Retrospect: Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 is a zombie game by Capcom, where you play as Chris Redfield, leading a 1 man expedition to rescue the president’s daughter. First off I’ll say that if Spanish terrorists actually got their hands on the president’s daughter they’d send in a good amount of SWAT teams and then nuke the entire island once they got her out, just to emphasise the point.

It was a game originally created for the Gamecube, and has been ported to the PC rather sloppily.
First gripe I have is that they didn’t even bother letting you use the mouse, rather they just ignored it entirely and kept the same control system as the Gamecube had. While it was rather appropriate for a controller (more about this later) it made the PC controls hard to use and rather irritating.

To aim your equiped weapon you have to press the ‘aim weapon’ button, where the character aims and then the movement keys turn into aim keys.
This annoyed me immensely, since I hadn’t needed to use the keyboard to aim since they invented the SODDING mouse. But I can deal, right?

Well the next gripe was that they don’t ever tell you which keys you need to press for specific actions, they give you pictures for ‘Button 1’ etc. While this is bearable if it’s easy, like Enter being Button 3 to do most actions that was fine. But then they ask about the 1,2,4,5,6 buttons and I have no idea what the hell they’re on about. I figured how to open the Inventory and it felt like a big accomplishment, cause the game never tells you how to do it.

Third, there are quite a few quick time events. I don’t have a major grudge against well done quick time events, there are problems I’ve encountered where it’s asked me to mash E repeatedly but it won’t register because I’m mashing too quick (I’m too awesome), or when it flashes up before the actual button becomes active, and if more than 1 button is pressed it fails and I die, so I’m wondering if I didn’t press it right and if I press it again will it kill me, like some sort of Quantum quicktime event. Not great.

But here the control problem comes up again. Suddenly it’s asking me to press 5 and 6. Well hell, I don’t know what those are! Game never told me, I’ve probably been using them all this time without knowing what the hell they were labeled. So I die, wondering what the hell the buttons were, but it’s okay, cause it flashes up a different combination of buttons I don’t know. So it never gives me solid testing groups to find what buttons are which.

Mainly though it’s not a fault with the game itself, it’s the team who ported it either being too lazy, not given enough time, or not paid enough. Or all 3. PC gamers are 2nd class citizens in this respect a lot of the time.

So I was trying to get through the game while feeling I was playing it in Japanese or something. Not really enjoying it but compelled to keep playing because the story was decent.
Then I borrowed my brother’s controller.

Suddenly the sun came out and flowers started blooming, Parades happening in the street. For this game was now actually playable. And it was pretty fun.

The buttons on screen actually matched the buttons on the controller, quick time events were possible, and I could aim. One could argue that the game was designed to be used with a controller on the PC, due to the instant compatibility and design, but what idiot creates a game that you need a specialised piece of hardware most people on the particular platform don’t have?

The graphics aren’t terrific, the environments and most of the characters look like they were created just after Quake 3 was, though again this was a Gamecube design restriction, the console not being able to pull the skin off a custard, so I can’t really blame them.
But what stands out is the main character look extremely high detail, better than a lot of recentish games. While this is good, it’s be a better if they did this to the entire game, cause the characters look like they’ve invaded from another, more recent game, and clearly don’t belong in this pixelated mess.

The zombies, while entertaining to a point, it takes FAR too long to kill them.
What would happen if you got shot in the head with a 9mm pistol? Why, you’d die. So why can these guys take a good 5 rounds before their head explodes, presumably due to the built up force of 5 bullets to the skull. And why does carrying a chainsaw give you the ability to take 3 shotgun blasts? Cause I’d have one on my person at all times if it were the case. Zombies do not  get bulletproof skelletons, they die like the rest of us, something only a few zombie games do properly unfortunately.

While this game is supposed to invoke a sense of horror, I found myself running away from zombie hordes not out of fear, out of frustration, because it would take a good half a minute to kill 5 zombies and I wanted to get on with the plot.

(Speaking of which this game MAY be scary to your average person, but I’ve played far too many horror games to be squimish at virtual blood or limbs flying off.)

The game has a bit of a treasure hunting mechanic, where random jewels, jewellery, other things of value are scattered around the place, and gives you more money to buy weapons etc. I actually enjoyed looking for these more than the zombie killage, and the brief level you play as the President’s daughter (Whom I REALLY wish would put on a longer skirt) where you didn’t have conventional weapons was insane fun for me, pity it only lasted ten minutes.

Back to quicktime events, now I can actually perform them they’re pretty decent, however there’s one particular cutscene that has about 7 quicktime events. Cutscenes are supposed to be a time to learn about the plot and reflect, not be watching the bottom half of the screen in-case of of the 2 quicktime combos popup and kill you in a variety of fun and messy ways! I don’t mind quicktime events in gameplay e.g. Press X to throw zombie off you, but in cutscenes seems a bit cheap.

The inherit danger in playing a game that’s been lazily ported from one platform to another is there’ll be some inherit bugs at the very least. Take the Orange Box, it gave me about 500 hours of entertainment for 50 dollars. Brilliant. It was released at the same time on the Xbox 360, which was also awesome, everything worked brilliantly, the only issue being Microsoft’s unwillingness to let developers give away free content.
But EA decided it wanted to port the game to the PS3, because EA, as we all know, are money grabbing whores. The game never really ran well, controls were sometimes unresponsive and a couple of bits were nigh unplayable, because EA did a lazy port, effectively ruining the game for anyone silly enough to buy a PS3 (their own fault really).

So Resident Evil 4, rather strangely for a PC game, practically requires a controller to be functional.
It’s decent enough and compels enough interest to actually get through, but don’t go out of your way for it. Personally I only bought it cause it can with Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, but that needs about 2 gigs of updates before it works, so I might be able to play it at some point in the distant future.

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4 Responses to “Retrospect: Resident Evil 4”

  1. Carrying a chainsaw around may disable you socially, especially on public transport. But added protection against bullets and the look on people faces as they run screaming, is very tempting.

  2. Yeah… If people carried chainsaws, reasturants would need to start putting chainsaw buckets next to the umbrella buckets!

  3. Chainsaw buckets might be a hazard to small children though.

  4. Ahh but you see, thats where early childhood education comes in! Teach those kids to use chainsaws I say!

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