By infantpipoc 2 Comments
Reviewing RESIDENT EVIL 4 (2023) SEPARATE WAYS expansion
(6 hours to beat according to “kill screen” on Steam Deck)
When Resident Evil 4 remake came out in March, 2023, it was rather refreshing to see an expensive looking polygonal extravaganza sold at the “low, low” price of 60 us dollars. Turns out Capcom is more than ready to raise the price to 70 with the remake of Ada Wong campaign called Separate Ways sold as add-on expansion with a 10 us dollars price tag.
Since I had never touched the Gamecube version of 2005’s Resident Evil 4, all the versions of RE4 I have played came with Separate Ways, whether it’s a borrowed a PS2 copy on a borrowed PS2 console, the HD Remaster on Xbox 360 or the Switch port. Yet, I never played through this Ada Wong campaign added as bonus for the game’s PS2 port. I was a couple of chapters into the Xbox 360 port, but gave up after getting too trigger happy with the submachinegun and went out of bullets.
Turns out paying extra is sometimes incentive enough for one to beat an additional campaign. Separate Ways expansion for Resident Evil 4 remake is a neat coda for an excellent game. While I found it hard to getting back into playing 2005’s RE4, the six months between the remake and its expansion did not demolish my muscle memory of the more modern control.
Putting some camp back
In Separate Ways one plays Ada Wong. While Leon S Kennedy was busy with resecuring Ashley Graham, Ms. Wong was there to acquire a piece of ancient bioweapon on behave of Albert Wesker. Mercenary as Wong was, Wesker’s sinister plot might prove to be a bridge too far even for her cynical heart.
It would be fair to say that 2023‘s Separate Ways expansion can be marketed as delete scene added back. Capcom put the laser defend grind in the trailer, though no random button combination here, right face button aka the game’s contextual dodge is all one needs in those. Throughout the expansion’s first 5 of all 7 chapters, Wong would be chased and haunted by one hard-to-kill xenomorph look like. The final form of the nasty thing resembles a boss fight cut out of remake from the 2005 game. Still no boulder, lava room and “giant robot” here though, unless you count villagers and village chief as human form of those during a mandate chase set piece.
While the main campaign of this remake began with Leon brooding, the opening cut scene of Separate Ways set the tone towards the tongue-in-cheek direction. Of course, cut scenes are recycled here and the final boss fight in the expansion can be seen as the off-screen first phase of main campaign’s final boss. Though the developers twitched things around those enough to make them feel like rewards for those beat the longer main campaign rather than signs of laziness.
What goes around, comes around
2009’s interactive Die Hard “rip-off” with Batman subtitled Arkham Asylum did wear its Resident Evil 4 (2005) inspiration on its sleeves. So maybe it’s only fair that now things came full circle with one piece of RE4 remake took cue from it. Well, it’s not like 2019’s Resident Evil 2 remake have not taken the radio frequency matching puzzle already.
Grapple hook is what mainly separate Ada Wong from Leon Kennedy, since arsenal and skill set between the 2 are rather identical. The grapple points here are shown on an augmented reality lens Wong wore (called “I.R.I.S” fittingly enough), which is like Arkham games’ handling of grappling. Though Wong cannot pick monster off one by one from higher points. Grapple hooks does have a role in combat though, the textual melee can be used on staggered enemies from a distance thanks to it.
I.R.I.S cannot be triggered manually like Arkham games’ detective view, which can be incontinent for yours truly after Fires of Rubicon. I was used to scanning for enemies in the sixth numbered Armored Core game, not as responsive as it was in that game.
Instead, the AR lens can only be triggered in selected puzzle areas, mainly following finger prints and foot prints for puzzle solutions. And I should focus on “selected” since searching areas for files containing puzzle solutions is well and alive here as well. To tell which is which can be troubling as times. I.R.I.S only activates after a long enough stare. So, one late game puzzle involves key pad lock. I would only gaze at the pad, step back and start to look for note containing the passwords. But the puzzle only requires one looks at the pad long enough for AR scan kicking and enter the passwords according to the finger prints on the keys.
Perhaps there are something outside of this tricky thing we call “gameplay” reminds me of Batman Arkham Asylum as well. Albert Wesker appeared twice in the cut scenes sharing physical space with Ada Wong. Turns out his “bat cave” is not located somewhere far from Spain but rather in a yacht he charted and parked nearby. Just as the “kill screen” appeared after end credits, Wesker’s laughter can be heard and a stinger starts to threat the world with a Resident Evil 5 remake. Turns out Capcom thought the plot summary of RE5 on Wesker’s “bat computer” by the end of main campaign is not enough. Oh well, what’s a zombie if it does not keep hopping, I suppose.
An open castle area in the expansion does not run too well on the Deck, it looks fuzzy and runs funny. Other that that, the Deck is still good for this game.
In many ways Separate Ways is what Resident Evil 3, both the 1999 original and the 2020 remake, should have been. Numbered installments in a series always bring in high exception, while add-on expansions can do so much more with so much less. Expansions cost dev less, cost consumers less and tighter connection to beloved numbered installments make them much more appealing. I guess with Mercenary Mode of 2023’s RE4 being, well, mercenary in that cynical sense, they felt more pressure to make Separate Ways a grace winning practice. And I for one is pretty happy with how things turned out.