Published and Developed by Capcom. 2005
I can remember when I first saw the E3 videos for RESIDENT EVIL 4. Leon Kennedy was walking in a mansion when a humanoid apparition appeared before him, chasing him out of the room. While the first videos had their freaky moments, I still sighed. The concept of ghosts just doesn’t scream RESIDENT EVIL to me. My feelings were mirrored when this first was released. The enemies and bosses didn’t have the same feel as previous RE games. Hell, there technically aren’t even zombies in it(!), but I must admit; the game grew on me faster than I thought it would.
The RESIDENT EVIL franchise has always been synonymous with horror in the gaming world. Maybe nothing that has ever delivered pure terror, but horror all the same. This entry sticks with that formula, only with pacing that lends itself more in the direction of action over horror. That’s not to say the game lacks its share of the grotesque. The grunting and murmuring of the end-game Regenerator/Iron Maiden enemies still send chills down my spine whenever I give the game another play through.
You are Leon Kennedy, a protagonist from RESIDENT EVIL 2, sent on a mission to find the President’s daughter who may (or may not) be in a small village. After you break into a house and encounter a local who then immediately turns hostile (who knew?). After that unpleasant exchange you realize that something is afoot.
The first of the new gameplay devices take a page right out of METAL GEAR, giving the player a codec system that allows you to talk with HQ. At certain plot points, your comrades will dispense (useless) information to you regarding your mission.
Taking place in a ‘remote part of Europe’, Leon then tracks the illusive kidnappers. Along the way you are beset by villagers who are infected with “las Plagas” which makes them very ‘zombie like’, though not official zombies. They are typical slow fare; shoot them in the head and they fall with a quickness. As for the bosses in the game; I must say they are appealing and leave a lasting memory, though I must admit some are ridiculously over the top and laughable.
Oddly the player stumbles across the President’s daughter rather early in the search. After that, the escort quest begins. ‘Escorting’, one of the worst concepts in gaming, is finally made bearable thanks to Capcom. She has a fair-sized health bar and can take a considerable amount of damage from enemies, but more importantly you can tell Ashley to hide in dumpsters while you do all the dirty work. Just don’t shoot her! It’s an instant-death regardless of where you hit her or how much health she has when the trigger is pulled.
Where this entry stands out is with the elimination of the clunky and stiff controls inherent to previous RESIDENT EVIL titles. The smoother movement and aiming controls cut down on frustration. This feature really sets this entry in the franchise apart from the rest.
The next big achievement is the much, MUCH improved inventory system. You start off with a briefcase and purchase bigger ones along the way. The system is improved further with quest items taking up no inventory spaces. Meaning, the briefcases are used to store your own vast amounts of weapons and ammo. Gone from the usual RESIDENT EVIL fold are the magic inventory boxes that one would fine about once every 3 save rooms. Definitely a beneficial trade-off for the player.
Since RESIDENT EVIL 4 throws in more action and explosions than an average survival horror game, it takes away a decent amount of the chills and scares that one would come to expect to find while playing a RESIDENT EVIL title. Do not mistake that as an omen to avoid the game; this is definitely a must-own title regardless of console choice.