Played on: Playstation 2
Resident Evil 4 is a departure from the previous games in the series in that it has a plot that contains “build-up” and actual suspense at times instead of the typical “Oh, the Umbrella Corporation are at it again, let’s kill them all!” storylines. The graphics are wonderful. Gameplay, however, is uneven.
If you are hardcore about finishing this game at one go, I suggest that you call in sick from work or school for three days because that’s how long it will take. In this game, our hero, Leon S Kennedy, was last seen in the second sequel of the game as one of the survivors of the zombie party in that game. He’s now a Federal Agent and his latest mission is to locate and rescue Ashley, the daughter of the President, who was last seen in some unnamed country in Europe that seems suspiciously like Spain. Leon explores a small village that has the obligatory big scary house to learn that not all is what is seems. Zombies and other slimy and slobbering monsters make an appearance and it’s time to party again.
There are several points in this game where I have to play as Ashley when I am not playing as Leon trying to escort her useless unblinking butt to safety. Ashley is a bad caricature of the useless female who will run off alone into the dark just because Leon says something to her that she thinks she doesn’t like. It’s too bad that I can deliberately let Ashley get eaten by a zombie. Playing as Ashley is fun because she can’t fight, she is unarmed, so basically all I have to do is to solve simple puzzles to get items or run when I see monsters approaching. How annoying. On the other hand, Leon can shoot and this game is as close as a first person shooter game as it can be while letting the player view Leon running around the screen. Leon can buy weapons using money he has found from some enterprising zombie wearing a long trench coat (don’t ask) located strategically here and there. Ammunition, however, has to be found so be prepared to switch weapons when the ammo for that particular weapon runs out in the middle of a slugfest with some monster.
Finishing the game unlocks some bonuses including the chance to play the game as Leon’s ex-girlfriend Ada Wong. That particular game is actually different enough from Leon’s to make it worth slugging through the game all over again. The platforming in this game is actually quite simple with virtually no chance of me getting lost and spending months trying to get past some puzzle (like some people are reported to encounter while playing God of War). A walkthrough FAQ is only necessary if you don’t want to take time searching every room for the possibility of discovering some extra ammo or healing aids.
Gameplay is quite uneven though, I find. Controlling Leon (and Ashley) is smooth-sailing but sometimes the lower monsters are actually harder to kill than bosses. With the right weapon, I can actually finish off a major mini-boss in three fires of that weapon! Because of this, the payoff in playing Resident Evil 4 can be disappointing. At the end of the day, while I’ve had fun with this game, I can’t help feeling that it is lacking that special something that will elevate it from being a good game to a “must-play” one.