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November 4, 2005
Resident Evil 4 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
127KBDolby PLIIYesYesYesYes
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Wonderful building design.
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An Ada Wong mission.
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The assignment.

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Enemies come thick and fast.
The Resident Evil series, or Biohazard as it's know in Japan, has been a massive success for Capcom with well over 26 million units sold around the world since the first PSOne game was released in 1996. Around a year ago the company released Resident Evil 4 on Gamecube and while it was initially announced as an exclusive for that system Capcom soon decided that the lack of potential sales necessitated a port to PS2 as well. Obviously the first question everyone has is, "Is this game any good, and are these PS2 screens?" The answer to both is most definitely - this game looks, and plays, every bit as sensational as the Gamecube original and even packs in a few new features and surprises for PS2 owners as well!

In Resident Evil 4 players are reacquainted with Leon S. Kennedy, Raccoon City Police Departmentís idealistic rookie cop from Resident Evil 2. It has been six years since the destruction of Raccoon City and in that time, the U.S. government has been able to destroy the nefarious Umbrella Corporation. Fast forward to 2004 and players rejoin Leon, who is now a U.S. agent with a top-secret mission. He has been tasked to look into the abduction of the Presidentís daughter and his investigation has led him to a mysterious location in Europe. As Leon encounters unimaginable horrors, he must find out who or what is behind everything.

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A spear? Is that all you have!
As most of you would know the Resident Evil titles are third person action adventures. Previously the games included slow moving zombies limbering up to you just waiting to be blown away. Not so in this game. Now the zombies are fast moving and will swarm towards you in packs of half a dozen or more. Whatís more they are now armed with a wide range of weapons including pitch forks, knives, axes (which they'll even throw at you occasionally) and the ever menacing chainsaws. This really sets the atmosphere of the game, one minute you can be walking along calmly, and then the next you're being surrounded on all sides.

Fortunately you have a wide range of weapons at your disposal. After starting with a standard pistol you later purchase Shotguns, Machine Guns, or Bazookas to name a few. Not only are there different types of weapon in each category, but you can also spend money (which is collected by finding it throughout levels, defeating enemies, or selling precious items) to upgrade the weapons. Upgrades include more damage, quicker reload times, larger ammunition or more rapid firing. When you aim your weapons by pressing the R1 button a laser sight comes up so you can see where you're aiming. Hitting the zombies in the head often results in the quickest kill, but hitting their legs may slow them down enough to get away. Not only can you use weapons but can also, when in the right position, kick the enemies and if being attacked wiggle the left analogue stick to wrestle them. If guns aren't enough it's also possible to pick up frag grenades, flash grenades or incendiary grenades to take out large groups of enemies.

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Leon's new RPRL weapon.
At certain points in Resident Evil 4 you will need to use context sensitive buttons to perform actions, jump over objects or jump down from edges and so on as you can see in the middle screenshot in the top row here. At other points you may need to press a button, often X, to run as fast as possible from a boulder rolling right behind you or to climb up onto an enemy before slashing at them with the knife. These sections add a bit of variety to the mix and work quite well. Also working well are the puzzles which, while not the most thought provoking, may take a bit of time for you to figure out.

Playstation 2 owners are also receiving several bonuses over the Gamecube game. Most prominent is the 5 all-new chapters of game which fill in some of the back story, and demonstrates the other side to what Leon has experienced. It's pretty length too with about 5 hours of additional game here which is a fair whack. The development team has also added in a couple of new weapons exclusive to the PS2. Ada Wong has a grenade tipped crossbow while Leon has a Las Plagas Removal Laser Gun at his disposal. This weapon can be charged up for powerful laser bursts or can be used in rapid fire for less powerful, but more frequent, shots. Finally, Leon can now wear a Mafia styled suit while Ashley, rather amusingly, will be able to wear some medievil styled armour!

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Inside the church.
While this game is brilliant, and superior to almost every single other game on Playstation 2 there are still a couple of areas where Capcom could improve. Firstly we still want true analogue support. Having to press the square button to run is still too archaic, why not use the analogue stick to good effect. More dramatically that square button could be used to toggle between the weapons which is our biggest problem with Resident Evil 4. You need to pause the game and go into the briefcase to switch weapons. It's cumbersome and takes you out of the game. In terms of levels some areas are a little more linear then we would hope for with narrow paths and areas which are unreachable due to invisible walls or boundaries. It's also a little annoying that you can jump some fences in some locations, but not similar ones only a matter of meters away. These are all minor issues, but if they had been fixed we almost certainly would have been looking at the highest ever rated game on PS2, unfortunately this just drops it down fractionally.

So the game is nigh on identical to the Gamecube title in terms of gameplay and we are ecstatic to report that the PS2 game is virtually indistinguishable. Sure there's the odd lighting effect which is missing or lessened while the texturing is also a little less detailed in places. Unless you have the Gamecube version to do a direct comparison, as we are fortunate to have, you'll likely never notice. What gamers should be aware of is that this game is delibertatly set in a widescreen mode as seen in the surrounding screenshots. Having said that the PS2 port does have one massive advantage over the Gamecube title, native 16:9 Widescreen support. Strangely the PAL version of the game does not seem to support Progressive scan, however it can be enabled by pressing Triangle and X while the game boots (we were unable to test this ourselves, but apparently it works).

On a more general level the game looks simply sensational. The zombies, while repetitive in looks at times move with fluidity and will have you on the edge of your seats. Locations from the lake, to the church, the village to factories are superbly detailed, detail which extends to the enemies and in particular the boss encounters. Each is different and each is brilliant. I'm not even going to mention who you'll come across, but the screenshot here of the large crocodile is an indication of one fantastic example. The frame rate is also rock steady with only the smallest touch of slowdown on the busiest of screens. Effects such as fogging, water splashes, enemies dissolving and mutating look wonderful.

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What the...
Audio in this title is superb. Be it the Spanish speaking residents or the groans of zombies, or the menacing noise of a distant chainsaw heading your way every single sound will have you on the edge of your seat. The music is mostly atmospheric orchestral sounds, which changes tempo according to the action on screen. The voice acting is superb, even the conversations on the video phone are interesting enough to listen to, and unlike Metal Gear Solid concise enough that you won't have a nap during it either.

There's so much more that could be written about this game, but in all honesty I just don't want to spoil it for you. Needless to say there's enough twists and turns to keep you hooked from start to finish. Without a doubt this is the near perfect Resident Evil game. Absolutely every aspect from the storyline to the graphics, gameplay to sound are second to none. I can sum Resident Evil 4 up with one simple question and answer. Is this the best Resident Evil game ever? Yes. 'Nuff said.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSSuperb, stunning, jaw dropping. Among the best graphics on PS2 ever.
SOUNDA truly emmersive experience that will have you on the edge of your seat.
GAMEPLAYBesides a couple of small issues this game is simply brilliant.
VALUEMore levels then the Gamecube title, tough in spots, and very replayable.
OVERALLWithout a doubt Resident Evil 4 is one of the greatest video games in this current generation. The PS2 version has even more then the Gamecube title and while there are a couple of graphical downgrades this is still one of the best looking PS2 games to date. What more can I say other then this... Resident Evil 4 is an essential purchase.

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