2005. The Nintendo GameCube. A 6-year gap in a world-renowned survival horror franchise. What do all of these have to do with each other? The release of Resident Evil 4: one of my new favorite GameCube games.
I’m sure all of you have been wondering what happened to Leon Kennedy after the horrific events of Resident Evil 2 and the T-Virus. Resident Evil 4 starts with a time jump: after the events in Raccoon City, Umbrella Corporation has been dissolved by the US Government, is no longer allowed to do business inside the US, and has had all of its assets dissolved into the US Government. This leads us to our protagonist: Leon Kennedy. After learning about Leon’s heroics in Raccoon City, the government recruits him as a special agent. Leon’s first mission: save the President’s daughter from a deadly cult in the middle of Spain, a perfect assignment for a new recruit’s first mission.
In order to keep this review spoiler-free, I’ll keep the next part relatively vague. Leon becomes stranded and encounters many allies as well as enemies, whom all try to kill him of course. He also learns about the Los Illuminados, the mysterious cult found throughout the game, as well as the Las Plagas Virus, the infection spread constantly throughout the game. Honestly, RE4 has the richest story I’ve seen yet in my experience with the Resident Evil franchise, though that could change very soon.
No matter if you play on controller or keyboard, RE4 will take some getting used to in regards to its controls. Believe me when I say it: the game is clunky. Aiming and turning feels weird at first, especially for anyone used to modern third person games. However, about 2 to 3 hours in, you’ll start getting quite comfortable with the controls. Despite what you may be used to with the recent remakes, RE4 does not have a lot of backtracking in it, but instead a well coordinated level design. This certainly surprised me, though it was most certainly for the best, as it helped to immerse me in the world even more.
RE4 challenges players by giving them limited ammo for weapons, causing players to think critically about which weapons to use at which times. This quick thinking was extremely enjoyable as it helped me to feel genuinely stranded with Leon. On top of this, gunplay feels great, despite its 16 year old age. Your pistol feels weak, though effective, and your shotgun feels extremely powerful with its limited ammo; guns just feel good.
Despite the game coming out in 2005, the game looks surprisingly decent! While playing on a full 1080p monitor, the textures looked a tad washed out and blurry, though a majority of the game could hold up as a Xbox 360 – esque title.
The main thing that always surprises me with Resident Evil games is the hair graphics, which always find a way to blow me away, even if the game is over 16 years old at this point. Nonetheless, the character models in this game are truly beautiful if you put yourself into the time. Compared to Mario from Super Mario Sunshine, for example, Leon stands out as a beautifully smooth and articulated character compared to the rounder Mario, with a few jagged edges on the model.
Arguably the most important part of the game however is the textures. While they may have seemed a tad blurry at first, using the Dolphin Emulator’s upscaling feature, the game looked great, though obviously worse than modern titles. Textures looked clean, though some also looked a tad dated, though I suppose that’s what you get when you play a game from over a decade ago! All in all, Resident Evil 4’s graphics brought me back to a time when graphics always looked stunning, and the most realistic, life-like graphics weren’t even in the picture yet.
While Resident Evil 4 may not have blown me away graphically or with its controls, it certainly grows on you the longer you play it. One thing that certainly stuck out to me was the fantastic story that, while changing the main antagonist multiple times, kept me engaged and wanting to know what I would have to do next. Leon’s journey kept me thoroughly excited and on my toes, frantically trying to save his and Ashley’s life! I would heartily recommend Resident Evil 4 to any and all fans of the series, as well as anyone who enjoys a good survival horror experience.