Resident Evil 4 was the first of the series that moved it from survival horror towards what it’s now known as action horror. The pre-rendered static areas were removed as were the tank controls (still quite stiff, but not as much) and it was now in a third person perspective in a much more open field of play.
It was the third in the Nintendo exclusives after Resident Evil Remake and Zero to be on the GameCube (initially) and was able to take advantage of the superior graphics at the time. Remake and Zero had been hits and there was some real movement in the series, Resident Evil 4 certainly did not disappoint. It’s new style of action attract a host of new players as it was much more accessible and “fun” than previous instalments.
The game starred Leon S. Kennedy from Resident Evil 2 and was in a Spanish village, out of Raccoon City, which was a breath of fresh air to be honest. The village was quite rural and poor-looking with ragged farmer type inhabitants, a stark contrast to RE1, 2 and 3 which were all in fairly modern places.
Traditional zombies also made a departure being replaced by parasite controlled enemies, they had some zombie like features but they could now talk, wield weapons and were much more mobile, hence why it was much more action orientated. Unfortunately, this move made it a lot less horror and much more action orientated. As good as RE4 was, it was the beginning of the decline of the series.
That sounds negative towards this game, but it isn’t. Resident Evil 4 was phenomenal, it was a brilliant game. The graphics, storyline and the action was a brilliant blend and it all worked well together, the previous statement was just about how Capcom weren’t able to use the new system and improve on it some more.Resident Evil 4 was the peak of the series, and hasn’t been replicated since.
So as a conclusion to the introduction – Resident Evil 4 was a new beginning of the series and it was superb, the characters were engaging, the areas were beautiful and designed brilliantly, the plot was a cracker with a few shocks here and there and the minigame that came with it was immense, this was a new fresh approach to the series and hasn’t been replicated to the same quality since. Resident Evil 4 was arguably the best Resident Evil game in the series.
The game starts with a description of the state of the world. After the events of RE3’s ending, Umbrella is finished. No one wanted to deal with them, stock prices levelled and that was that. The end of the company that created the viruses and chaos in Raccoon City. However, there are some loose ends. Wesker was clearly alive from RE: CV and wasn’t working for Umbrella anyway, what happened to him? Did anyone get the data from Umbrella and carry on their work?
The plot follows Resident Evil 2’s hero, Leon S. Kennedy, for his third outing now (Gaiden being the 2nd) as he investigates a Spanish town with some strange occurrences and the President’s daughter, Ashley Graham, has been kidnapped. Leon is now a government agent and has used the skills he was forced to learn in Raccoon City to good use. Also looks like he has been going to the gym.
The plot is Leon going through the village and investigating, he soons find out that, obviously, things are quite what they seem and as he goes further and further into the place it gets deeper and deeper. Old acquaintances are met and the real situation around the parasite (las plagas) is revealed as well as who’s behind it all.
It’s the same type of storyline as most Resident Evil games, but the quality of the script is better as well as the voice actors. By being able to see more facial features the general plot becomes more alive and engaging. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the plot, it was just good and did its job fine.
However, with “classic” zombies and Umbrella now gone, RE4 was the beginning of the new direction of the plotline. In a way RE4 started the new Umbrella and subsequently the direction that Capcom took with the series, for better or worse.
To conclude, although the direction of the plot series went downwards because of RE4, RE4 itself had a good plot. It had solid characters and good cut scenes. There was nothing wrong at all with the plot here, it just got crazy afterwards.
Resident Evil 4 brought with it a new third perspective where you could see more and could use precise aiming; you could see enemies in the distance now and could shoot them in the head. This allowed for a more realistic feel; however it took away a lot of the suspense. You knew where the enemy was unlike previous instalments.
What it did bring was an aggressive action packed game where you could have a lot of enemies and a few more options to get out. Shoot them in the leg, head, arm and so on. So you had more tools to get Leon out of the bind. With the enemies being more mobile and leather it did prove to be an intense game with some exhilarating moments.
Gone was the traditional inventory screen and in with a new, but similar, type. Leon now had more space but you had the ability to be precise what you could carry with the block system. Frustrating at times when you needed to switch to a grenade quickly for example, but generally a good improvement.
Resident Evil 4 was also quite weapon mad with more weapons and the opportunity to upgrade. Unlike the previous instalment where there would be 1 handgun, 1 shotgun and so on there were now a fair bit of a choice and all could take different upgrade paths. With the new inventory screen you couldn’t have them all, so the player needed to make the choice.
Where do you get the weapons? Well, from the now cult weapon dealer, with his phrases “Weeelcome!” “What are ya buyin’?” and others. It didn’t make sense why he was there, but he was great. Bit of comic relief really. Plus he brought with him a slight mini game with bottle caps. Hehe, thank you.
QTE made an appearance as well, in cut scenes as well in play action. A simple thing to add if not a bit frustrating. It didn’t require any skill, just reactions. I can see why Capcom added it, but I wasn’t a fan.
That was about it, really. The other gameplay elements like getting a key open a door were still the same, the main changes really were the way you looked at it. However, one big loss in Resident Evil 4 are the puzzles. There are puzzles in it, but not the same way as previous game and it really did miss them. Unfortunately, they’ve still never come back properly. A shame.
To conclude, the new gameplay elements were on the whole, brilliant. It had been done very well and the player was able to explore and look on the world of Resident Evil a bit better. The action elements were intense and engaging, however it did still miss a lot of the old Resident Evil characteristics that made it brilliant. But overall, great gameplay.
The graphics were superb, but I always felt that Resident Evil Remake looked better and that game was before. I understand that RE4 was more advanced and the graphics from REMake wouldn’t have worked there, but I still felt it was a backward step a bit.
However, RE4 was still a great looking game and did have stunning visuals. The village and castle looked superb in and out and all the facial features were there for the cutscenes. It looked a bit choppy and grainy at the time but overall it looked good.
RE4 can have a lot going on, particularly during the Mercenaries and it very rarely lags, it does look very good when there’s a lot going on, and some of the beasts are detailed. Especially the ones in the caves.
Some of the more brutal aspects of the game looked a whole lot more gruesome, particularly a shotgun blast into a pack of plagas or when Leon meets up with the chainsaw man…
Overall, although REMake looks like a better looking game RE4 is a more technically graphic game. The game looks great and was a testament to the GameCube, the HD edition that’s been released recently looks pretty good too. But yeah, RE4 is a very good looking game with some impressive visuals for its age.
Resident Evil 4 had some very good effects, if you raided the village the villager’s hurled abuse at you in Spanish and shrieked and shouted orders, it sounded very real. I don’t know Spanish so I don’t know if its accurate, but it certainly sounded legit.
The music in the game was ok. I can’t remember any memorable themes or tracks but on one hand that should be a plus. If the music isn’t noticeable it has done it’s job. It definitely didn’t sound out of place, anyway.
The weapons man also brought with him a new safe room theme which again brought peace to the place, but the weapons dealer himself took the limelight with his strange lines.
Overall, the sounds and music were nothing special, but it wasn’t bad. You just wouldn’t notice a lot of them, but in terms of effects it was great – the weapons sounded real and the villagers sounded menacing and authentic.
Resident Evil 4 impressed critics and gamers for it new twist on the genre. It was fun to play and it looked good. It was accepted that the game retained and started to go a bit mad with its storyline but it was overall well received as one of the best games of all time. Even if you played it now, it looks decent and plays extremely well. It’s definitely the best action horror game in the Resident Evil universe.
Of the things that had a great impact from RE4 it were the weapons dealer and the chainsaw man. The weapons dealer was just a very strange man with silly lines whilst the chainsaw man was a menace, you could hear him coming and could kill you in an instant.
Overall it did have an impact and a lot of things did stay in the series and were parodied, chainsaw wielding enemies went up by a large percent after this game was released…
RE4’s third person view and action oriented gameplay stayed in the series after 4. Resident Evil 5 and 6 both play the same way and haven’t changed the formula much so this was RE4’s biggest legacy.
Plot wise it carried on here to the sequels as well with different version of the plaga but the effects were more or less the same.
Unfortunately, RE4’s legacy didn’t evolve much, Capcom seemed to have used what worked in 4 but didn’t try to improve much or be creative with it. It is a shame, because they tried new things with 4 but didn’t try and improve what worked; they just assumed it would keep on working. It wouldn’t be fair to say RE4 ruined the series, because it was Capcom that did that.
Which is a shame really, because Resident Evil 4 was a very, very good game.