Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube) Review

Resident Evil 4

I remember looking forward to Resi 4, but after several recent releases failed to inspire (RE0 and the Outbreak series) I didn’t look into it much, and boy was I surprised! An entirely new control and view set up, a larger focus on action over horror, and a very weird new type of enemy that’s far more intelligent and capable than a zombie. Damn good fun it was too! Let’s take a look then, shall we?

Background:

Resident Evil 4 1

Wow, I can move around freely and everything!

Resident Evil 4 was released exclusively on the Gamecube in January 2005 in Japan and the US, and March of the same year for us here in the UK (and Europe in general). Despite the exclusivity the game was soon released on other consoles, starting with the PS2 October/November of the same year, and followed by releases on PC, Wii, mobile (including iOS), PS3, XBOX360, PS4, XBOX One, and the Switch.

Resi 4 actually started off life as a more survival horror style game based around ghosts, believe it or not, but that version was eventually scrapped in favour of the more action heavy approach.

Gameplay:

Resident Evil 4 2

Everyone remembers the “Chainsaw guy”.

So this is the big thing: gone are the tank controls all together… hooray! Instead the action is 3rd person, with the camera right behind Leon, in an open environment rather than cutting camera angles and door-based loading screens. When Leon aims a gun the camera zooms in closer behind him, making aiming with the red laser sight easier, to the point where you can shoot projectiles like thrown axes and knifes out of the air (with the exception of the sniper rifle, which uses a first person scope) The inventory looks similar, but the grid is bigger this time, though weapons can take up more slots. So you have a large grid but the rife takes up three grid spaces, so you can try and fit smaller one-square items around it, or spin the rife on its side (if it’ll fit!), that sort of thing. You also pick up weapons like grenades (regular, incendiary and flash) leaning into the more action heavy approach.

The general enemies are more action heavy as well. The “Ganados” that replace the zombies can follow you, run at you, pick up weapons and try and strike you with them (or just toss them at you!) and later they even have guns… and miniguns! Then you get boss fights with giants more from fantasy than horror, and it’s a weird-arse Resi game, but you do get some more traditional enemies and bosses too…

There is also a travelling (and teleporting?) merchant that can sell and buy items, which is an odd one for a Resident Evil title, and exclusive to 4. Later games still have weapons and upgrades, but are instead done without a hard-to-pinpoint-accented merchant wondering around.

Resident Evil 4 5

Whoops, missed a prompt, now I have to watch the whole thing again…

Now here comes my major gripe with the game, and all games that feature it as heavy as this one does, Quick Time Events (moments where you suddenly have to press a button or buttons, and if you’re too slow… bad things happen) Now, the odd boss fight where there is a bit of a scene and you have to tap a button to do more damage? That’s fine. A long cut-scene knife fight that if you miss a QTE prompt you instantly die and have to go through the whole cut-scene again? BAD. Seriously, the game relies on QTEs for cheap deaths far too often, though it’s going to get worse before it gets better… (Hello Resident Evil 6!)

Oh and I’ll mention the thing most people mention when they talk about things that annoy them in RE4: Ashley Graham. At various points in the game you rescue her, and at those points you often have to keep her safe or even guide her through an area, and all these moments are often a little bit annoying… or really frustrating, depending on difficulty level.

The extra mode on offer is the return of “The Mercenaries” mode, though this time you’re in one “map” and have to see how long you can extend the time by killing enemies (how and what enemies will give you more time on the clock), until you’re “rescued”. You’re graded by how well you do, i.e. how much time you have at the end (and if you didn’t die, obviously!)

So, ignoring the QTEs, the game was great fun to play through then, and still is now. The boss fights are often fun, the general gameplay is smooth as butter and rewarding, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Graphics and Sound:

Resident Evil 4 4

Always an impressive looking game, RE4. Even today the HD upgrades aren’t that far removed from the GC original.

Resident Evil 4 on the Gamecube looked brilliant when it came out. Sure its got filmic black borders at the top and bottom, but it looked so good I didn’t care. Now? They’re still fine, and most updated re-releases frame the game normally anyway, and add a few more textures and stuff as well. But anyway, this is a review of the Gamecube version, and it still looks fine!

Soundtrack, like most of the Resi games, isn’t memorable but sets the mood well, and once again great soundeffects. Also once again the voice acting is fine but pretty cheesy at times, with Leon being stoic to the point of almost being a parody (and he has some truly atrocious lines, in a funny way)

Story:

Resident Evil 4 3

Worst. Comeback. Ever.

Umbrella has collapsed (yep, off-camera!) and Leon is now working for the US government and has been sent into the heart of a creepy cult known as “Los Iluminados” in order to find and rescue the president’s daughter Ashely. When he arrives there he is soon attacked by the general public, cultists and soldiers, all of whom are under the influence of a parasite known as La Plaga. Leon soon finds out that Ashley was kidnapped by his old partner Jack Krauser, who was believed dead, and eventually runs into Ada again (who was also believed dead, but there you go, so was Wesker a game ago!)

Eventually Leon escapes with Ashley after making sure Krauser and the head of the cult Dark Sidius lite (a.k.a. Lord Saddler) are dead. Oh and Ada is working for a new company that also has Wesker as a member, and was after a Plaga sample. It’s a simple story that has very few connections to the game timeline at all, which is the opposite of its sequel!

Thoughts Then:

Resident Evil 4 6

This screenshot is less Resident Evil, more Devil May Cry or something… Oh well, still fun!

I was thrilled to be able to play a new Resident Evil game that actually felt like a new Resident Evil game, as in control wise. I was less thrilled with having to fight enemies firing guns and throwing dynamite (or fighting cultists riding a giant fire-breathing gold dragon statue in a lava room of a castle…?), but I at least found it hilarious seeing Leon martial arts kicking and suplexing creatures. It was an undeniably fun time, it wasn’t Resi, but that didn’t mean I didn’t replay it several times (that’s the other thing, it was really easy! … minus QTE deaths) and generally enjoyed myself immensely.

5 Star Game Old

Thoughts Now:

Now? It’s certainly the tightest of the three over-the-shoulder mainline Resident Evil titles, and I do have a soft spot for the awful dialogue and generally weird vibe the game has. Unlike 6 it still plays really well and beyond the annoying QTE cutscene deaths and some bad partner A.I. in places, it’s hard to fault it really… though those two things do bring it down from a 5…

4 Star Game New

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