Resident Evil 4 – GameCube
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
Release Date (NA): January 11, 2005
Genre: Survival Horror
Nerd Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Reviewed by: InfiniteKnife
I’ve been a Resident Evil fan since I was first exposed to the series in 1998 after the releases of Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation and haven’t done much looking back. With each new title, I would look forward to another horror-filled run through Raccoon City until Resident Evil 3: Nemesis when **Spoiler Alert** the whole place was wiped out by a nuke (after all the hard work we did in that game and the two that came before!). So, as you can imagine, I was absolutely stoked when I picked up my copy of Resident Evil 4 for my GameCube and took a sick day from work to play it.
It started with the usual cutscene to let me know all the stuff that happened leading up to the adventure I was about to embark on, including re-introducing Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 2 and revealing that after being a cop for one day, he apparently caught the eye of the government and became some Special Forces badass tasked with going to Europe (Spain) to track down the President’s daughter who has been kidnapped by a terrorist group.
After the scene ends and I gain control, I notice something odd. The camera is no longer static and pre-rendered, but rather over my right shoulder. I can move Leon smoothly and can aim in any direction without having to stop aiming up/down and take the time to turn. The aiming is spot on, thanks to my handgun (as well as every other gun in the game) having a handy laser sight and a context-sensitive A button to help with actions. The game also introduced Quick Time Events (QTE), which added a bit more variety.
Things start out calmly enough, but upon entering the first house I come across, a cutscene starts where after questioning a local about the whereabouts of the President’s daughter, he tries to decapitate me with an axe, at which time I quickly dispatch him. After this, the crap hits the fan.
For the first time, enemies are aggressive and intelligent at the same time. They open doors, break down boarded windows and alert each other as to your whereabouts as you try to pick them off while avoiding their attacks. They also react to being hit in different parts of the body. A shot to the leg would knock them down and shooting them in the arm would make them drop their weapon, as a few examples (But headshots weren’t instakills. Weird!). Most of the enemies are humans, but they get a bit more varied throughout (there is even a dude coming at you with a chainsaw!). Others include infected dogs, some weird flying bug creatures, and a really freaky regenerating enemy who can be killed by finding weak spots using a thermal scope.
It’s worth noting that Resident Evil 4 introduced a few really neat combat features, including a melee attack after stunning enemies (which is huge for ammo conservation) and the ability to shoot thrown projectiles out of the air before they hit you. Not gonna lie, shooting a hand axe out of the air felt awesome every time.
The story behind the crazy, homicidal people trying to take you down is that they have been infected by a parasite called Las Plagas. Once the egg planted inside a being hatches, the creature attaches itself to the host’s nervous system and allows a leader to control them. This leader is a dude who calls himself Lord Saddler. I won’t ruin the plot too much, but he basically wants to use these bad boys to start a war and take over the world and blah blah blah. As you progress through the game and listen to the dialogue between him and Leon, it becomes comical how confident he remains despite Leon singlehandedly taking out every obstacle thrown at him.
The game introduces a few new characters, including the aforementioned Saddler, another former cop, Luis Cera, and Ashley, the President’s daughter, to name a few. We also see the return of Leon’s favorite female spy, Ada Wong. (Funny how they always seem to run into each other)
One new character who adds an interesting twist to the Resident Evil series is the shopkeeper. He’s a mysterious guy who seems to show up all over the place to sell you weapons and upgrades to keep you alive during your adventure. Upgrades could be purchased using currency found by discovering treasures throughout the game and by picking up money from fallen enemies.
The inventory system also got a bit of an overhaul as now, rather than 8 slots where a key and a grenade launcher took up the same amount of space, you had an attaché case where all weapons, ammo and health items had to be arranged to fit (keys and treasures were stored separately). You could upgrade the size of the case as the game progressed, and if you were good at Tetris and obsessed with keeping things organized (like me), inventory management was no sweat.
This game did a great job of innovating and making Resident Evil feel new while keeping true to dark, spooky environments. There wasn’t as much of an emphasis on resource conservation as in previous installments, but overall this doesn’t take away from the fact that Resident Evil 4 was among the best games of the 2000s decade and still holds up really well today. This is still one of my favorite games of all time.
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