Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mr Tim plays Resident Evil 4...again?!

Mr Assailant, whilst diligently trawling the interweb, came across an archived version of my old (and probably really bad) Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition review. It has been edited slightly and will be my first post :)

Resident Evil 4 is not a game which has been recently released, in more than one sense, having been released on GC, PS2 and PC as well. While it could be cynically seen as Capcom cashing in on the franchise, so many people pined for this on Wii and it was worth it.

Before starting the review proper, I should explain my position. In all honesty, I’ve not had a console since the N64; I skipped the Cube and shooters with analogue sticks go against my nature. So when I played Resident Evil 4 on my friend’s PS2, I thought that, despite the obvious control deficiencies, a truly awesome game. You might ask why the PC version isn’t being praised. Simply this is because so many people said it controlled and looked like ass. So when the Wii version was announced, I almost cried with happiness and with the extras from the PS2 version to boot!

If you haven’t played the game then the basic premise is that you control Leon S Kennedy, from Resident Evil 2, sent on a mission to rescue the president’s daughter, in rural Europe, probably Spain, complete with out of date currency (maybe some Basque area) and terrible Mexican dialect. Speaking of control, the upgrade to Wii remote and Nunchuk is sublime. I’ve read lots of people saying that the controls aren’t intuitive; simply put, they must be stupid. You aim with the Wii remote, move with the analogue stick on the Nunchuk and swipe with the Wii remote to use the knife. While you do have to stand still to aim and press B, firing with A, this is nothing complicated and a gameplay mechanic from the original GC version.

Unfortunately the clunky but classic Resident Evil inventory remains, making changing weapons a torturous affair, when it could be so simple. Once again, not a fault of the Wii but the design of the game. To fully complement the new control scheme, certain parts of the game, such as turning levers and swimming/running are achieved by furiously swinging the Wii remote, further contributing to the fear of repetitive strain injury, unless you have plenty of practice otherwise ;). The only downside to the controls is that when zoomed in with the Rifles, the Nunchuk is used to aim, instead of the Wii remote; while this is disappointing, it was painful in Red Steel to try and find your target while lunging towards the TV in some kind of bizarre divining ritual.

Gameplay has changed from classic Resident Evil games, differing from fixed-perspective camera angles to fully 3D third person view. This change in perspective also changes how the whole game is played. Instead of edging down corridors waiting for dogs to scare the bejesus out of you, players can run around with enemies in plain view, usually running towards you. Enemies have changed from shuffling zombies, most notably to speedy humans with weapons ranging from pitch forks to axes but fortunately rarely every guns. These generic bad guys are broken up with huge chain-gun wielding enemies and visually impaired gimps with serious S&M gear aka massive claws; this adds a good pace to the game, so it never feels as though you have just killed that same 100th angry villager again.

Bosses are also amply provided, not offering too much of a challenge but also making sure you never have too much ammo. The previously mentioned president’s daughter is also a major consideration in game play as you have to baby sit her for parts of the game. Don’t worry, it’s not a horrific experience, you can ask her to wait while you investigate areas and it’s very rarely that she will get kidnapped by enemies; that’s right, they won’t try to kill her too much for reasons of the general story. Maybe it is also the outfits you can get for her, ticking the requisite scantily clad female boxes but also fulfilling the detailed and attractive player models in the game.

Now Resident Evil 5 is rearing its head with no Wii version in sight, people have been furiously and desperately speculating whether or not the ‘next-gen’ game is at all possible on Nintendo’s console. Despite being a few years old, Resident Evil 4 is surprisingly pretty. You’ll get beautiful lighting, great particle effects, some depth of field and motion blur and really good character models. A point of contention is why Capcom did not upgrade the visuals at all; instantly bloom lighting comes to mind but this is not an appropriate feature for the dank and menacing atmosphere of Resident Evil 4, it would be like farting during ‘intimate’ moments. Because it is a Cube game, it does suffer some muddy textures but you’ll be hard pushed to notice without really looking as they are cunningly spread around the environments. That being said, Resident Evil 5 looks to be a mighty fine beast and whether or not Capcom will cash in and make a Wii version is totally unclear.

The extras you get with this game, frankly aren’t up to much. Separate Ways is tedious, featuring re-hashed routes through levels and only necessary if you want to drool over Ashley, the president’s daughter, in a low cut top. Mercenaries is close to impossible to complete, featuring arcade gameplay with unlocks in the main game. It’s not all bad though because you will get to dress bad ass once completing these extras. In the main game you can dress as a Mafioso and with enough cash, get a Tommy gun with infinite ammo. While this does detract from the atmosphere of the game, you can’t resist looking so awesome.

All in all, Resident Evil 4 is a great buy, featuring great atmosphere, fantastic design both with gameplay and graphics. All this released at discount price too. Without wanting to sound like an independent game campaigner (no names mentioned, no bribes present), buy it, you will not be disappointed and it might just make the wait for Resident Evil 5 more bearable.

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