Resident Evil 4 is overrated.
I’m all for survival horror, I’m all for creepy Spanish villages, grotesque creatures and pounding Synth scores.
I just don’t think the game is deserving of the critical acclaim it receives.
Don’t get me wrong – I like the game. I even love parts of it. Over all, it’s serviceable in the way pizza is. But a masterpiece of horror? No.
Here’s what worked: Tension. The game knew how to build it. Yes, it seems the game went a bit overboard with the hordes. But you could manage that if you’re careful.
It was dripping with tension and some scenarios, like being hauled up in a cabin and overwhelmed by creatures to being stalked by a mammoth creature named “IT” was highlights of my journey through the 20 hour campaign.
The set pieces were also a highlight. Just when you see too much of an area, you’re in a new spot. You’re never in the same place too long, with the game going through all the horror tropes to get to you.
The music score was good. It has some really fantastic passages but I more enjoyed the use of music to unnerve you more than the score itself. Sound plays a huge part in this game and for the most part, it’s excellent.
As for the bad, well the writing is…serviceable. From dodgy one-liners to eye raising exchanges from hero to villain, the writing is silly, downright laughable at times. It’s so goofy you can’t help but go with it and laugh though.
I didn’t like some villains (Salazar was too goofy for my taste) and the character of Ashley is poorly designed, being more of a hindrance than substantial character with her own arc.
Leon is a fun hero though, suitably cheesy and badass all the same.
Voice acting delivers, with each actor delivering on the cheese. They know what they’re up to do and they pull it off effectively.
But this is a video game. And as such, it should be judged on how it plays. It plays well. Poor Design choices aside – like camera movements, catching Ashley all the time – it’s solid. It works. It’s fun. I had a good time with it, quick time events aside.
Would I recommend this to someone? To a fan of horror, yeah. Chances are they’ll dig it. As a Resident Evil entry, it works in its own weird way, setting up plot developments that exist parallel to the main story arc but work on their own terms.
It’s certainly a thin story, sometimes it feels stretched just to draw out its length, but that could be my play style. Overall, it plays like you’ve rented a cheesy horror for overnight viewing. It’s weak, silly but fun in a way. Solid. Passable.
J’s Verdict: ☆ ☆ ☆