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Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: December 31st, 2017, 3:32 pm
by JaySevenZero
Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4) for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: January 6th, 2018, 11:11 pm
by KSubzero1000
Resident Evil 4, where to begin...

I first came in contact with this game at a friend's house shortly after its initial release. At that point, my experiences with video games were limited to a handful of Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games as well as semi-regular local multiplayer matches in Halo. I only knew about anything else from reading magazines and visiting friends, and therefore didn't consider myself a dedicated video game player at all. Until Resident Evil 4 hit me like a freight train and offered me an experience unlike anything I had ever seen before. I asked to borrow his copy and spent the following week hunched over in front of another friend's minuscule TV until I saw the credits roll for the first time. I was absolutely enthralled by its layered and ingenious design and it was from that moment on that I knew video games would become my main hobby in the future.

  • Core Mechanics
The most important thing to keep in mind in regard to Resident Evil 4's various systems is that the game is based on a single-stick setup. The tank controls make it so that both character movement and aiming are directly controlled by the left stick, which means that the camera controls are little more than a luxury. Here's an funny challenge for anyone who's interested: Start the game while using the original control scheme, try to resist the temptation to use the camera at all and see how far you can go. You'd be surprised as to how natural and responsive it is.

This single-stick setup in turn influences how the enemy AI works. Due to Leon's inability to move and aim at the same time, the enemies are carefully programmed to always give the player a fighting chance. They slow down when they reach a certain distance and alert the player through specific voice lines when approaching from behind. Almost all of them can be baited into performing specific attacks which grant the player more strategic options. Almost every attack in the game can be dodged or countered through careful planning and quick reactions. Almost every encounter in the game can be beaten without taking any damage and by only using the necessary ammo. All these factors combine to create a metagame which is not at all about precision aiming, hyper-mobility and DPS battles like most shooters, but is instead based on positioning, crowd control, and strategic decision making. In this game, the presence of mind to know how to utilize the options at your disposal becomes your most valuable asset. Every action has a reaction, every choice a direct and tangible consequence. From the enemies' layered hit detection system and the melee attacks' invincibility frames to the flash grenades Plaga-killing properties, every element of the combat is part of a risk vs. reward dynamic. The end result is a combat system that is significantly deeper and more layered than the one-trick-ponies in titles like Dead Space or The Last of Us.

And here's my second challenge to prove it! At the beginning of Chapter 1-3, right after leaving Mendez's house, you'll find a Dr. Salvador and two Ganados waiting for you outside. It's 100% possible to kill all three of them without leaving the area, taking any damage or firing a single shot, simply through careful positioning, crowd control, AI manipulation and knife and melee attacks. Luck isn't a factor. Try it!

If you manage to do that, you'll understand what makes Resident Evil 4 so unique and I think you'll appreciate the rest of the game even more. Being able to reliably kill one of the game's most intimidating and deadly enemies by using the weakest weapon in your arsenal without any kind of RNG involved or wasting any resources is the kind of finely-tuned mechanical depth that most other games can only dream of.

Whenever the topic of tank controls and the inability to move while shooting has come up on C&R in the past, I've heard it summarized as merely "adding tension". While I think there is definitely some truth to that, I also think it's only half of the story. There are tangible mechanical benefits to this type of controls as well, such as how they force the player to quickly evaluate threats and to make strategic decisions about when (and where!) it's safe to attack and when it's preferable to run away, instead of the one-size-fits-all blunt combination of both that tends to get the job done in most third-person shooters. Your exact positioning and moment-to-moment decision-making end up mattering a lot more in this game than in conventional dual analogue based games. I feel like it's an element that should be mentioned, at least.

  • Ashley
Despite what her reputation would lead you to believe, I think she is one of the best example of a partner AI done right. Let me explain: Partner AIs in games tend to fall into two distinct categories: The first type prides itself in being "complex" and "incredibly advanced", but inevitably falls short of the designers' ambition and becomes a victim of its own complexity when observed into the final product, much to the irritation of the player. Sheva in RE5 is a good example of the first type. The second type is the "invisible" AI that only interacts with the world when it suits the player and stays virtually non-existent otherwise. While this type is a lot less frustrating to witness than the first one, it is guilty of breaking immersion left and right and amounts to little more than the developers throwing their hands up in the air and giving up on the concept of design integrity. Ellie in TLoU is of good example of the second type.

What makes Ashley so special, might you ask? It's because she's both consistent and reliable. She's very much an integral part of the world and is subjected to the same rules that Leon is, which grants her weight and presence. Unlike Ellie, the player has to look after her even during gameplay. But because she follows such a strict set of rules, she's also comparatively easy to plan around. Her pathfinding is simple and easily understandable. Unlike Sheva, she won't run headfirst and suicide into the enemies while carrying all your healing items. She does exactly what she's programmed to do at all times, which means she is never really an annoyance for the player willing to put the little time and effort necessary in order to understand how she works. She stays behind you whenever she can, ducks when enemies are nearby or when you aim at her, and immediately follows the player's commands otherwise. Dead Rising, this is not.

  • Encounter Design
I think this is both the game's strongest point as well as its most easily overlooked aspect. Obviously, the enemy variety alone is quite impressive. But it's the way they are used that I find so remarkable. Every area in this game has its own unique flow and almost all of them introduce at least one new gameplay mechanic, be it a new enemy type or a minor, yet significant element that impacts the way the encounter works out. The various elements never outstay their welcome: Mini-bosses are used sparingly (you usually fight them alone the first time they appear, and then only a couple of times after that with various modifiers), the standard enemy set changes three times throughout the game and their flexibility allows them to be re-used in very different scenarios without them becoming stale and frustrating to fight, and most of the scripted elements only appear once in order to keep the experience fresh.

To put it simply: This game does not have any two encounters that play out the same way, thanks to a very hands-on approach on the part of the director. The attention to detail at play here is quite frankly astonishing and certainly nothing I've ever experienced in any other game before or since. In fact, I would argue that most action games tend to fall in one of two camps. Games like Bayonetta have deep and engaging mechanics, but often just reuse simplistic encounter setups, such as locking the players inside an empty room during combat sequences, sometimes even just spawning enemies in front of them mid-fight. On the other hand, games like Uncharted rely on intricate and spectacular scripted sequences but have some surprisingly shallow mechanics otherwise.

Resident Evil 4 is one of the very few games that manages to give equal attention to both sides of the equation.

Obviously, this also ties into the incredibly ambitious boss fights. Every single one of them is brimming with little details and while some of them are quite challenging, they are never outright cheap. There is always a way to anticipate their attacks, to better navigate the terrain, or to find a more efficient way to damage them. My favorite has to be the Krauser fight in the Sand Fortress. He'll try to ambush you over and over again while you learn how to navigate the maze-like environment, each time varying his tactics a bit and using different weapons as the fight progresses. Only to culminate in the final duel on top of the tower. What makes this fight truly stand out to me is Krauser's hyper-sensitivity to knife attacks, as subtly hinted at by the preceding QTE fight. It's obviously a very challenging option that hardly leaves any room for mistakes, but if the player is willing to meet him head-on and force the close quarters combat, they'll be rewarded with a surprisingly short, but oh so intense and rewarding knife fight between the two foes. The end result being a boss fight that can be completed in three perfectly valid ways: The easy way by using the rocket launcher, the normal way by using conventional weaponry, and the hard way by using only the knife. With each option being available not through a menu or even through the game's ingenious adaptive difficulty system, but as an organic choice through use of the overall mechanics. I cannot emphasize this enough: This is brilliant design.

Speaking of attention to detail, one aspect I hardly ever see mentioned anywhere else is the variety of non-enemy animals the player encounters in the first third of the game. Just based on my own playthroughs, I've noticed Dogs, Beetles, Spiders, Snakes, Basses, Cows, Chickens, Crows and Bats. Each with their own AI and careful placement in chosen locations, which must have taken a bit of effort to implement correctly. I think this is emblematic of this game in many ways. It was never a marketing bullet point and therefore flew under most people's radar. And yet it is there, subtly enriching the experience and contributing to the strong sense of locale of the Village section. Unlike in games like MGS3 or RDR, this isn't a feature per se. Nor a bunch of lazy collectibles tied to an insipid XP system. Just a little something that was put in for the sake of putting it in. For the art.

  • Extras
Separate Ways is almost offensively bad in comparison, and I think it stands as the most poignant evidence of the delicate craftsmanship that went into creating the main game. It utilizes the same enemies and re-hashes the same areas for the most part, and yet it is a very unpolished experience that lacks the main game's signature flow and carefully constructed encounter design. The cynic in me is convinced that this was just cobbled together by different team members at the last minute in order to be able to market it as a bullet point for the PS2 port.

Assignment Ada is fun enough in its own right and clearly meant to be played in one quick session, but is rather unsubstantial otherwise.

The Mercenaries, on the other hand, is the... stuff that dreams are made of. It is hands down the best unlockable ever created, in my humble opinion. Let me explain why. Score-chasing arcade games and modes tend to demand two things from the player: Knowledge and Mechanical Skill. In order to obtain a highscore in a game like Resogun Survival, for example, you need to memorize the times when the various combinations of enemies will attack you as well as being skilled enough to be able to survive their onslaught as long as possible. But there's little strategy involved, you mostly just react to what is happening on screen.

What makes The Mercenaries so special in my eyes is that it's one of the very few modes that actively force the player to conceive and implement actual strategies. First, you obviously need to understand how the scoring system and the enemy spawns work. But since you can't just camp out in a corner and wait for the enemies to come to you, you need to come up with the most efficient route so as to make the best use out of the limited time available to you. Optimizing your course of action in order to deal with the enemies and sub-bosses in a time- and resource-efficient manner while collecting the various items, time extensions and bonus chests scattered around the stage really takes some mental effort and is not as easy as it sounds. That's without even going into the different characters' unique attributes and loadouts that massively impact the way the game plays out and the interesting options that derive from them.

In order to succeed at Mercenaries, you need to have a solid strategy going into it, but you also need to be able to react instinctively to unforeseen circumstances as well as having the skill and concentration necessary to implement said strategy and perform the right plays during the key moments of your run. Last but not least, luck only plays a very small part into it, which makes every score feel completely earned. All of the above combined are what gives this mode one of the most ridiculously high skill ceilings I have ever seen and make the Horde-type modes of other games feel incredibly shallow in comparison.

While the vast majority of players unfortunately dismissed it as another worthless unlockable, even the dedicated Mercenaries community mostly turn up their noses at it in favor of the mode's later iterations in Resident Evil 5 and 6. I think it is an exceptional piece of software and I would be very pleased if you guys could give this mode a little more attention this time around! :P

  • Differences Between Versions
Little known fact: The japanese versions of this game have kept the traditional fixed camera angles of the earlier Resident Evil titles for the section during which you play as Ashley in the castle. I find that to be a very neat touch and sweet acknowledgment of the legacy of the series, and I would have liked to see it being implemented in every other version as well.

Other little known fact: The original american GameCube version of this game is an "unpatched" version of sorts that has a handful of small differences in enemy AI, weapon statistics, as well as enemy and item placements, which makes it the version of choice when going for specific Mercenaries scores. The european and japanese versions came out several weeks later, incorporated the changes and formed the template that all subsequent versions of the game have since been based on. Unfortunately, I found every other version to be lacking in one way or another and so the original european GameCube release remains my favourite version to date, if only because the game was developed with the GameCube controller in mind.

The PlayStation 2 version toned down the graphics and added Separate Ways, which means it can go straight in the bin as far as I'm concerned.

The Wii version finally introduced native 16:9 resolution, but I think the motion controls make the game way too easy. On top of that, they also ruin the careful balancing of the weapon handling by nullifying the differences in aiming speed and laser sensitivity. Thankfully there is the option to play it with a GameCube controller.

The HD version on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 appears to utilize a very awkward visual filter and I'm genuinely angry and frustrated at Capcom not bothering to include online leaderboards for Mercenaries.

Finally, the more recent 60FPS version on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is also nowhere near as good as it appears at first glance. Not only have certain animations not been translated at all, the higher framerate also seems to negatively impact the AI and is causing noticeable pathfinding errors, among other things.

For better or for worse, it's pretty obvious to me that the game was never intended to be ported onto any other platform during its initial design phase. I'm honestly kind of sad that there isn't any ideal version of the game as of now.

  • Legacy
Resident Evil 4 later went on to have a very noticeable influence on the rest of the industry and appeared on numerous celebratory lists. And yet I honestly think that this game, paradoxically enough, is a deeply misunderstood one. Most of the influence it had was superficial in nature, and merely consisted of various developers sheepishly copying its over-the-shoulder camera and precision aiming into their own dual analogue based games. Its core mechanics were immediately expanded upon, but without considering how their restrictions directly affected its encounter design. Even its popular reception and common statements such as "Good for its time, but hard to go back to nowadays. I wish I could move and shoot at the same time." make me wonder whether people genuinely understand the value of the craftsmanship that went into this game and the importance of its mechanical restrictions. Admittedly, it does require a specific mindset in order to be fully appreciated, but I think that too many people try to play it like a Last of Us prototype and end up actively sabotaging their own potential enjoyment in the process. I know that "playing it wrong" is a bit of a dirty phrase here at Cane and Rinse, but in my experience, it does seem to hold true at least some of the time.

  • Conclusion
Undoubtedly, Resident Evil 6 has a more complex combat system, Gears of War more fluid controls, Dead Space a more spectacular and immersive audiovisual presentation and The Last of Us a much better story to tell. But Resident Evil 4 has something that all those other games lack: A strong sense of authorial intent which gently guides the player throughout its carefully crafted scenarios while remaining fair, deep and engaging in the process. Its pacing, variety and attention to detail are truly unrivaled to this day. In many ways, it is an anti-sandbox game: Instead of giving the players dozens of tools and mechanics and letting them loose within a huge open world with only a little, if any, connective tissue unifying the two, it understands the value of restraint and constructs its experience around its core mechanics. It challenges and empowers the players, but never gives them enough rope to hang themselves. It understands the symbiotic relationship between enemy AI, level design and encounter design, as well as the player's place within it better than any other game I've ever played. Perhaps it is because, being the first of its kind, it didn't have any preconceptions of what it should be or any official template to follow. Perhaps it was the talent of its team combined with Capcom's then-willingness to take risks, as well as the clear single-platform laser-guided focus of its development. In any case, this game is the kind of lightning in a bottle which I don't think has ever been captured before or since. I think this is one of the medium's "essential texts" and that it should be an absolute must play for anyone interested in game design. Quite frankly, it pains me to see how so many of its less visible lessons seem to have been lost in time, like tears in rain.

  • Final Thoughts
I just realized I haven't even mentioned the art design and music (both of which perfectly set the mood), the story (which is charming B-movie nonsense), the characters (which are strangely charismatic and memorable despite having so little to work with), the weapons (which all fulfill a specific niche and are all very fun to use in their own way), or the adaptive difficulty system (genius).

In case that wasn't clear, I absolutely adore this game! This is my sacred cow and my total number of playthroughs must easily be in the triple digits by now. I've done everything from handgun-only runs to speedruns to spending countless hours attempting to break my own Mercenaries records. I am very much looking forward to this particular episode! Feel free to ask if you need any additional help, be it in terms of research, specific footage, further explanations of various mechanics or anything of the sort, for I would be more than happy to contribute in any way I can.

Three Words Review: "Found The Beetles?" ;)

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: January 8th, 2018, 12:20 pm
by Alex79uk
Not sure I can match Ksub's post, so I'll just say I loved Resident Evil 4. From the creepy huts, to the shooting gallery, to the weird shop keeper who always seems to turn up just as you need him, Resi 4 is a brilliant game, and reinvigorated the series massively after it had grown a little stale (albeit for a rather short time). I originally played it on Gamecube, and later did the Wii port which handled excellently. I've not played the HD ports, and given various factors I'm unlikely to at this point, but I would urge anyone who's not played the game to rectify that as soon as possible!

THREE WORD REVIEW: Action horror brilliance.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: January 16th, 2018, 8:22 pm
by Yacobg42
Resident Evil 4 holds a special place in my heart as my very first m-rated game. I had a Wii, and had just had my bar-mitzvah. My argument to my parents was, therefore, "If the Torah says I'm a man, why shouldn't I be able to play mature games?"

Little did I know that I was getting one of the most finely crafted games ever made. Others (on this very forum!) can sum up the game's many strengths better than I can, so I'll just focus on one thing: the pacing.

RE4 has about 17 different pacing systems all operating at the same time, and they're all perfect. First, like Halo, it has an incredibly refined 30-second gameplay loop. The headshot-kick-knife combo hasn't gotten old in the decade I've been playing it, and as soon as you feel like you've mastered this, the game starts throwing curveballs.

The campaign's pacing is equally skillful, offering downtime and frenzied fighting at just the right time. Even more impressively, in my many playthroughs, there are never any parts I dread. It's simply one dynamite scenario after another.

The economy and upgrade continues to offer incentives with delicate timing, making sure there's always something good justaround the corner. The adaptive difficulty makes ammo and inventory space a delightful balancing act, no matter how good you are (and that's not even touching the bevy of potential challenge runs).

Resident Evil 4, a gross, violent, probably-inappropriate-for-a-child title, has somehow become my gaming comfort food over the past 10 years. I imagine it'll hold the same place in my life for the next 10.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: January 21st, 2018, 6:03 pm
by matten zwei
Resident Evil 4 was the first game of the franchise I've ever played.

At the time I wasn't into horror games at all. They were to scary for me. So I managed to gather 4 buddies at my place to play Resident Evil 4. We would pass the controller to each other every time we felt to scared to continue. As I write this you might picture me and my friends as 10 year old kids, nope, we were in our early 20s.

My friends came to my place twice a week and we finished the game in 5 or 6 sessions and it feels like a journey I've had with my friends. The game is quite long and takes us to very different places and the story is creepy and silly at the same time. I like the enemies' design (especially their chatter) and the hilarious fights we had with them. I remember standing on a tower and waiting for the zombies to climb up the ladder and kick it down again and again, just before they reached me. I'm sure, I spent an hour on that tower. It wasn't the most effective way to kill, but the most fun. My favourite part was probably the Lake with the Loch Ness monster. The atmosphere was on point and fitted perfectly when we played it in the fall of 2007.

As I've never played other Resident Evil-titles at the time, I didn't know about the revolutionary gameplay-mechanics or the impact it would have on other games. I'm not sure how well this game has aged. The Quicktime events felt fresh and not being able to move while aiming wasn't gamebreaking... at the time.

After I finished Resident Evil 4 I was finally ready to play more horror games like Dead Space, Silent Hill 2 and Condemned and survival horror turned out to be my favourite genre in gaming.

I hope, I'll someday at least get some of my friends back together and play it through once more. It wouldn't be to difficult to convince them since we still yell a each other: HEEEEY ACÁÁÁÁ!

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: March 3rd, 2018, 7:46 pm
by TheEmailer
Resi 4 is the pinnacle of the control scheme and design of the series' origins, for better or worse. The 'tank' controls definitely increase the tension and were implemented very well. That tension lessens later in the game as the players weapons and prowess grows, the feeling of panic is hard to maintain when you have a machine gun and rocket launcher.

It's a hard game to replay now, not only the escort mission but the bosses are frustrating. The same controls that are so compelling versus the horde hold back my enjoyment in a set piece battle. On replay the El Gigante x2 & Chief Bitores Mendez were the opposite of enjoyable.

Should I mention the story? It's nonsense, with forgettable characters, but the game seems to know it and lean into the cheesy dynamic. It's fine I guess.

Resi 4 is clearly a great example of it's craft, it's not my favourite genre yet I loved it at the time... now I think I appreciate it.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: March 3rd, 2018, 7:52 pm
by TheEmailer
KSubzero1000 wrote:
January 6th, 2018, 11:11 pm
Even its popular reception and common statements such as "Good for its time, but hard to go back to nowadays. I wish I could move and shoot at the same time." make me wonder whether people genuinely understand the value of the craftsmanship that went into this game and the importance of its mechanical restrictions.
Maybe this is not for the podcast, but my post I guess makes me one of those people, so thought I'd respond.
I think I can say it's hard to replay, whilst also having really enjoyed it at the time and knowing how massively influential it has been. I can absolutely empathise with why you love this game!
Within whats its trying to do it is very very well executed, I can absolutely appreciate the craft. But I can't help get annoyed by some things when I play it. I have limited time to play games and there are games that don't have the mechanical restrictions whilst also having engaging stories, so my enthusiasm wanes.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: March 3rd, 2018, 8:38 pm
by Simonsloth
Great post Ksub!

In my opinion Resident Evil 4 (second only to metal gear solid) may well be the perfect video game. I remember at the time of my first playthrough when the game first came out that I thought all the hype was justified. It was a revelation. The pacing, boss fights and sheer variety were best in class with only it’s narrative lacking the meat to propel it to number one.

I also played the entire game using the ridiculous chainsaw peripheral which added an extra layer of challenge. This was during the golden age of over the top peripherals so at the time seemed the norm. I’ve just dug it out and tried to use it. it is completely impractical and a bit silly but sits nicely alongside fishing rods and my gametrak device (anyone remember that?).

I hadn’t dare to replay it when the HD remasters appeared in fear that my memories would be sullied. So it was with a great deal of trepidation that I switched it on to another play through recently. Do you know what? It’s better than I remember it. In fact It’s the best game I’ve played in the last 12 months probably. I can’t believe that I’m saying this about a game with tank controls and stationary shooting. It’s clear that a lot of care and thought went into the balancing of the enemies, the near perfect quick turn and variety in which you can tackle each scenario.

Overall I don’t have enough superlatives to express how fondly I feel about this game. For anyone afraid of replaying it (like I was) my advice would be it’s everything I remember it to be...and more. Although maybe leave the chainsaw peripheral in its box.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: March 4th, 2018, 12:06 am
by KSubzero1000
TheEmailer wrote:
March 3rd, 2018, 7:52 pm
I think I can say it's hard to replay, whilst also having really enjoyed it at the time and knowing how massively influential it has been. I can absolutely empathise with why you love this game!
Within whats its trying to do it is very very well executed, I can absolutely appreciate the craft. But I can't help get annoyed by some things when I play it. I have limited time to play games and there are games that don't have the mechanical restrictions whilst also having engaging stories, so my enthusiasm wanes.
Yes, that's perfectly fair. Homogeneous control schemes and design trends are certainly making it easier for players to drop in and out of games, especially those who don't have lots of free time to waste on re-learning specific controls and techniques. I really don't blame you or anyone else for having trouble re-adjusting to this game when playing it in 2018.

But my issue is when the game itself is retroactively being held accountable for not following today's design trends. Consumer habits should not overlap with analytical critique, in my opinion. And this has never been more true than with this game. It just isn't fair to judge it according to anything other than its own merit. The fact that players who have become accustomed to standardized control schemes and mechanics are finding it difficult to revisit RE4 as a result has nothing to do with the quality of the game itself. We don't dismiss Beethoven for not having sick bass drops or Casablanca for not being in color. Part of establishing video games as a respectable medium should be moving away from this notion that they're merely ephemeral consumable products that should be tailor-suited to our every whim and declared obsolete five years after release.

It's obviously a tricky subject considering that these modern design trends are very much made to respond to the consumers' demands and the "games as a service"-philosophy. Personally, I think that it is often more beneficial for a game to carve its own niche and to expect a certain amount of patience and dedication from the player. Hence why I take issue with, say, TLoU being presented as a "natural evolution" of the RE4 formula without any drawbacks. In my ideal world, there would be enough room and respect for both.

All I'm saying is that there should be a difference between an analysis and a review.

Simonsloth wrote:
March 3rd, 2018, 8:38 pm
Great post Ksub!
Thanks! :P

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: March 5th, 2018, 10:37 pm
by Alex79uk
KSubzero1000 wrote:
March 4th, 2018, 12:06 am
But my issue is when the game itself is retroactively being held accountable for not following today's design trends. Consumer habits should not overlap with analytical critique, in my opinion. And this has never been more true than with this game. It just isn't fair to judge it according to anything other than its own merit. The fact that players who have become accustomed to standardized control schemes and mechanics are finding it difficult to revisit RE4 as a result has nothing to do with the quality of the game itself.
Hmm, I'm not sure I agree with that. I don't hear people saying Resident Evil 4 (or any other game) is bad for having bad (by modern standards) controls. Just that they find them difficult to play in comparison to contemporary games. For example, I'm currently trying to play Fear Effect on PS1, and struggling with the rather archaic control scheme. That doesn't mean it was, or is, a bad game. I've never heard anyone say an older game is bad because of controls, just that they find certain older titles difficult to go back to.
KSubzero1000 wrote:
March 4th, 2018, 12:06 am
We don't dismiss Beethoven for not having sick bass drops or Casablanca for not being in color.

Aside from the fact that's just not true (there are plenty of people who won't watch black and white movies), it's a totally different thing. We interact with Casablanca in an identical way to how we interact with Mad Max Fury Road. We sit and watch it. Same argument for music. We do not interact with old games the same as new games, because they have completely different controls. It's much less passive than watching a movie or listening to music, and requires more effort from the participant. You can't complain old films are harder to watch than new ones, because they are objectively not. The same does not apply for games.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: March 7th, 2018, 4:22 pm
by KSubzero1000
Okay, let me clarify what I meant.

Alex79uk wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 10:37 pm
You can't complain old films are harder to watch than new ones, because they are objectively not. The same does not apply for games.
You are correct in the sense that other (passive) forms of media do not have any physical execution barriers that can get in the way of their enjoyment. Video games are indeed the only artistic medium that relies on the audience's input, which is also why it can be so insular. But (and this is the important part), all forms of media can have mental barriers that prevent people from enjoying certain works. If you ask the average 15-year old whose only experience with cinema consists of Star Wars and the MCU to watch Lawrence of Arabia, he'll probably struggle to get to the end. It's not because there is anything inherently wrong with the film, or because there is any physical barrier he isn't able to overcome, it's because he simply won't be used to this type of filmmaking and therefore won't have developed the medium literacy or patience necessary in order to appreciate it.

Video games are no exception to this. If someone complains about fixed camera angles, it's usually because of a mental barrier. If someone plays RE4 for the first time and instantly puts his thumb on the right analogue stick because he's used to dual analogue games with freely controllable cameras, that's also partly a mental barrier.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with RE4's control scheme, if the player takes the time necessary to learn and get used to it. Once you're in the zone, you'll go through the game like a hot knife through butter. And like I said before, I'm really not saying this to have a go at people who don't have the time or the patience or the inclination to do that. I completely understand where they're coming from. I just think it's important to differentiate between subjective and objective criticism. Which of course is a gradient and not a binary, but I think that point still stands.

Alex79uk wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 10:37 pm
I don't hear people saying Resident Evil 4 (or any other game) is bad for having bad (by modern standards) controls. Just that they find them difficult to play in comparison to contemporary games.
I don't know if you realize this, but there is a major difference between the two statements. The former (bad controls) implies that there is something wrong with the game itself, while the latter correctly puts the onus of interaction on the players themselves.

There is no such thing as "bad by modern standards". Standards are either followed or they aren't, but it has nothing to do with quality. Accessibility, yes. But not quality. I have a similar issue with people arguing whether or not a game has "aged". Games don't age. We do. We may find it more or less difficult to dive into the games from a certain era, but that says absolutely nothing about the quality of their design. Our habits and mindsets evolve and change over time, but games themselves are entirely static entities. Putting the onus of appreciation squarely on inanimate programs is a bit too convenient.

Part of formulating an honest and fair critique is understanding the stuff that the game itself is responsible for, and the stuff that we as players are responsible for. Treating games as mere consumer products that ought to contortion themselves to our every whim is rather entitled, in my opinion.

Consider this: there are people who "finish" entire games without bothering to learn the basic controls first, only to then slap a dismissive score on it and call it a day. How much value do you think that kind of review has? Is it all that different from a movie reviewer who spent half the movie's runtime staring at his phone?

Obviously, the inherently interactive nature of the medium does indeed blur the line between a static art form to be observed and fluid entertainment products to be experienced. It's true that the predominant cultural mindset skews heavily towards the latter, but I certainly believe that there are more long-term benefits to be had from considering the former, if only to respect the original vision and efforts that have gone into creating and shaping our hobby into what it has become.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: March 7th, 2018, 5:37 pm
by Alex79uk
I think you're dwelling too much on the casual use of certain words. If I suggest a game had poor controls by modern standards, everyone knows what I mean and what point I'm making. The same applies if someone says a game has aged. Everyone knows what that means, and I think debating the semantics over the usage of a particular word kind of takes away from looking at the game itself. I use these phrases fairly casually, and outside the realms of academia, I don't think it really matters if the general message of what I (or anyone) is trying to get across is clear.
Part of formulating an honest and fair critique is understanding the stuff that the game itself is responsible for, and the stuff that we as players are responsible for
You're right, of course. But most the people on this forum are not professional reviewers, and although I can't speak for anyone else, I don't personally feel it's my job to formulate an honest and fair critique - I'll leave that to the people who know what they're talking about. I just like to say how a game made me feel, and whether I enjoyed it or not I guess - however biased or unfair that may be!

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: March 31st, 2018, 7:48 pm
by ThirdDrawing
Well, I hate to be that one guy......but I'm the one who has never enjoyed - or finished - Resident Evil 4.

I have always preferred more fantastical horror - Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, Hellraiser etc. Good old fashioned monster movies and it's why I loved Resident Evil.

Resident Evil 4 shifts the series from being monster movies to something more akin to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I've never enjoyed those sorts of horror movies, I have never liked that shift in tone for the series and it's where the series lost me as a fan.

I've tried, multiple times to finish the game - PS2, PS3 and tonight, I started another playthrough on PS4. It was tonight I realised I'm never going to finish this game for the other reason I don't like the game. The controls.

I've never understood why the controls in this game get praised and why tank controls get derided. At best, the controls in RE4 are a stopgap, half measure between old tank controls and more modern ones. Everyone complains about fixed camera angles in the original RE games but RE4's camera is nearly as fixed and is more of a hindrance.

By the time of the original game's release, most games were letting you manipulate the camera (usually with a second analog stick) yourself, so to have the camera sort of flail around when I instinctively use the second stick to see what's behind me is constantly frustrating. And it's far more confining than old RE games because the camera would usually let you see around you. RE4's camera is tight up behind you so it's even more difficult to see what's around you.

The last two times I tried to play through, I got to the siege of the cabin with Leon and Luis and just gave up because it was too frustrating. And I can't even imagine trying to play the game as an escort mission with Ashley. That really sounds like the true horror.

I don't think I'm being unfair when I've bought the game on three(!) separate systems determined to finish it. Alas, I've given this game far more money than it deserves. I finally admit that it has conquered me, and I'm just going to listen to the spoilers on this podcast and be done with it.

Three word review: Great big disappointment.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: June 1st, 2018, 8:05 pm
by Magical_Isopod
Resident Evil 4 is far from my favourite Resident Evil game, but it's memorable to me for one key reason: It sold me on the promise of the Nintendo Wii. I had owned RE4 on Gamecube. I wasn't crazy about it. I found the aiming reticule was too slow, and it was sort of a frustrating slog - it always felt like the controls weren't fast enough to keep up with the game. But with the Wii controls, it felt more like the snappy, quick action game it promised to be. The aiming was quick and responsive, motion controlled camera cleaned up the sluggish single-stick control of the GC version... I really felt like it was a large improvement. Many slam it as "easy mode", but it made the game fun and accessible for me where it wasn't before. And now, I consider it a pretty great game, even if it's sort of a middle-of-the-road Resident Evil title compared to what came before and after.

This one falls #85 on my personal Top 100 games list. Sixth in terms of Resident Evil games after REmake, Code Veronica, 7, 2 and Revelations.

Three World Review:
Utilizes Wiimote Superbly

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: June 28th, 2018, 10:26 pm
by Superuser
I picked this game up after seeing the glowing reception it continued to receive years after publication, particularly by people like Super Bunnyhop, who loves it for being a goofy Japanese game with top-notch pacing.

Resi 4 was my first horror game - a genre I normally loathe. I realised over the course of playing it that thankfully, it isn't. I had already been spoiled on the regenerators, and apart from a few jumpscares, the only horror I felt was from the constant desperation. This is established from the brilliant village sequence at the start of the game, which was a perfect way to open an experience focused on awareness of your surroundings, your limits, and really made you feel like you are in deep trouble. It gave me a thrill I can only get from stealth games, and I was hooked. This feeling continued throughout the game. The fact Leon carries the same inventory throughout the game and that he never has plenty worked greatly towards producing the feeling of desperation.

On the other hand, the game is not structured like something from the horror genre. It's a power fantasy where our handsome protagonist wisecracks his way through ridiculous monsters and looks cool while doing it, too. Instead of building towards tragedy or keeping up the feeling of despair, the game offers moments of respite after boss fights and rewards the player with cutscenes that can only lead to fist pumping rather than alertness.

Please note this is a good thing in my books, because I don't like horror. Before people accuse me of having a nefarious agenda, I'd like to point out that other Resident Evil games also follow this 'power fantasy' structure and pace.

I played the HD version on PC but intentionally played with a gamepad and the default GameCube control scheme as my research indicated that these control restrictions were what the game is balanced around. It definitely felt unusual and took some getting used to, but the control scheme set a certain standard for the challenge and created moments of tension that otherwise wouldn't be there. This game is a highly 'authored' experience, and I feel confident after trying the other control schemes near the start that it was the right, intended choice.

The game still looked fantastic after all this time, and after initial control squabbles, I found the combat very satisfying. Apart from a few tiresome and occasionally frustrating sections in the castle, the game was well-paced and new ideas didn't outstay their welcome. It had a rare quality I've found in a series like Half-Life, where just a few minutes of play felt like you have been on adventure, instead of spending hours to get the same feeling like in most games.
Despite a limited inventory and a large arsenal of upgradable weapons, I felt like I got to try most playstyles and it didn't mandate a re-run, to its credit. On the rare occasion I looked up a walkthrough, I was pleasantly surprised to find that loadouts really differ between each player, because they're all valid in their own way and the game never makes you feel like you screwed up - but all the while provides a good level of challenge.

I came to Resi 4 as an action fan and I was not disappointed. It had the right (minimal) amount of horror and made me appreciate why people love the genre. If you feel like variety is the spice of life and want a game that treats your swaying attention span well, give it a try, I think you'll like it as a masterclass in highly authored, linear game design. It may not have any standout areas, but few can deny it isn't a competent game in virtually all other aspects.

Re: 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: July 10th, 2018, 12:40 am
by Todinho
My feelings on this game are complicated to say the least, for awhile RE4 was for me the "best game I ever hated", not because I disliked playing it, on the contrary I largely agree with the broader consensus that RE4 is one of the most important games of all time, the reason I hated the game was because of what it did to Resident Evil and survival horror in general, because Resident Evil 4 killed not only Resident Evil but the entire survival horror genre as we knew it.

While its true that the Resi games had progressivelly gotten more actiony from the first game foward their systems and design were still rooted in the first game, with the focus being careful resource management and exploration, the games had combat in them but the player was disincentivized to take part in it with ammo being scarce. Resident Evil 4 takes that formula and completely turns it on its head, the combat became the focus with it being not only alot more involved but with the game incentivizing you to do it by having enemies dropping loot, meanwhile Resource management and exploration, that were the core of previous games, are pratically tossed overboard with the game being extremelly linear. with you being able to buy ammo and with the game adapting to how you play to giving you bullets whenever you need it.

This complete shift in values was not just restricted to the game design but also the story, characters and atmosphere, previous games even if sometimes ending up unintentionally hilarious tried to be tense and scary, while Re4 still mantains a creepy atmosphere in its beginning moments as you enter the village that quickly dissipates as the over the top action-comedy tone takes over, once again previous games had over the top momments(Code Veronica in particular) but nothing compared to what we see here from giant robot statues, to Leon suplexing enemies and every interaction between the protagonist and antagonists being played as a comedy sketch. Nowhere is this more evident then in the main character, the Leon of RE4 is a detachted action hero trained by the secret service having more in common with Solid Snake then with the rookie cop from RE2, he might as well have been a new character.

With all this said its easy to see how someone like me who was a big fan of the series initially hated the game, my problems however extended beyond just the shift though, first off: Quick time events in my Resident Evil? That was one of the aspects that really took me aback, I really disliked it then and I dislike it even more today its annoying, intrusive and has not place in a Resident Evil game. I also hated the fact that half the game is a escort mission, now alot people dont mind that and find it to be one of the best escort missions in video games, Im not one of those people, having to escort Ashely is what keeps me from replaying the game everytime I think about it, she is extremelly fragile and having her constantly being kidnapped by enemies in the middle of combat making you completelly shift your priorities was never fun or interesting it was just annoying much like her personality, having her hide in the trash where she belongs is a small comfort when you have to spend hours babysitting her. Lastlly the entire Island section is problem for me because of the enemies, I still remember pausing the game and facepalming after the ganado with the minigun appeared and just wondering if I wanted to keep going, its also interesting to note that this is the first time where the Resident evil GAMES begin to be influenced by the Resident Evil MOVIES with the reference to the laser corridor scene.

After writing all of that it must seem I just hate the game but I still quite like it, the combat is indeed great and the over the shoulder camera was a genius move that set the foundation for all modern third person shooters, while I talked about the tone in a negative light previously I do like the comedy in the game despite being a departure from previous entries, especially because it gave us great lines such as: "Saddler you're small time!" and despite that the game does have some pretty tense momments here and there such as the Verdugo fight, the first encounter with the regenerator and the encounter with the invisible insects. My favorite aspect of the game however is the loot/economy system I just really liked buying new guns,upgrading them and of course completing and selling treasures also who doesnt love the RE4 merchant?

Reaching a conclusion on this game is still hard after all these years, as a game in its own right it is a masterpiece that changed gaming forever, as a Resident Evil game however it is an utter betrayal of the series and its genre one that had dire consequences as publishers would either try and chase the RE4 formula or give up on horror games in general essentially killing the genre for 10 years, for resident evil itself the series would suffer a massive decline in quality with subsequent games taking the worst aspects of RE4 and making them worse while failing to capitalize on its qualities culminating in RE6 a game that so removed from its roots that its nearly unrecognizable as an Resident Evil game, it was only with the release of Resident Evil 7 last year that the series finnaly reclaimed its identity as a survival horror series, returning to the core principles that made the series good in the first place.

Re: Our next Resident Evil podcast recording (8.9.18) - 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: August 1st, 2018, 6:45 pm
by aidopotato
The numbered Resident Evil titles seems to have settled into a repeating pattern of Revolution / Evolution / Stagnation; so with RE3: Nemesis having taken the fixed-camera template of yore to its limits, it was time for Capcom to reinvent.
Like seeing Donkey Kong Country for the first time, I couldn't believe that this game was running on this hardware. Some people rightly point out that this is where the series stopped being focused on survival horror, and embraced all-out-action, but I would argue that many of the environments, audio and setpieces ooze atmosphere and menace, and what was lost in terms of horror game tropes was more than made back with an embarrassment of new action ones.
Elements of the game haven't aged well, (quicktime events, escort system) but in terms of fun, technical ambition and lasting impression on the gaming landscape, RE4 is up there with the very best.

Re: Our next Resident Evil podcast recording (8.9.18) - 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: August 1st, 2018, 7:35 pm
by ratsoalbion
aidopotato wrote:
August 1st, 2018, 6:45 pm
so with RE3: Nemesis having taken the fixed-camera template of yore to its limits, it was time for Capcom to...
...release CODE: Veronica, Resident Evil 2002 and Resident Evil 0 before coming out with RE4 half a decade later...

Re: Our next Resident Evil podcast recording (8.9.18) - 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: August 1st, 2018, 8:06 pm
by Alex79uk
Came to this thread to post my thoughts. Found several posts I have literally no recollection of ever making...


Re: Our next Resident Evil podcast recording (8.9.18) - 336: Resident Evil 4 (Biohazard 4)

Posted: August 2nd, 2018, 8:57 am
by aidopotato
ratsoalbion wrote:
August 1st, 2018, 7:35 pm
aidopotato wrote:
August 1st, 2018, 6:45 pm
so with RE3: Nemesis having taken the fixed-camera template of yore to its limits, it was time for Capcom to...
...release CODE: Veronica, Resident Evil 2002 and Resident Evil 0 before coming out with RE4 half a decade later...
The Numbered entries in the series, by which I meant not spin-offs, remakes or prequels. And yes, I know 0 is also a number but whatever.