It’s no secret that gamers are ruled by nostalgia. Each time we pick up the controller we’re trying to recreate that incredible first time when everything was new and exciting. Like the drug addict, we keep trying, but we always refer back to what came before. With such a passion for the classics, the recent deluge of “High Definition” remakes is hardly surprising, and since Resident Evil 4 seems to be the most platform-hopping port to date, it was only a matter of time before an HD remake finally hit the PS3 and 360. The 6 year old GameCube title is certainly showing its age, but it still remains one of the definitive survival horror games on any system.
Resident Evil 4 puts you in control of series favorite Leon Kennedy, this time wandering the woods of Europe as opposed to the streets of Raccoon City. Your initial task of hunting down the president’s kidnapped daughter Ashley eventually leads you into a nest of paranormal intrigue and startling mutations. Having “HD” in the title is a bit of a misnomer considering that the game is simply up scaled, and the transformation didn’t do any favors to the aging scenery. Yet the warped villages and rotting castles still drip with horror, and remains a perfect backdrop for the violence and insanity occurring within.
Outside of the slight touch up in the graphics, Resident Evil 4 remains untouched. The sometimes controversial controls work the same as they always did. Turning Leon moves at a snail’s pace. Your right analog stick gives you such limited control when looking to the side that eventually you will forget it’s there. Aiming feels less controlled than the PS2 and Wii iterations, but works the same way it always has. My first hour of the game was spent getting acquainted with the controls again, which lead to a pretty harrowing time and added to the intensity of encounters. Sadly, there is a chance that the pace and design of the controls will put many new players off. There are plenty of people that haven’t played a Resident Evil game, and while some people will find the old school direction nostalgic and comforting, many people may become too frustrated to continue.
Shooting possessed villagers is certainly satisfying, but it’s the variety of weapons and upgrades make combat refreshing and strategic. There is also a light RPG element. Collecting hidden treasures helps to build your cash reserve, which you can use to purchase new weapons and upgrades from the eczema-suffering merchant, whose odd performance makes him one of the most memorable characters in survival horror. Bartering with the mercenary plays a key role in your survival, as well as carrying over your purchases to your next play through.
Yet it’s the boss battles that make RE4 the classic that it is. Even after nearly a decade, Leon’s rouges gallery stands apart. Few games can create the sense of relief and satisfaction RE4 does after each major fight. Even on my third time through it was exhilarating to bring down each behemoth. The constant flow of action, mixed with a more streamlined and satisfying puzzle element in comparison to the first few Resident Evil games, sets a pace that never slows and never wavers, keeping your attention as strongly in the last hour as it did in the first.
Slapping Resident Evil 4 with a price tag of nearly $20.00 may be the only reason to ignore the game, and no one could blame you. Content is not a problem, the game is 10-12 hours long, and with the ability to play through again with upgraded weapons certainly extends its shelf life. There are also a few mini games such as Mercenaries and Assignment Ada, but the price is still steep, especially for those that have played it on other systems. Aside from the few achievements/trophies, there isn’t anything new to the game. But if you can swallow the price, Resident Evil 4 is a triumph, and it is well worth picking up again.
|Remains the banner game for survival horror. Incredibly satisfying gameplay.||The graphics are hardly HD and look aged. Original controls take getting used to|