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Resident Evil 4
(c) Capcom


..Released:2005
..Platform:GameCube, PlayStation 2 port planned
..Developer:Capcom Production Studio 4
..Directed by:Shinji Mikami
..Publisher:Capcom, distributed by Nintendo in Europe
..BBFC Rating:15
..ESRB Rating:Mature
..Genre:Survival Horror

..Story:
The latest (At the time of writing) Resident Evil game from Capcom. Don't let the name fool you - this is actually the sixth game in the main series storyline (excluding the Survivor games, Gaiden for the Game Boy Color, and the Resident Evil Outbreak titles.), taking place around 2004. It sees the return of several characters from the series' past, most notably Leon S. Kennedy and Ada Wong, both from Resident Evil 2 for the Playstation(But which, like the first three resident evil games, got ported to basically every platform going, including Dreamcast, PC and GameCube.)
Leon, following his escape from the zombie-infested Raccoon City way back in 1998, has been recruited into a covert organization headed up by the U.S government.

< SLIGHT SPOILER > You can actually see an inkling of this in the unlockable Epilogue for Leon from Resident Evil 3, though at the time it was hard to decipher what was actually going on. Now we know! < /SPOILER >

Leon's first job in his new position, is to track down the President's daughter - Ashley Graham - who's been kidnapped by persons unknown. He's had reliable reports that she's located in a European rural area (which seems, from the currency the locals use, to be somewhere in Spain). When he gets there, though, the locals are anything but friendly - they wander around in some kind of trance-like state and try to systematically extinguish his vital signs in a range of interesting ways.

..Gameplay:
Your garden variety zombies these ain't, though. These guys actually have AI - they'll use weapons, throw things at you, snipe at you from a distance and use scenery like ladders to get at your position. They also have a vocabulary beyond the usual grunts and moans, which actually includes some kind of language or other (Some of them appear to be making cat noises, but that's neither here nor there).

The new and revamped cannon fodder aren't the only things that've been changed from the now-familiar Resident Evil formula, though. The playable character - Leon for the most part - is now capable of a wide variety of extra moves, including melee combat beyond the usual ineffectual knife slashing, jumping over walls, diving out of windows with Hollywood cinematic style and actually kicking down doors.

What's that you say? Kicking down DOORS? In a Resident Evil game?! Why, yes! This time round, the ever-so-iconic first-person door opening sequences present in basically every Resident Evil game so far have been removed, and replaced with ordinary in-game animations. Along with this positive revolution for a Resident Evil game, the entire of the Resident Evil 4 environment is rendered in full 3D, rather than the old prerendered 2D backgrounds with 3D characters overlaid on top. This does, of course, mean the background graphics have had a bit of a downgrade from the dizzy heights of Resident Evil 0 and the Resident Evil Remake for GameCube - but Capcom, fortunately, have managed to program one of the best-looking 3D game engines of the current generation, making the transition that much less jarring.

Resident Evil Code: Veronica was also in 3D, but totally failed to take advantage of it by sticking with the fixed-position camera angles that really, were no longer required. Resident Evil 4 does away with these completely, giving the game a camera that follows closely behind the protagonist, third person shooter style. Aiming is now no longer an auto-aim based affair (Assuming you had auto aim turned on in the previous games, that is...) and has been replaced with a decidedly Metal Gear Solid 2 style aiming system. There's never any crosshairs or aiming reticules (except with sniper rifles), but almost every gun has a laser sight attached to it - which is then used to line up your shots when the Aim button is held down. This allows for an entirely more skill-based approach for combat - the enemies now take differing amounts of damage and react differently to being shot in different places. A shot to the head increases the chance of a head-explodingly devastating headshot, for example, and at the very least stuns the enemy severely. A shot to the calf knocks them to their knees - and you can actually shoot their weapons out of their hands! (Especially entertaining if they're holding dynamite...)
On the subject of drastic changes to combat, there's now more than enough ammo around for you to gun down anything and anyone. This makes a gigantic change to the age-old Resident Evil characteristic of severely limited ammunition.

There's so much ammo, in fact, that some of it actually gets dropped by downed enemies. The same thing goes for health items, which are a lot more abundant.
But that's not all they drop. No, the enemies actually drop money, in the form of pesetas. Actually, they're in the form of little glowing treasure chests, but the game calls them pesetas. This money can then be spent on weapon upgrades, or entirely new weapons altogether, that you can buy from a Merchant (More on him later, for those that can be bothered to read that far).

All of these new additions are pulled off superbly by Capcom. The new actions, like jumping from windows, jumping walls etc, are all pulled off with a single press of the A button. The same thing goes for the new melee combat - stunning an enemy by shooting/slashing them in the face or the legs will result in an indicator appearing telling you that melee combat is available - hitting the button in time causes you to pull off some seriously cool moves, like roundhouse kicks or even a suplex or two.

The storyline, as usual with Resident Evil games, is brilliant and actually manages to tie in with the older games in the series while simultaneously diverging enough to allow for new gameplay situations. The main game is seriously meaty, taking about 15 hours or more, and is followed up by a veritable feast of extras like a Survival Mode of sorts and an entirely new mini-mission mode starring Ada. Yeah, this'll keep fans of the Resident Evil series - and probably a lot of third person shooter types - playing for quite some time.


Sidenotes... The Merchants, as I mentioned earlier, are strange guys in long purple robes and wearing gigantic backpacks that run around the game selling you weapons and upgrades. For some reason they never get attacked by any of the enemies in the game (though you can kill them yourself), despite the fact that they openly sell you weapons, health items, and upgrade your weapons for you. Some of them have even set up shooting ranges in the enemy's own strongholds, and let you practice in them!
They all look identical, but unless they can teleport there must be at least two, because at one point you walk out of a room holding one Merchant and into another which already has one waiting for you. No explanation for their existence is ever given, but eh... I'm actually kinda fond of them.

A revised version of this article, with pictures, can be found here.

"Forget everything you know about Resident Evil"

Title: Resident Evil 4 (Japanese title: Biohazard 4)
Developer: Capcom (PC conversion by SourceNext)
Publisher: Capcom (PC version published by Ubisoft in Europe and North America)
Date Published: January 11, 2005 (US), January 27, 2005 (Japan), March 18, 2005 (Europe) (All dates for Nintendo Gamecube version)
Platforms: Nintendo Gamecube, Playstation 2, Windows PC, Wii
ESRB/PEGI/BBFC/CERO Rating: M/15/18+/D

"Resident Evil 4, to sum up, is the best game on the Gamecube.
But it's not just the best game on the Gamecube.
It's the best game of this generation, it's the best game-

"It's the best game."

Mr Robert, Consolevania Series 1 Episode 7

It’s easy to be cynical. These days, when any moderately entertaining game with a big enough marketing budget is hailed as the Game of The Year, superlative-spattered reviews start to ring hollow after a while. Which makes it all the sweeter when a game like Resident Evil 4 comes along. Look the game up on Metacritic, and you’ll see review after review desperately trying to salvage some semblance of sober objectivity through the use of trepidatious and insincere qualifiers. “Best survival horror game”, “best GameCube game”, “one of the best”, “possibly” - no. It’s the best game. Even now, two years later, it’s fair to say that Resident Evil 4 still represents the state of the art.

Resident Evil 4 presents a fresh new model for action games, while respecting classic game design sensibilities. The game has a comfortable, familiar feel which has more in common with classic arcade action games such as Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts than any of the previous Resident Evils. It’s a timeless formula: slow, steadily progress through varied, interesting scenarios at the macro scale, while ‘jamming’ with a fluid, tactile control system in each micro encounter. It gives a game a groove - a characteristic shared by Streets of Rage 2, Wonderboy III, Super Metroid, Castlevania Symphony of the Night and countless others, including your favourite game. Probably.

But Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts is the game it brings to mind again and again: each area is completely different from the last; movement is deliberate and precise; you can pretty much survive two serious attacks; hell, you even occasionally break open containers and get attacked (albeit by snakes rather than magicians). Though thankfully Resident Evil 4 isn’t quite as unforgiving as it’s forebear.

Resident Evil 4 isn’t really a game about narrative. It has a premise which serves as a framework for presenting the player with a lots of cool, just-about-plausible and internally consistent stuff to do, which is how it should be. The characters are fairly one-dimensional (but deftly designed within the confines of that single dimension), and the script is packed with big, dumb melodramatic moments and cheesy dialogue. The game isn’t interested in messing with your head with oppressive atmosphere and psychological tricks (see Silent Hill, et al), instead opting for a mix of rollicking action and hokey body horror, as might result if Indiana Jones were to gatecrash a seedy 80s splatter flick.

The player is put in the role of Leon S. Kennedy (previously seen in Resident Evil 2), a brash young government agent tasked with investigating the disappearance of the President’s teenage daughter, Ashley Graham. Leon’s search leads him to a village in a remote part of Europe where she was last seen. (This is generally thought to be Spain, based on the architecture and language used, but is never officially referred to as such by Capcom.)

On arrival, Leon quickly finds that the inhabitants of the village have been turned into mindless, bloodthirsty savages (referred to in the game as Ganados, Spanish for ‘cattle’). They’re not zombies - they’re alive and still have sufficient cognitive functions to speak, organise themselves and use tools. They’ve also developed a taste for killing and eating outsiders and a laissez-faire attitude to self preservation. As Leon makes his way through the village and surrounding area, he learns that the villagers are in the thrall of a mysterious cult leader called Lord Saddler who had kidnapped Ashley to further his own nefarious ends. As the game progresses, Leon gradually discovers more about the source of Saddler’s mind-controlling powers (Las Plagas) and the unspeakable horrors it has unleashed, and crosses paths with a few other interlopers with their own agendas.

Resident Evil 4 makes a clean break from the “survival horror” formula laid down by the previous entries in the series. The static camera angles, awkward controls, and drip-feeding of crabbed, panic-inducing encounters, staples of the genre that have gone unchallenged since Alone in the Dark, are no more. In their place are the workings of a slick, modern third person action game. Combat is now more often cathartic and empowering than a desperate battle with groggy controls (which isn’t to say that the demands of “survival” are any less acutely felt). Environments are wide open and invitingly interactive. The action is carried forward through a composition of cinematics and novel situations woven together with the effortless confidence of a development team in complete control of their craft.

The game is able to layer on so much rich and varied content thanks to some very bold decisions about the design of the interface, which laid exceptionally solid foundations for Capcom’s planners. They realised that while the classic Resident Evil interface had to be abandoned, the most obvious alternatives (the standard ‘dual stick’ systems used by console FPS and third-person action/platform games) weren’t suitable either. Therefore it was necessary to create a new system, combining turning on an axis (as opposed to strafing - think Tomb Raider rather than Super Mario 64), sensitive cursor-based aiming, and an eye level over-the-shoulder camera which allows the player to be aware of the relative position of Leon while having a clear view of (and shot at) nearby and distant enemies. Leon can’t attack while moving, so when the player holds down the right trigger button to ready his weapon, the controls and camera become fully dedicated to aiming and firing.

All the game’s content has subsequently been designed and rationalised based on exploiting the strengths (while downplaying the weaknesses) of this interface. Most of the enemies Leon faces are quite slow moving, slow to react, and armed with rudimentary projectile weapons at best - but they generally take a lot of shots to neutralise, and attack in groups. The player quickly learns that the real hazard in the game is getting surrounded, as Leon’s weapons are dramatically less effective at short range, and the Ganados’ melee attacks nuke Leon’s health and leave him prone for seconds at a time. Another neat instance of this design is that the plot stipulates that the baddies are trying to capture rather than kill Ashley, removing a lot of potential frustration from the escort mechanic at a stroke.

A lot of the reason that this doesn’t leave the player feeling hopelessly vulnerable and frustrated is down to the weapons being such an utter joy to use. This is one of those modern games where pistols continue to be useful even after the player has got their hands on the shotguns, uzis, rifles, grenades and rocket launchers. They’re varied enough to make it possible to play the game in very different styles depending on your preference. I won’t describe them all in depth beyond saying that the shotgun is easily the best shotgun in any game since Doom, and all of the other weapons are at a similar standard.

So this is all well and good for traipsing around and shooting things, you may be thinking, but surely if Leon can’t strafe, jump, duck or dodge at will he must surely be like the player characters in the previous Resident Evils - a cumbersome walking tank endlessly ice-skating against walls and generally being thwarted by his environment? Not so. Leon’s repertoire of moves is extended massively through the use of a context-sensitive action button. This button allows the player to (among other things) jump through windows, kick open doors, knock down (and raise up) ladders, leap gaps, Give, Pick Up, Use, Open, Look At, Push, Close, Talk to and Pull (hmm…).

At certain points in the game, there are ‘action events’ (much like the Quick Time Events in Shenmue) where a combination of controller buttons will flash up on screen, and the player must quickly hold them down or repeatedly tap them to prevent Leon from being flattened/skewered/eaten/decapitated. In that order. The only other interface elements are the inventory screen (which is completely effortless to use), the map and various status screens showing the documents and treasures that Leon has collected. Oh, there’s also a couple of buttons for issuing commands to Ashley (allowing Leon to leave her in a ’safe’ place while dealing with the immediate threat).

The lion’s share of playing time it given over to combat situations with small groups (meaning at most dozens, rather than Dead Rising’s hundreds) of intelligent enemies. Every enemy in the game manages to pose a threat. Even the comparatively weak and slow-moving villagers can still surround Leon, catch him unawares with a rusty farming implement or suicidally whip out a stick of dynamite at the wrong moment.

While the combat scenarios are extremely varied in themselves (the player needs to employ significantly different tactics depending on the environment, enemies and objectives involved), they are also punctuated with radically different sections including boss battles, simple puzzles, vehicle rides, timed sequences and treasure hunts. At every turn the player is presented with a substantially new activity, none of which are repeated or outstay their welcome. (A marked contrast to the approach taken by popular airboat simulator Half-Life 2, where each new contrivance was relentlessly forced on the player long after they had outstayed their welcome.)

The game’s boss sequences are an unexpected pleasure. Each is completely unique (foes range from mutated humans to giant lake monsters to T-1000-meets-the-Alien insectoid killing machines) and usually involves some specialised forms of interaction that aren’t found elsewhere in the game and yet feel completely natural. Many also include mini Quick Time Events, for instance requiring the player to quickly press specific buttons to dodge an attack, or to rapidly tap the action button to hack at the boss’s exposed weak point.

Although I’ve been dismissive about the role of narrative in Resident Evil 4, Capcom have done a great job in realising a set of characters and a self-contained Lovecraftian mythology that make it easier for the player to emotionally invest in the game. The game’s story wouldn’t stand on it’s own as a piece of entertainment, but it does a good job of sustaining a tense atmosphere and introducing new elements often enough to keep things from dragging.

Leon’s a great player character, simply by dint of the fact that he’s not yet another smirking, morally ambiguous anti-hero. He’s extremely chivalrous and dedicated to duty, but neatly avoids coming across as a boring do-gooder by being, well, a bit of a nob. Most of the conversations in the game involve him trading witty retorts with the main villains - or at least what pass for witty insults in particularly unchallenging Saturday morning cartoons. (”Huh! Monsters. I guess after this there’ll be one less of them to worry about.”; “Rain or shine, you’re going down!”)

(In the bonus materials of the PS2 and later versions, Ada Wong earnestly describes Leon as being “practically a genius”, amusingly.)

Ashley isn’t your typical ‘damsel in distress’ character (or at least not completely), being able to fend for herself and assist Leon at certain points of the game. For large parts of the game Ashley tags along with Leon as an AI-controlled escort, and manages to never be irritating. She doesn’t get in the way when you’re shooting, or run off and get into scrapes, and she hardly ever talks, aside from calling Leon a pervert whenever he inadvertently (ahem) looks up her skirt.

The game’s big boss, Osmund Saddler, is basically Count Dracula. While Saddler is ostensibly the mastermind behind the evil goings-on in the story, Capcom have created a far more memorable villain in his protege Ramon Salazar, the creepy progeriac dwarf Castellan who antagonizes Leon throughout the second act of the game, set in and around his trap-laden ancestral home.

The cast is rounded out with a handful of memorable supporting characters including the mysteriously helpful Spanish sleaze ball Luis Sera (”I used to be a cop in Madrid. Now I’m just a good for nothing guy, who happens to be quite the ladies man.”), femme fatale Ada Wong (another returning character from Resident Evil 2), psychotic mercenary/Metal Gear refugee Jack Krauser, and last but by no means least, The Merchant.

The Merchant is incredible. A nameless freelance arms dealer with a Dick Van Dyke cockney accent (”Wot are ye selliiin?”) and a purple longcoat stuffed with weapons, items and upgrades, he’s encountered in the unlikeliest places throughout the game and is never acknowledged or commented on by any of the other characters. He even operates a chain of shooting galleries in the bowels of Salazar’s castle (offering ‘bottlecap’ action figures of all the characters in the game as prizes). Any other game would have gotten caught up trying to concoct some plausible mechanism for Leon to be able to trade in treasure for equipment, and would have ended up with something less effective (not to mention less hilarious).

I’ve managed to resist waxing lyrical about the game’s presentation up until now because I’m worried that I might not ever finish this write-up if I start. The game is split into three main acts (the village, the castle and the island), each of which is arranged as a broadly linear series of areas. Through technical wizardry, attention to detail and sheer, audacious smoke and mirrors, Capcom have managed to make all of the varied locations of the game feel incredibly atmospheric and plausible. Scenes that the GameCube (let alone the puny PS2) shouldn’t be able to render are so frequent that you eventually become desensitised, only to dip into your save games at random months later and gawp helplessly. During my current playthrough I’ve picked out the storm outside the church, the Lava Room, and pretty much everywhere inside the castle as standout moments.

Once the main quest has been put to bed, there’s an extra chapter played from the perspective of Ada Wong (which isn’t present in the original GameCube release, unfortunately) which is up to the standard of the main game, although it demystifies some of the events and characters a tad too much.

There’s also the incredible Mercenaries (time attack) mode, which drops the player in an enclosed map where they must fight off endless respawning Ganados before the time runs out. This mode presents a fiendish dilemma: there are time bonuses scattered around the maps, and more time potentially means more kills, but also increases the risk of being overwhelmed. This mode is a masterstroke. Every game plays out differently and there are a bevy of levels, characters and a couple of weapons for the main game to unlock. (The only downside is that one of the levels has a blind spot which can be exploited indefinitely to rack up risk-free kills.)

Due to unfortunate circumstances (the fact that it debuted on a relatively unpopular hardware platform, and the perception of the Resident Evil franchise and adult-themed games in general) Resident Evil 4 hasn’t been heralded as a landmark title quite as conspicuously as some other important games of recent years (such as Doom, Half-Life, Grand Theft Auto 3, Halo and World of Warcraft). It hardly seems to have made an impression on the wider public consciousness at all. (Whereas endless column inches continue to be squandered on the dumb shiny bauble that is Second Life.)

Nevertheless, the mere existence of Resident Evil 4 should give anyone who cares deeply about games a reason to celebrate. Maybe the way the games industry is structured is deeply flawed, and games like this really shouldn’t have to be so rare. But at the very least it proves that there are still good reasons for developers to be allowed to work on big-budget projects - being gifted a comfortable amount of time, money and expertise doesn’t excuse developers for making vehicles for flashy graphics built around derivative, threadbare design.

In an ideal world, the huge swarm of camp followers that has in recent years flocked to the edges of the games industry - the ARG marketeers, the Second Life groupies, the purveyors of gem-matching/restaurant-wrangling casual games, the pen-and-paper RPG bores, perhaps even the contemptible, dead-eyed human fungus responsible for so-called “Serious Games” - would be forced to play through Resident Evil 4 and then consider at length whether what they’re doing, or the directions for the industry they suggest, could ever result in something even remotely this fucking cool.

Ultimately games aren’t about stories, or messages, or artistic worthiness. They’re a device that players can use to mould their own unique experience, and to share their creators’ ingenuity in defining the parameters and potentialities of this experience. They create an imprint on the memory unlike any other kind of media. I’m certain that Resident Evil 4 will stay in the memories of everyone who plays it for a very long time, and will have a lasting influence on action/adventure games to come.

Resident Evil 4 is simply the best single investment that anyone who likes games can make.

It’s the best game.

"Writhe in my cage of torment, my friend!"

- Osmund Saddler, 2004


What you need to know

If you haven’t played the game already, perhaps you should make it one of your short-term life goals? The GameCube version should be your first choice and absolutely justifies the (now presumably quite heavily discounted) cost of the machine. The Playstation 2 port includes some additional bonus features but at the expense of longer loading times, muddier visuals, looser controls and prerendered cutscenes. The core gameplay is largely intact, but the many sacrifices firmly classify it as a false economy.

The belated PC port has been lambasted online for being inferior to either of the console versions, but this isn’t entirely fair. Most of the criticism of the visuals has been based on the original release of the game, which (unbelievably) was shipped with lighting and fog effects almost entirely absent. A subsequent patch brought the graphics back up to a generally acceptable standard, although some of the nicer visual effects of the GameCube version (such as reflective water, depth of field and explosion shockwaves) are still absent.

The patch doesn’t alter the sad fact that this port was based on the Playstation 2 version’s assets, which means that the GameCube’s beautiful real-time cutscenes are once more replaced with 512×336-pixel prerendered junk. This looks even more jarring on a monitor than on the PS2, and is severe enough for me to urge that players steer well clear of the PC version unless they’ve already completed the single player game on another platform. Cutscenes aside, the game plays as well as the other versions, and the higher resolution makes it easier to pick up some of the finer (and grislier) graphical details that are hard to spot on a TV. Naturally, the game does not offer mouse support, and should be played using a joypad. Anyone who complains about this is a fool.

There is also version of the game for the Wii (released later this month in Europe), which combines the GameCube version’s engine and assets with the bonus content from the PS2 port and implements a new control scheme tailored to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Early indications suggest this will replace the GameCube version as the definitive one.

So apart from making sure they get the GC or Wii version, first-timers should also be aware that the ‘Easy’ mode actually removes some sequences and areas from the game, and so should opt for ‘Normal’ or above to avoid missing anything. (Other frustration-avoiding tips include: Cover the foetid well before shooting down that shiny pocket watch; don’t sell things without examining them for possible combinations; use the knife to save ammo; and remember that flashbangs kill exposed parasites.)

Enjoy.

So I had never played any Resident Evil games before this one. I've been out of the console loop for a while; the last system that I was buying games for was the Nintendo 64, which I guess marks me as a dinosaur. But I now have a Wii, and being out of school, the resources to get games. I'd been sitting on my hands for a while, itching to pick up a new game, but not really enthralled by any of my choices. So when I heard that RE4 for Wii was getting positive reviews, I decided to pick up a copy.

I was pleasantly surprised. I've played horror games before (Eternal Darkness, mainly), but nothing really like Resident Evil. And I like it a lot. I won't bother with a full review, since it's been done so well in the writeups above this, but suffice to say that it's a well-polished game that reflects a lot of experience in designing horror games. The ambience, the sound (music and effects), the conservation of in-game resources, all come together to provide a scary game. I would, however, like to address the new additions with the Wii version.

Of course, the most prominent addition is the new controls, but I'll save those until I hit the mundane stuff. The game is now widescreen, since the Wii supports both 4:3 and 16:9 screens. My Wii is hooked up to my monitor (a ViewSonic VX2025wm) through a VGA adapter, and the monitor is 16:10, so I'm able to experience the game in its widescreen glory. The graphics are OK. The color is deliberately muted, which is nice considering how bright and happy all my other Wii games are (except for Zelda). Where they fall down is in the fact that the game is upscaled from its earlier versions: the models are being rendered at a higher resolution than they were originally designed for (or so I've been assured — I can't really run a side by side test), and the textures do occasionally look a bit muddy. But this does not affect the game, really; you're usually so far into your suspension of disbelief that you don't notice.

Unlike the Gamecube version, which I would guess that this is made from (since the PlayStation 2 version had to have the graphics scaled back to run on less-powerful hardware), the Wii version of Resident Evil 4 includes the extra "Ada's Story" section of the game. I haven't gotten to it yet, since I only got the game over the weekend and work full time, but it will be interesting to see if they upped the graphical quality to match Leon's section of the game. I'll update this writeup when I know.

The controls, however, are where the game really shines. They're very intuitive. You play using the nunchuck attachment. The joystick on the nunchuck makes you move; the Z button makes you run, and the C button lets you look around. Stabbing with or swinging the wiimote uses your knife, as does the A button during a C-look. Z and a quick tap backwards on the joystick makes you rotate &pi (180 degrees), which is frequently useful. Aiming at the screen moves around a crosshair, although your guns effectively have their safeties on until you hold the B button. When you do this, the crosshair turns green. Moving over a target that can take damage (an enemy, a crate, a door) turns the crosshair red and makes the wiimote buzz slightly to let you know you're aiming right.

Once you get used to aiming at the screen (I caught myself on more than one occasion trying to shoot without bothering to aim, with less than stellar results), it's very easy to shoot baddies where you want to shoot them. This is crucial in a game where conserving ammunition is a huge priority: capping the foremost villager in the knee so he stumbles, then running up to kick him into his friends, is worlds easier than in any other FPS I've yet played. Headshots are relatively easy, and are limited by what feels like your actual skill at aiming: in fact, I seem to have better aim with a wiimote than I do with an actual rifle (It's OK; I'm an Eagle Scout). The only time when aiming is difficult is while using a scoped gun: since the reticle is centered on the screen, you have to use the joystick to look around. But it's responsive without being too jumpy, and I haven't had any trouble aiming in the heat of battle. Really, I have more trouble aiming the wiimote under pressure: the game is scary, and my hands tend to shake in tense situations. In a funny analogue to real life, I learned to steady my shooting hand by resting it against my off hand.

The action sequences also change for the better. When you get grabbed by an enemy and have to shake her off, you shake the wiimote vigorously. Same for running from a boulder, but with both the wiimote and nunchuck there. I find it's easier to pump them as if I were pumping my arms while running, and it's hard work: my arms are surprisingly tired after escaping from boulders. The motions are very intuitive: if you follow your instincts, you'll be doing the right motion in every circumstance I came up against.

If you haven't played Resident Evil 4, I would recommend it. It's a great addition to a Wii library, especially since it's bargain-priced at $30 in the US. If you already own the game on another system, you may want to give it a pass, unless you have the money to spare: speaking to friends who played the original, every complaint they had has been fixed with this revision. Overall, a very fun game.

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