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System: Nintendo GamecubeReleased: 2005
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Survival/HorrorPlayers: 1
Game Save: 9 BlocksReviewer: Miss Chief (Staff)

Where to begin? Being something of a hardcore Survival Horror lover, I couldn't have called my collection complete without taking a look at Resident Evil 4 for the GCN. The most noticeable thing about this game that you Resident Evil long time fans will notice that while the controls haven't actually changed, the camera certainly has. Gone are awkward camera angles and jumpy where the hell am I screen switches. All of the action, barring a few of the action sequences, take place firmly over the right shoulder of Leon S. Kennedy. This seemingly simple shift of focus is a most welcome feature to a lovable line of games. You heard me right, though, the basic movement controls, which are often colorfully related to as 'radio race car controls' are still in place. You'll scarcely notice that fact as you begin to play it yourself, and it's mostly because of that simple shift of priority in the camera.

The game graphics are beautiful and vivid, one of the best games graphically on the GCN to date. The use of shadows isn't overplayed and atmospheric shifts as time progresses through the game and through different areas will rarely give you a been there and seen that feel, and Leon also has a nintendolight that remarkably never seems to run out of battery power for situations of the dark and dreary variety. Enemies look great, and menacing enough to be quite scary at close range. For some of the actions you do and that are done against you, you'll notice a use of a blur effect to add to the emphasis of the actions being carried out without seeming sappy or overdone.

Gameplay control is smooth, perhaps even lithe. A realistic element in the aiming controls gives Leon a slight 'wobble' as he aims, which can make it realistically difficult to hit an enemy from an extended range. Fortunately however, all of your weapons have a laser sight at the very least and once you get a feel for Leon himself, you'll be pulling off the headshots you want with relative ease. Also of note is the 'do whatever you want' interactivity of the game, which lets you hop over fences,through windows, and go through doors any one of three ways from either gently opening the door, booting the door open and thwapping anyone on the other side of it, or pulling up a gun and turning the door into wood shavings with a few shots. Ladders can be kicked down or set up at will, and traps your enemies set for you may often be deactivated with well placed shots. To be fair, there are exceptions to some of the rules, and on very rare occassion something won't work the way you thought it was going to. There are alot of things you can shoot, and should shoot, when you get the chance. I won't give all of it away here, but one tidbit is you can shoot fish in water.

As for difficulty, the game has a viscious learning curve for the beginner, but once you get the hang of it, you should be just fine. Certain action sequences in the game require you to make a button press or two to excape danger or keep the action going, not unlike Shenmue, though not nearly as tenacious as that. Most will be easy to do, and others will be a scourge upon your soul. Usually if such a sequence ends in death if you fail, you're allowed to do it again from either that moment, or from a few moments shortly before it. The game will even ask you if you want it to back off on you if you die multiple times ((which I found insulting upon my honor as a gamer, but to each his own)). The puzzles are all fairly easy to deal with. Touch something, move something, insert something, pull something out... actually that sounds like something else, but you get the point. Bottom line, there's something here for everyone in terms of difficulty and you won't likely be bored. Sidenote, for those of you who might play through and want more of a challengs, there is a pro mode, and the mercenaries mini game, which start off easy enough, but if you wanna unlock the most pointlessly overpowered gun in the game, you must meet some incredibly stringent criteria. ((the gun doesn't dissapoint, however))

The voicework in this game despite the fairly straightforward storyline is some of the best I've ever heard in any game known, let alone any Resident Evil game. Some of the cutscenes made me forget I was playing a game and brought me into a feel of watching a movie. That's right, no more Jill Sandwiches. From the enemies plotting your demise in spanish to the over the top in a good way snide little overlords to the can't catch a break Leon himself, you'll never feel embarrassed to listen, which is saying alot. The music is crisp and triggers at appropriate moments without drowning you in it. Certain music does seem to come back more often than you'd like to hear it, but by the time you get to the final area and standard 'gotta kill these guys' music switches up to a new theme, you'll still have your head in it. The music isn't fantastic, but it's not a mood killer either.

Replayability? The game has a decent length and, plain out, is fun. The ability you have to make any situation as easy or hard as you want it to be through your own actions makes for a game you can come back to over and over again and never have it be exactly the same twice. I gave this game the longest run that I've given any game of recent memory.

Finally, and a special section of this review from yours truly, the SCARE factor. Personally, only one enemy in the game ever made me jump out of my seat. Call me a traditionalist, but I missed the zombie-wombies that have been an earmark of the series until now. The game rarely goes out of its way to outright scare you, but you'll have fun regardless, and you'll have some unforgetable moments to be certain. Not the scariest thing I've played by far, but it'll keep you awake.

That's why this reviewer gives Resident Evil 4 for the GCN, a worthy 5 out of 5.

Score: 5/5

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Images taken by Laserkid(staff)