Posted on December 31, 2012
My Top 100: #40 – Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
I’m not sure if I’ve actually touched on this in prior entries, but I can’t stand the zombie genre. I’ve always found movies and TV shows to be cliché, and video games are lumped into that category as well. I hear The Walking Dead is not so much about zombies, as it is about the relationships of the people on the run from them, which I suppose would be interesting… but the idea of a slow-moving living dead thing is not particularly interesting to me.
Resident Evil was a series my friend Abba would rant and rave about. It was the PlayStation’s killer app, or so I kept hearing… but zombies? No thanks.
Now, Doom was a game I enjoyed and played a ton, and I’m currently playing through Doom 3: BFG Edition. The argument could be made that that game has nothing but zombies for enemies. Well, maybe, but I consider them hell-spawned freaks, so it’s different. Technically. Right?
Resident Evil 4 was released for GameCube some time in ’05 or so, and my good friend Jordan had nothing but great things to say about it. After giving him my monologue about my hatred for zombies, he insisted I should at least give it a shot. I relented, and was definitely intrigued by what I played.
Something didn’t quite sit right with me, though. It was still slow-moving zombies, and the controls felt sluggish as all hell… I felt that it had some potential and that the environment was genuinely creepy, but I wasn’t going to go out of my way to play through the entire game any time soon.
Whenever games make you do stuff like rotate the control stick a certain way, make precisely timed button presses, or tap any given button as fast as possible to make gameplay suddenly more intense, I feel that it’s a bit of a copout. I sometimes get turned off by games that focus on that sort of thing too much. Right in the midst of a tense moment of action, you’re prompted with a mini-game, and it’s kinda cool and all, but… you’re too busy trying not to screw up to enjoy what’s happening on the screen. It takes you “out of the moment”, if that makes sense. RE4 had a few of those moments early on, and as good as the GameCube controller was, it still felt awkward.
Fast forward a few years, and life had changed quite a bit for both Jordan and I. I was no longer living at home, and he wasn’t even living in the same city as I was. Yet here we were, having the same conversation about Resident Evil 4! This time, it was about the recently released Wii version, which threw motion controls into the mix. Instead of making the controls feel gimmicky, Jordan convinced me that this was how the game was meant to be played… and he was absolutely right.
Strangely enough, waving the Wiimote around like a madman during the events mentioned above feels completely natural. Aiming your weapons is as easy as pointing at what you need to shoot, which is a heck of a lot better than trying to be precise with the control stick.
It was technically the same ol’ zombie mumbo-jumbo with the slow-moving hordes of enemies, but the combat felt so satisfying that it didn’t even matter. If you’re a horrible shot (like Harry) and they get too close, give ’em a roundhouse kick to the face!! You’ll probably take out more than one in the process, and if you’ve gotten their health down far enough, you just might make some heads explode.
I can’t really say much more about it than that. It’s still your typical zombie shooter, but it’s all in the way it’s presented; the creepy locales, the intense soundtrack, the nasty-looking parasites that randomly pop out of headless zombies… it all comes together to make this guy doubt what he’s said all along about the predictability of the genre.