It's amazing how much of a leap the RE series has taken since its debut on the original Playstation. And, although its been a long, hard road, the franchise has reached utter perfection. Not only is this light years away from the others in quality, RE4 is easily one of the best action titles you'll find anywhere, ever. The game starts off when we meet up with our old pal from RE2, Leon. He's gone through quite a bit since the disaster in the rural town of Racoon City, and it really shows. Leon has a subtle quality to him that many people will see right off the bat; right from the beginning, you'll want to know all about the protagonist. In other words, the game does an awesome job of getting the gamer interested in the characters-something that many games lack. Longtime fans will see a few familiar faces throughout the 20+ hour adventure, as well as many memorable new ones. The game is also built around a new setting, with its own plot and theme. However, many fans will be pleased to know that the plot itself has many ties with the infamous Umbrella corporation. Now, I'll just give it to you straight: this game is BRUTAL. It's filled with lots of gore and gruesome sequences that will make you cringe from time to time. In fact, it occasionally gets so bad that you actually may simply be pissed off when, for example, something skewers you in the head, rather than teriffied or queazy. "Whoa...that thing just swallowed me whole.....IM GONNA KILL HIM!". And yes, RE4 still follows through with the previous installments as a pretty horrifying experience...you'll definitely find yourself looking over your shoulder every now and then. Fortunately, you've got yourself a badass to handle everything that RE4 throws at you. RE4 also features a unique touch-sensitive feature during some of the cut scenes, which really keeps you on your toes. These sequences also appear during quarrels with many enemies as well, and can be extremely helpful when your in a tight spot-so be attentive. RE4 perfects in presentation, and it tops everything off with fabulous gameplay. It's even more amazing as to how such simple gameplay mechanics can deliver so much depth and require so much skill. You'll consantly be forced to put certain strategies into affect while going up against your opponents-simply running in with barrels blazing wont work here. Different enemies and situations each require a different approach in order to succeed. Altogether, thoughtful tactics and hardcore action go hand in hand with this baby like never before in a survival-horror game. Another new feature is the ability to collect gold and acquire new and diverse weaponry from a mysterious robed figure, only known as the merchant. Better yet, when you acquire these weapons, you can upgrade their attributes in many different ways. Ammo capacity, damage, reload speed, firing speed...all of which can be upgraded many times. RE4 gives you a ot of freedom, and its up to you how to use this to your advantage. RE4 will definitely put you to the test, both in skill and nerve. For many, panicing may be your first priority when fighting certain monstrosities; obviously, this isn't the way to go. RE4 is quite a challenging game, especially on some of the higher difficulty settings, so expect to feel the pain of defeat time and time again. However, you probably wont get too frustrated during any of the more nerve-racking moments, because you're simply having a blast. And when I say "nerve-racking", I mean it. The boss fights in RE4 are spectacular, and really, REALLY keep you on the edge of your seat....but in a good way. Savor these moments in RE4, as they are definitely one of the games biggest highlights. We've all seen our share of beautiful games. However, RE4 simply surpasses the realm of "beautiful"; this game is simply BREATHTAKING. Every character model is meticulously detailed, and is accompanied by utterly superb lighting, texturing, environments, art design, etc. Neither the screenshots nor my blabbering does this game any justice at all, so I recommend that you see it for yourself. The graphics are nearly matched by the sharp audio. While the voice acting is solid, its the sound effects and the score that really blow you away. The creepy score comes to life when the tension reaches an all time high, and goes hand in hand with the cinematic experience RE4 attempts to bring in. The shrieks and thick, guttural roars of RE4's enemies are absolutely chilling, and you'll constantly be on the alert for specific sounds that some enemies make before they strike. Another extremely considerate feature that Capcom threw in was that the villagers (your most common opponent) all speak in their native tongue. It really adds to the immersion and acceptance of RE4's world, which seems both alien and extremely familiar. Although you'll likely want to roll through the game after you beat it simply because of the sheer pleasure it delivers, tons of secrets and hidden mini-games await your return. One way or another, you'll likely be able to squeeze out at least 25 hours or more out of RE4, and you'll enjoy every second of it. I honestly cant find anything negative about RE4. Everything seems so polished and well done that one cant really complain. If you really try, you may be able to spot a drop in the framerate or some other nit-picky issue, but thats about it. Everything else about RE4 is presented so damn well that its scary. You simply cant go wrong. Do what you have to do-hell, go buy a gamecube-just play this game.
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