Shouldn’t all games be the best they can be?
Originally published January 26, 2019 at Doublejump.co
The Resident Evil 2 remake is finally out and it’s amazing. Apparently Kingdom Hearts III is pretty baller, too – oh, and Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown as well. Do you know what’s even better, since it’s flawless and I can actually afford it, unlike all those games? That’s right: 2005’s Resident Evil 4.
In no particular order, here’s why you should just forget all those other games and give yourself over to Resident Evil 4’s heavenly light (and definitely not because I’m feeling left out…).
1. It’s perfect
It’s indisputable fact that 2005’s Resident Evil 4, developed by Capcom and directed by Shinji Mikami, is a perfect video game. It’s almost too perfect.
2. It sets the bar for modern quasi-reboots
Resident Evil 4’s gameplay as a whole is phenomenal and holds up well. Some may argue that it’s dated and archaic, that it’s a relic of 2005 which should stay firmly in the past – but some people would be wrong.
Sort of adapting earlier Resident Evil titles, Resident Evil 4’s third-person over-the-shoulder shooting is built on a risk-reward system – a mainstay of survival-horror in general, where even fighting back is to take a risk. Players need to stand still to aim and shoot, making themselves vulnerable. Because ammo is limited, you make the most of your ammo by using the environment to your advantage or stunning and kicking enemies (the kicking part is new to the series).
Compared to previous games, the biggest change is in how powerful you are. Where ammo was scarce in previous games and encouraged ignoring enemies whenever you could, Resident Evil 4 gives you the tools to defeat almost everything in your path and expects you to do so.
It turns Resident Evil 4 into a sort of guilty pleasure, branching off from the goofy, B-movie charm of the earlier games to churn out the peerless, eminently replayable action flick of the franchise. It’s still tough when it wants to be, keeping you tense and on edge, but gives you just enough to make you comfortable and willing to push on.
3. It’s got god-tier encounter design and pacing
Of all the things Resident Evil 4 pulls off perfectly (which is everything), its pacing might be the best.
By pacing, I mean that Resident Evil 4 consistently balances its tense encounters with easier, almost leisurely encounters. It keeps this remarkable ebb and flow throughout the vast majority of its runtime. Areas flow elegantly from one to the other and seem endlessly varied and creative, stuffed with new enemies, scenarios and enemy layouts.
The goofy, out-of-place settings, scenarios and enemies actually help in this way, just as they did in earlier games. Moving from the village to the castle to the militant island, each area finds way to almost comically mix things up.
Lava room? Sure. Hedge maze? I dig it. Cave trolls? Invisible bugs? A giant salamander? An homage to Alien? Knife fights? I am down for all of that.