Before Resident Evil 4 the Capcom series for famous for flesh eating zombies, terrible dialogue, great scares and long periods of watching a door open. The fourth installment changed this, with the exception of the terrible dialogue. Gone are the Zombies, scares and annoying load times, in are crazed peasants, action, impressive graphics and large open environments.
Resident evil 4 is a departure from the series and this is not a bad thing. While the previous installments were great games, the decisions to change the basic formula is implemented so effectively that while it might play different to any of the previous games it still feels unmistakably resident evil.
The plot has the hero from resident evil 2 (Leon Kennedy) searching for the presidents daughter. Since the events of resident evil 2 it appears Leon has become a secret agent of some sorts as well as getting a rather bad haircut. The bad guys are Spanish peasants, who appear to live in a time that is seems so technological backwards that even the typewriters (which return as the main method to save games) seem like something from the future. The majority of enemies you encounter are simple peasants who have been infected with las plagas (some ancient creature that controls its victims). While the removal of zombies initially upset me, their replacement with the frenzied attack of the las plagas is a welcome addition. As the game goes on different types of enemies appear with a steadily increasing difficulty, the difficulties of enemies vary, some have weak spots the player has to focus on or in most cases they simply require more bullets.
The decision to focus on run and gun techniques as well as an enemy that can open doors means that when the enemy attacks it can feel unrelenting. An example of this can be found early on in the game, upon entering a village, the local populace turn on you forcing the player to run and hide. The open areas and increased intelligence of the enemies mean that wherever the player hides, the can be found. The enemies will burst through doors, run up stairs and climb through windows causing the player to have a constant sense of dread and means that they never feel like they are safe.
A testament to resident evil 4ís addictive action based game play is its re-playability. There have been few games that I have completed at least twice. I have played through Resident evil 4, with over 20 hours of gameplay, three times and that is not including the extras such as mercenary mode as well as the Ada Wong side story. Even 3 years after its release the once awe inspiring graphics are still very nice to look at and the gameplay remains fresh and exciting
Unfortunately with the focus shifting to action the game can occasionally frustrate while the various puzzles invariable patronize the player. The plot is hit and miss and some of the dialogue is pure cheese, but these flaws are minor and never really detract from the overall gaming experience. Three years after its release resident evil 4 is still a great game and worth checking out.
-- Review by Robert "Spartan" Bryden