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Resident Evil 4
  opened by paleface at 04:07:34 03/21/05  
  last modified by paleface at 00:33:20 03/29/05  
  paleface [sys=GC; cat=Adventure; loc=NA]
I never really played any of the earlier games in the series, but I kept hearing that this one was good, so here we are. And it is.
The game comes along as an unusual mix of first and third-persons: third while running around, then you hold the "aim" shoulder button and it zooms in over the character's shoulder to what is essentially a first-person view, although the camera stays sort of offset to the right. It sounds weird but in practice it works without a hitch.
This being a "survival" type of affair, they don't give you a strafe function, and you can't really run very fast, and you can't move while aiming, or turn very fast. Yay! On the big plus side, although you start with nothing but your weak pistol and a weird sort of explosive spin-kick (which triggers at certain times at close range, but not at others, eh), oh and a knife, you eventually find or buy (from the travelling ninja shopkeeper!) much beefier arms, including a shotgun, sniper rifle, submachinegun, etc. Oh and there are grenades and things.
What do you need them for? Why, slaying zombies of course. Er wait, the game says quite specifically that the people here aren't zombies. You're in Spain though, and they speak Spanish, so I guess they're just Spanish folks who don't like Americans and who can take an unusual number of body shots before going down (try head shots, whee!). But they act just like zombies, and mutter like zombies (Spanish ones), and lurch around and even dodge and weave to stay out of your gun's firing line, so I don't know, I think I can be forgiven for calling 'em zombies. And a game with zombies and shotguns, darn it, can't go wrong very easily.
Exceptionally detailed graphics help depict every nuance of not-zombie-blasting. Everything so far is kind of brown/grey and washed-out, but you know, I suppose maybe Spain just looks like that. But anyway, the level of details, down to all the branches on all the dead trees, layers and layers of dirt and dried bodily fluids everywhere, layers of fog coalescing around you, fountains of gore kicking back from point-blanking a zombie with a shotgun (muhahaha!), all add up to an immersive feeling, and the ambient mutterings and drum beats and things keep it feeling tense. As does your usually-low ammo counter and the sometimes unending-seeming streams of not-zombies.
All this detail would be insulting if the level design wasn't up to par, but so far it seems quite good. It certainly excels at giving you nice views of the surroundings from watchtowers, bridges, and bluffs--carefully orchestrated views, to be sure, allowing you really just a glimpse and hint of what could be out there. Individual areas are rather small, comprising, say, a little village with three or four buildings, but apparently they all sorta link together in this complex web, and you get led back to previously-visited areas to fight newly-spawned zombies and access newly-accessible areas. Although it tries to look non-linear, from what I've seen, it actually is quite linear, which is nice when you don't want to waste time in a game.
Once in a while you'll get a silly puzzle, usually (from the little I've seen) matching occultish-looking symbols together to access something. Could have done without that.
Oh yeah, there are pseudo-RPG elements, like having the ninja shopkeeper upgrade your guns, or combining herbal ingredients to form more powerful healing potions. Ahh, science.
All good dirty fun then.
  paleface 00:25:50 03/29/05
The game is so smooth, what with the slick movement, spot-on controls, sharp graphics, thick sound and minimal load times, that I just had to plow straight through right to the end. And it was quite a bit of fun, although after the first area, and particularly in the huge castle that makes up the third and fourth chapters, the game sometimes reverts to FPS cliches; the block puzzles and quick-time events, where you mash the right two buttons suddenly out of nowhere or die, get pretty old, too.
People call this series "survival horror" but while some of the monsters are groteseque, the game as a whole isn't really scary, especially later on when the environments get nice, heavy, solid walls and good lighting, and you can just set your back to a corner and blast away at whatever's coming. That's fun and all, but it would've been nice to see them play up the horror/ambush/darkness thing more.
But despite all that I still enjoyed the heck out of it, and thumbs up to Capcom for giving you lots of additional goodies once you get to the end, such as an extra mission with a different playable character, a botmatch-style mode where you try to waste the most (not) zombies in a certain time limit (this is quite fun), a harder difficulty mode (maybe too hard for me), and the ability to play back through the game using all the weapons and tune-ups that you got the first time around, plus a new uniform and new weapons in the shop. This is pretty much enough to make me want to blast through the whole thing again, but maybe I'll hold off for just a bit.
· Resident Evil 5 (PS3)

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