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Resident Evil 4
Score: 94%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
When Resident Evil 4 came out on the GameCube, I was blown away by it. It was a fresh twist to a genre that I have loved since its inception. Now RE4 has arrived on my favorite console, and this is a good thing.

When I popped in the game, I didnít notice any real strides graphically. However, when I put RE4 into my GameCube and flipped back and forth between, I saw that the PS2 version was, indeed, a smoother ride. I also brought the game over to Starscreamís house to grace his super-sweet widescreen HDTV, expecting a religious experience of sorts. Instead, we got pixilation and it didnít look so hot. It seemed to be upscaling the image to 720, but the gameís native resolution is 480. The packaging claims to support Progressive Scan and Widescreen, but it really didnít look very mind-blowing on his TV.

Anyway, that being said, the game still looks stellar on my TV. Everything is dark and dismal, yet still remains crisp and clear. The correct ďfeelĒ is definitely going on here and that means you will be creeped out on a regular basis. The villagers are eerie with their red eyes and hurling axes, and Leon, Ashley, Ada, and others all look nicely rendered.

In the sound department, Resident Evil 4 doesnít disappoint. Background music is sweeping and appropriate to the area or situation youíre in. Villagers yelling Spanish at you, the Merchant with his ever-so-charming Euro accent Ė it all adds up to a good experience, sound-wise. Weapons fire is appropriate and itís always nice to pop someone in the eye with your .09 mm and have them yell out in pain.

Resident Evil 4 brings the return of Leon Kennedy, who is called upon to embark on a secret mission. Apparently, somewhere in Europe (although all the villagers seem to speak Spanish), a religious cult has kidnapped Ashley Graham, the mouthy, yet lovely, daughter of the President, and itís up to Leon to rescue her. As he embarks on his mission, a bigger plot unfolds and heíll run into some familiar faces, the least of all of which is Ada Wong. What makes the PS2 version special over the GameCube version is the addition of a separate mini-adventure called Separate Ways that you open upon completing the game. In Separate Ways, you get to play as Ada Wong, only in a more fleshed out adventure that corresponds to the game you are playing as Leon, unlike the few levels that comprised Assignment Ada as was seen in the GameCube version.

As in the GameCube version, this iteration of Resident Evil is far more based on action than survival horror. Throughout the game, you will have to hit certain action buttons, such as L1 and R1 together, to crouch, roll out of the way of an oncoming enemy, or even to dash out of the way of a huge rolling ball. This adds a whole new element to the game as you canít merely sit there with your finger on the trigger. You have to be alert and ready for whatever the game may throw at you.

The other mechanic that is new to Resident Evil 4 (but was also present in the GC version) is the ability to target specific body parts. Want a one shot kill? Go for the head. Want to conserve ammo? Then shoot them in the kneecap to make them fall and then finish them with a few slashes of the knife. Ammo didnít seem to be quite as plentiful in the PS2 version, either. I found myself having to conserve a little more often. There is still a nice selection of weaponry to choose from and all are upgradeable. As you run around killing and exploring, youíll pick up Ptas (the form of money in the game) along with various other trinkets. Some can be combined to yield a higher price when selling them to the merchant. Having these items to sell back goes a long way in upgrading your weapons as you can make some serious cash.

As with Resident Evil games of the past, youíll come across lots of foot soldiers, as it were, in the form of villagers Ė some with no weapons, some with throwing objects, and still others with hoods and chainsaws! The bosses are varied and most have a little trick to defeating them. In addition, once you rescue Ashley, youíll have to watch her health and yours too. Itís quite a waltz, killing enemies while protecting her along the way. All in all, very well thought out gameplay.

Since you are now able to save whenever you come upon a typewriter, rather than hording your typewriter ribbons as in the older Resident Evils, things are a lot easier. Sure, youíll have some tough bosses and some rough patches when you are bum rushed by scads of villagers, but overall, it just takes perseverance. Iíd say that Resident Evil 4 is set at the perfect rate of difficulty on the standard game. Once you complete the game, then harder difficulties are opened up to you, along with costume changes for Ashley and Leon, and some additional weapons.

Game Mechanics:
The camera system in Resident Evil 4 is now behind Leon and is much more manageable. Instead of not showing the player whatís around the corner, you know what to expect Ė background music and pure terror are utilized to frighten you, rather than cheap camera work.

Gone also is the magic storage box where you can place your items temporarily. You have an attached case, and you can opt to purchase larger ones as the game progresses. In these, you have to manage your weapons and ammo, along with health items (but not treasure or money, thank God). If you want a bigger gun, you might have to rearrange things or lose some stuff altogether. It just adds another element of strategy, however small, to the game.

Overall, if you already have the GameCube version and are not dying to see the five extra chapters added on for the PS2 version, you are probably okay with sticking with that version. If you are a die-hard Resident Evil fan, youíll want that added bit of storyline, so you probably already own this game. If you are someone who has never given Resident Evil a chance because of survival horror naysayers, Resident Evil 4 is the game to turn you. Go out and buy it now!

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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