| Vestavia, Ala. -- I'll be the first to admit I know nothing about video games. I have no idea why anyone would want to sit in front of a t.v. for hours on end trying to save this maiden or beat that boss. I'd much rather curl up with a good book. That said, when my husband brought home a demo disk for Resident Evil 4 -- I found myself watching him play the game. It's visually stunning, dark with very realistic graphics. Intrigued, I wanted to find out a little more about Resident Evil 4. So, I went to an expert.
"Dead people popping up, that's mostly what made it scary," so says Vestavia middleschooler Angela. She's a big fan of the games. "I like gross things and I like scary movies and this is mostly scary."
The plot of the Resident Evil franchise is as complex as a good scary movie; actually, Hollywood did turn the games into two moderatlely successful movies. On the surface this new game seems similar to the earlier ones, just another hack 'em, slash 'em. But don't let that fool you. It's actually rather complicated and scarier, or at least that's what people keep telling me.
"It doesn't take the turns you expect it to," says Mike Weigand, senior editor at the gaming magazine "GamePro". Weigand is also their resident Resident Evil guru. "Whereas the other games, they would sort of build on you end up zombies and then mutated dogs and then mutated something else and then you'd end up with a mutated big bad guy and once you destroyed him it was over. Here, there's a lot more to that and I think that, out of all the games in the series, this is by far the longest; you're not going to finish this in one sitting."
The whole Resident Evil thing started back in 1998 when the first game was introduced on the Playstation 1. It was the first survival horror game to really catch on. Since then the game, and its various incarnations, have gone on to sell millions upon millions of copies. Resident Evil 4 is expected to carry on that tradition. One of the big reasons? You now get an up close and personal view of the action, which has many people saying it's not only the best in the Resident Evil franchise but also the best game of its kind ever.
"The great thing that 4 does," Weigand says, "is that it pulls the perspective a little bit closer but, it's totally behind the character so when you move you see everything that's right in front of him and I think that's a totally key aspect as to why this game really, really jumps out at you."
After reading all the positive reviews and talking with the experts, I decided to try the game out myself. So, controller in hand, I attempted to save the President's daughter. That's the storyline behind this latest installment. Which is a big change from Resident Evil games past. In those a virus turns people into zombies which you must find a way to destroy. My expert, Angela, says this new game is a little creepier in that respect.
"It's pretty hard because now they have chainsaws and they're human, and they're not zombies, they're not, they're not dead."
In this game the President's daughter gets kidnapped by a shadowy group and you travel to some obscure European country to rescue her. Along the way you fight crazed villagers and other scary figures. Again, Mike Weigand.
"In the initial stages you end up fighting these rather challenging, demented villagers, who seem bent on your demise who do nothing but try to outfox you in a sense. So, it's more challenging, but believe me, it does get very scary later on."
Experts like Weigand are frothing over Resident Evil 4, but what are consumers saying? I checked out a few gaming blogs. One poster wrote that 4 has "taken over" his life. Another simply says the game "outdoes" any that came before it.
One website devoted to all things game, Penny Arcade, made a comparison that I just couldn?t pass up. A guy called "Tycho" said the new game is to the Resident Evil franchise what Campbell's Chunky soup is to soup. After pondering what that could possibly mean, I've decided it's that, although Resident Evil 4 takes the series in a whole new direction it's still Resident Evil.
My expert, Angela, doesn?t really care about analogies ? she?s too busy playing the game. "It's very cool," she says.
I don't know if Resident Evil 4 is cool enough to pull me away from my books forever, but I have to admit, I could easily spend an hour or two, maybe three, shooting bad guys. You know, now that I think about it, this could be a really cool way to get rid of some of my pent up aggression.
Resident Evil 4 is rated M for mature audiences.
Just a sidenote: Angela's mother watched her play the game and is actually a fan of the series herself.
Rosemary Pennington, January 20, 2005