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GameCube Review: Resident Evil 4

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The last game I ever played was Bionic Commando for the NES. That was 1987. Later that same year, I beat Mega Man 2. I never had that much luck afterwards. I lost my passion to play as I got older. Until that is, I came across Resident Evil 4 for the GameCube.

The game is set after the events of Resident Evil 2, in which former Raccoon City policeman Leon S. Kennedy is sent on a mission to find Ashley Graham, the President’s daughter. Leon’s investigation begins in a small village in Europe, which he has been driven to. But after one of the villagers nearly kills him after inquiring about Ashley, it’s clear this isn’t going to be as simple as it looks.

Unlike previous Resident Evil’s, the baddies here are relatively different. Instead of zombies, they were everyday villagers who had been possessed by an unseen force. Unlike zombies, these enemies are still able to function as normal people until ordered to do otherwise. This means that as Leon shoots, they will duck and dodge in order to get at him. This change of villains however was one of many welcome changes given to the series.

Having played the first couple Resident Evil games, the biggest improvement is the ability to seamless move the viewpoint of Leon both behind and in front of him. In previous games, the camera seemed stuck in one angle, which left you to find all items and fight the zombies within the set-up given. Here you were given a single left-to-right viewpoint of wherever the main character is looking. This means a focus on the items as well as a concentration on the enemies you have to shoot.

Because this title carried the name of Resident Evil, other characters sprinkled throughout the series made their return appearance. Not to spoil it for those who have yet to play this, but some of them will be a surprise to fans. Having only been familiar with Leon S. Kennedy from Resident Evil 2, the little bit I saw then has changed.

Technology changes made it possible for the characters to appear a bit more animated in their movements. When Leon attempted to shoot an enemy this time around, his hands and arms would move constantly. When a villager attempted to come up from behind, Leon would turn around slightly. The real time motions of the main character as well as everyone else in the game make it much more interactive.

The scope of the game is larger than in previous RE’s. The castles and mansions are placed more in the middle of the game. Placed around it are a series of villages and caves, along with an interesting lakefront, which has to be seen to be believed. These wider range in landscapes make for a lot of eye-popping surprises when in battle.

Eventually, you will come to meet Ashley and realize she was nothing more than Leon’s Kim Bauer (24). She’ll get kidnapped throughout the game and be a main character for a part of it too. That is one minor gripe in a game that has more to offer than its cliché-ridden plot would allow you to believe.

I do hope that in the future that they stay on this new format. The game play is much more manageable when you know what you are looking at, and have control over your environment. The graphics are also a big improvement, not to mention the variety of locals you get to see. Let us hope GameCube can keep up this level of quality and gain more users of the system.

Sony can’t have all the fun.

Also read what other Blogcritics had to say about Resident Evil 4:

PS2 Review: Resident Evil 4 — Matt Paprocki
GameCube Review: Resident Evil 4 — Nicholas Roussos
GameCube Review: Resident Evil 4 — Matt Paprocki

Resident Evil 4 is a rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language. This game can also be found on: PS2.

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About Matthew Milam