Resident Evil 4 HD Review!
Overview:Systems: PS3, XBOX 360
Pros:Revolutionized the gameplay of the series, graphically stunning.
Cons:Obviously dated sound effects, unexpected quick-time events.
Evil finds new home in Resident Evil 4. Take a trip out of Raccoon City and into Europe to rescue the president’s daughter and stop a dangerous cult.
Zombies and virus outbreaks have been the main focus of Resident Evil. A corporation develops a virus that escapes confinement and terrorizes everything in the area. The player is dropped into a static-camera environment and forced to survive with what little they can find. Resident Evil 4 makes some major changes to this ongoing trend, introducing a new third-person camera and adding a new twist on the zombie virus.
Leon Kennedy returns to the series, now a U.S. Secret Service agent, to once again save the day when the president’s daughter is kidnapped by a mysterious cult based somewhere in Europe. The story may sound like a run-of-the-mill “president’s daughter” story, but the twist comes in when Leon discovers that the local villagers are unexpectedly hostile. It is revealed that they have been infected with a parasite known as “Las Plagas” and he must discover who is behind this. It is a refreshing alternative to the virus outbreak scenarios played out in previous games, giving the player a new danger to overcome.
Throughout the game the story takes some predictable turns, but also has plenty of surprises in store. Documents are spread around certain areas that will give some insight into the back story of Leon’s quest and reveal small details about what is going on around him. The biggest effect resulting from the modified story is that the enemies are no longer zombies. They are people infected with a parasite that has no apparent cure. Leon attempts to talk sense into the first man he comes across, but doesn’t hesitate to waste the rest of the village. After all, what choice does he have? He’s all alone and it’s kill or be killed.
The new over-the-shoulder view is a welcome change to the series in that it brings an action aspect to the mix. This is a love or hate thing as it completely changes the dynamic of the gameplay. Rather than attempting to shoot zombies across the static screen before they get to you, doing your best to run around them and away from anything behind you, RE4 places all of the action in front of your character and gives you full control over the camera. This not only allows you to be precisely accurate and encourages you to fight rather than run away, it also forces you to manage every enemy in the area as you cannot see behind Leon without turning around. This adds a new type of tension to the gameplay to make up for the loss of helplessness from giving the player accurate control over their aim. It’s one thing to see a zombie that you want to avoid, but to hear a chainsaw revving somewhere behind you is an all new fear.
The controls are somewhat rigid in movement as you can only move forward, backward, and turn, but the limited control is very manageable. The game allows the player to do a quick-turn to hastily spin around and check the rear and allows you to stagger the enemies with shots to specific areas. While staggered, Leon can perform a kick that will knock back any enemies close to him and allow you to gain some space to shoot. It is a well-balanced system that works great when combined with the new third-person view.
At the time of the original release in early 2005, RE4 on the Nintendo Gamecube had some of the best graphics around at the time. The smooth visuals and dark setting made for a horror experience that completely immersed the player in the game and generated fear on a personal level. The pre-rendered backgrounds from earlier titles in the series have been removed and everything in the environments is modeled to perfection. The areas in which Leon explores are dark and visually eerie, blending right in with the game’s reputation of scary surroundings.
The HD remake of this game has improved the graphics even further, offering high-resolution textures to already stunning graphics. It’s hit and miss in some areas with some textures standing out as flat in comparison to some more detailed models, but all in all it’s a very satisfying experience. Many of the villagers do have repetitive models, and the robed enemies all look the same, but that mostly goes unnoticed as you try to keep the weapon-wielding baddies away from you with frantic gunfire.
I don’t recall noticing this all those years ago playing the Gamecube version, but it is clear in the HD version in 2012 that the sounds are dated. Many of the enemy voices and sound effects sound like they are playing through an old speaker at times. The voice acting is done very well despite this and the sound effects are great for the setting, adding more immersion into the creepy environments.
The game is mostly enveloped in silence to further the “all alone and helpless” aspect, but the music that does play generally fits whatever is happening on screen be it an approaching terror or a dramatic action scene. The themes for safe areas and while saving are most notable, as they are a calm and relaxing break in between the action packed survival-horror gameplay.
Resident Evil 4 brought with it many changes to the franchise’s standard formula, but they are far from a bad thing. The new over-the-shoulder perspective and focus on action over survival may have been an unwelcome change to some hardcore fans of the series, but they are highly acclaimed and work very well with the new style of gameplay. One topic of debate in current games is the implementation of unexpected quick-time events, forcing the player to press a button on command or be punished have to watch a cut-scene all over again. RE4 uses them but uses them only to a point that they work with the on-screen action. I would prefer to see them exist only in games that are based around them, such as Heavy Rain, but they don’t really take away from the awesome experience in RE4. The HD remake is a great addition to your current-gen collection and is a must-play for any fans of Resident Evil.