Play it Again: Resident Evil 4

Easily in my top ten favorite video games list is the much praised Resident Evil 4.  By all accounts, this is a game that I should not like or be interested in at all.  A Horror, FPS game is definitely a far cry from my usual Pokemanz, Phoenix Wright, Professor Layton, and general platforming.

But I love the hell out of this game.  In fact, it’s one of the few games that I regularly play and beat several times (at least five on my last count).  I always get the hunger to play this game every time Autumn rolls around.  I just want to curl up in a blanket and play it until the cows come home.

The first time I tried out this game was at a friend’s house when I was in high school.  My friend turned off the lights and forced the wiimote and the nunchuck into my hands and had me play the first level.  Holy crap that was scary for me, especially the village scene when you’re fighting all the villagers and mother-freaking Dr. Salvador.  My hand shook as I tried desperately to hit my raging opponents.

It wasn’t until college that I truly got to play this game.  My roommate let me play it with his Gamecube.  It was hard at first for me to get into it but once I did I was hooked.  I had to play it and I had to beat it.

One of the things I like about RE4 is the low-reliance of jump scares, something that I’m terrified of both in horror movies and in real life (via thunderstorms or worse, balloons).  RE4 was nonetheless scary for me as its great atmosphere is perfect for spooking you.  Though I never played any of the other Resident Evil games (save 1 briefly but I didn’t like it), I’ve come to learn over the years that RE4 changed the RE format for better or for worse.  The camera over the shoulder was a great change (main reason why I couldn’t play the first one) but the shift towards a more action format was another.  Anyways, this action-oriented format I know many people complained about as it made the games less scary but I respectively disagree.  For a person who never played horror games before, RE4 can still be scary as you panicky waste your bullets and try desperately to survive despite your stupidity.

Here are some of the key scenes that scared the crap out of me for my first play through:

-The first time you arrive at the village (especially Dr. Salvador AKA the Chainsaw Guy)

-The first time a parasite explodes through a person’s head

-El Gigante

-Those fucking dogs both at the Church but especially in the Maze

-The cabin scene when the villagers surround you and Luis a la Night of the Living Dead style

-The Garrador (the blind guys with Wolverine-like claws)

-The Invisible Novistadors (this was especially scary as you panic from all the different sounds in the cramp underground sewers)

-Salazar’s Right Hand Man (ah man screw this guy!)

-It (especially in that weird compartment area)

-Oven man (one of the rare but very well executed jump scares)

It’s hard to rank all these scary moments but there are definitely two moments that easily top the list.  The second scariest thing in RE4 is when you’re playing as Ashley and you’re trying to get back to Leon.  Holy fuck.  That Ashley scene is what a lot of modern horror games do for their entire game.  You have no ability to take down these guys, you’re only hope is to run away and try to live.  That scene is especially bad thanks to the low lighting and the great use of sound effects.  I should mention that this scene works well as you play as kick ass Leon throughout the entire game and suddenly you’re playing as Ashley.  The degree of helplessness is incredibly high here.

First place though has to be the Regenerators.  Fuck.  These.  Guys.  They are scary as hell.  I still get creeped out by them.  Every time I see one I get the chills running down my spine.  The way they walk, the way they just won’t die, but especially the way they sound.  It’s especially bad when you’re running in the freezer-area trying to find that special sniper scope.  Ah Jesus I get worked up just thinking about them.

So why do I keep playing it?

I think the best answer to this question can be summed up with one character.

The Merchant.

God, I love the hell out of this guy, what’s his story????  Why does he have so many guns???  How is he able to teleport so quickly and survive all the infected villagers???  His funny but slightly cynical nature is so great that you can not love him.  I always look forward to seeing him.  He is my savior, he is my backup and he’s one of the few characters who won’t kill you so that’s nice.

You might think I’m joking, and I kind of am, but the Merchant is part of an overall world that is built just right.  I like going into the world of RE4 and trying to find all the easter eggs, the hidden treasures, and the precious ammo.  The game works quite well as you didn’t have to play any of the previous games.  True, you might have the bonus of getting all the references and understanding the minor character’s motivations but that’s more of an afterthought.

The second thing that pulls me back in is that its perfect difficulty level.  I still die every time I play it despite the number of times I beat the game.  Professional Mode, however, really straightened me up and made me into a hardcore player.  I would rely on the headshots and knife stabs so much that when I went back and played Normal mode again, I would be overflowing with ammo and health packs.  Even so, the game can still be difficult for me and that’s why it’s still fun for me.

I may no longer be as scared of the game as I once was, but I can still enjoy its gameplay and its story.  Long shot this may be but if I ever get a magic lamp, I would wish to forget all my memories of RE4 so I could have the pleasure of playing it all over again.  It’s that good.

—–

On a side note…Mary pointed this out to me one time but the guy who says “Resident Evil 4” on the title screen sounds just like Muscle Man from Regular Show.  Yeah, doesn’t it??  I crack a smile every time I hear it now.  I can imagine Muscle Man going up to Mordecai and Rigby and saying

“Yo dudes!  Check out this sweeeet game here!  It’s like the best game ever!”

“Oh yeah?  What’s it called?”

“It’s called,” dramatic close up of Muscle Man’s face in shadow, “Resident…Evil…FOOOOOUR!”

And then they get sucked into the game and have to win it in order to escape it…because that’s Regular Show.

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