January 9th, 2024
Release Date: January 11th, 2005
Format: PS2 (PC for most recent play-through)
Resident Evil 4 (2005)
I remember vividly when Resident Evil 4 was released back in 2005; I saw the trailer on G4 in late 2004 and rolled my eyes. "This looks stupid," I said to my friends, as I had played the earlier games and this didn't look anything like them at all. It appeared to be fast paced with ridiculous monsters and regular human beings- no more "tank controls," fixed camera angles or zombies. It was ludicrous and offensive to a fan of the original PS1 games which were much more subdued and horror-centric. How could they do this to the series? I thought to myself, ignoring it and moving on with my life.
Said friends rented the GameCube version a few months after release and my mind changed instantly. From picking up the controller for the first time I knew this game was incredible; it was fresh, innovative and did an excellent job bringing the Resident Evil series into the 21st century. The "over the shoulder" perspective was game changing and made aiming much easier and more satisfying, while also implementing a close quarter combat option when enemies are hit in certain body parts. Hordes of enemies can now be destroyed with a handgun and careful aim, with the knife ready at the press of a shoulder button (no need to view a menu to equip it!) Cinematically, RE4 elevates the series with action packed cutscenes and strong character development. The prior entries did great for their system's restrictions, but this is where the series really shines and comes into it's own.
Taking place six years after the Raccoon City outbreak, Resident Evil 4 stars Leon Kennedy who has been promoted from rookie police officer to secret service agent. He is assigned to protect the president and his family- the president's daughter, Ashley, has been kidnapped by the mysterious Los Illuminados cult in Spain, and he must travel there to rescue her. All the while he gets entangled in a plot to dominate the world via the Las Plagas parasite. The lead villain, Ozmund Saddler, has implanted Ashley with the parasite with the expectation that she will return to the US and infect the president and others in power. Assisting Saddler are a village priest named Bitores Mendez, the castellan Ramon Salazar and Leon's old teammate Jack Krauser. Returning characters include Ada Wong and Albert Wesker, though the latter is only featured through cutscenes and the "Mercenaries" mini-game.
The team working on Resident Evil 4 understood that the old style of Resident Evil wasn't going to survive long term, and came up with a solution that would not only please fans of the old games but also usher in millions of new players that were turned off by the limitations of earlier entries. While some argue that the series' horror theming took a backseat to action, there are still MANY tense moments throughout the game that will make you jump and hang onto the edge of your seat. Instead of slow moving zombies, there are now fast moving humans that have been infected with the Las Plagas parasite- making gameplay tense and tight, but with a reasonable amount of difficulty.
But the question is, Does Resident Evil 4 hold up? With the remake being released earlier this year, is the original game worth revisiting?
Resident Evil 4 holds up very well and remains one of the greatest video games ever made. It is well worth checking out even if you