Resident Evil 4
Reviewed by Eva Cekanska
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-12-19 GameCube Survival/Horror M (Mature) Capcom / Capcom Studio 11

It was nearly ten years ago that Capcom braved the then unexplored shores of survival/horror and brought out Resident Evil. The game, then on the Playstation, became a huge success, an iconic achievement and a mainstay of the video game industry. In 2005 Capcom released the latest iteration of the franchise for the GameCube (and more recently for the Playstation 2). The game has undergone many changes, and has emerged as perhaps the best Resident Evil yet.

Capcom opted to completely change the game with the release of RE4. Gone is the static camera, gone are the pre-rendered environments, gone are even the zombies. RE4 is actually a real life simulator in which the main character Leon is tasked with building a family, attaining a fulfilling job and building his dream home. Ok, I was lying, you can close that angry email to Capcom; they have not ruined your favorite game. However, the fact is that RE4 presents changes reaching further than any Resident Evil game before it.

The biggest change for me personally was the camera. No longer are you, as the player, forced to walk through rooms you can't see too well and attempt to move puzzle pieces across a floor to a spot behind a banister that just can't be viewed from your location. The game now presents a third person perspective, with a pseudo first-person view when the player depresses the 'aim' button. This makes for a much smoother experience and in the end, for more fun.

The second biggest difference, which has something to do with the camera, are the monsters. First off, they aren't zombies but rather crazed villagers infected by a virus... ketchup vs. catsup, if you ask me. In any case, not only are they crazed, but there are a lot of them. Whereas in previous RE games the player spent most of his or her time running and conserving bullets, in RE4 it is actually easier to blast all the baddies to high heaven and let God sort them out. That is because ammo (a scarcity throughout the series) is now plentiful, in fact there might even be too much of it. Playing through the game I rarely felt like there wasn't enough ammo (and when I do my killing, I tend to shoot until I'm sure nothing is ever getting back up again).

The boss fights are some of the most epic I have witnessed this side of Shadow of the Colossus or Zelda. We're talking huge monsters and equally huge fights. This is all helped along by an incredibly well designed graphics engine that really stretches the GameCube's capabilities, and proving once more that it is not raw processing power but rather the talent of the developers that determines the quality of the graphics in any given game.

Leon faces many monsters along the way, and in order to make killing them more fun, he is given a vast array of weapons, ranging from several pistols to rocket launchers. Leon acquires upgrades to these weapons through a traveling 'store' of sorts. During certain points of the game Leon encounters a strange man who offers to sell him weapons, items and upgrades for a price. This strange concept works very well within the game, but makes little logical sense. In order to better explain what I mean I will call on the comedic genius of Tycho and Gabe of Penny Arcade and their strip from January.

Despite the illogical plot at times, Resident Evil 4 is extremely well presented and easy to get into. As is the measure of any good game, I often found myself staring at the clock in disbelief at the amount of time I had spent playing without even realizing it. Resident Evil 4 will likely take you about thirteen hours to complete without unlocking everything, and much longer if you decide to play through the side quests and unlock all the weapons/items available. Suffice it to say, this is a long, fulfilling game and a worthy sequel to one of the most prevalent franchises of the last decade.

Resident Evil 4 is an excellent game, and though the many changes may turn off some old time fans of the franchise, the fact is that the game is made far, far better and more easily accessible through them.