Resident Evil 4 HD Review
- Posted September 21st, 2011 at 02:15 EDT by Michael Harradence
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A gripping, action-packed horror shooter chock full of intense gunplay, thrilling set-pieces and plenty of content under the hood.
- Action-packed and satisfying combat
- Awesome boss battles and eye-popping set-pieces
- Heaps of unlockable content and great replay value
- Shoddy sound effects
- Some horrendous textures
- Underwhelming puzzles
Being a Resident Evil fan pre-2005 was a relatively satisfying, if somewhat predictable existence. For the majority of followers, it wasn’t exactly hard to second guess Capcom’s next effort: an inevitable viral outbreak, poor innocents becoming mindless walking corpses, and an armed-to-the-teeth hero heroine slogging through yet another nightmare. In terms of gameplay evolution, only a few incremental upgrades were brought to the table every few years, giving naysayers plenty of mud to sling at Capcom for perpetuating what many accused to be a rapidly decaying experience. And yet despite the series’ obstinate refusal to spread its wings beyond ‘90s horror conventions, it worked bloody well, with the franchise continuing to sell like hotcakes as fans lapped it up year after year. As a fan since 1997, I’ve no problem admitting I gobbled up each new title with supreme anticipation, while conceding the action remained an enjoyable, if slightly perfunctory survival-horror romp. However, this all changed when series mastermind Shinji Mikami, while developing the fourth entry in the lauded horror series, decided to take a chainsaw to a promising-looking beta and tear our pre-conceptions to bloody great chunks.
This was a totally disparate beast to what we had become accustomed to since ’96. Gone were the pre-rendered backgrounds, instead replaced by fully 3D locales and a behind-the-shoulder camera. Zombies? Out. Monotonous door/stair loading sequences? A thing of the past. Creeping around claustrophobic corridors scavenging for ammo? Not in this blast-a-thon. Yep, 2005’s Resident Evil 4 was a major shot in the arm for the series, and for me personally marked the point where Capcom bisected fan following into two distinct paths – those fond of the classic formula, and those who sided with this new direction. Indeed, this bifurcation sparked a bitchy rivalry between both camps, and one that continues even to this day. I’ll admit that I was part of the witch hunt that initially demanded Mikami’s head after turning my favourite survival horror fest into an all-out actioner. Nonetheless, its success could not be ignored, and it’s safe to say the game was responsible for attracting a new legion of fans, and putting plenty of dough in Capcom’s pockets to boot. This was Resident Evil, reinvented for a new generation, and now it’s been dug up and resurrected for the HD era on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. But with the rose-tinted glasses firmly off, how does 2005’s Game of the Year hold up under the scrutiny of 1080p specs?
RE4 kicks off in 2004, six years after the destruction of Raccoon City depicted at the conclusion of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. With the nefarious Umbrella Corporation now on its last legs, the action shifts from urban viral outbreaks to the remote countryside of Europe, where now-government agent Leon S. Kennedy is on a mission to rescue President Graham’s daughter, Ashley. Floppy-haired Kennedy – who players should remember from RE2 – arrives in a seemingly innocuous village, and, after having a quick (and almost fatal) chinwag with a local house owner, finds himself battling for his life against hordes of the settlement’s pitch-fork wielding residents. Lob that in the pot with a bucket load of claret, heaps of deadly weapons, a pinch of bad puns and a power hungry midget (you’ll see) and you’ve got the recipe for one of the most enjoyable, balls-to-the-walls action-horror fests of the past few years.
As mentioned previously, RE4 takes place from an over-the-shoulder perspective, making hitting enemy limbs a cinch. Bad guys come in all shapes and sizes, though Kennedy will mainly be getting into a ruck with infected villagers, cultists and military types. Regardless, the bread-and-butter combat is as visceral and satisfying as it was six years ago, making for some stomach-knotting battles. The rudimentary human baddies—known as the ‘Los Ganados’—aren’t really a threat in small numbers, but get a large group together and you’ll be fighting tooth and nail to survive. As with RE5, you’ll be ... (continued on next page) ----