What once started out as part of the exclusive Capcom 5 deal on Nintendo’s GameCube has become one of the most ported games ever. Resident Evil 4 started out as a GameCube only title in 2005 – now, eleven years later, it has been ported to almost every platform conceivable, but for good reasons. This was the installment that, for lack of a better phrase, brought Resident Evil back to life. Shinji Mikami took his franchise and retooled it for the next generation of systems. Bringing Leon “not my first day anymore” Kennedy back into the action was the smartest move he could have made; older fans got one of their favorite characters back, and younger fans were shown a whole new world of survival horror. Mikami also took the zombies out of the equation and replaced Albert Wesker in this game with some extremely eccentric new villains. This playthrough on the Xbox One will be my third time completing the game, and I can honestly say I was just as excited as I was 11 years ago when I popped this classic into my eagerly awaiting GameCube.
This is, once again, a story of good versus evil. Leon’s assignment this time is to the find Ashley, the president’s daughter, who has been kidnapped and taken to a remote part of Spain. At the onset of his adventure Leon has no idea what is in store for him. Instead of this just being a hum drum rescue mission Leon finds that it is much, much more. As he dives deeper and deeper into the mystery he finds that zombies are now a thing of the past, and that Las Plagas may be the T-Virus of the future. Los Illuminados have kidnapped Ashley in an evil plot to infect the world with this new virus. Thankfully, ex Raccoon Police Department Leon Kennedy is on the job to save the world and get the girl. Being the hero isn’t easy though; Leon encounters some serious enemies including a troll, a chainsaw wielding maniac, and a REALLY big fan of Hellraiser. If you’ve not played this installment and are worried about how the story may be confusing or convoluted, the series wasn’t at that point yet. It’s enjoyable and easy to follow, without any of those super weird twists or WTF moments.
Graphically, the game holds up very well compared to other titles that were released back in 2005; however, most GameCube titles aged very gracefully. I could play any of my GameCube’s games right now and still be wowed by the graphics. Resident Evil 4 still wows me to this day. Unfortunately, Capcom didn’t pull out all the bells and whistles for this port as it did the Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0 Remasters. What we get on the Xbox One is an earlier HD remade game for the Xbox 360 and PS3. The original game, coupled with the HD, still looks great on my flat-screen; it’s no Metal Gear Solid V, but it’s also no Metal Gear Solid. So if you are looking for a crisp and perfect version of Resident Evil 4, this isn’t your game. It is still very pretty to look at as the backgrounds look great and the enemies look great, but compared to other remasters this one doesn’t hold a candle to them. Other than the graphics that date this game a bit is the saving scheme. In Spain there is no auto-save. For some reason this bothered me heavily. I couldn’t just jump in and play a level or two and jump out; I had to find a save point before I could do something else. This is another part of retro gaming that has been ruined for me due to newer and more recent save-effective games. I do still love the sound of that typewriter, though. That will never leave me.
Control-wise the game holds up pretty well. It is always difficult for me to go back to older control schemes because I have been babied into perfect controls in every game now. Resident Evil 4 still has the same control scheme that I remember plinking away at on my GameCube. Holding down Left Bumper and pressing Right Trigger activates knife slash; this is helpful against enemies that have snuck up on you, and for smashing boxes and barrels where everyone hides ammo and herbs for some reason. Left Trigger is draw pistol and Right Trigger is fire pistol: pretty standard there. What made me have some hiccups was the fact that the right thumb stick doesn’t control the camera as smoothly as it should. Instead of being able to view my surroundings in a 360 degree angle, moving the right thumb stick jerks my gun around and I had a hard time maintaining my aim with the touchy camera. To move Leon around you use the left thumb stick and if you need to get Leon to run from a horde of infected Spaniards you press A. After shooting at a horde and seeing your clip is low, hold down the Right Trigger and press A to reload for more head-popping action.
I love this game and this series in general. This is the series that brought me back into gaming after I thought I outgrew my Super Nintendo, and Resident Evil 4 holds a very special place in my gaming heart. Leon and friends got me back into gaming after another dry spell of interest for me. Had Mikami not made this game I may not even be interested in video games at this point; that’s how important this game is to me. Which makes me very happy that Capcom has released it on so many platforms. The more people that get to enjoy this the game the better. And I always like a new excuse to play an old classic since I’m bombarded with new games every day. For the diehard Resident Evil fan like me, buying this game is a no-brainer. If you’re on the fence about it, you should get it and live through one of the best survival horror games around. While the game isn’t super polished graphically, and the controls may frustrate for a bit, having the chance to play this on a current generation console is an amazing opportunity. I’m glad that I got to replay this classic and solidify it as one of my favorite titles ever.
An Xbox One Review Code for Resident Evil 4 was provided by Capcom for the purpose of this review