil 4.
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I've been waiting to use this old chestnut: Resident Evil 4 is an instant classic!