Before I start the review, the game is rated M for mature and the review might not be suitable for younger audiences.
Resident Evil 4 is a third person survival horror game developed and published by Capcom for the Gamecube and Playstation 2 in 2005. The game was originally released for the Nintendo Gamecube in early 2005, before Capcom ported the game to the Playstation in late 2005 because the game did not fall under exclusivity for Nintendo. Resident Evil 4 is the 6th installment in the Resident Evil series which started out on the Playstation with the original Resident Evil being released in 1996. The series is considered one of the most influential series for defining what would be classed as the survival horror genre. The genre had some games on PC platforms in the early 90’s with such titles as Alone In The Dark and Clocktower, but Resident Evil was one of the first to be released on home consoles.
The game is set 6 years after the events of Resident Evil 2, the former Raccoon City police officer Leon Kennedy is sent on a mission to save the President’s daughter, who has been kidnapped by a cult. Leon travels to the village, which is unnamed in Spain and finds a hostile group of villagers who pledge their allegiance to the cult who kidnapped Ashley. It is up to Leon to fight this cult to rescue Ashley from this cult and safely escort her to safety.
This story is really solid because it explains the backstory of Leon and also what his task is. The story also emphasises who the player will be facing throughout the game, without revealing too much detail right off the bat, which the game explains when necessary. The story is also one of the first within the Resident Evil franchise to explore cultism and introduce symbolism, which had been explored thoroughly within the Silent Hill franchise.
Resident Evil 4 is completely different in terms of gameplay to previous games in the series because the game focuses more on action, rather than the survival aspects. There are aspects of survival such as limited ammo and searching around locations for ammo and new weapons, but the main focus is facing hordes of enemies and defeating them all before moving on. The other initial change from survival horror games at the time is that the areas that the player will be exploring are much larger and less confined. This allows for more secrets to be discovered as well as more ammo and healing items.
One unique aspect about the secrets is that every time the player plays the game, the boxes that can be broken will be random and the items will be different every time. I think that this is a great touch because otherwise the game would have been too predictable and it would not have felt like a unique experience. The hidden weapons do remain the same, but the sense of not knowing what the player will find in breakable boxes and barrels adds to the unique experience of the game.
The controls of Resident Evil 4 are absolutely perfect and feel great to control, but the only problem with the controls is that the game uses tank controls and players used to modern first person shooters will struggle to adapt. On the flip side, fans of the survival horror genre and players who have played the early Silent Hill games will notice that the tank controls aren’t full tank controls. Tank controls are where the player cannot turn and run at the same time and the character will have a turning circle. These controls were used mainly in survival horror games because in survival horror games it limits the player movement to add to the horror aspect by not giving the player free flowing movement. It was also used in early 3D games because game controls at the time did not allow for free control of the camera, meaning that the tank controls were also the main control of where the camera would be pointing.
The feeling of the weapons is really good because each weapon has a realistic feelings of recoil when the weapon is used. For example, the handgun has a little bit of recoil, which will marginally affect the player’s accuracy, whilst the sub machine gun without the stabiliser upgrade will be inaccurate if the player holds down the fire button. The Magnum and shotgun has large amount of recoil and can’t shoot as fast as other weapons. These weapons can also be upgraded to improve everything from the amount of ammo the weapons can hold, all the way through to how quickly the weapon can be reloaded. The weapon customisation options really allow the player to buy upgrades for the weapons that they use more often and also encouragement to defeat more enemies, meaning that the player will have more money to spend on these upgrades.
The boss fights in this game are unique and each boss fight will require the player to fight in different ways. From the first side boss being in the lake where a sea monster will try to attack the boat Leon is in, through to the Garrador in the beginning of Chapter 3, which the player will need to trap with fire, the bosses will require the player to be prepared to defeat the bosses in different ways. I think that the boss fights really do mix up the gameplay and the boss fights are really memorable because of the unique approaches to each boss.
The graphics in this game considering the game was released in 2005, look amazing and have stood the test of time really well. The detailing on the enemies and the main characters is really impressive and the environments, whilst mainly dominated by dark colours, the detailing on the brighter colours really stand out. For example, there is a room where Leon is in a dark outside section and there is an area where there is a burning fire. The contrast between the dark and the fire red really stand out from each other and the flames from the fire look realistic. That is something which is consistent throughout the game, is that the game looks really realistic and the details on the wall textures add to this feeling of realism. It is the small details like the rippling and colouring of the water when the lake bosses attack or the Leon’s fringe that really gives this game the sense that a lot of care and attention was put into every detail of the graphics.
The soundtrack of Resident Evil 4 is simply sublime, with every theme fitting the mood and adds a layer of ambience when needed. Some of the themes have a lot of depth melodically, with evolution and sound design being added to the theme to thicken the texture when required. The score is completely orchestral and the way that the score is mastered really allows for every element of the score to breathe. The bass in some of the pieces sets the tonality that the score will explore and the panning of the sound design creates a feeling of being trapped. The instrumentation used in some pieces as well help create the sense that the player is in Spain because of the use of flamenco guitars.
The voice acting is absolutely spot on with some of the voice cast now being really famous voice actors. A couple examples of this are Paul Mercer, who voiced Leon has voiced additional characters in the Saints Row series and Carolyn Lawrence, who voice Ashley is very well known now for the voice of Sandy Cheeks in SpongeBob Squarepants. The talent of the whole voice cast is amazing and the quality of the script written for the cast was fantastic.
Resident Evil 4 is a masterpiece of how to merge survival horror elements with the action genre without the game being purely action. There are definitely elements of the game where the player might get scared, but the feeling of power that the game offers the player makes for a visceral experience like anything. The gameplay and the mechanics really stand the test of time on the Playstation and with many HD remakes being made in the past couple of years for this game, you really owe it yourself to play this masterpiece of survival horror. Everything about this game has a purpose and nothing feels like it was added last minute, with every small detail about the game really accentuating the whole experience.
Copyright ©2017 Liam Piper. All Images Used Under Fair Use