Retro Thursday

By Roger Kramer

     Resident Evil 4 was a turning point for the series. From its beginning in 1996 it concentrated on survivor horror. Frightening the player using a fixed camera was the signature feature of the games. This all changed in January of 2005 with Resident Evil 4’s third person shooter focus. It continues to be hailed as a videogame landmark. The series has remained very popular in subsequent releases despite the quality of game being severely decreased. Were the problems evident in the fourth edition? Or is it a true all-time great? Let’s find out in this week’s Retro Thursday review of Resident Evil 4.

     Leon Kennedy is sent to Spain to retrieve the kidnapped daughter of the President of the United States. Yes only one man is dispatched to save the life of the teenage daughter of the President. Realism has never been a characteristic of the Resident Evil series. The story will continue to spiral out of control making it hard to follow at times. But this is part of the series charm.

     Another plus is the abundance of typewriters. No longer can we only save sparingly. This is also due to the game covering a larger area. Different towns and islands are traversed making circling back to a save location undesirable.

     The best part of this installment is the encounters with the chainsaw wielding man with a burlap bag over his head. He is unnaturally strong, fast and very capable of sawing your head off. Fighting him up close is not an option. Turning and running toward higher ground is the best strategy for taking down this madman. His inclusion keeps the horror alive in Resident Evil 4.

     The graphics hold up well for a game that is a few generations old. Leon looks good even though he may be dressed different in cutscenes than in gameplay. Also, cars look out of place and don’t move as one would expect. But the townspeople and animals have stood the test of time.

     Villains will inevitably infect themselves with a super virus making them a horrible beast that you will eventually terminate. Though Salazar fused with the Queen Plaga is even too over the top even for this series. The battle is with a small man combined with a three story plant like creature. This is one of many fights against enemies with super powers.

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      Changes were made to the Resident Evil formula because they had to be. A fixed camera is no longer acceptable. Minimal saving is not seen as a challenge but more a nuisance. However, following Resident Evil 4’s release the spirit of Resident Evil has all but been lost. The beauty of Resident Evil 4 is that it mixed the original essence into a contemporary game. It is far from perfect but it hits the mark more than it misses. Resident Evil 4 is a good game that will not be forgotten.