Video Game Review: Resident Evil 4 (Wii Edition)

re4 I said that I wouldn’t ever do it, but I actually ended up purchasing a “Wii-make” of a game that I had already bought in the past.  I gave myself the pass this time because while moving, I somehow managed to lose disc two of the original Gamecube package.  Plus, it didn’t hurt the Wii title was on sale for twenty bucks.

Resident Evil 4 ranks pretty high up there as one of my favorite games of the past five years.  The first time I played through it, I was in my first year of “real” college.  Many of my friends were busy much of the time with class work and other stuff, so I wasn’t left with a lot to do and played Metroid Prime 2 throughout the Fall semester and this game throughout the Spring in my tiny cramped little dorm.  The experience of playing it was just as fun as the game itself.  I was constantly creeped out by the combination of the game and my black light lit room and creepy noises in the aging dorm.  Also by this time, I was one of the last loyalists of the quickly aging Gamecube, so random friends would pop in from time to time to see what the game was about.

I don’t need to tell you how good this game is if you’ve ever played it.  Even if you haven’t, you surely have heard of it.  To put it into modern perspective, if there was no Resident Evil 4, there would be no Gears of War as you know it.  Sure, it would exist in some form or another, but not as it does as it is sold today.  Beyond that, there’s no need to go into this.  If you want to read a detailed explanation of how badass this game is, a good starting point would be the original IGN review of the Cube version.

The real point of this review is to point out the differences and improvements to this Wii version.  Firstly, don’t expect improved graphics.  It’s virtually the same.  If there are any differences, they are extremely small and would be something that you wouldn’t see unless you very closely compared the two versions side by side.   But realistically, that doesn’t matter.  When this game was originally produced for the Cube, the developers had somehow managed to cram near 360 level visuals into an aging system.  If the Cube version had never been released, reviewers and casual gamers alike would still be wowed by the visuals.  Maybe it’s a bad reflection of the visual quality of Wii games that have been released in its first generation, but this is the best looking title on the Wii until Metroid Prime 3 is released.

The big draw here is the Wiimote control.  And it’s awesome.  As you’d expect, the laser pointer is replaced with a wii cursor that you aim at the screen.  You might expect the back B button to act as a trigger, but it doesn’t.  You hold it down to initiate Leon’s aiming, then press A to fire.  It’s a little wonky at first, but after five minutes it’s addictive as hell.  You’ll be capping rats and birds that you could never dream of hitting with the Cube controls.  That said, it does make hitting targets easier.  But to my memory, the game has been made slightly harder.  I am virtually sure that Chainsaw Guy shows up earlier and some baddies have been made harder to kill.  The game itself isn’t realistically harder, it’s just that the playing field has been leveled out.

re4instance

This is the first time you’ll do something like this on the Wii and not look stupid to your friends.

Instance movement controls work out well too.  Instead of rapidly hitting the A button to outrun the Raisersesque stone ball or to cut a rope from your leg, you wave the Wiimote back and forth as if you are running.  Each cut scene instance gives another way to wave the Wiimote around like crazy, each one intuitive, surprising, and fun.  There’s something to be said of the controls when it makes the game seem uniquely fresh.  I had replayed the game only once, but had attempted to make a run through it on many other occasions.  At the first zombie rush when entering the castle, I would get stuck, get bored, then move on to another game altogether.  Not the case here, the controls are devilishly addictive.

Were Metroid Prime 3 and Madden 08 not going to be released soon, I could see myself being stuck on this game for months.  There’s a ton of additional content after you finish the game, some of which is new to Nintendo owners.  Which I expect to be just as fun, if not more so, than the first time around on Cube.  If I had any real complaints, it would be that there isn’t really any new content that takes full advantage of the Wii controls.  Perhaps another side quest or level that makes some genius use of the remote and nunchuck that hasn’t been thought of yet.  But considering the bargain price, you can’t really complain.

My final advice on whether or not to check  it out depends on your background.  If you are a Nintendo loyalist and have not played this for Gamecube, buy it immediately.  Seriously.  This is a milestone game you shouldn’t have missed in the first place.  If you already own it for Gamecube, it’s at the very least worth a rental to try out.  If you are like me and need a replacement copy, it’s certainly worth the $20 to $30.  With the new way to play and some added content here and there, it is a bargain in every way.

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