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Resident Evil 4 (GC)

February 8, 2005 By D. Riley

Old traditions die hard.

I'm so pretty!
You go girl!

You might remember my buddy, Andrew, I've mentioned him before. Almost nine years ago we sat together and cried in the dark at four in the morning as something part monkey-part gorilla bounded its way up elevator shafts towards the nubile cheeks of Jill Valentine's polygonal ass. Five years ago he was there while I beat down the Umbrella Corporation's most fearful monster with only a pistol. Just over two years ago I waited a little more than three weeks to buy Resident Evil 0, so he'd have first glance at the newest thing from Capcom's corner of the world.

So I guess it'd suffice to say that we've got a longstanding survival horror tradition. I've detailed a lot of this before, but I wanted to give you a brief refresher.

Resident Evil had some longstanding traditions too. Tank-like controls, Rocket Launchers ex Machina, the lack of ammo or health, the awkwardly written cutscenes, plotholes large enough to swallow a man, and dialogue acted so badly it could make a twelve year old squirm.

But all traditions have to stop sometimes. Two days before Resident Evil 4 came to the United States, Andrew went back to college. Well I could wait for three weeks, but something like three months seemed a little less fair, especially when I read the reviews this game was getting. This is the first survival horror game Andrew wasn't around to play with me, but then again... I'm not really convinced it's a survival horror game anyway.

Four years ago Capcom was going to make Resident Evil 4, but the resulting project started resembling the games less and less. The end result was Devil May Cry, one of the greatest next-gen games of all time. This time around I guess Capcom just got tired of not having a "fourth" game in their series, because what came out of that great big gaping maw of theirs once again has very little to do with horror and even less to do with survival.

Don't get me wrong, Resident Evil 4 is a good game. But it's a good action-adventure game, not a great survival horror game and therein lies the rub. Someone at Capcom refused to take it all the way. When the action game that was Dino Crisis 2 came out I soiled myself, because Dino Crisis 1 was such an abortion of survival horror that there was no way to save it, might as well try something new! Resident Evil was still going pretty strong… in a fashion. If you came to them wanting what the games were then you'd never be disappointed. Resident Evil didn't show a lot of room to grow, but every game promised freakier monsters, louder guns and the same clunky -- but lovable! -- control scheme.

Leon Scott Kennedy has matured in six years. No longer is he a rookie cop, first day on the job, somehow managing to get into a quarantined, zombie overrun city. Now he's stuck in Spain, looking for the President's daughter. The game makes no report of what or where he's exactly from in the government, but this isn't necessarily weird for a Resident Evil timeline. This is the universe where a 10 year old girl is responsible for one of the most deadly viruses in the entire world.

Now Leon Scott Kennedy, like Keanu Reeves, has matured from whiney kid to super badass in the blink of an eye. Though he remains as pretty as a fifteen year old schoolgirl, this Leon does flips and kicks and dodges with only a few button presses, a system some fans of a certain Dreamcast gem might find rather familiar (Shenmue, anyone?). But with Umbrella Inc. gone, as the opening narration tells us, does Leon even have a foe anymore? There are no zombies in Spain.

Look at me. So brooding and mysterious now that I'm made of 10,000 polygons.

Instead our protagonist finds a very "Children of the Corn"-type atmosphere. The villagers attack him without a second thought and soon he's fighting for his life. Fortunately when they keel over they tend to leave red, green and blue piles of sparkly stuff for him to pick up. That's where the game's problems start. No longer is ammo really a problem, it's almost a luxury! Monsters also drop golden coins by the thousand, which you can easily cash in at your local GUN MERCHANT to obtain your deadly weapon of choice. That shotgun not packing enough heat for ya? Don't worry, there's a Riot Gun just around the corner and you only need 20,000 Pesetas to call it your very own!

Look, you know me, I love buying things. I base my entire life around playing games where you can buy things. I was even a little excited when I heard you could buy things. But it doesn't work. Resident Evil isn't a game where I want to do that. I want to run around hitting the “A” button until I hit some obscure point in the terrain and prizes pop out. I want to chatter my teeth when I find a red herb but no green one to mix it with and the last boss is right around the corner. I want to be able to go back and beat the game in 70 minutes using only the knife. Resident Evil is practically the ONLY series of games where stuff like this happens. If this series, as I know it, dies then what the hell am I gonna do? I'm not good at videogames, only survival horror. It's like the cumbersome controls and I hit a certain simpatico. Now what do I have to do? Manually aim? Who the hell ever heard of headshots in a Resident Evil game? Not without a magnum, you don't!

Again, don't get me wrong, Resident Evil 4 is fun enough to knock your shoes AND socks off. It's fun to shoot sparkly objects off walls and find out they're jewel encrusted tiaras. It's fun to sell these tiaras to the ghastly merchant and it's fun to use the money to buy a giant handgun and shoot a giant bug monster with it. It's fun enough to play through the game again and do these things twice! But it's not fun in the way a Resident Evil game is fun, which is less fun and more like a heavy man jumping on your genitals. Sometimes you need your videogames to do that! We don't have Nintendo anymore. Where are the games that want to punish you for even making the slightest mistake? Where are the games where you can reach the end and realize you don't have enough supplies to actually -win-?

I guess I'm an old fogey, but nine years of Resident Evil 1 repackaged and resold to me with minor tweaks just wasn't enough. I can't say I'll be playing videogames forever (someday I might have sex!), but right now I'm in my prime and I want to have to shoot a zombie five times in the chest even though the continuity explicitly states a single bullet to the head will kill them. Money and monsters that drop ammo and merchants, those kinds of things don't belong in my Resident Evil game. I want to be alone. I want characters to split up for no reason. I don't want a world populated with extremely pretty men. I sure as hell don't want to SEE a freaking rocket launcher until it's thrown to me by some mystery person at the last possible moment. What's so wrong with that?

He was the only guy with short hair left...

I wept a little when Resident Evil 0 came out. The ability to hotswap between two characters upset me, and in the blurb I wrote for the now defunct drunkgamers.com I mentioned that I hoped it never made another appearance. Well now what the hell am I supposed to do? Do you really think Shinji Mikami's going to go back to the old ways? Innovation and Resident Evil are two things that need to mix as infrequently as possible. Just give me a giant, clubhanded monster and a shotgun to kill him with. I'll be happy. Resident Evil 4 is a good game, it's a really good game, but it is not my really good game.

It looks like two traditions died this year…

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There are no comments available for ‘Resident Evil 4 (GC)’ yet!

#1 D. Riley Feb 8, 2005 10:12pm

I wanted to name this article Boobs, but peccaui yelled at me. :(

You're looking at what might be the fastest turnaround for a TNG article ever, only about 3 hours from start to finish... it just... took four weeks for me to START it.

Hopefully this is not indicative of its quality!

#2 Dublyner Feb 9, 2005 01:01am

You're the perfect candidate to actually enjoy Doom3 and you don't even know it.

#3 D. Riley Feb 9, 2005 02:09am

Doom 3 sucks. That was the worst game ever.

When I showed this article to the ever present Andrew his only comment was "Needs more zomb". Ah ha!

Holy shit. So drunk. It's fat Tuesday!

#4 The Joel Feb 9, 2005 02:45am

What is the deal with Luis anyway? The manly red 9 seems somewhat out of place with this limp wristed character.

#5 D. Riley Feb 9, 2005 05:41pm

Color me flabbergasted.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce my good buddy Joel, a person so reviled by the socialization of the internet that him joining a forum is like a masochist asking a 300 pound woman NOT to pee on him.

Yay for Joel!

#6 Anonymous Feb 9, 2005 10:38pm

That's really gross.

#7 Namons Feb 10, 2005 12:36pm

If you had named it boobs I'm sure I would have read it sooner. Mean peccaui!

I remember playing the old Resident Evil. Picking the girl just so that I could save the game, something the other wouldn't let you do unless you had a typewriter ribbon? Something like that. It was almost forcing your hand in who you picked. And who can forget that loverly wav file someone made turning the lines from RE into a shower orgy. I know I can't. And yes I will mention it every time I mention RE. :P

I can sympathize with Mr. Riley somewhat when he talks about this game. Having that kind of situation arise where you knew you were going to have to push yourself to defeat a boss because your ace in the hole was either not there or broken was what made games great. Not just RE but any game really.

So good job getting down to brass tacks with this review. I was a "gamer/shopper" too but I prefer a RPG experience over an action/adventure experience trying to pull the same business.

Lt. of Gaming, Retired.

#8 hobbie Feb 20, 2005 07:07am

This game was scary. I could hardly play the demo.

And control wise, I didn't like using the one thumbstick to control movement AND aiming. It just threw me off.