How do you review a game like Resident Evil 4? It's a title that has already been released on the GameCube, PS2 and PC and has bathed in wave after wave of critical acclaim ever since it first arrived on the GameCube in late 2004. Is there really anything more to say about it?
It's exactly this problem which has forced us to treat this review a little differently from other critiques. The first thing you need to do is decide which group of people you fit into. Choose from the list below, skip to the section of the review written specifically for you, and then read all the way to the end. Comprendé? Good.
Go to section 1 if you know nothing about Resident Evil, go to section 2 if you played the GameCube title a bit, or go to section 3 if you played through the PS2 version.
1. What's Resident Evil then?
The Resident Evil series began way back in 1996 on the PlayStation and propelled the survival horror genre into the limelight. It was one of the first videogames to genuinely scare people and told the story of the Umbrella Corporation, a bio-genetical research company gone bad. The company developed a virus, said virus escaped and zombies and mutant creatures went on a munching spree.
Throughout the series you've always assumed the position of a member of the STARS (Special Tactics and Rescue Squad), who are determined to get to the bottom of these hideous events. Resident Evil 4 is a marked departure from its predecessors, taking place in Europe, investigating one of Umbrella's mysterious rivals. This is a very different form of the virus that fans of the series are used to. There are no zombies here - instead there's something far more sinister going on.
You take on the role of Leon S Kennedy. Having thrown in his STARS badge (he quit after his experiences in Resident Evil 2) he's now working freelance for the government. The president's daughter, Ashley, has been kidnapped and it's Leon's job to find her.
2. I played the GameCube title a bit. What's new?
Quite a lot actually. Some months after the game hit the shelves Capcom released a version for the PS2. The extra time (around eight months) allowed the team to pad out the background story with a brand new option called Separate Ways. Those of you who completed the GC version will know that you can then choose to go through a bonus mission called Assignment Ada with Ada Wong.
It gives you a bit of an insight into Wesker's involvement in the whole fiasco. Separate Ways is a decent sized section that allows you to play out certain sections of the game as Ada. If you've played the GameCube version, you'll remember Ada escaping from the village chief and later turning up at various points throughout the game. Separate Ways allows you to see these events from her perspective.
The PS2 version also boasted extra weapons, bonus outfits and two extra boss fights. RE4: Wii Edition will have all these extras. Being able to play through Separate Ways is reason enough to buy it again but obviously there's more on offer.
3. I played the PS2 version. What's the deal?
For starters, the Wii version looks fantastic. The colours, textures, lighting and general quality of image are far superior. It's not easy to see the difference in stills but it's an obvious improvement when it's moving.
Secondly, this version loads much faster than the PS2 version. There are no waiting times between areas and the whole experience is seamless.
The final and most important difference is the controls. It takes everything that made the GameCube version so great and adds precision aiming. General movement remains on the analogue stick but when you aim your weapon you can use the Wii Remote for unrivaled accuracy. Aiming was already pretty accurate thanks to the super-smooth GameCube analogue sticks but now the accuracy is only limited by the steadiness of your arm. It makes the game even more satisfying, as you play with your enemies and make them dance a merry jig.
What's more, interactive cut-scenes require you to shake the Remote (to cut a piece of rope) or wind it like a crank (to turn a handle as Ashley). Little touches like this make the game even more immersive. 4. So, should I buy it then?
Yes, yes and yes. We enjoyed every second of this action-adventure, despite having played the GameCube version three times over. It's by far the best version of the game. The best thing about RE4 is that it appeals to so many types of gamer. The only reason you shouldn't consider buying it is if you're of a nervous disposition. This game is intense and you'll find yourself holding your breath around every corner.
In fact, the only negative point we can make about the game is that it doesn't have quite the same impact now as it did when it first arrived on the GameCube. Ironically though, despite looking very close to the GameCube version, it's still one of the most beautiful games on the Wii.
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is one of, if
not the best directed action-adventure experiences ever to grace any console. You need it in your life.