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Resident Evil 4

Discover the perfect essence of evil as we enter the dark recesses of Resident Evil 4

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VIDEO NASTY
Real gory trouble, that is. We knew Resident Evil 4 was visual in its depiction of violence and gore, but we were still surprised at just how vicious it is. There are loads of death-sequence moments that'll have you covering your eyes or sucking spit through your teeth in disgust. Best of all, this level of brutality never feels pointless or comic. Rather, it's a wonderfully cathartic climax to the brooding fear and escalating tension you've been feeling - a sudden release of terror captured in a claret-soaked image of a blade through your face.

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Just writing about it has our pulse racing and our brows sweating, and we feel we've hardly touched on the magnificence of Resi 4. There's so much to rave about that it becomes overwhelming, like there just aren't enough positive words in the dictionary to do it justice.

So let's take Resident Evil 4 down to technical, game mechanic terms by comparing it to the previous games in the series. Again, it's fantastic. It makes the past Resi games look like clumsy, annoying piles of zombie turd. In Resi 4, there's almost no pointless back-tracking. The checkpoints are placed perfectly so as to cut frustration but still offer a challenge. You can save whenever you find a typewriter (no need for ribbons, thank goodness). The puzzle sections have also been toned down. No longer will you be stuck for ages trying to work out a hideously oblique brainteaser. Rather, you'll be pleased to have a quick breather from the oppressive action.

When you do come across the President's daughter and the game switches towards an Ico-esque escort mission, your controls for telling her what to do are simple and effective. One tap of X tells her to wait or follow, and you can order her to hide with the same button. Impressively, she ducks automatically every time you swing your weapon her way, totally defusing any potential 'You Shot The Dumbass President's daughter so it's game over' type scenarios.

There are a couple of occasions when you're placed in control of Ashley, unarmed and pretty useless. Amazingly, even these sections don't frustrate. They're short for one thing, and they're so well judged that they add another dimension to the game's action. Good God. Capcom couldn't even mess those bits up.

Overall, there's a real sense that Resident Evil 4 has been designed by people who really know, love and understand how a good game works, and how it makes you feel. Or rather, how it should make you feel. The tense and evolving gameplay is consistently driven into every fibre of your body in new and exciting ways and the pacing is nothing short of perfect. Playing Resident Evil 4 was the first time in years we never once got even slightly frustrated or bored by a videogame.

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INFECTED AND PERFECTED
Most importantly of all, Resi 4 is continuously throwing something new at you, whether it's a new environment, a new weapon, a new enemy, a new stimulating set-piece, or a new terrifying experience. This endless originality is particularly impressive when you consider that there's at least twenty hours of gameplay here, which is more like 30-35 hours in real terms when you add in deaths, exploration, deaths, and a few more deaths.

But the real mark of Resident Evil 4's untouchable superiority is wrapped up in that sigh of resignation from our developer friend. In truth, there's so many stunning aspects of this game that a tiny gesture like that says much more than pages of considered prose could.

Resident Evil 4 displays such extreme mastery of the videogame medium that it deserves far more than any review could give it, which essentially makes the thousands of sycophantic words we've just battered out redundant. So, we'll finish with the review we thought about running: Resident Evil 4. The perfect videogame? Pretty bloody close.

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