Resident Evil 4 – an Undead Retrospective

posted by @SteveHatesU

What are ya buyin’?                                                                                                                      I always liked the Resident Evil series. Liked. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of really fond memories of staying up all night playing the original games on PlayStation. To this day I trade cheesy-ass quotes from the original game with a very good friend of mine anytime I see him.

Resident Evil 4 – image c/o

Ultimately, I was too much of a pussy to really appreciate the survival horror aspect of those early games. I was a run-and-gun type of player; Conserving ammo just wasn’t my thing. In fact, I almost shit myself after the first time I ran out of ammo. The tank controls didn’t help either. It was one of those things where you eventually got used to it, but I would always spend at least 5 minutes in the beginning doing 360’s before my brain understood what to do with my thumbs.

I lost track of the series after Nemesis. At that point, I thought they’d never be able to top Resident Evil 2. I heard the fourth game was coming out and featured one of the main characters from the second installment, Leon Kennedy. Owning just a PlayStation 2, the release of Resident Evil 4 for the Gamecube flew completely under my radar. It wasn’t until a year later when they ported the game over to the PS2 did I have a chance to play it. I remember a friend of mine at work practically begged me to get it since he already owned the Gamecube version. Being the frugal gamer that I was, I read any reviews of the game I could get my hands on. The general consensus was that this game was “the best game of all time.” I would be stupid not to own it…

What are ya sellin’?                                                                                                                      I really liked what Capcom did with this installment of Resident Evil. They traded in those shitty tank controls for a nice 3rd person, over-the-shoulder view. They added a laser site on the gun so you can make precise shots on your target. They eliminated the ink ribbon system and allowed you to save for free at any typewriter. They introduced a creepy merchant that would buy, sell and upgrade your gear. They canned the super corny voice acting and hired some legit talent. They focused more on action, giving you ample amounts of ammo and forcing you into situations where you have to eliminate all enemy threats.

Despite being very action heavy, the game instills a great sense of fear by making the player feel isolated in a very large, foreign environment. Visually, the game has a very dark, dirty and grimy look. In terms of audio, the game’s lack of a soundtrack in certain areas is very unsettling, leaving you to only listen to the echo of footsteps, howls, groans and grunts. When there is music, it’s pulse-pounding and kicks your adrenaline up a few notches. This is a game I could – wait, why the fuck can’t I move when I’m aiming my gun?!

Not enough cash, stranger!                                                                                                  The story takes place 6 years after the events of Raccoon City. Apparently, some of the fallout of that atomic blast altered Leon Kennedy’s hair color, voice and attitude. He joined up with some special branch of the military where they trained him to be an ultimate one-man army so that he could…guard the President’s family? So, wait…the Secret Service? He goes from being a cop for one day in a podunk little town to the Secret Service?  Alright…

So, his first assignment is to go and rescue the President’s daughter, Ashley, after he apparently failed to do his job and protect her in the first place. I don’t think they ever tell you where exactly in Europe he goes, but they speak Spanish there, so…yeah, “Spanishland”.

Spanishland is home to a small religious cult named Los Illuminados. Instead of zombies, Leon will be fighting off hoards of crazed villagers/cultists that worship their leader, Lord Saddler. It turns out, these people aren’t just crazed, they’re infected with something called Las Plagas. These parasites give them advanced strength and make them incredibly hostile. Early in the game, Leon’s guides/translators pussy out and get themselves killed. His only contact is some out of place, oddly hot chick named Ingrid Hunnigan.  Even more odd is how long the battery lasts on his FaceTime walkie-talkie.

Not only will you need cash, but you’ll need guts to buy that weapon                     I was so excited the first time I put this game in my PS2. I was planning to go on an all-day Resident Evil 4-a-thon until I got to the village. I swear to god, 10 minutes into the game and I’m stuck.

Leon stumbles across a sorority house – image c/o

I understand what they’re trying to do here, but I do not have the resources to fend off all of these psycho hillbillies. To make matters worse, one of them has a sack on his head and is wielding a chainsaw. There are two chainsaw guys?! MORE villagers are coming? Why, I’ll hide up in this tall tower. If they try to climb up after me, I’ll shoot them down. They’re lighting the tower on fire?!

I’m fucked. I am fucked. And I’m dead.

Do you know how many times I had to retry this part? I kept getting sort of better at it, but I just kept dying and eventually my patience wore out. I rage quit the game and refused to go back to it. Days later, my friend at work would ask me how much I loved Resident Evil 4.

Finally, I said, “fuck it” and I picked the game back up. Starting fresh, I went in with new resolve. I was going to dominate that village. I was going to mount the heads of the dead on poles I fashioned from their own bones. I was going to take that chainsaw and shove it up – ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! Dead again.

This aggression will not stand, man! I will not relent! I will beat this part of the game!  After seeing other people complete the village part of the game over and over again, I finally just made my friend do it for me. It took him, like, 5 minutes. I’m happy to say that I can now blitzkrieg the shit out of that village. Eight years later, though, and I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I approach that part of the game.

Speaking of that sick feeling in my stomach, there are plenty of parts in this game make  my balls retract into my body. The first time I was running up that hill towards the church and that dog came out of nowhere to gnaw on face made me cry out like a little bitch. Later, those same dogs would stalk me through some ridiculous hedge maze and little drops of pee would leak out of me in fear as I heard them galloping around every corner. Then there was that time when I had to run into the prison to get some key or throw some switch and the Garrador woke up and chopped Leon’s head off, making me puke out of my butt.

The absolute worst, though, was when I was in some cryogenic lab and caught a glimpse of the Regenerator for the first time. What sick, sadistic son of bitch thought this thing up? The creepy way it breathes coupled by the broken way it walks at you only highlights its INABILITY TO DIE. You can unload your entire payload of shotgun shells on this thing and it will just keep coming. They make it even worsewhen they cover its entire body in spikes and nickname it the Iron Maiden.  The only way to kill these assholes is to find yourself an infrared scope and pick off the hidden Plagas keeping it alive.

HEH HE HAHA – Thank you.                                                                                                     I hate escort missions. No matter what game I’m playing, if I have to walk around with some pansy that can’t defend themselves, I piss myself out of sheer rage. The dumbass always ends up getting themselves killed. It never fails either. They just stop running, they wander off, a pack of enemies come out of nowhere and kills them, or I just shoot them to death out of frustration. Either way, it’s game over for me.  Luckily Leon’s charge, Ashley, isn’t all that bad once you learn how to mute her.

Moreover, Ashley tends to get captured a lot. This is a good thing as long as it’s conducive to the storyline. If you’re in the middle of a level and a dude just picks Ashley up and carries her off screen, you’ve failed. But if the storyline calls for her to get caught so Leon can have some alone time, you’re golden. I will say, however, that areas in the latter half of the game are easier when you need to escort Ashley. Capcom just ramps up the difficulty if that bitch isn’t at your side. Take for example the time when they throw you in a room with two Garradors and a bunch of cultists. You might as well just cut your own head off.

Come back anytime                                                                                                                    In preparation for writing this retrospective, I decided to do a quick run through of the game to remind myself of certain things. I found out that I could blow through the first two chapters in a matter of a couple hours (skipping certain cutscenes). The third, fourth, and fifth chapters, on the other hand, were pretty slow going. I realized that, back in the day, I would play the game until I got stuck or just tired of playing it (usually in the third or fourth chapter), then pick it back up but start over from the beginning. I must’ve played the beginning two chapters 50 times. Honestly, I’ve only beaten this game three times (this being my third), but I feel like I’ve been beating it my whole life.

Come at me, bro – image c/o

Despite some flaws in its controls it’s a very enjoyable and challenging game that holds up even after 12+ years of existence. Resident Evil 4 is on literally ever single console known to man: Gamecube, PS2, Wii, Xbox 360 and it’s even on mobile devices. You’d be a cultist not to own it.

Like this article? Hate it? Let Stephen know in the comments section!

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2 Responses to Resident Evil 4 – an Undead Retrospective

  1. heyitskamo says:

    God damn did I fucking hate that ink ribbon save system. It made the game so much more stressful

  2. Great music theme for the new Resident Evil Movie.

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