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Revival Selection Review Pt. 1 – Resident Evil 4

Since the series debut in 1996, the Resident Evil series has become a major milestone in the zombie and survival-horror genre of games. Created by Shinji Mikami, this particular series is well-known and loved throughout the gaming community for its innovation, character development, story evolution and progressively freaky shit. But it wasn’t until January 11th, 2005 that the Resident Evil series got a major upgrade. Enter Resident Evil 4! This installment of the series changed the way Resident Evil looked and played for a long time, and the play style is still being incorporated to this day. So without further ado, let’s breakdown and look at Resident Evil 4.

As I pointed out earlier, RE4 hit the Nintendo GameCube on January 11th, 2005. Later that year in October, the PS2 got a port of the game. However, the PS2 version got additional bonus materials and game modes, which I will touch on later. PC users were granted the game in March of 2007 and the Nintendo Wii got its version on June 19th of 2007. Recently(As in 10 days ago), Capcom released the Revival Selection for PS3 and Xbox 360 featuring this game as well as CODE: Veronica X in high-definition…and let me tell you, it looks beautiful in HD! But, what is RE4 all about? Well, if you have yet to play the game, then you seriously need to get out more because the damn game has been out for 6 years. However, I am a merciful deity…I will explain to you what RE4 is all about.

Resident Evil 4 has you once again controlling Raccoon City Survivor, Leon S. Kennedy. For those of you who don’t know him, Leon made his debut as one of two playable protagonist in Resident Evil 2. His first day on the job as a rookie for the Raccoon City Police Department, Leon got swept up into the nefarious plans of the constantly evolving, conspiracy-ridden pharmaceutical company, Umbrella Corporation. Long story short, he survived and was quickly recruited by the United States government for special training. As it stands in RE4, he is a highly-trained U.S. Agent who works directly underneath the President which automatically places him in the bad-ass category.

So yeah, he rocks. Anyway, RE4 takes place in 2004 after the U.S. Government had completely destroyed Raccoon City because of the viral outbreak and then proceeded to lay the business smackdown on Umbrella by suspending all trading and funds and soon Umbrella went down faster than Enron. Leon is currently in Spain, looking for the U.S. President’s hot but whiny daughter, Ashley Graham.

Come to find out, Ashley was kidnapped by a religious cult(With the assistance of Leon’s former partner, Jack Krauser) called the Los Illuminados(Spanish for “The Enlightened Ones”), that worship a virus called Las Plagas(Spanish for “The Plagues”) which controls it’s hosts due to being a parasitic organism. Los Illuminados is headed up by a guy named Osmund Saddler, who orchestrated the kidnapping and infected Ashley with a Las Plagas embryo in order to release her back home and infect the President, giving him total control of the country and eventually the world. Sounds heavy, right? Well, not to Leon as he is used to situations such as this.

Now normally, you would be up against zombies and mutated animals and whatnot because it’s a Resident Evil game. Not this time, I’m afraid. The enemies you face in this game are normal villagers who are all infected with the Las Plagas parasite, thus making them controlled by Saddler. The Ganados(Spanish for “cattle”), as they are called, are very capable of organizing ambushes, traps and attacks with ease despite being under the influence and control of the Plagas. However, like most RE games, it does have its cadre of weird creatures and ridiculously huge bosses that will more than likely kill you if you don’t watch what you are doing.

The mechanics in the game were, at first, hard to get used to because before RE4 it was more or less a “Run-Stop-Turn-Run” type of playing. Well, in this game the controls were turned into sort of a 3rd Person/Over-the-shoulder perspective. Aiming your gun is manual, as opposed to some of the previous titles “auto-aim” feature. But, a laser-sight was added to all the guns to assist in aiming, so it’s not a bad gig when you think about it. Reloading is done on the fly now, as opposed to the norm when you were able to just go into your inventory and combine ammo with the matching gun. This method give the player the impression that he/she is under pressure and needs to choose when reloading now is a good time, or just backing off a bit then reloading. This game definitely makes you pick and choose your actions because if you do it at the wrong time, it could have disastrous results. Another difficult aspect of the game is when you have Ashley following you. Now, she is nowhere near as bad as the AI for Sheva in Resident Evil 5 is, but it can be just as difficult if you’re not careful. One thing is, the Ganados are ALWAYS trying to get her. If one of them manages to pick her up and carry her to an “exit door”, it’s game over. If you accidentally knife her or shoot her, it’s game over. If a non-Ganados kills her, it’s game over. Yeah, it’s like the “Baby-sitters Club: Hell Edition”. But luckily, you can have her hide in dumpsters and containers while you deal with an encroaching threat or tell her to “Wait” in a relatively safe spot while you go on ahead and check the area. Some of the puzzles in the game require the 2 of you or require you to boost her over a wall to unlock the door from the other side. So unfortunately, she’s a necessity.

One of the biggest complaints I often heard in the past was inventory space, and the constant lack thereof. Well in RE4, managing your inventory has become WAY easier than before. The game introduced players to a grid-like system for managing inventory. Every weapon and item in the game takes up a certain amount of space, but you can easily organize your attache case by rotating items to fit however you want them to. So if you happen to have OCD, then you’ll have no qualms at all with cluttered inventories and whatnot. Ammo stacks to a certain amount, then moves on to another box when the previous amount hits its cap. Grenades and Herbs do not stack, unfortunately, but you can rotate them to fit quite easily in your case. Guns in the game obviously have larger sizes, so you’ll always want to place them in your inventory first, then fill in the blanks. As I stated before, this game makes you pick and choose, so you’ll really need to think about what guns you will need to bring with you, depending on the situation or preference. I, personally, keep a handgun, shotgun and rifle in my inventory with ammo, Herbs, Grenades and attachments easily fitting in the remaining spots, leaving just enough space for additional ammo or other items I happen to acquire. You can also upgrade your attache case buy purchasing a larger size. Wait…purchase? Heh, I’ll get to that now.

One of the absolute coolest additions to this game was the ability to pick up money(or Pesetas, in this case) and use it to purchase weapons, restorative items and weapon mods from a very peculiar individual only known as the Merchant.

He’s dressed in very interesting attire, has a very distinctive Cockney accent, and has more weapons than a small militia. Where he gets these things, nobody truly knows. But he is very convenient, professional and always open for business. The one and only downside to the Merchant is that he does not sell ammo. Yeah, I know…it sucks, but you need to remember that in past Resident Evil games, ammo conservation is an absolute must and it still sticks even in this game. Basic ammo(Handgun, shotgun, etc.) isn’t scarce, but Magnum ammo is, which probably why I never bother to purchase and/or use a Magnum in this game. Granted, it would help out substantially in some of the later boss fights, but I usually take my chances. I mentioned weapon mods earlier, and by that I mean stuff like stocks for certain handguns, scopes for rifles and the like. Aside from purchasing physical add-ons for your guns, you can also upgrade them as well. You can upgrade the Power, Firing Speed, Reload Speed, and Ammo Capacity for almost all the guns. Once all the basic upgrades are purchased, you’ll have access to an “Exclusive Upgrade” which, depending on the gun, can give you 100 shots or increase the firepower far beyond the basic limit. Upgrades cost a hefty amount, but not to worry! Throughout the game, you’ll pick up jewels, gemstones and other treasures that you can sell to the Merchant for various high prices. Hell, some treasures you can combine with other treasures to make an even more highly sell-worthy treasure! So, always check your locations when you’ve cleared the area of Ganados or other enemies to see what they had stashed!

Upon completing the game, you unlock a lot of different things. First thing, is a New Game+ mode. Although it isn’t specifically called “New Game+”, you are able to play through the game again with all the weapons, upgrades and items you had in the previous run through. Only thing is, you can only play it through a second time on the difficulty you beat it on. So, if you beat the game on Normal then you can play through Normal mode again with all your stuff. If you beat it on Professional…well, you get the idea. The other stuff you unlock are extra game modes. They are: Separate Ways, Assignment Ada, and The Mercenaries. Each mode has different features and difficulties, but overall they are challenging but fun! Let’s check them out.

Separate Ways has you playing as Ada Wong(Whom I often call “Teaso Supremo”), whom you Resident Evil vets know from RE2. In this particular game, you’ll be playing through the main game(Though nowhere near as long), parallel to Leon’s events in the main game. There are 5 chapters to play through, with each chapter getting progressively more difficult. But not worry because the Merchant is available as well as Save Points. I won’t spoil the events of the mode, but it leaves you with a sort of “Oh, now I get it” mentality. Upon completing it, you are awarded with the Chicago Typewriter(Tommy gun w/ infinite ammo) and Leon’s Mafia costume as well as Ashley’s suit of armor costume. Not too bad, in my opinion.

Assignment Ada is another game mode featuring everyone’s favorite Asian agent. Only this time, you have to collect 5 Las Plagas samples, all of which are guarded by enemies that pretty much want to kill you. Upon it’s completion, you unlock the Chicago Typewriter(GameCube version) for the main game. For non-GameCube versions, you’ll get the Chicago Typewriter for Separate Ways! So, you might want to beat this mode first, then play Separate Ways so you can enjoy the awesomeness that is the Chicago Typewriter! It’s nowhere near as long as Separate Ways, but it can get tough at times. Very tough! But, this mode is nowhere near as challenging and time consuming as…

The Mercenaries is a little different then the mercenary mode from Resident Evil 3. The way it works is, you have to kill as many enemies as possible before the evacuation chopper arrives to pick you up. You can extend the time by finding Time Bonuses hidden throughout the levels. In this mode, you can play as 1 of 5 characters: Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong, Jack Krauser, HUNK and Albert Wesker. All of them come with a set inventory and ammo, but you can acquire ammo by killing enemies during your slaughter. The really cool thing about this mode is that if you get a 5-star ranking on all the levels with all the characters, you unlock Barry Burton’s Handcannon!

I can’t stress enough how bad-ass this gun truly is! Once it’s fully upgraded, you can purchase the Exclusive Upgrade which gives you infinite ammo! Of course the downside to this is that it costs 750,000 pesetas to fully upgrade this gun, but you can easily get that amount if you don’t buy a lot of items in the game. Hell, to get it even easier, simply keep the Chicago Typewriter and a rifle in your inventory and sell everything else, including treasures and you’re good to go!

Overall, this game is incredibly fun and challenging and it looks GORGEOUS in HD! It has an incredibly high replay value with many more rewards to earn and unlock, and it makes a great stress reliever! The voice acting is superb, the plot twists are amazing and the extra game modes are incredibly fun to play if you get burnt out from the main game. Stay tuned for Pt 2 of my Revival Selection review where I’ll be tackling CODE: Veronica X which should be live in a week or so.

10 out of 10

Until next episode…

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