No matter what the popular myth is, Resident Evil did not invent the video game survival horror genre (personally, I’d vote that Alone in the Dark did). What Resident Evil did do however is set the gold standard in the genre. No one does moody, atmospheric, creepy, and terrifying like the Resident Evil series. It does not matter how many different systems and re-releases of the first two games you play, every time a zombie dog jumps through a window (even when you know it is coming), you jump. More than just moody though, the gameplay in the series is always top notch.
The latest release in the series, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, is no exception. Originally released for Gamecube in early 2005 and later for Playstation 2, the game (like most RE games) has found success on numerous systems. The Wii Edition of RE4 not only looks fantastic, but manages to utilize the Wii’s motion sensing controls in a way that enhances gameplay rather than simply feeling gimmicky.
The story follows Leon S. Kennedy, who first appeared in Resident Evil 2, on a mission to rescue the President’s daughter, who has been kidnapped, somewhere in the bowels of Europe. Dropped into a small village, Leon begins his search only to immediately be harassed by townspeople that require bullet after bullet after bullet to be stopped. Though an examination of the remains of Leon’s first enemy reveals that he doesn’t appear to be a zombie, something is certainly amiss.
As the game progresses, things just get worse and worse for Leon, and things really get going once he “rescues” the President’s daughter. Old enemies reappear, things take a turn for the weird, and there is just something not right about the villagers, their leader, or that El Gigante character. It’s a wild and fun ride.
Once the game is completed there are bonuses and special features aplenty, including the usual extra outfits and weapons, and the same ability to play as Ada Wong that was included in the PS2 version of the game.
The graphics in the game are some of the best yet available for the Wii, particularly the lighting, complete with lightning effects in the sky momentarily brightening things and rain drops bouncing off Leon’s shoulders. While the graphics are not what they might be on the PS3 or Xbox 360, they are more then enough to make most game players happy. The sound is equally good, particularly the use of the speaker in the Wiimote, which makes gun reloading sounds as well as knife swishes.
Handling the controls takes about 15 or 20 minutes to learn, and after that point it is completely intuitive. Movement is controlled with the nunchuk analog stick and shooting is controlled by pointing the Wiimote at the screen while holding down two buttons, one to aim and a second to fire. It’s an incredibly precise and easy to use targeting system. While some may call it too easy, the quantity of ammo Leon (more than in previous RE games and yet not enough to be comfortable) has and the number of enemies he faces make it more difficult.
The main problem with the game is Leon’s extremely narrow field of vision. The camera is placed slightly behind Leon, and far too often creatures attack from just outside his peripheral view. This does not appear to happen because the creatures are incredibly intelligent (mindless zombie-like things usually are not), but rather because the field of view simply is not as wide as it should be.
Despite any shortcomings, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is, unquestionably, one of the best games thus far available on the system, even if it is just a port. Hopefully there will be more games like this one, developed specifically for the Wii in the future.
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for blood and gore, intense violence, and language. This game can also be found on: PS2, Gamecube, and PC.
Five stars out of five.