Resident Evil 4
 


Aside from a few technical differences, the PS2 translation of RE 4 carries over all of the amazing gametime that was had with it's older GameCube bretheren.

I'm still trying to figure out how Capcom was able to come to terms with Nintendo and offer them so many exclusives for the Nintendo GameCube system. Perhaps Nintendo was trying to bolster up its "mature" audience and get more people interested in picking up the system aside from families and hardcore Nintendo-philes. Regardless, the deal worked...at least, for a little while. Games such as Killer 7 and Viewtiful Joe were announced and eventually came to the system, along with re-releases of literally all the titles from the Resident Evil series, alone with the original Resident Evil Zero game. But the biggest part of the deal clearly came with Resident Evil 4, a game that introduced an all new way of play for the series and brought forth a revolutionary leap in a gameplay experience, the first of many for 2005. To this day, it remains an utterly unbelievable product for Nintendo's machine, and everyone who owns a GameCube and loves a good game probably has it in their library.

But the exclusitivity had to run out sometime, and so it did. Viewtiful and Killer both popped up on the PlayStation 2 in a matter of no time, and now, so has Resident Evil 4. So the question is, does this edition hold any merit and deliver on any of the goods its developers had promised, or is it merely a cash-in to try and nab the PlayStation 2 enthusiast crowd, as Capcom had done with the GameCube zealots? Well, this is no cash-in. In fact, consider it a "director's cut" of Resident Evil 4, even if it seems slightly ragged around the edges. Hey, think of it as a prime rib with a couple of scorched edges- you still get the idea of a terrific flavor.

Resident Evil 4 picks up in a different time and place than the previous chapters. It's been six years since the events that plagued Raccoon City took place, and the US Government has delivered a gigantic smack-down to the folks at the Umbrella Corporation, responsible for wreaking havoc on the populace with their mutated monstrosities. Leon Kennedy, the hero from Resident Evil 2 who worked alongside Claire Redfield to stop the threat, has turned in his badge and is now taking on the role of a Secret Service Agent. His current gig has him sent to a small city within Spain, where the president's daughter, Ashley Graham, has mysteriously vanished. Upon his arrival, Leon notices something is wrong, and it's within his first encounter with one of the villagers that he puts himself into action to stop whatever it is.

Of course, who am I to spoil the goods of the story? Part of the fun of Resident Evil 4 is discovering the twists and turns for yourself, and they all remain fully intact for the PlayStation 2 edition. If it isn't about an ambush of angry villagers that you try to get out of with gunfire and quick maneuvers, it's a boss battle that ranges from taking on a vicious giant known as El Gigante or, my personal favorite, a battle against an enormous fish that has every intention of making you its latest snack.

Part of the appeal of Resident Evil 4 is how it shifted gameplay into an all new energetic approach. Gone are the "turn around and walk, press this button to run" tactic, and in its place is a new perspective where you're looking over the shoulder of Leon as he works his way through the dangerous territory, avoiding traps and aiming precisely at villagers or the weapons they may be carrying, ranging from pitchforks to sickles to a chainsaw. There's still exploration to be done to find items, as well as the occasional "rescuing" that needs to be completely in order to save Ashley in spots. But this new focus gives Resident Evil the kind of drive it's always seeked out, and makes it much larger an experience than previous efforts. I don't know if it's the perspective or just the revamped design in general, but whatever it is, it so works.

Along with over-the-shoulder shooting action provided, there's also moments where you'll need to hit buttons precisely to avoid a vicious attack by a boss or tap the button in order to gain the upper hand or reach safety. This comes back to the battle with the fish, where you're sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake as he swims around, looking for his moment of opportunity. After landing a couple of harpoons in its mouth, it'll eventually strike from below and knock you out of the boat, and you'll have to ferociously paddle your way back to the boat and get back in before you become digested. Another example would bring up Gigante, who comes right at you to hammer you, and a press of a button is required in order for you to roll out of the way. Another neat aspect involves the use of environment. That stack of rocks up on the hill might come in handy for knocking down the big guy, so a well-timed shot should suffice.

The gameplay does seem a slight bit looser than the GameCube predecessor, which may force some to kind of adjust to the style that the PS2 version brings. But, for the most part, it still works, and in the game you'll also find a couple of new, luxurious weapons that will allow you to mow down the villagers and whatever else is in your path in a cinch. Take, for example, the P.R.L. 412 Laser Cannon, a gun that packs an incredible amount of heat and cuts through people like a knife through a steak. There's also the Gunpowder Bowgun, which isn't as effective as the Cannon but still has its own unique powers. Aside from that, you also have access to weapons from the previous game, a wide array that has great effect against the evil forces surrounding you.

But it's the addition of an all new mission called "Separate Ways" that will no doubt get the attention of Resident Evil fans. This separate side-story puts you in control of aiding character Ada Wong, who's running through the game in her own way as she takes on villagers and discovers her own sense of truth. It's almost like a separate game in itself, with the exception that it only lasts a mere five missions instead of a staggering fifteen-plus. Regardless, it's a wonderful addition, not only because it provides a fresh perspective on what's going on, but also wraps up a few nagging questions that might have stuck out on the GameCube predecessor. Situations will occur that subsequently run alongside Leon's, and, combined with his, the entire thing fleshes out and gives you a better appreciation of just what Capcom has been up to. Not bad at all.

Not all has gone perfectly in this translation, however...although you can't blame Capcom. After all, this game was originally built with the GameCube in mind, so you probably were going to be aware of some slight shortcomings here and there. The sound comes across as slightly contained, not as stereo-fueled as on Nintendo's machine, but it's still pretty well done, with everything ranging from the villagers' strange, garbled voices yelling across the town to the hint of a chainsaw, which builds tension as it grows louder and louder and eventually reveals a hooded madman ready to tear you apart.

With the graphics, they deliver, for the most part, with the massive environments fully captured and the second-person perspective completely intact. However, there were times that some unnecessary slowdown came into play, and the game is somewhat lacking in little details that shined on the Cube. Fortunately, Capcom kind of made up for this by throwing in progressive and widescreen TV support, allowing those who own the proper equipment to really take advantage here. But this could make the slight issues a bit more glaring.

So now the question comes into play as to if you should plunk down another $40 to own a second version of Resident Evil 4. Here's the way I see it. If you already own the GameCube version, give this one a rent and see if "Separate Ways" is worth the justification. If you don't yet own this game, then immediately invest and enjoy the splendor. Resident Evil 4, when all is said and done, is still a remarkable experience that brings about a new high point for the series, and stands as one of the best games this year...no matter what the platform. This new edition will whip PS2 fans into a frenzy, while no doubt making GameCube owners grumble to themselves that they got robbed. Hey, take heart- you've been having all the fun for nine months now. And no one ever said it was over, right?

Conclusion

When Resident Evil 4 arrived earlier this year, it immediately garnered talk of "Game of the Year" awards, thanks to the development that made it unlike any previous Evil game before it. Now it comes to the PlayStation 2, remaining just as refreshing and yet viciously evil. It could've used some touch-ups to make it a perfect achievement, but it still offers enough in its gameplay and extras to make it a must-own in your library. This is one of the best Resident Evil games ever made.

GameDAILY Rating:

by Robert Workman

 

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