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'Resident Evil 4' Review (Wii)


I can easily watch the most disgusting, most disturbing horror movies that there are, and I'll never once bat an eyelash at it. However, if you take me out of merely watching and make me live through that horror, then suddenly I'm a big wuss always looking around and wondering what that noise was. Enter Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, the same old Resident Evil 4 that started on the Gamecube and migrated to the PS2, but now Wii owners can get their hands on it, and though it still looks just as good as usual it's got a great new control scheme that is easily the best of the versions I've played.

The Umbrella Corporation is gone and done for, while the events of Raccoon City is a stain upon the history of the world. You play as Leon Kennedy, one of the stars and heroes of Resident Evil 2, who now finds himself working for the President of the United States of America trying to locate his daughter who was kidnapped.

Leon soon finds himself in a remote, rural village in Spain, where suddenly he is attacked by the natives. Leon's used to zombies by now, having survived a previous encounter, but these aren't your regular zombies; these people talk, are smart, work together, and are immensely more threatening. However, you have a job to do, and so you continue on your quest to find the President's daughter, and to hopefully find out just what is going on.

I don't want to share too much about the story, because if you haven't played it yet, it really is a fun and scary story, as you play Leon trying to figure out what's up with these villagers. The game takes place mostly with in-game graphic cutscenes, which are directed extraordinarily well. Other story elements come from journals and other assorted documents you find scattered throughout your adventure, as well as a few calls you have with your handler on your headset (think like the many codec calls Snake has in the Metal Gear Solid series). No matter which way the story is being told, it is very unsettling, as you discover decayed bodies, learn of evil cults, and watch as things slowly become more and more twisted. The game really pulls you in and makes you feel the constant harm and dread that is lurking over the whole proceedings. It's rare for a game to pull you in so fully and make you feel every lurking horror that there is.

The fundamentals of Resident Evil haven't changed any, as you still wander around, shoot zombies (or not-zombies as is the case with this game), use first aid spray and various herbs when you're dealt damage, and gather an arsenal of weapons and bullets to combat the onslaught of enemies.

One thing that has always been great about the series is the micromanagement of your limited supplies, as you really need to be smart with conserving your ammo and not wasting your healing items until they're absolutely needed. You've also got a small briefcase to contend with, which can only hold so much. You'll be given the chance to upgrade the case at different points, but you've still got to judge how you fill its limited slots; pile it with different weapons, stock up on ammo, healing items, balance them all, whatever your gameplan may be.

Though the gameplay is the same with killing monsters and solving puzzles, that's about the only thing that remains the same from the last game to this one. The first major change, and one that ultimately makes the game so much better, is the fact that the game no longer takes place with a multitude of static camera angles like past games, instead offering an over the shoulder mode that works so much better than anything the series has presented before, as the controls of running around, and particularly aiming, are so fluid.

In past games you never could target specific body points, but here you can! If you want to go for the headshot, point that gun at their cranium and pull the trigger. If a hatchet is being thrown at you, shoot it out of the air. If you want to bring an enemy to their knees, pop them in the kneecap and make them drop. The ability to have total control over your directional shooting for the first time in the series is an amazing feeling of gaming freedom.

However, with the Wii Edition of Resident Evil 4, those controls have only gotten tighter and more freeing. Given the revolutionary control setup the Wii is now known for, these controls are something like you've never experienced before. The game uses both the remote and nuncuk, with the nunchuk being used to control movement with the thumbstick, running with the Z button, and for drawing your knife with the holding of the C button, though you can swat the remote to use it as a knife instead. Meanwhile, the remote controls everything else, as you'll hold the B button in to go into targeting mode, and you'll use the remote as a point to dictate where your laser point goes, determining where your shot will go when you press the A-button to fire (and also to kick open doors and before some specific QTE attack options when the time calls for it). And if you want to reload, all you have to do is shake or flick the remote quickly to reload. Admittedly, the control scheme was a little daunting at first, but that was simply because I had got myself accustomed to the original Gamecube controls. After playing through the game, however, this is easily my favorite of the control setups, as I was more easily able to run, turn, and get my pinpoint precision shots in, which sometimes proved difficult on the Gamecube. It's the same game that's appeared on other systems already, but if you don't have it yet, the Wii version definitely gets the nod from me, thanks almost solely to its controls.

Another nice thing about the game is that even after you've finished the main adventure, you can still always go back through it again on another difficultly level, getting new weapons too, and you can even compete in newly unlocked extra modes, which even keep unlocking new ones. There is just a ton of unlockables to keep you busy and always playing.

Back when the game originally came out, the Gamecube wasn't ever the most graphical advanced of the systems, but Resident Evil 4 still looked like a stunner and one of the best games of the time. The Wii, though being a next-gen system, doesn't really offer much in terms of next-gen graphics, but it still looks just as good as it has ever before on the Gamecube or PS2, and perhaps it may look slightly better in some regards. The game is far from a slouch in the graphics department, as the characters all have a nice design to them, and the world is so eerily decayed it's almost beautiful – barren trees, murky water, drying pools of blood, rickety barns, gothic castles…no matter what it is, it all looks lovely.

The voicework is solid, though it still has a bit of that cheesy flavor that's been prevalent on all the past Resident Evil games that have come before it. Now, that doesn't mean it's laughably bad, it's just that there's a little B acting in there during some moments. The game is actually pretty light on the music, but wow, talk about some truly excellent sound work. The lone howl of a dog, the caw of a nearby bird, the rustling of feet, the death cry of the not-zombies – I can't think of another game that has scared me so badly with sound and sound alone. Resident Evil 4 is a game that should be cranked up to its full potential, but that is only if your nerves can take it.

Resident Evil 4 isn't exactly a new game, but it still remains great. If you haven't ever played the game, definitely consider purchasing it for the Wii, thanks mostly in part to the new control scheme that works wonders with the motion controls. If you've played the game before, though, there probably isn't any reason to upgrade to the new Wii system.

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