RESIDENT EVIL 4
Even though he was only a working cop for one day, Leon Kennedy’s aim improves dramatically when he faces off against… Spanish villagers?
“Where’s everyone going? Bingo?” Leon Kennedy quips, as the horde of Los Ganados, Spanish villagers infected with the mind-controlling parasite Las Plagas, retreat to the sound of a ringing bell. As they swarmed him he had to take a lot of them out with his weapons, creating space in the village – avoiding traps, bottlenecking the infected attackers in one of the house’s top floors, and fleeing out of the window himself. He even chanced death with one wearing a bag on its head, revving a nasty chainsaw. This spectacle all happens within the first 15 minutes or so of Resident Evil 4, after Leon stumbles upon the infected village following a moody and ominous walk through a Spanish forest. Leon brings the action movie quips in full force, but that’s not all – with a completely revised take on the core mechanics, this is a Resident Evil filled with action, and a protagonist with all the tools to fight back, and the ability to be darn sassy while doing so.
Six years after the events of Resident Evil 2, Leon’s now a secret service agent, come to the Spanish countryside in search of kidnap victim Ashley Graham – she’s the daughter of the US President and kind of a big deal. The perpetrators are members of the Los Illuminados cult, who are using Los Ganados as their servants. Ramon Salazar, one of the cult’s leaders, is almost comically evil, and makes a great foil to Leon, who teams up with a lot of friends in this one – including returning agent Ada Wong, extremely suave ex-Los Illuminados researcher Luis Sera, and Ashley herself, who you need to protect throughout some of the harder parts of the game. While protecting Ashley can sometimes feel like a chore, it’s a nice dynamic, and Leon’s interaction with everyone is a definite highlight of the entire series to date.
VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED
While the focus is much more on action than in previous Resis (there are even QTEs to dodge rolling boulders and the like), there’s still plenty of horror to be had. It’s just a different kind of horror: a bit less low-key, to which you can respond violently with more ease. Even so, there’s a lot about Resident Evil 4 that is haunting, from the creepy, unrelenting villagers themselves to the gross parasites that have run rampant on the population. You can easily get caught out by things like bear traps or chainsaw-wielding bad guys who’ll kill Leon instantly. It’s a faster-paced
survival horror. Shooting enemies in certain spots can make them stumble or drop their weapons. The attaché case inventory system still makes juggling items a consideration – while item size always mattered to an extent, it was never as specific as it is here. The now-iconic Merchant can help you upgrade your case and weapons, too.
Gone are the fixed camera angles; your point of view now follows Leon from a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective. Aiming with a variety of weapons is quick and easy, and you’re able to target wherever you want with the aid of laser sights – a step away from the stiff shooting in previous games. While moving Leon himself still uses tank controls, he is more mobile than you might expect, able to navigate the more complex environments with ease, hampered only by the sheer tenacity of Los Ganados. Leon can also stun enemies with close-quarters combat, and use finishing moves when they’re low on health. When you first set foot in the village, you have no idea of the complex web of events you’re about to get caught in. Going from the T-virus zombies of the preceding games to creepy villagers is just as unsettling as you’d want from a new Resident Evil. When it released, the game was scary in a different and unpredictable way. While the drastic changes were divisive, Resident Evil 4 is rightly considered to be one of the best of the bunch. It took a chance in mutating the series, and the experimentation paid off, revitalising Resi.
“WITH A COMPLETELY REVISED TAKE ON THE CORE MECHANICS, THIS IS A RESIDENT EVIL FILLED WITH ACTION.”
Leon Kennedy’s back and better than ever – he’s the dream celebrity Spanish vacation partner. Well, he’s ours.
If you thought zombies were creepy, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Las Plagas will give you nightmares.