Back in 2005, Capcom once again redefined the concept of the horror survival genre with Resident Evil 4. The game was suppose to make the horror experience user friendly while introducing the series to a new generation.
The good news is that it succeeded its goal of making horror survival more user friendly while redefining the series. The bad news was that the series broke away from its horror roots with Resident Evil 5 and then jumped the shark with that abomination called Resident Evil 6.
This resulted in Capcom having an identity crisis for some time before it returned to its horror roots with the HD release of Resident Evil and Zero. There success paved the way for a Resident Evil 2 remake and Resident Evil 7: Biohazzard, a P.T. inspired horror game that returns the series to its roots.
During Capcom’s identity crisis, the reputation of Resident Evil 4 suffered as many disgruntled fans lumped it in with 5 and 6. This would be an unfair as the game attempted to find a balance of both action and survival to create the ideal adventure. It may had a dumb story and a few cheesy moments, but it was still a good game.
Set several years after the Raccoon City Incident, the US Government pressed criminal charges against the Umbrella Cooperation. The result was the collapse of the company while many of its leaders became wanted fugitives. Since then; Leon S. Kennedy has become an agent of the United States Secret Service.
Leon has been tasked with rescuing the Presidents daughter, Ashley Graham, after she is kidnapped by a mysterious cult. He is deployed to a village in Spain were the cult is located only to discover that everyone has been infected with a parasite called Las Plagas. The cult has also infected the Ashley with the same parasite and wish to use her to infect the President.
Yeah as mentioned before, the story is really dumb while Ashley has grown to represent everything gamers have hated about escort missions. On the bright side; Leon S. Kennedy and Ada Wong return to continue their love-hate relationship.
The story was not its strong point but the gameplay mechanism was major change for the genre. The new setup made the experience more user friendly while allowing players to better navigate through the environment. Unlike its successors, Resident Evil 4 was able to find the perfect balance between the action and the elements of a horror survival.
Compared to its predecessors, Resident Evil 4 has a more user friendly set up that allows players to easily navigate through the environment while battling zombies. At the same time, players need to be resourceful as they need to find a balance between the amount of ammo, health aid and weapons they carry. Plus the game is rich in mini-games and hidden secret, adding more to its overall replay value.
Resident Evil 4 may have found the right balance in terms of gameplay and horror, the HD version adds better quality to the visual aspects. Unlike Resident Evil 5 HD, players will be quick to notice the visual changes as the PS2 graphics have become dated while the PS3 version failed to properly update the graphics.
Resident Evil 4 HD is the result of Capcom attempting to bridge the gap between the need for more action and a user friendly experience with the need to preserve the horror survival elements. Overall it succeeded in creating an experience that new and old fans could enjoy.
Final Score: 9/10
Disclaimer: I played the game for 5 hours at a friends house while having put over 10 hours in the GameCube, PS2 and PS3 version of the game each for a comparison.