Resident Evil 4

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 9, 2006

Filed under: Game Reviews 21 comments

Resident Evil 4 was an odd game. In previous games, you were usually a character trapped in some little zombie-infested town. In this one you play Leon, a special agent sent in to rescue the daughter of the President of the United States. While the game had great graphics and some spooky scenery, the scare factor was dialed WAY down whenever the characters started talking.

In fact, the game broke a lot of conventions set by the previous installments, and by other survival horror games in general. You weren’t alone. No zombies. Ammo is much more plentiful. You are on a mission, instead of trapped by circumstances. You are a government agent, and not Joe Average.

I’m sure Leon got his current job due to his previous zombie-fighting experience, but if he had filled out an application, then I imagine it might have looked something like this:

VERY official.

  1. If the daughter of the President of the United States was kidnapped and held prisoner somewhere in the European wilderness, what would be the best force to deploy in order to secure her safe return?
    A. 82nd Airborne.
    B. A small squad of Navy SEALS.
    C. Mechanized infantry with air support.
    D. I'll just go in all by myself and wander about for a bit. How big can Europe be, anyway?
  2. For the above mission, what would be the most appropriate gear?
    A. Sniper Rifle, camouflage, and night vision gloggles.
    B. Pump-action shotgun, body armor, and a GPS.
    C. Automatic rifle, an ATV and a two-way radio.
    D. Nine bullets and lots of hairspray.
  3. If you find that villagers have attempted to cut off your escape route by building a little wooden wall accross the path, how would you proceed?
    A. Walk around it.
    B. Climb over it.
    C. Burn it down.
    D. Give up and head directly for the heart of the enemy base, even if it means passing through the very bowels of hell itself.
  4. If you meet a very formidable yet chatty enemy and they seem to be too busy talking to attack you, what should your reaction be?
    A. Shoot him in the head.
    B. Shoot him in the gut.
    C. Gun him down, cut him up, smash the pieces, burn what's left and bury the ashes in a deep hole. You can never be too careful.
    D. Strike up a conversation. It's always great to meet new people!
  5. When escorting the president's daughter to safety, where is the best place to have her stand?
    A. Behind me, where she is easy to protect.
    B. Beside me, where I can keep an eye on her.
    C. Give her a gun in case she gets into trouble, and have the two of us move in tandem.
    D. Oh geeze! I forgot all about her. Looks like she's run off again.
  6. On this type of mission, how often do you check in with command?
    A. I call them whenever the situation changes.
    B. I call in if I need orders.
    C. I check in every half-hour
    D. I wait for base to call me. I like to avoid roaming charges. Sometimes I forget that I have a phone completely.
  7. What types of threats frighten you?
    A. Gargantuan monsters.
    B. Psychos with chainsaws.
    C. Bioweapons that transform you into a monster.
    D. Midgets.
  8. You find a massive, elaborate castle maintained by the enemy forces. What is the best course of action?
    A. Go around the castle - the safety of the President's daughter is of primary importance!
    B. Find a place to hide and wait for backup.
    C. Determine where the enemy obtained the incredible funding required to construct such a thing, and figure out why they didn't spend that money on guns instead.
    D. Assault the building directly. The president's daughter won't be safe until I find every secret door in the place! Oooh! And do the hedge maze!

If you answered "D" to any of the above questions, then congratulations! You are just what we're looking for. Get ready to enter the exciting world of presidential daughter-rescuing. Please return this application to recieve your hairspray and bullets.

The game teamed you up with a teenage girl, and whenever she was around (which was only half the game, as she gets re-captured on a regular basis) the game stopped being scary. She was a stinging reminder that the world you were in made absoloutly no sense, and that you were playing one of the dumbest secret agents in history. Imagine the movie Aliens. Now replace the character Cpl. Hicks with Carrot Top. That’s the sort of fear-nullifying goofyness we’re talking about here.


From The Archives:

21 thoughts on “Resident Evil 4

  1. Astrid says:

    Three words: The Bella Sisters. >.>

  2. Oskar says:


  3. Avatar says:

    I think I need to play this now.

  4. Katy says:

    I love Corporal Hicks. Smokin’ hot!! *sizzle!*

  5. DaveJ says:

    That game is fun as hell.

  6. Kajen says:

    Er… I jut stubled upon this post and though your checklist crcked me up, I found the “Canada” in point 1. strange.
    Maybe what I’m about to say is stupid since I played the European version, but: I think the world’s most stupid zombie-hunting agent is running around in Spain.

    The oponents are talking in Spanish (e.g. “forastero” meaning “stanger”) and the evil insect-monster-thingies are “las plagas” (plague, catastpophe) which is Spanish as well.

    Well, I liked the stupid game but you’re right. It isn’t very spooky. It’s more of “call three friends, sprawl on the couch, have a little chat, and kill some zombiepeople”-thing.

    So – am I being a terrible nitpick again or were there different versions?

  7. Shamus says:

    I agree it makes more sense set in Spain, but I really did think it had been set in Canada for some reason.

    1. WJS says:

      I can’t help but wonder where you got that idea from. I’m not trying to be funny; I’m sure something must have made you think that, but I can’t think what – isn’t fictional Canada permafrost? (I re-read Star on Chest recently)

  8. Kajen says:

    Well, it’s a place far away from any kind of civilization… and it really doesn’t matter where the little village that’s turned into zombie-central actually lies. ;)

  9. Megan says:

    HI you guys don’t even knw wat your talking about yes they are speaking in spanish yet they are speaking in a dead touge trust i knw more then resident evil then all of you i grew up with it and leon is NOT stupid they just wanted too do something different and the location is in euorope. he is on a mission to save the president’s daghter and bring her back home , you can’t take a chopper and find her you have to go in doors or you won’t ever find her. if it was me going to save her heck i would have the time of my life nothing and i mean nothing in this world can scare me, if a moster came i would be killing it, if the town were infested with zombies like in r e 2 i wouldn’t care i’d have the time of my life killing them all and i’m not just saying that. you wouldn’t believe how strong or fearless i am, i wil admitt there is a couple things i get scared from but nothing like mosters. bring it on!!!!

  10. Wombat says:

    I’m lolling at the above poster.
    Megan, please don’t reproduce.

    1. Andrew says:

      Dude, she’s probably 13. Play nice.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        All the more reason to tell her not to reproduce, she’s too young.

  11. Marstov says:

    The incredibly funny “Zero Punctuation” animated review at the Escapist has a piece on the Resident Evil series. Like many of us, he loves the game play but lampoons the often nonsensical writing.

    I have played most of the RE games and I love them, but I can’t really argue with anything Shamus had to say, though any game with a deranged vaguely french dwarf as one of the chief adversaries has something going for it.

  12. Megan, any chance you also wanna claim Shamus is “Teh Biased!”

    I thought the fear factor of the game was more suspense, like when you would be ambushed by chainsaw wielding maniacs, the fear wasn’t that such things exsisted, more that they could be standing behind the door up ahead, ready to slice and dice through your $300 haircut.
    Also as a natural born Canadian I have to say this, all Canadians own giant castles.

  13. Tom says:

    Yeah, actually the game is very eerie…

    It’s not scary, the story is nothing much, some of it not much of the writing isn’t of spectacular quality…

    And yet it is by far and away the best game of 2005 and is still AWESOME beyond words.

    Because the gameplay and experience is eerie. Eerily entertaining :)

  14. Anonymooo says:

    A LONG time after this article was written…

    When I first played RE4, I was living at home. The constant ambient noise of parents and dogs probably toned down the terror for me, even though I spent the first two chapters carefully trudging through the game, saving every bit of ammo I found, and using my knife as much as possible.

    Then I realized that I had hundreds of handgun bullets and shotgun shells, and went to town on anything and everything that dared to step-to. The game wasn’t scary any more.

    Years later and having moved out, I have recently felt like playing the game again. I wanted to try and get that darned Hand Cannon, and get to play through the game putting everything down in one shot.

    The game is different all by yourself in the dead cold of night, every noise in a dark apartment making me jump. RE4 isn’t a particularly scary game, but it is a very tense game. Due to its emphasis on action, I’m able to forgive its Phoenix Wright-style leaps in logic because to me, the game shines the most when you’re controlling Leon, not when you’re listening to him speak.

    Actually, the only ridiculous thing I can think of in-game is that I have a friend who looks almost exactly like Leon, so whenever I see him spin-kicking Ganados and suplexing cultists, I imagine my shy, quiet friend doing the same things and get a good chuckle.

  15. Tears of Blood says:

    Shamus, I dunno’, dude. Perhaps the wooden fence thing was a little strange, but I thought the rest of the game was pretty natural in it’s story telling. Leon and Ashley were being chased by a huge swarm of Ganado, they had to run somewhere or they would have died. There was nowhere else to go. o_o You can’t just go around it. They didn’t even know it was the enemy’s base. They just knew that it was the only way out of the village.

    I mean, it made sense to me most of the time. There were a few minor things that were silly, but they didn’t break the storytelling for me.

  16. Dreadjaws says:

    I find this funny, but you’re being unfair here. Leon wasn’t there to rescue Ashley, he was there to ask questions, since the possibility of her presence in that place was merely a tip by an unknown party, not certainty. If anything, Leon was carrying too much gear for what he was going to do.

    And about point 5, come on, options A and B are the default gameplay options. Whenever Ashley is recaptured is not Leon’s fault, there’s always some external factor at play, like the mind control or traps. You might have a point with the wooden wall there, but what game doesn’t do that? You can’t single out this one. Hell, considering the previous games in the series, where you couldn’t climb or jump over knee-high obstacles, this one is doing formidably.

    Look, I know your contempt for the series is due to the fact that people stupidly sell this franchise as horror where in reality it’s merely the gaming equivalent of B-movies. It’s cheesy and that’s part of the attractive, but that’s not what you were told, and you were dissapointed. I get that. But you shouldn’t use that as an excuse to just complain about everything with no rhyme or reason.

    1. DDark says:

      ^This. And I greatly enjoy the series precisely because its loony. While every other game go for gritty, realistic and try hardy nonsense. Resident Evil games are just fun, the characters are nice. And sup-flexes.

    2. WJS says:

      Yeah, you need to confirm where she is before you send in the heavy stuff. It would have been much better if the game didn’t imply that you were the only one looking for her. Like, instead you were just one of many USSS agents investigating leads, and you happened to be the lucky one. Of course, games have to feature super special elite agents rather than grunts, it’s like a law or something.

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