Resident Evil 4 HD Review
It’s Resident Evil 4… in HD!!
Capcom has been around since 1983 and they have been a major player in the video game industry ever since. With such classic franchises as Resident Evil, Mega Man and Street Fighter they continue to push the limits of what a company can do. They know what gamers want and they deliver as best anyone could.
September 20th brings us the first of the Resident Evil HD Collection downloads on Xbox Live. Resident Evil 4 in a new re-mastered HD release. The graphics are sharper and it looks great on my HDTV. After surviving the Raccoon City incident of 1998, Leon S. Kennedy is hired by the U.S. Secret Service and with the aid of the U.S. government helped put the tyrannical Pharmaceutical Company Umbrella out of business, at least as far as the world was concerned. In 2004 Leon is sent to a remote village in Europe on a mission to locate and rescue Ashley Graham, the President’s missing daughter who is believed to be held captive by a strange cult called Los Illuminados (“The Enlightened Ones”). Upon arrival Leon is met with hostility from the local villagers who, due to their allegiance to the cult, will stop at nothing to eliminate any outside threat.
At this point in the series the developers decided to venture away from the standard game play mechanics of third person view without 3D environments. In past incarnations you had stationary backgrounds and could see your character walking around throughout the game. In RE4 they introduced the “third person, over the shoulder” style of game play, like Gears of War. I was extremely skeptical when I heard this change was coming but it was actually a quite impressive improvement as it adds a whole new dimension to the playing experience and helps to get the most out of the creepy atmosphere you are playing in. One really big bonus to this style of play is there are no longer ridiculously long loading screens every time you run up a set of stairs or open a door. I don`t think I could say if I prefer this new style more or less for the series, but I will say the old way works perfect with the older games and this way works perfect with this game. It helps make for some great action sequences that some fans may have found lacking in the older games in the series.
There is also the addition of a money system and you can buy your supplies from a mysterious merchant who is throughout the game. Unlike older entries to the series where you would be nervous of picking up items for space, it’s actually good in this one. Pick it up and sell it to the merchant, RPG style! Also, there are options in specific places to jump or climb to save time from returning the way you came. For example, if I am on the second floor of a house and I want to leave, I can smash out the window and jump outside to the ground. RE4 has some great action and plenty of do or die moments which bring me to the next inclusion on this volume, timed button smashing commands. There are places throughout the game where, during cinematic scenes, you have to button smash a certain combo of buttons that pop on the screen in order to avoid certain fate. They are fast, intense and completely random which means you cannot be prepared to hit the same combo on your second try, it will be different.
The story itself is a very different take on the series but works (and meshes with the other titles) well. The villagers and isolation of the game setting is very reminiscent of the story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” by pulp horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. The Los Illuminados cult is similar in many ways to Lovecraft’s “Esoteric Order of Dagon.” If you’re playing a game that’s remotely like a Lovecraft story, then you’re in for a lot of scares and even more psychologically intense moments with just enough action. That being said this game is heavy on the action!
There is no multiplayer for this game. Normally this irks me to no end with the games released today but seeing as this is a classic and did fine without multiplayer upon its initial release indicates they could have ruined a great game if they got too experimental. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!
There are a total of twelve achievements throughout RE4 and ten are obtained by simply playing through the story (one of which is to beat the game on the hardest difficulty). The remaining two are based on collectibles throughout the game.
This game is great from beginning to end. When it was first released it really made me nervous about where the series was going. They changed the gameplay mechanics, they went with a whole new approach to storytelling, and they added a store! Rest assured the roots of RE are still quite present and this innovative remodeling was just what the series needed. This game opened up RE to a whole new group of people and different types of gamers and I hope this HD release will do so again. Not just for the newest RE out there but hopefully for people who haven’t played the older ones to go back and give them a shot. This is the series that invented the survival horror genre and that is still evident in RE4. Buy it.