Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, it makes you go back to the games you played years ago and hope that it looked just as gorgeous as it did back then, but does Resident Evil 4 hold true and retain its beauty? Let’s find out.
Unfortunately, inconsistent textures in the game are a constant reminder that, sadly, this is only an upgrade and not a true ‘remaster’. It has been upgraded to 1080p and it runs at 60fps but there are no new costumes, weapons or DLC that will tempt people who have already played Resident Evil 4 to rush to their local games store and pick up a new copy. But the low price may entice newcomers to the classic Resident Evil franchise or even let the seasoned veterans spend a bit of pocket money to relive the horror one more time in a revamped version.
Once again you step into the role of Agent Leon S. Kennedy who is sent on a mission to rescue Ashley Graham, the President’s daughter. Pretty cliché, but it was a ground-breaking point in the franchise as it brought third-person over-the-shoulder perspective for the first time, a completely real-time environment and new precision aiming, changing the dynamics of every Resident Evil game before it. You travel to a nameless village in an unspecified part of Spain where a mysterious religious cult named ‘The Los Illuminados’ has kidnapped Ashley and you must do whatever necessary to get her back safely.
One element that separates this game away from the rest of the franchise is the style of gameplay. When you picture Resident Evil you immediately picture dark houses or alleyways, slow zombies and constant jump scares, but this game is very different. This remote village of simple farmers has been infested by ‘Las Plagas’ (or ‘The Plague’), which makes them hell-bent on killing any outsiders, meaning a lot of the time is spent on wide, open levels, resulting in the lack of fear coming from claustrophobia. This does, however, mean the fear has gone from small spaces and slow zombies, to fast gangs of villagers coming at you. The action always seems to be escalating and the fear comes from sheer panic as you are constantly being surrounded or ganged up on by continuous hoarders of possessed villagers. Resident Evil 4 now boasts a lot of environment interactivity which means you can lure enemies towards a door, block it with a wardrobe and shoot them until they break it, buying you those all-important seconds of survival. You can also knock down ladders as enemies are climbing and jump through windows to flank them - the options are numerous. You can now, adding to the constant action of the game, kick enemies whilst they are stunned, either knocking them down again, pushing them over the edge of a building or cliff or even killing them altogether. This does feel a bit unnecessary as it does look slightly comical as you suddenly roundhouse kick a peasant woman in the face, but then again it does keep the game pace up and it gives the game so much more variety than its predecessors, something the franchise desperately needed. The fast action is also accompanied by slower sections which means that although you can’t see any villagers, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, resulting in you relentlessly being putting on edge.
Another aspect that makes Resident Evil 4 stand out is the sheer variety of environments on offer. The gameplay is kept fresh thanks to creepy villages, canyons, factories, industrial areas and abandoned farms, and these constantly changing levels will keep you coming back for more. You'll want to know where you will end up next and you are persistently tested by puzzles and gangs of enemies, all the while trying to have enough health and ammo to just to survive.
Resident Evil 4, as incredible as it is, isn’t without its flaws. The new aim system is great but it is infuriatingly slow and there is no way to increase the sensitivity meaning it’s slow and it’s going to stay slow. This does, however, add to the tension as you will find yourself yelling ‘hurry up’ at the screen more than once as Leon’s crosshair edges ever closer to the crazed villagers. The only other issue is the weapons switching. In most action games you can switch between weapons at the touch of a button, but Resident Evil 4 still makes you pause the game, go into your attaché case, equip a new weapon and then continue shooting. With the new port to next-gen you would have thought that the developers would have allocated a button to allow you to quickly switch between weapons without taking you away from the action, but then again it is a typical Resident Evil game and that’s the way it has always been.
Along the way you will be collecting copious amount of money that can be spent on purchasing and upgrading weapons, another first for the Resident Evil franchise, as well as buying health aids; the only downside to this is how you purchase them. Every now and then a hilarious merchant stereotype appears and offers you items. He has the typical trenchcoat, says ‘Got a collection of things on sale, stranger,’ and proceeds to open his coat with the goods hanging from within. It’s unbelievably comical; we aren’t sure it really fits with the theme of the game as a horror but it definitely lightens the game’s mood because it is dark as hell throughout.
For all of you trophy hunters out there who know they have only truly completed the game when you have collected the coveted platinum trophy may be a bit let down to know that the trophy list is identical to the PS3 version of the game, which means *dramatic music* there is NO platinum trophy for collecting them all, the sadly lacklustre trophy list is only completed from the story line, with very few exceptions. For most people this won’t be an issue but for some, tough luck. Luckily though, as you would expect, after the completion of the game you unlock the Separate Ways short story, the Assignment Ada mission and The Mercenaries mode. The Ada missions always a great added bonus as you get exclusive areas to explore and the prologue adds some context to the story and just makes the whole narrative feel a bit more complete.
Resident Evil 4 was a complete game changer for the series, bringing in so many brand new mechanics that the game became almost unrecognisable. It really shook up what we thought we wanted Resident Evil to be and made us question what the next installment should be like, it has a captivating story and constant tension in a game like we’ve never felt before. t may not have the same amount of puzzles or the same style of horror as its predecessors, but the constant action is enough to give you a heart attack and, in the end, isn't that what keeps you coming back for more?