Capcom – Resident Evil 4 review

two-year-old game becomes top Wii title
Photo of Capcom – Resident Evil 4

There are logical reasons why you’d choose to wait for a PC version of a classic console game. In the case of Resident Evil 4 – a superb entry into the franchise and arguably one of the finest console games of the last few years – there’s the chance to embrace a more natural PC control system, along with better graphics, faster loading and all the luxuries you’d expect from a PC version.

Resident Evil 4 on the PC, however, is one of the most downright disgraceful ports of a console game we’ve ever seen. Aside from ensuring that the code runs on a PC, it’s as if the developers have made not one iota of effort on the conversion, and even a relatively low cost price tag can’t hide the shamefulness of this effort.

You know you’re in trouble fairly early on. The menus are clunky, the controls are a pig to set up and quitting out was something we could only achieve via the magical Ctrl-Alt-Del combination. But when you hit the game proper, it simply gets worse.

For starters, there’s no way you can use a mouse as part of the control system. The option’s just not there. Instead, you can calibrate a gamepad or the keyboard. However, all references to the array of buttons you need to control the game, both within it and in the gamer’s manual, are assuming you’re playing with a PlayStation pad. Ignore the fact that there are at least 104 buttons in front of most PC gamers; instead you’re told to press button 3, with no clue as to what button 3 actually is. It beggars belief.

But there’s more. The graphics, somehow, appear worse than the aged GameCube edition and many of the graphical effects have been compromised. Forget the quality options onboard your modern day PC gaming graphics card, because there’s simply no use for them here. It has a real effect on the mood of the game too, and not for the better.

So little effort, so little thought and so little common courtesy has gone into this, and it’s even more surprising giving the amount of time it’s taken to get to the PC. We’re genuinely, genuinely shocked.

The actual game itself? It’s outstanding, just not in its PC guise. Go for either the GameCube or PS2 version, and try to convince yourself that the PC edition doesn’t exist. Because it seems that’s just what the developers did.Considering the dog’s dinner that was made of the PC conversion of Resident Evil 4 earlier in 2007, that the Nintendo Wii version has been adorned with so much care and attention is a welcome, unexpected surprise. And it’s a surprise with real rewards too: as a result of that extra work, Resident Evil 4 becomes – in one swoop – the best game on the machine to date.

Actually, to be fair, that’s not a total surprise. The original Game Cube version of Resident Evil 4 is rightly ranked as the best in the survival horror franchise to date, and a strong contender for one of the best games of the last five years. But there’s no getting away from the fact that it originally appeared in 2005!

The game itself, for this latest version, remains all but the same. You’re still Leon S Kennedy, you still have to rescue the daughter of the President, and there are still hordes of creepy, more sinister than ever, zombie-like creatures standing in your way. On top of that there’s a properly-constructed story and at times a ferociously hard game to navigate.

Yet thanks to its clever construct, its ability to ratchet up tension and really keep you on your toes, and devices such as the limitation of ammunition, you’re really kept alert and tested at almost all times.

But, as you may rightly point out, that could all apply to the existing Playstation 2 and GameCube versions. So where does the Wii version differ?

Where do you think?

Where many games thus far have treated the Wiimote and Nunchuk control system as a novelty, Resident Evil 4 has here been adapted to make them integral, and in return, they arm the game with a natural way to control the action. So the movement is now assigned to the Nunchuk, while aiming is given over to the Wiimote.

It’s a tremendously intuitive system that the game adapts to very well, and the biggest compliment you can pay it is that even if you’ve played Resident Evil 4 on another system, it’s worth at least having a go at the Wii version to experience how well it all meshes together. No console has bestowed such a workable control system on the game before.

The game itself, aside from the controls, hasn’t enjoyed any enhancement as such, and so if you are one of those who has played it on a different console in the two years since it appeared, it’s hardly going to build a particularly compelling case for an entirely fresh purchase.

But if you haven’t, and you want to disprove the pigeon-holing that has seen the Wii being considered purely as a family-oriented console, it’s an absolute treat of a game. Ironic, though, that the game that leads the Wii pack is already a couple of years old.

Company: Capcom

If there's a worse console-to-PC port in existence, we'd be very surprised. A once great game in very poor clothes.