By: Jak Bakley, Video Game Critic
Resident Evil, one of Capcom’s greatest video game franchises, recently had its 20th anniversary. In honor of this, I’m going to take a look at one of its most successful games: Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil 4 was originally released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2005, and soon found its way to several other consoles in the years that followed- Playstation 2, PC, Xbox 360, Wii, and even iOS, just to name a few. It was released to much critical praise and is now considered not only one of the greatest horror games, but one of the greatest video games of all time. The version I’ll be playing is the Wii Edition, so let’s find out what’s so amazing about it.
The story takes place six years after the events of Resident Evil 2. Leon S. Kennedy is now an agent for the US government. The president’s daughter was kidnapped and was thought to be held captive in a rural region of Spain. Leon is assigned to go to Spain and rescue her as his first mission. Sounds like a tough mission already, but little does anyone know what Leon is getting himself into.
The first thing the player will notice about the game is that the camera perspective has changed. In almost every previous entry in the RE series, the camera angles changed throughout each section of the overworld. However, in this game, there is now a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective. This is already a massive improvement over the static camera in the previous three main entries in the series.
The graphics are great for the Wii, and the music really sets the tone for this game. There is no music for most of the game, but the tracks that do play at certain times really fit their situations and create a more unsettling atmosphere.
Let’s talk about the controls. The Wii Nunchuk will move Leon, and he will run when you hold the “Z” button while moving. Leon can also turn around quicker when pressing Z and moving the control stick down at the same time. That’s another major improvement over the controls in the previous games, where characters could only turn using the control stick. You also have crosshairs when aiming your gun, and you can aim in any direction using the remote. This is another great improvement, because Leon will actually be able to shoot enemies with better accuracy. He can only aim his gun when standing still, however. Leon can also reload your gun whether its empty or not by shaking the remote. Lastly, he also has a knife, which can be useful for killing downed enemies or breaking crates to reveal extra ammo or herbs.
Moving onto the gameplay, zombies are no longer your enemies in this game. Leon will soon encounter a villager in a cabin, and the villager will try to kill him. When you kill the villager, more will surround the house, and that’s your indication on what you’ll be dealing with throughout the game. These villagers are not slow-moving monsters, no, they are more intelligent, more violent, and will stop at nothing to kill you. Like the zombies in the previous games, it takes a few shots to kill these maniacs, but shooting them in the head will definitely hasten the process. However, villagers with chainsaws are much harder to kill, and you’d better watch it; if they run their chainsaw through you, you are dead at the snap of fingers. And strangely enough, even the villagers aren’t your real enemies in this game. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Another new addition to this game is quicktime events. These have pissed off gamers for years. To dodge certain attacks from bosses, you will need to press a certain button or shake the remote to avoid it, or you’ll either get killed or take serious damage. These events can also occur during cutscenes. Some people may not like quicktime events, but I feel they increase the action and create a more cinematic feel to the game.
You have more options when it comes to guns in this game. Like the previous RE games, you start with a handgun. However, in game, you can now buy weapons from merchants. Some crates and barrels will contain money that Leon can spend on weapons, as well as upgrades, maps, and potions. Such weapons include a machine gun, a rifle, a shotgun, a magnum, and a more powerful handgun. Merchants will also give you weapons for free for completing certain side quests.
Now let’s talk about the villagers again. Why are they so strong and durable? Soon into the village, you’ll have a chance to see the real monsters in this game. Apparently these villagers are infected with monstrous parasitic organisms known as Plaga. These creatures increase their strength and stamina, but severely alter their willpower, turning them into homicidal maniacs. After killing a villager, there’s a chance a Plaga will come out and attack Leon on its own. They’re also pretty hard to kill, but not as tough as their hosts.
Soon into the game, you’ll find the president’s daughter, Ashley, who will now tag along with you. For the most part, she just follows you around and doesn’t help much. Ashley also has her own health bar, but some enemies will be able to kill her with just a hit or two. If that happens, or if an enemy carries her away, it’s game over. Some areas that have too many enemies will have dumpsters that she can hide in, so that’s a good way to avoid an easy Game Over.
There are a few boss battles in this game, but let’s talk about one of them. When you reach the lake, you’ll come up against a giant Plaga-infected salamander called Del Lago. The anchor of Leon’s boat will latch itself to the monster, and it will drag it around the lake. The object is to hit Del Lago with a certain number of harpoons, while avoiding the several logs and rocks in the lake. There are times when Del Lago will knock Leon out of the boat, and if you don’t shake the Wii remote enough, Leon won’t swim back to the boat fast enough and get eaten by the monster. The harpoons are the only way to kill him, so keep throwing, watch those logs, and have as many herbs and first aid sprays as you can carry.
That’s the end of the village, but you’ve still got a long way to go after that. To conclude, Resident Evil 4 is an excellent first-person shooter with great graphics, a perfect shooting mechanic, frightening enemies, and an intense atmosphere of suffering and sorrow. Although not as terrifying as Resident Evil 2, it’s still one of the best third-person shooters ever made. If you’re a horror game fan, it’s an absolute must-play.