When Resident Evil 4 was announced, few people had any idea just what sort of game it would be. The few early screenshots and bits of info that were released didn't reveal much about the title other than the identity of it's protagonist and some very small bits of plotline. For the next three years, fans waited in anticipation as the game finished development and neared it's release date. But nobody could quite predict just how much of an improvement on the earlier games in the series it would be. Simply put, Resident Evil 4 is the best game in the Resident Evil series, and certainly one of the absolute best games to be released on the GameCube. The game stars Leon Kennedy, who previously appeared in Resident Evil 2. After the events of that game, Leon has taken a job with the United States government and has been sent to a remote part of Europe searching for the President's kidnapped daughter. The game follows him as he makes his way through the area and it's surroundings, past the rather hostile locals and whatever they can throw at him in an attempt to rescue her and discover what's going on. The story takes several interesting twists and turns as it progresses, and by the end of the game you'll probably be quite amazed at everything that you've seen. The game plays as an almost pure action title. Everything is viewed from a camera point that's located just behind Leon's shoulder, meaning that the static camera angles of previous entries in the series are finally gone. The tank controls of the previous games are also present here, but they feel a lot more comfortable in the quasi-first-person view of this game. Aiming and firing is done with the right trigger button, though Leon cannot move while he is aiming his weapon. Much of the action takes place as you hold of the hordes of angry villagers that will constantly be attempting to catch Leon and finish him off. Instead of being forced to pick and choose your fights, you end up being given an incredibly generous supply of ammunition for your various weapons. Along with that, killing enemies often rewards you with even more ammunition. It's as if the developers are rewarding you for getting in huge fights, and it really makes the game a lot more enjoyable. Even with all the focus on action, many of the most important parts of the game's story are revealed in some snappy cutscenes that come along from time to time. While these are quite exciting to watch, the voice acting can occasionally be a little spotty. Not because of the quality of the actors however, but rather because the writing sometimes comes off as a bit corny. Still, it's a good idea to pay attention to them, as you will often be prompted to press a certain button combination during these scenes to commit some sort of action. Doing so successfully will usually allow you to proceed safely, while failing can have dire consequences. It's an exciting way to get you to pay attention to the story, though some players might feel a bit aggravated if they end up having to re-watch a cut scene to get the timing right. Some attention must be paid to just how interesting the behavior of the enemies in this entry is. Your new foes are not the mindless shambling zombie hordes of Resident Evils past. They run, they talk, they form plans to attack and surround you. You can hear them giving orders to each other as they prepare to assault you. Often times they carry weapons or bring shields with them. One of the most interesting facets of the game's plot is figuring out just what sort of problem these people have, and why they act the way that they do. After all, they may act similarly to zombies in that they seem to have an increased tolerance to pain and almost no fear of gunfire, but they engage in intelligent behavior that would normally seem to be limited to humans. While game is mostly focused on action, there are a few moments where it slows down to include a puzzle or two. However, none of these particular challenges are very long or complicated, and they only seem to serve as a break in the action. There is also a shopkeeper who appears at different times during your adventure, marking the first time in an RE game where you are able to buy your weapons. Much of the time that you spend searching through the different areas that you explore will reward you with money and treasures that will allow you to purchase newer and more powerful weaponry from your rather opportunistic friend. The games visuals are simply stunning. While graphics alone do not make a game good, good graphics can enhance an already excellent title substantially. The graphics in RE 4 are without a doubt it's strongest asset after it's gameplay. All of the environments are exquisitely detailed and incredibly atmospheric. Usually you aren't allowed to interact with most of what you see, but that probably won't bother you too much. Enemies and other characters are all given just as much detail as the areas that they inhabit. Still, you might be a little taken aback with the fact that the village is heavily populated with a few character models that repeat themselves rather often. Besides that, there aren't any other problems with the game's visuals, and it's very easy to appreciate the effort that went into them. The game's audio is also incredibly strong in this game. Much of the time you spend fighting enemies is punctuated by the sound of your enemies as they yell things to each other and at you. There are many different times when the game's audio serves as an important cue to your enemies' actions, making it important to listen to everything that's going on around you. All of the different audio samples and sound effects are of the highest quality, making it one of the best-sounding games of the last few years along with it's visuals. It was definitely worth the wait for Resident Evil 4. It makes countless improvements to the gameplay of previous games. Beyond that, it makes the experience of the game much more exciting and immersive than it's ever been before. Beyond that, it changes the experience enough to make it recommendable even to people who don't like survival horror or the Resident Evil series. It's such a massive improvement to the series, and such a spectacular game in it's own right, that absolutely everyone should give it a shot. It's a title that people will remember for a very long time.
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