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Resident Evil 4 on Nintendo Gamecube, Playsation 2, Microsoft Windows, Wii, Mobile Phone, iPhone, Ze

By , Oshkosh, WI
If there is one genre of gaming that never seems to get enough attention, it's the horror genre. Many games today are built around fast paced action and beautiful graphics. There are not too many games out nowadays that focus on scaring you. I don't know why this is, because Resident Evil 4 proves that when you can get the horror concept right and build it around graphics and action, you can create one of the best gaming experiences known to mankind. Resident Evil 4 (or RE4, as it will be called later in the review) is without question one of gaming's rare treasures. It was developed by Capcom Production Studio 4 and published by many different organizations, including Nintendo Australia and Ubisoft. It was released in 2005 for the Nintendo Gamecube, and has since seen multiple different ports to other systems, including an HD Remake for the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360. This iteration of Resident Evil completely scraps the old game mechanics seen in previous RE games in favor of a third-person, over the shoulder style of game play. Not only is RE4 the best Survival-Horror game to ever be made, it's one of the best games ever made period.

Let's start with the story in RE4. You are put in the shoes of Leon S. Kennedy, one of the protagonists in RE2. Leon is assigned the task of tracking down the President's daughter, Ashley, who had recently been kidnapped. This ends up taking you to an unidentified European village, where the townspeople are less than hospitable. I won't spoil what happens in the beginning of RE4, but let's just say that all hell breaks loose. The intro to RE4 is one of the most intense starts to any game I have ever played. There is no hand holding. They just throw you into the middle of this village and say, "Try no to die". After being, literally, saved by the bell, Leon continues his mission, which takes him (and you) through many perilous situations, from fending off a giant lake monster to killing the gargantuan beast known as El Gigante. All the while, you are being introduced to many characters (like Luis Sera and The Merchant) and plot elements. After a lot of tribulations, you eventually discover Ashley in a Gothic church, but all is not what it seems. After a short talk with Osmund Saddler (the main antagonist of RE4), Both Leon and Ashley find out that they have been injected with something know as Las Plagas, which will, basically, turn them into mindless slaves. At this point, Leon sets out with Ashley to find a cure for the Plagas. The adventure takes you to many places, from a Spanish castle to a war-torn island, and it's all done in a spectacular fashion. I won't spoil the whole story here, but trust me, there are many twists and turns along the road.

RE4 is beautiful. For being released in 2005, this game had some mind-blowing graphics. Add to that the amazing set pieces and incredibly well designed levels, and you've got a winner. RE4 can set a tone in a game like no other. I was tense during the opening of this game when I was being swarmed by dozens of angry villagers. I was frightened when I blew the head off of some peasant and a centipede-like creature came crawling out. And I was ecstatic when I delivered the final, explosive blow to Saddler at the end of the game. The sheer amount of depth that everything has in RE4 makes it stand out from other, generic titles. When I entered a large building and heard a disembodied moaning on the other end of a long corridor, I knew things were about to go down. RE4 presents itself in such a way that it doesn't feel like a game. It feel like a movie. The thrills are constant and the scares are abundant. RE4 is no mere game. It's an experience.

The game play in RE4 (as previously mentioned) is a third-person shooter style of game play. All the action is seen from over the shoulder of Leon, and you can move him around in any direction or gyration. Leon has a combat knife on him, which comes in handy when you need to get in that extra hit. Early on in RE4, you run across The Merchant, who will buy and sell guns with you. There are many different guns you can get, from a simple pistol all the way up to an RPG. Almost every gun you buy can be tweaked and upgraded, which adds a layer of depth to the combat system in RE4. Throughout the game, you may be randomly prompted to engage in a QTE (Quick-Time Event). While these aren't terrible, they can break up the action from time to time. Luckily, when they are around, they are short-lived. The main story in RE4 can take upwards of 20 hours to complete. After you beat the game, you are given the option to restart it, only you will have all of the equipment that you had when you beat it the first time around. Also, upon beating RE4, you will unlock fun little distractions (which may vary depending on what console you play on), like The Mercenaries, a mini-game where you try to get as many points as possible, and Assignment Ada, a short mission involving Ada Wong, a character you meet in the main story. Beating these mini-games will unlock MORE things in the main game, which only gives you more incentive to play them. Because of this, you may end up putting 30 to 40 hours into RE4.

Even though RE4 is the Magnum Opus of games, it does have a few flaws. As previously stated, the QTE's in this game can really catch you off guard, and are often more frustrating than entertaining. Also, this game features quite possibly the most annoying character ever put into a game. After you rescue Ashley, you become her personal guard. However, she always manages to get herself into the worst situation possible. Every time Ashley is in trouble, she screams for Leon to help. I would say her voice is like nails on a chalkboard, but that would be a massive understatement. Considering how often Ashley needs help, you may find yourself pointing the gun at her every now and again. Another thing that may be considered detrimental to RE4 is the difficulty. As I said, this game does not hold your hand, and can be very difficult in some parts of the game, especially on the Professional difficulty. However, it is not difficult to the point of being unfair or unplayable. Everything in RE4 is doable, you just may have to try multiple times before you do it. In retrospect, though, these annoyances are very minor when you compare them to the overall package.

Resident Evil 4 is a game for the ages. Very few games have achieved such a perfect balance of action, terror, and storytelling. Never once when I was playing it did it get repetitive, boring, or old. There is always something new happening, and it keeps the game play fresh. While it does have a minuscule amount of flaws, Resident Evil 4 is a game you NEED to play. If you haven't tried it yet, I strongly encourage you to, even if you're not a fan of the horror genre. Overall, I would say that Resident Evil 4 is one of the best games, no, experiences, to ever grace the Planet Earth.




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