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A Resident Evil Retrospective Part 5: Resident Evil 4
With Resident Evil 6 about half a month away, once a week I'm going to be taking a look back at all the main Resident Evil games, leading up to the October 2nd 2012 release of Resident Evil 6. The Resident Evil series is arguably one of the greatest video games series ever, and its influence can be seen, and played in movies and games ever since the release of the first one.
Last week focused on Resident Evil Code: Veronica. This week A Resident Evil Retrospective will focus on the fifth main game in the franchise, Resident Evil 4, the game that changed the series forever. Resident Evil 4 focuses on a post-Umbrella, post-t-virus world, and is widely considered the best Resident Evil, as well as the best video game of our generation.
Talk of a fourth entry into the Resident Evil series began at the end of 1999 and beginning of 2000. The game was supposed to feature an invincible man with many skills and abilities. Capcom was looking to make a "stylish" action game in the Resident Evil world. The game went through a bunch of changes and eventually was turned into the game we know of today as Devil May Cry.
Capcom then announced to the world that they were developing Resident Evil 4 that would be exclusive to the Nintendo Gamecube. This version of the game is known as the "fog version". The game featured Leon S. Kennedy sneaking into the Umbrella Headquarters in Europe, and while he was there he would become infected with the Progenitor Virus, and now possess a special power in one hand. The game would have featured traditional zombies from the previous games. This version was eventually scrapped,though you can find the trailer online, for another version known to many as the "hook-man version".
The "hook-man version" featured Leon traveling throughout a haunted castle, battling some disease, and fighting against various supernatural entities such as a Hook-man, suits of armor and dolls. Gameplay footage was shown at E3 in 2003 and was touted as being scarier than any Resident Evil to come before it. The game sported the third-person over the shoulder view that was carried over to the finished product. The version was scrapped, although the gameplay footage still remains online. Another version, featuring zombies was being developed but was scrapped before anything was released on it.
Production began on the final product shortly thereafter. Capcom wanted to reinvent the series by switching it to a more action-oriented gameplay. The zombies of the previous games was dropped in favor of a new enemy called the "Ganado", who are not infected with the zombie virus but a parasite. Leon was made to look tougher, and they added in a new character, Ashley Graham. Ada Wong was also added in, playing an important in the story. The final version kept the third-person over the shoulder view when aiming a weapon, and places the camera behind Leon instead of the fixed positions of the previous games. The game would feature more weapons and more ammo to fit into its action-oriented gameplay. These new additions, among others, reinvented the Resident Evil series, and set the bar for games to come.
Resident Evil 4 picks up six years following the destruction of Raccoon City. Leon S. Kennedy is a special agents working for the United States government. When the President's daughter, Ashley Graham, is kidnapped by a mysterious cult in Europe, Leon is sent in to rescue her. Upon first arrival he encounters very violent, dangerous people who attack him. These people are allied with the Los Illuminados, the same cult that kidnapped Ashley. Before the villagers are able to kill Leon, the bell rings out at the church and the people leave. Leon continues to search for Ashley running into more of those crazed villagers.
Leon is captured by the village chief and injected with a parasite that had mind altering and mind controlling effects. The parasite is known as Las Plagas, the same parasite that has caused all the villagers to appear crazed. When Leon wakes up he is tied up with a man, Luis Sera, who used to work as a researcher for the Los Illuminados before he defected. They escape captivity and Leon, discovering where Ashley might be held, heads off to find her. He finds her in a chapel and rescues her. Here Leon encounters Osmund Saddler, leader of the Los Illuminados, who reveals to them his intentions. He infected Ashley with Las Plagas so that when she is rescued she will unleash the parasite upon the United States. Leon and Ashley escape, heading for the meeting place with Luis. Here they are attacked by a seemingly unending number of infected, but are finally able to defeat them. Luis splits up and Leon and Ashley take refuge inside of a large castle. They believe that they might be safe hiding out here, but are attacked shortly after they arrive.
Leon and Ashley are separated by various traps set by the castles owner, Ramon Salazar. As Leon desperately searches for Ashley he runs into his long time acquaintance, Ada Wong. She has her own agenda, working for an unknown company. Leon finally gets to Ashley, and also runs into Luis who has two pills to slow down the parasite inside of Leon and Ashley, as well as a sample of parasite itself. Luis hands over the pills to Leon but is then killed by Saddler, who takes the sample. Leon begins to rescue Ashley who is chained up on a lower level. He sets her free but is unable to reach her. She is captured again and brought to a separate island. Leon fights his way out of the castle, defeating Salazar, and with the help of Ada, makes his way to the island.
Here Leon learns that his old comrade Jack Krauser is behind the kidnapping of Ashley. He also learns that both Krauser and Ada are working together for someone related to Umbrella. After making is through the island Leon faces off against Krauser, and finally kills him. Leon then rescues Ashley, and removes the parasite from both of their bodies. After a massive battle against Saddler, Leon is able to defeat him with the help of Ada. Ada takes the parasite sample and leaves via a helicopter while Leon and Ashley escape using Jet skis right before the Island's self destruct system blows.
When Resident Evil 4 was brought to the Playstation 2 the game included brand new content with the biggest being the "Separate Ways" mini-game which shows the events of the game through the eyes of Ada.
Ada arrives in town around the same time as Leon and bares witness to him being attacked by villagers, so she sneaks away and rings the bell of church, saving Leon. She makes her way around town and is contacted by Albert Wesker, and tells her that their informant, Luis, has been captured and she must rescue him. She arrives just in time to see Leon and Luis being moves from one location to the next. She eventually saves Leon from the village chief, and is subdued by one of the villagers.
She awakes moments before being killed and escapes. She meets up with Luis shortly after he and Leon survived the attack on the cabin. He informs Ada that he is off to search for the parasite sample. Ada runs into Leon in the castle and after the separate, Wesker contacts her to get the sample from Luis and to kill Leon if she sees him. Ada witnesses the death of Luis and Saddler getting a hold of the sample. She takes off, meeting up with Krauser. Ada is informed by Wesker that Krauser has been ordered to kill Leon. Ada finds Leon and Krauser in the midst of a fight to the death and saves Leon. After another encounter with Leon, Ada fights and finally kills Krauser once and for all.
Ada then saving Leon and Ashley from Saddler, takes on Saddler himself but is eventually captured and imprisoned. After being released by Leon, Ada assists Leon is his battle against Saddler, finding a rocket launcher and destroyed Saddler. She leaves Leon her keys for her jet ski, takes the sample, and escapes on a helicopter. Ada reveals at the end that the company she works for wants the sample for themselves and that she was only pretending to work with Wesker, and plans to send Wesker a fake sample.
The entire gameplay of Resident Evil was reworked and redone for Resident Evil 4. No more tank-like controls. No more fixed camera positions. No more just shooting in the general direction. The game now includes fast action, and massive shootouts involving large crowds of enemies. The game features a behind the back camera that follows the character everywhere, and the aiming is done over the shoulder with the use of a red-dot sight to improve accuracy. If you shoot an enemy in the foot or leg they will fall, and head shots do more damage.
The environments are also interactable, with Leon being able to set up and knock down ladders, jump through windows, and kick open doors. There are also various cut scenes that will require you to to execute certain actions such as dodging or running.
The inventory was also revamped, now featuring a grid system that allows you to organize and reorganize you items for easier access. The case that your items are kept in can be upgraded multiple times to allow for more items to be held. You can purchase items from a merchant who can be found a various spots throughout the game. You can also sell items and treasures to him to get more money for other, newer items. Weapons can also be upgraded at the merchant, whether it's to add more firepower to a weapon or make it so the weapon can hold additional ammo.
Resident Evil 4, although touted as a Gamecube exclusive, was eventually made available for the Playstation 2, PC, Mobile Phones, and was also released as an HD package alongside Resident Evil Code: Veronica X for the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Resident Evil 4 has become one of the most influential games of the previous decade, reinventing the third-person perspective as well as the survival-horror genre, and setting the standard for future third-person games such as Dead Space and Gears of War. It turned Resident Evil into a mainstream video game franchise.
Resident Evil 4 has reached substantial critical acclaim, with many calling it the best Resident Evil game ever, and one of the greatest games ever released. Resident Evil 4 currently holds a 96/100 rating on Metacritic. It has received numerous game of the year awards and currently holds the number one spot on many "all time video game" lists.
Resident Evil 4 is currently available in HD at the Playstation store for the PS3, the Xbox Live Marketplace for the Xbox 360, and will be bundled in the Resident Evil Anthology which comes out October 2nd 2012. If you own a PS2, Gamecube, Wii or PC then Resident Evil 4 is available for sale on Amazon and Ebay.
Thank you for reading! Check back next week for A Resident Evil Retrospective Part 6: Resident Evil 5!