Resident Evil 4 HD Review (Xbox 360)
Resident Evil 4 was originally released in 2005 for the Nintendo Gamecube and later ported to the Playstation 2, PC and then the Wii. Now the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 get a taste of one of the greatest games ever made. RE4 was heralded for not only it's beautiful graphics, great soundtrack and fluid controls but also for making popular the "Over-the-shoulder" perspective that is used for many games this gen. Resident Evil 4 follows the story of once rookie cop Leon Kennedy, one of the survivors of the Raccoon City "incident". Now many years later Umbrella is disbanded and Leon, now a government agent, must rescue the President's daughter, Ashley Graham, being held captive by a mysterious cult in an isolated European village.
After 6 years Re4 still feels great if not a little dated. Sure you may not be able to move and shoot but it really isn't necessary and anything is better than the tank controls that many of us grew up with in previous Resident Evil games. The game feels great on the Xbox 360 controller giving you 2 control schemes to choose from. I chose to keep the default setup which has LT equip the knife and X attacking with it. RT is used to aim your current gun and X fires it. While aiming with either the left thumbstick is used to move your gun around which may feel awkward to some accustomed to modern shooters but it's easily learned. The alternate control setup sees LT and LB used to ready your weapon or knife respectively with RT used to attack. This scheme also uses the left thumbstick to move your weapon around. What I found very much different in RE4 compared to other OTS shooters is the fact that when Leon aims he has a tendency to shake thus moving your laser aimed targeting reticule which means you're gonna have to compensate for that. It adds a little bit of strategy to the shooting game if not some realism as well. Everything else here is standard fare with heavy shooting using pistols, machine guns, shotguns and various other guns accompanied with a few melee moves to use when the enemy is staggered. You'll also find yourself looking for jewels and money to buy items and upgrade weapons from the greatest merchant in gaming history. "Whaddya buoyin?" One other feature that RE4 popularized is the use of Quick-Time Events during cinemas. Gone are the days of sitting back and enjoying a mid-game cutscene. Now you must stay on your toes for when one of these "QTE's" pop up or you can expect some "You Are Dead". Luckily these events only use 2 button combinations which are "A+X" or "LT+RT". Now I know these Quick-Time Events are a little overdone nowadays but in RE4 they are used intelligently to keep you on your toes and offering you little time to rest. RE4 is fun to play, even 6 years later.
The biggest selling point of putting Resident Evil 4 on current gen systems was the High-Definition upgrade to the graphics. Well suffice to say the upgrade is nothing to write home about. Sure the graphics are a tit tad better than those on Gamecube and Wii and MUCH better than the muddy PS2 version but nothing that is worth what Capcom is gloating about. The textures up close are still muddy and in some cases the wall textures, especially brick walls found in the castle, will flicker white whenever you move. It's like you can see the intersections between textures that form a weird white flickering line. It can get distracting in some cases and is a major oversight on Capcom's behalf. Another thing missing is the dynamic lighting found on the Gamecube version which leads me to believe this is just a port of the PS2 version. Overall the game does look good and can still hold up 6 years later but is easily outdone with the HD texture packs available for the PC version.
Resident Evil 4 sounded amazing in 2005 and still does to this day. From the Spanish threats of the townspeople to the daunting chants of the monks the voice work of RE4 is still great. Leon still has cocky overtones and characters like Saddler and Krauser still come off sounding menacing and diabolical while Ashley remains the annoying little bitch she's always been. On top of this are the great gun sounds though I'm a little disgruntled over how muffled the sound of the Red9 is which sounded as deadly as it's impact in earlier incarnations of the game. Accompanied by these great sounds is the memorable soundtrack. Eerie tones are present when you find yourself in scary areas like the nighttime village while techno beats pop off when the action gets fast. I must say it's also great to hear a unique theme for each Mercenaries character instead of the same song over and over like in Resident Evil 5's Merc mode.
Like previous games in the series Resident Evil 4 gives players plenty of reasons to play once the story is finished. Upon your first completion of the game you will unlock the Mercenaries mode which gives you one character, Leon, and four arenas to duke it out with waves of baddies. You are given a time limit that can be extended with pick ups scattered around the map. Your goal is to score points by killing people and racking up the highest combos of kills possible. Getting 4 stars in each of the maps will unlock a new character and getting five stars on all maps with all five characters will net you an amazing weapon for use in the story mode. Mercs is extremely addictive and with the addition of online leaderboards you can compare your story and mission stats with people on your friends list. You can also unlock "Assignment Ada" and "Separate Ways". In both of these scenarios you control RE2 character Ada Wong in 2-5 hour side-quests that further develop the RE4 story. Each of these don't add much to the actual gameplay but the "Separate Ways" mode does add two new weapons to the mix and when beaten unlocks a second set of clothes for Leon and Ashley in the story mode. The first set of clothing is unlocked through the first completion of the story. Other unlockables include a harder difficulty, new weapons and a cinema viewer. You'll also have fun replaying the story to find alternate paths, hidden cutscenes and treasures that you most likely missed the first time. The biggest disappointment here is the achievements. There are only 12 achievos here for a total of 1000 points, most of which will be granted by going through the campaign. I would've like to see some effort put into these like an achievement for beating the story only using a pistol or getting over 100,000 points for all characters on all levels in Mercenaries.
Resident Evil 4 offers you alot for it's $20(1600 msp) price tag. You'll get a 10+ hour story, 7 hours of side missions and countless other hours with the unlockables.If you are like me and have played RE4 to death but are looking for another reason to get it whether for achievements or just the convenience of not dragging out the old consoles then I say wait to download when it goes on sale but if you are one of the two people on earth whom have never played RE4 before then GET IT NOW!!!