When a game series reaches an important milestone, it’s not a surprise to see a special edition or something similar pop up to promote the achievement. One thing that many of us didn’t expect however, was the full scale offensive seen from Capcom this year. Yes, this year is a big year for the Resident Evil franchise, with the series reaching its 20th anniversary in 2016. Of course, back at E3, Capcom made headlines with the announcement of the highly anticipated Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. But Resident Evil is no small series, and for Capcom this meant releasing something special in the form of HD re-releases of Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6 in reverse order. With Resident Evil 5 and 6 already arriving earlier in the year, I jumped back into the year’s final release to see if Resident Evil 4 had stood the test of time.
Resident Evil 4 is a special title in the series for many reasons. Of course, it is the game that shifted things to an over the shoulder 3rd person perspective, but more importantly however, was the shift of focus from full blown survival horror to a more action packed shooter. Despite the radical changes made to Resident Evil 4, the initial release saw huge critical and commercial success, with the title regarded as one of the most influential games ever, with many claiming the game to have redefined the third-person shooter genre.
But this was back in 2005. Since this point Resident Evil 4 has appeared on almost every console to date and with yet another release arriving on Xbox One, have Capcom gone too far or is it really a timeless classic?
Taking place six years after the fateful events of Raccoon City, players take control of former Raccoon City cop, now U.S. Government agent, Leon. S. Kennedy on a rescue mission to save Ashley Graham, daughter of the U.S. President who has been kidnapped by a mysterious religious cult, The Los Illuminados.
Okay so by now many of you will already know that Resident Evil 4 offers some amazing gameplay, with a wide variety of puzzles and enemies keeping players engaged from the tense first moments all the way to the explosive finale. However how spectacular are these moments when we’ve seen them several times already? Spectacularly spectacular is the answer as Resident Evil 4 offers something that is rarely seen in games these days.
Action-horror is a hard genre to master with only a handful of noteworthy titles springing to mind that have done it well (I’m looking at you Alien: Isolation). However, Resident Evil 4 is a title that not only manages this well, but leaves a big impression long after you’ve put the controller down. With a fixed camera angle above the shoulder still restricting the player’s field of view in classic Resident Evil fashion, and resource management once more a focus, players are really forced to think about how to take down each enemy to ensure ammo isn’t wasted unnecessarily. Another plus for the title is the return of the classic movement. Whilst the lack of camera control may well be an issue for those unaccustomed to the franchise, with many games now offering a nice 360-degree view to operate with, the restricted view adds just the right amount of tension to the game; whether you’re running away from the pesky Ganados, or panicking at the musical cue of the Progenitors, your only hope will be mastering the movement to ensure you can see your enemies coming.
An important aspect of gameplay is the upgrade system. Resident Evil 4 is the first title in the series to introduce a proper upgrade system and need I say this is just another of the many changes that add to the great experience. Upgrading is performed in a shop-like environment, with players able to buy and sell equipment as well as upgrade weapons every time they come into contact with the mysterious merchant. And never before have I been so happy to see a hooded stranger. Many of the upgrades available from the merchant are required should you wish to progress throughout the game, however not all of them are available straight away.
Each weapon has a few different aspects to build on including firepower, reload time and ammo capacity among a few others. Upgrading all the different choices on a weapon to the max will enable a new upgrade which makes the weapon near unstoppable, but due to the amount required for these, a full playthrough may see you get just one or two if you’re lucky…and that is only if you sell the right things at the right times.
The one disappointment to go with the many positives on show from Resident Evil 4’s latest outing is the lack of any new content. Sure there is extra content available to unlock already, such as the Separate Ways short story, Assignment Ada mission and The Mercenaries modes along with various costumes, however these are all extras that have been included in almost every version of the game to date. For such a big anniversary it would have been nice to see something fresh from Capcom on that front.
Overall Resident Evil 4 is a welcome addition to Xbox One and with a nice HD polish and super shiny textures on show throughout, it is indeed the nicest version of the game. However, with the same choppy FMV sequences that were on show in the original still in place, and no noticeable upgrades and or new content to speak of, many who have already experienced Leon’s journey before may want to hold out on buying this time around.
But for those out there who have yet to experience this epic title then consider this a no brainer. With a 15-hour campaign and enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout this may be one of the best titles you play all year…even 11 years on.