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Tackling My Backlog – “Resident Evil 4”

My first pensive steps into a classic horror game

| Categories: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Retro, SideArc, Video Games, Xbox 360, Xbox One | 17 Comments »

“Resident Evil 4.” A well-loved classic of the GameCube which has since been ported to more systems than any other game that I can remember. And yet somehow here I am, having never played it until just a short while ago.

I spent about an hour trekking through its opening chapter and then slightly past, finally getting a taste of what all of the fuss is about. Will this game be beaten? Or will it be just another name in a never-ending list of incomplete games.

The Controls

There’s a lot to be said for first impressions. “Resident Evil 4” manages to scream in no uncertain terms “My controls suck! Playing me will only help you appreciate how far things have come!” Well, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. However, it’s certainly not a bad thing that the gaming industry has moved on from tank controls like this. At least they’re a lot smoother to try and work with than other classics such as “MegaMan Legends.” Fortunately for me I felt my gaming heritage kick in and I was (mostly) comfortable within the first 5 minutes.

The awkwardness doesn’t end there. Oh, no, not by a long shot. Leon – supposedly a highly trained special forces agent – is somehow incapable of walking and shooting at the same time. Not to mention that even after “Halo” showed us how good it can feel to pull a trigger to shoot instantly and that gamers are, indeed, capable of manipulating two control sticks at the same time “Resident Evil 4” digs in its heels – literally – and plants your feet to the ground any time you prepare to shoot. Movement and aiming both using the same control stick is another awkward monkey wrench in the gameplay gears. Usually when you are going to have to aim you’re running for your life, so pressing the trigger to start aiming often starts with an unintended shift in view. At least until you force yourself to get used to the awkward control scheme.

I can't wait to struggle with the controls against this guy!
I can’t wait to struggle with the controls against this guy!

However, it’s not all doom and gloom in this deteriorating Spanish town. Leon has a nifty trick up his sleeves – he can turn around a full 180 degrees with just a quick simultaneous press of A + control stick down. Perfect for a game where you find yourself faced up against creepy dudes who want to kill you every few minutes. This is truly a control that I would like to see more console shooters implement. It’s vaguely reminiscent of playing “Mirror’s Edge” on console, which had a dedicated 180 degree turn button to compensate for not having a mouse to aim.

And really, who am I to complain when the controls add to the tension? After all, games aren’t scary if you’re some super-powered elite agent who can take care of himself. As bad as they are, the controls do add to the atmosphere and work with the game as a whole. If nothing else, I just wish I could do away with the “shaky-aim.”

The Story

Let’s be honest – the less I have to talk about this the better. Cheesy, B-movie lines and delivery aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re not my cup of tea. At least there’s plenty of mystery about just what’s going on.

Combined in this category I would put the overall atmosphere and “scare factor.” I’m an unabashed wimp when it comes to tense, scare-fueled games so as excited as I was, I really wasn’t sure how I would handle myself here. Fortunately for me – at least so far – things are fairly calm and well within my comfort zone. However, I have a feeling that this really is just the tip of the iceberg.

At least my shotgun will keep me safe for now…

My face when listening to these characters talk.
My face when listening to these characters talk.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Graphics are decent enough for its age. Obviously touched-up for an HD re-release (I’m playing on the PC version using an Xbox One controller) but still not offensive to the eyes.

Sound design is good, if not particularly spectacular. Cheesy voice acting combined with punchy guns. Not speaking any Spanish just adds a bit of paranoia to each enemy encounter so far, and is a rather enjoyable touch.

Difficulty seems just about right.

That first village area had a rather impressive amount of alternate ways that you could survive and defend yourself. I’m hoping to see more of that.


I’m not entirely hooked just yet, but I definitely want to see more of where this goes. I’ve got a change of shorts handy just in case things get more intense than I am expecting.

Next week, I will gather my thoughts and impressions from my first hour of playing another well-loved modern classic – “Gravity Rush.”

*Note – My score is not a review of the game. Rather, it’s a measure of how much I am looking forward to playing more of this. A 1 means I couldn’t even finish playing through my 1-hour first impressions and a 5 means that I’m probably already finished with this game since writing this article.






I'm intrigued, but not enthralled. Antiquated controls hold back what seems like an otherwise great game.

I obtained this game free as a gift from our resident Canadian, Phantomlink. (Thanks again!) I played A little over an hour - my typical first-impressions length