When it comes to horror, no other Resident Evil has quite had the impact that 4 has had. Often considered the best Resident Evil in the series, it’s also sometimes cited as the point where Capcom started changing toward more action oriented gameplay, for better or worse. Let’s take a step back and shine a light on Resident Evil 4 and ask ourselves one simple question: Does it hold up after eleven years?
This review we are looking specifically at the Steam release of Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil 4 has US agent Leon Kennedy sent into an undisclosed part of Spain to rescue the president’s daughter Ashley Graham. Things go bad very quickly for Leon as he soon discovers that the villagers are being controlled by a parasite called Las Plagas and want to kill him on sight. Leon has to shoot his way through all manner of enemies while attempting to escape with Ashley to safety.
Cutscenes and dialogue among characters is often delightfully cheesy, but the whole story and subplots can get lost in between cutscenes and gameplay segments. Every character you meet is unique and interesting, but their overall purpose can get a slight bit confusing if you miss any notes throughout each area of the game.
For a majority of the main game, you play as Leon Kennedy. The game takes a third person perspective unlike previous games in the franchise. The first weapon you’re ever given is a standard and somewhat weak pistol to defend yourself with. Instead of a reticle, you aim with a laser sight that will be on just about every weapon you obtain throughout the game from weapons like shotguns to sniper rifles of widely varying statistics and upgrades you can purchase throughout the game and in subsequent continued playthroughs.
The game provides the control options of using a controller or using a mouse and keyboard. Playing with a mouse makes aiming in this game easier than on controller, but that’s not to say that you still can’t be overwhelmed by your own hubris. Leon controls like a tank, but here it actually makes sense. If you had too much mobility, then the enemies wouldn’t be as intimidating. At first, these controls may be frustrating but with enough time they become rather easy to use.
The main game comes in easy, normal, and when you complete the game on either of those, professional difficulty levels. Easy is pretty self-explanatory, normal can be a challenge but it adjusts based on your performance, and professional difficulty is not for the faint of heart. Ashley, which you must escort through several areas, can be quite annoying. Enemies can kidnap her and land you in a game over unless you can stop them before a certain amount of time. Other times, Ashley will incessantly shout at you if you leave her up on a higher ledge without telling her to stay put, and won’t stop until you help her down. Cutscenes and gameplay segments often have quick time events that frequently mean life or death.
The Steam version of Resident Evil 4 is crisper and cleaner than earlier ports of the game, unfortunately that shines a light on the quality of textures that weren’t made with third generation and pc ports in mind. The textures are higher resolution this time around, but often still aren’t much to look at. A lot of the impressive work from earlier versions can still be seen as you play however. From clear and impressive mouth movements and character animation even on enemies, to countless particle effects and just the right amount of blood when Leon hurts an enemy or if they hurt him.
It’s never unclear as to what something in the environment is, be it a thermostat in a dark hall, a box of ammunition, a picture of a church, or a chainsaw, everything is clearly recognizable even at a distance or up close. While by today’s standards it’s not too impressive graphically today, it was amazing for its time and it holds up remarkably well today.
The audio in Resident Evil 4 is where it excels the most. When there is danger, the music is unsettling, when an enemy is behind you, their laughs both warn and scare of impending danger. Each shot fired from any of the wide array of weapons sounds just right, and every reload feels just right. Chainsaw sounds are especially frightening, being especially noisy and revving differently right as the enemy wielding it goes to bring it down on you, making things even more intense when it barely misses.
Enemies who are behind you are louder than they are in front of you. While this is clearly intentional, it’s off-putting sometimes. Overall, nearly every thing that should make a noise makes just the sound that works wonders.
Resident Evil 4 is surprisingly replayable, starting from its multiple difficulties to providing players with the ability to continue after beating the game to start over but with all their inventory intact. This is particularly fun because the player does not generally have the opportunity to fully upgrade their weapons the first time through and can continue upgrading for even stronger and more impressive weapons than the first playthrough.
Outfits can also be unlocked via completing the game at least once and completing the side story Separate Ways. You can also unlock special weapons for second and further playthroughs by beating the main game in Professional mode, or getting the highest rank with every character in a set of Mercenaries survival-like missions. The Mercenaries minigames (unlocked by beating the main game) is fairly tedious and it can be difficult getting the highest score with one character, let alone the 5 total.
Resident Evil is widely regarded as a masterpiece, and there’s no doubt why. Nearly every piece falls neatly into place to create a game that’s unlike anything else. Worth playing any time of the year and well worth any price.
- Storyline – 70%
- Gameplay – 85%
- Graphics – 90%
- Sound – 95%
- Replayability – 85%
Final Verdict – 85%
We highly recommend you give this game a shot, you won’t regret it!