Life is too short to waste playing this Japanese garbage
Resident Evil 4 finally comes to the Xbox 360, after starting life on that peculiar little console the Gamecube. I've often heard it called one of the greatest games of all time, by various members of the gaming press and others. This is extremely high praise. Well, never got to play it, seeing as how I never owned a gamecube, though my college roommate did. Watched him play it a couple times before returning it. Guess he didn't enjoy the game much. Now that I've played the game, I completely understand why.
This game is horribly made. The controls make absolutely no sense whatsoever. I was using the Type II control scheme, which they refer to as the "TPS" control scheme. I'm not sure what sorta TPS they were playing, but they weren't any I've ever played. First of all, let's just get this out of the way... why can't you move while aiming your gun? As soon as you pull out the pistol, you're instantly rooted in place. There is no escape, as you can only aim your laser sighted gun. Now if you were surrounded by a bunch of hostile individuals who were all armed with melee weapons like axes and pitchforks, would you really want to not move while shooting at them? I'd have to go with "No, fuck no." There is no way in hell I'd just stand there like a statue while they advanced. I'd probably be firing while backpeddling like a madman. Yet this is completely impossible for Leon Kennedy. This sort of loss of freedom is completely at odds with good gameplay and really just led to a lot of frustration and irritation. I don't know what they were thinking but it is completely unacceptable for a third person shooter. In real life, people are quite capable of aiming and moving at the same time. They can even fire while moving at the same time. Sure, moving reduces your accuracy, but it's still useful in situations. I'd imagine fighting hordes of zombies is one of those situations. The inability of aiming and moving is a crippling blow to the game as a whole and drags the entire experience down. This is probably why the Japanese game industry is in such dire straits right now, because of inexplicable and baffling design choices like this one. Who would ever think that in a shooter, you wouldn't be able to shoot and move at the same time? Who? Tell me who would actually think that's a good and sensible idea?
Secondly, the movement controls are terrible even when you do put your gun away so you can move. There is absolutely no way to strafe at all in this game. Strafing does not exist, even though you're often maneuvering through small rooms where you'd want to strafe around corners. Can't do it, because the left analog stick both controls your movement forward and backwards as well as your turning. See, this is just not the way things should be. The left analog stick should move your character, while the right analog stick controls turning left and right, as well as looking up and down. The right analog stick actually only functions as a sort of camera pan which lets you see what's to the left or right of your head, but without actually enabling you to turn in that direction with your body. This leads to a ridiculously frustrating control scheme where I constantly struggled to turn with the right stick, only to remember that the left stick was the one to use. Of course, I also felt incredibly awkward and clumsy, seeing as how you can only turn and not strafe around corners.
The right stick seems to have been wholly neglected in fact, as it does absolutely nothing when you're aiming your gun either. You'd think it'd make sense to aim with the right stick, since that's how you aim in every other FPS or TPS ever made. But no, apparently Resident Evil 4 HD decided to be special and unique and completely fuck you over by forcing you to aim with the left stick, which feels incredibly awkward. I have no idea what they were thinking when they implemented this control scheme.
The dialogue is atrocious as well, as you talk to your contact Hunnigan who helpfully informs you that you're going after an "Ashley Graham." She's the President's daughter, you see. But... why would Leon need Hunnigan to tell him that Ashley Graham is the President's daughter? Shouldn't this be widespread knowledge? Would you ever need to tell someone that Chelsea Clinton is actually... the President's daughter? No, because everybody already knows who the fuck Chelsea Clinton is. Gee whiz, the President's last name is Graham, and her last name is Graham, I wonder what's so important about her. Leon must be a goddamn idiot.
And really... I know it's a video game, but why would they only send one agent after someone as important as the President's daughter? Wouldn't this call for a massive manhunt by the Secret Service? Leon Kennedy doesn't even seem to be a member of the Secret Service. For those who don't know, the Secret Service is tasked with just about two responsibilities: protecting important government officials, and tracking down counterfeit money. I'm pretty sure they'd devote more then just a single guy with silly long hair to finding and retrieving the daughter of the President.
Graphically, the game looks exactly like what it is, which is a Gamecube game upscaled to HD resolution. All of the texture assets remain low rez and pixelated, because why do additional work? Capcom probably just wanted to shove this out for a quick buck or two. Well, they succeeded, since they managed to get my money, those bastards. The text for the menus and subtitles are also hilariously gigantic, and look terrible. But I understand that they did have to be rather large because they were meant to be seen on a blurry SD display. I obviously wish they'd have replaced them with smaller and cleaner text, but it's clear that a bare minimum of effort went into this port.
One issue that they did clear up with this HD version is that the laser sight is much easier to see. While watching my roommate play the Gamecube version, he constantly complained about the difficult-to-see laser dot, which just didn't show up well at a distance on the SD television. With the much clearer HD resolution, the laser dot is much more prominent and I didn't have any trouble seeing it.
Now, for a zombie game, you'd think that headshots would be key to your survival. And they seem to be in this game, though they don't actually do what you'd expect. Zombies should drop with a single headshot, but this game's basic melee zombies will only go down after about three headshots. This makes no sense, but then I realized that these weren't true zombies, but rather "Las Plagas" which are some kind of parasite. So I suppose they used that justification to fudge the rules a bit and force you to expend more rounds into the cranium. Shooting the body will also eventually kill a Las Plagas enemy, even though this tactic would do nothing to a true zombie. It doesn't really feel much like a zombie game because of these changes, but I suppose it's not a big concern to big Resident Evil fans.
Now, one final complaint I have. The game's inventory is selected by pressing the Start button. The game's options menu is selected by pressing the Select button. Whaaaa? Why would the inventory pop up with the Start button? The Start button in video games is always used for bringing up the options menu. This is completely ass backwards, isn't it? The options menu also doesn't even have an option for quitting back out to the Main Menu. There is no going back out, except by bringing up the Dashboard and quitting out of the whole game. I suppose this isn't a big deal, but I did feel strange about the omission.
Resident Evil 4 HD is not a game that anyone should play. I don't really know why the original was so beloved by people, because what I've played has been frustrating and clunky and poorly designed and ultimately hostile to gaming in general. There is no joy to be had in playing a game where you cannot even do something as simple as aiming and moving at the same time, or even just strafing! This is a sham, a trick designed to steal your money, and I warn you to stay away. There are no refunds for games bought over Xbox Live marketplace, and that's truly unfortunate. But what's even worse is that, sadly, I can't get back that chunk of my life I spent playing this awful rubbish.