"I really wish you'd fucking stayed kidnapped" of the Month!

Since Capcom have just announced the impending arrival of Resident Evil 6 later this year with the help of a pretty damn cool trailer, I thought it was high time I took the chance to play some of the older games in the series. Of course, I say “some of the older games in the series” but I really just mean Resident Evil 4, because there are just too many Resident Evil games for me to really be able to give a shit about all of them. 4 struck me as being the most popular in the series and since it had recently been re-released in high definition on Xbox Live, deciding to give it a go felt like a no-brainer.

The game began with the protagonist, Leon S. Preston Kennedy, being trundled out to the arse end of nowhere by whom appears to be a 30-something Jean Reno and his bespectacled twin brother, but they’re soon set upon by, surprise, surprise, hordes of the undead. I doubt I’d be far off the mark if I was to say that the big draw for this game is that the undead aren’t actually undead at all, instead it’s the entire cast of The Beverly Hillbillies infected with some kind of mind-control parasite.

Soon enough, Leon is parted from the Reno twins and takes off on his invisible Segway – let’s face it, why the fuck else does he walk like that? – and eventually stumbles upon the peaceful village of “We Will Fucking Burn You On A Spike”. At least, going by the signpost in the middle of the village, that’s what I think it’s called. Considering the welcome I’d received earlier, I figured that a character with a fashion sense as garish as Leon’s might stick out a bit too much so I decided I’d try and keep a low profile.

Oh, but Resident Evil 4 wasn’t really meant to be played stealthily, was it? Silly me. Here I was thinking I could slither about undetected, when in actual fact I might as well have been a luminous yellow trout trying to slosh past a starved cat. Naturally, the villagers took to me like a rabid pack of teenage girls at a Justin Beiber concert – my only option was to find somewhere easily defendable. These buggers were quick, so I took refuge in the closest building and repeated my earlier strategy of camping in the corner of the room with my gun aimed firmly at the door.

Heeey, yooou guuuys!

Now, I’m mystified at what point the “horror” aspect is supposed to come into this. Here I am standing in the corner of the room, weapon trained on the only doorway, waiting for the grey goons on the other side to come traipsing in single-file. Am I supposed to be doing this out of fear? I’d do the same if I was playing a modern shoot-em-up, but then the difference between this and the likes of Battlefield 3 is that in the latter my enemy is going to be wielding something a bit deadlier than a rake.

However, my battle plan was working. I was dispatching infected villagers left, right and centre, with the sort of murderous vigour that one would assume was generally only reserved for rogue gunmen that had found their way onto the set of The Jeremy Kyle Show during filming. As such, it was almost disappointing when the nearby church started ringing its bells, causing everyone in the village to drop everything and immediately fuck off to an impromptu Neighbourhood Watch meeting – of course, this was the perfect opportunity for me to get the fuck out of there.

Just wait until you unlock the whinging health-bar-on-legs on the right.

To where, I can’t quite recall, though I do remember an encounter with some kind of lake-bound shite monster. Del Torro? Del Taco? Del Lago? One of those three. What I remember most vividly was having to feed it sweetcorn and then pan its fucking face in with as many toilet rolls as I could, before flushing it away to its much-needed demise. That bit I can remember as clear as day.

Having now played into Resident Evil 4 up to about chapter 2-3, I’ve yet to see what all the fuss is about but realistically I think I’m just scratching the surface of it. I feel inclined to return to it before October when the 6th game in the series hits stores shelves, but from what I’ve played I don’t really feel like there’s any reason to do so other than finishing it for completion’s sake. After all, it’s very difficult to justify playing a game that enforces an arbitrary control method that really equates to nothing more than the protagonist handling like he’s got a potted plant rammed up his arse, especially when other more desirable games like Dark Souls and Rayman: Origins are available. Perhaps if I soldier on, my mind will be changed? Perhaps it’s all downhill from here? I guess there’s only one way to find out.

  • dean

    I guess you had to be there from the beginnings to really appreciate that the eccentric quirks of the Resident Evil series (the fact that you have to stand rooted to the spot to aim for instance) are the things that make it so unique and charming. Sure Resident Evil was never as scary as Silent Hill, but i think the whole point is it affectionately pastiches the horror genre. Its more like the Evil Dead than the Exorcist – and always has been. Perhaps you should try Resident Evil 2, which is the best game of the series, to get a sense of how it developed.

    I’m not quite sure what your trying to achieve here other than finding an easy target to take pot shots at (without having bothered to do any research). Maybe that’s the point of the blog?

  • Jonathan

    I went out to my local GAME and bought Resi 4 first thing in the morning on the day of release. Me and my mate were house sitting so we set up the gamecube and played it for HOURS. Love it. What a game.

    Sounds like you missed the whole setpiece of that first village fight Marky. You run into the biggest house and a cutscene kicks off where a chainsaw man joins the fray and you have to bar up all the doors and windows on the bottom floor. Then you head upstairs and defend from there before the chainsaw man literally saws through the front door and the chest-of-drawers holding it shut.

    Just wait until a chainsaw person gets you. First time it happened to me I just sat in silent horror for a few minutes.

    Then again those were the good old days before Dead Space made violent and realistic deaths look boring.

  • Paul Rooney

    Massive, massive, MASSIVE facepalm. It’s one of the best games ever made, Fact!

  • @Dean: So basically, I can’t enjoy Resident Evil 4 without playing games that came before it? Nice to know that playing a game is no longer enough to grant you the basis upon which to judge it. Well played, Capcom.

    @Jonathan: The angry chainsaw man did get me once, and I was indeed taken aback the fact that him reaching you means instant death. Only worked the first time though, because I discovered the shotgun makes him stumble.

    Also, yes if that was a cutscene that happens the first time you reach the village, I literally missed all of that – probably because of the path I took. Why would they give the player a path that does nothing but cause them to miss out on stuff? It’s bonkers.

  • asamink

    Tsk. How dare you have a different opinion? How very dare you. Don’t you know by now all opinions should be the same?

    Dean: As for ‘not doing any research’, I thought playing the game would constitute as research? Also, if the game is as good as people think it is, how come it is an easy target?

  • Kami

    Where on earth did you get the idea Resi 4 was a stealth game? That paragraph makes no sense to me at all.

  • @Kami: it had occurred to me that since a particular path was available to me that seemed less obvious than, well… the obvious path, it would probably be some kind of “go here and avoid all dem baddies” route. It really just led to the same place, and as I’ve now discovered it actually cuts out a bit of the game.

  • Jonathan

    I’ve actually managed to sneak round to the back of the village before but only because I’ve finished the game about seven times.

    I wouldn’t say the path inherently cuts part of the game out. Only if you stick solidly to where that path leads to instead of moving from area to area to avoid enemies. You took the FPS style camping strategic option instead, as is your want, but like you say it took all the challenge and atmosphere out of it.

  • Resident Evil 6 will be the best in the series. I’m going to make that prediction right here. MARK MY WORDS!

  • dean

    A game should certainly be able to be judged on its own merits, but the article’s opening gambit is that Mark is going to explore the Resident Evil series – i don’t think that playing a few hours of one game qualifies as research in that context.

    I’m also not saying that someone shouldn’t have another opinion. You’re within your rights to not like the series. The whole piece is just so disingenuous – its like its written to provoke a reaction. More fool me for taking the bait I suppose.