Arguably one of the highest-grossing horror franchises of all time, Resident Evil entered the world with its simple enough plot but with some interesting . . . additives. The first game was originally released in 1996 for PlayStation, giving a new outlook on the survival horror genre. Many proclaim the first to be the best in the series, the OG if you will, and they would be in their right to say so.

The awkward and fixed camera angles made navigating through the halls of buildings and trying to maneuver around the undead utterly torturous, to say the least. Although, I suppose that was their intention. The claustrophobic atmosphere coupled with palpable tension made for an unforgettable first experience.

However, watching my older sister play that game on the Wii and the subsequent ones that came after solidified my love for the fourth installment. Released in 2005, Resident Evil 4 rocked me to my very core. And yet, there wasn’t one specific element that makes it stand out considerably from the others in the series. But, one thing I will always adore about that game (and what keeps me coming back to play it over and over again) is the third-person perspective the game adopts.

Plot Overview

Resident Evil

Six years after the horrific viral outbreak at Raccoon City, Leon S. Kennedy is recruited to rescue the President’s daughter; Ashley Graham, who was kidnapped by what appeared to be some type of religious cult. Their goal was to infect her with a virus and release her back to her father, counting on his prestige and infamy to fuel the infection passed on from his unsuspecting daughter. Aided by Hunnigan, your support on this mission, Leon sets off through a dilapidated village infested with hostile locals and terrifying creatures.

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From the opening cut scene, we notice immediately the way it’s filmed – like a movie. Resting nonchalantly in the backseat of a vehicle with two police detectives in the driver and passenger seats, we get the feeling Leon is uninterested in this mission but not in an obnoxious way. No longer the naive rookie from the previous games, he has matured into an experienced fighter who can keep his cool under pressure.

As the game progresses, Leon and Ashley – once he finally rescues her from the church – pass through a castle where he encounters numerous bosses and flying insects. When Ashley is taken by the antagonists again, he follows them to an industrial island where he finally battles the evil Saddler, doesn’t get the girl he actually wants, but eventually saves the day.

Mission accomplished.

Camera Movement

When the gameplay officially starts, there are no theatrics with the viewpoints we are given. The developers cleverly reduced the camera work to remain directly behind Leon with him slightly off center and towards the left. Due to the placement, we are able to see everything Leon does as well as reduce the number of surprises we’ll surely encounter.

The water room, arguably one of the hardest sections in this game, has a copious amount of enemies that spawn from all directions. To add more fuel to the fire, you have to protect Ashley or prevent her from being captured again. Super frustrating but worth it once you finally beat it. Utilizing the camera in this section is essential for keeping track of where the enemies are so you’re not cornered.

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Also, depending on the circumstance, Leon can perform special moves to conserve ammunition. For example, if he is being approached by a “ganado”, he can shoot them in the face once, briefly incapacitating them. Then, Leon can step forward and perform a roundhouse kick or suplex, depending on which part of the game you’re in.

Including this is a great way to showcase Leon’s skills as well as diversify the gameplay as more than just a shoot-em-up game. Experts who have played this game repeatedly take advantage of these easily missed opportunities. Bullets always run out much faster than we think.

In my opinion…

Limiting the viewpoint of the gamer to everything that is solely in front of us doesn’t allow us to really connect with the protagonist. When Leon is hit in the face with an axe or steps in a bear trap, we really feel for him when he holds his side and moves with an obvious limp. We hate to see him hurt and it makes us anxious because he’s not as quick or capable in that state.

Other game developers would simply make the edges of the screen go red when they’re hurt, which is still nerve-wracking, but not to the same degree. This may just be a personal standpoint, but I also really enjoy watching Leon reload his weapons. It’s an unnecessary detail and time-consuming on occasion but still entertaining to watch knowing they went the extra mile to include it when they really didn’t need to.

Animation

Resident Evil 4 definitely doesn’t look like something that came out almost 20 years ago. Capcom really went the extra mile by utilizing motion-capture work to elevate the fluidity of the character’s movements. To my knowledge and numerous playthroughs, there were no glitchy movements or anything that looked too untoward.

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Sure, the mouth movements were a little awkward but they still managed to capture some really good facial expressions instead of having to rely solely on voice acting to express how the characters were feeling. Emotions like confusion, exasperation, anger, relief, and humor were communicated excellently through the stellar use of animation and exceptional talent from the voice actors.

Overall, Resident Evil 4 is a great experience and will always be considered a masterpiece in my eyes. Investing characters – except Ashley, but that’s beside the point – and a plausible enough storyline make for a good time. The game isn’t trying to be anything more than it actually is, even going so far as to poke fun at how silly it can appear at times.

It succeeded in every way and will definitely remain one of my favorite games of all time. Hopefully, the remake being released on March 24 can keep that same energy while preserving what made the game so special to so many people.

Jessica

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