Why don't I like Resident Evil 4?

OK, so I’m playing this game for the first time (PS2 version). My wife and I love survival horror games, especially the Fatal Frame series (still haven’t played 3, but it’s sitting on the shelf!). I’m in chapter 2-2 now (*SPOILER: found the President’s daughter and I’m trying to rescue her. Just got past the house defence scene).

But neither of us is really drawn in. The game still feels sluggish to me on controls, despite everyone raving about them. The pacing seems off. Nothing in the story so far has me particularly intrigued. It’s not spooky, except for the ambient noises, which are pretty cool.

Should I play further? Does it pick up AFTER the first 5 hours?

Robert, if the pleasure of shooting people in the kneecaps and having them spin over and fall down isn’t enough for you, this might not be the game for you. There are some pretty cool scenes coming up, but if the first five hours didn’t grab you, I’m not sure what to say. I think you might need to accept that there might be some damage to the part of your brain that in normal humans produces feelings of pleasure and contentment when presented with endless opportunities to shoot zombies in the face.

Maybe you just need to man up and get Fatal Frame 3 down from the shelf, turn all the lights out in the house, and forget about sleeping peacefully for a few weeks? Seriously, given how wonderful FF3 is, I’m not sure why you’re wasting time with RE4 (which is a lovely game, I think, but not really horrifying in any way).

Bob#, whatever’s wrong with you is wrong with me too. I tried to get into RE4 on three different occasions (and two platforms) and just never got hooked.

We love the series so much that we’ve delayed playing it because it’s the last one. We know it will be great. RE is considered survival horror, but I guess I just prefer the more suspense-type horror of FF to the shock-style of RE. Blowing people’s heads off is pretty fun though, I must admit.

I wasn’t crazy about RE4 either. I got sick of protecting the daughter (re: telling her to hop in and out of dumpsters) and just kinda drifted away in the castle.

Because it sucks.

You may be right, Bob, but this game is almost universally lauded. Reviews give it 9.5 out of 10 at the very least it seems. I thought this was one of those can’t miss games, like SS2 or something (and yes, I realize some people don’t like System Shock 2, but percentage-wise, it’s pretty good)

I didn’t understand why it got such great reviews either. I didn’t like the controls or the story much either. One of my roommates who was sort of a stranger to me, only a roommate for about 3 months (found him through Craigslist) looked like he wanted to hit me when he found out I didn’t like RE4. He kept insisting it was the best shooter ever made.

There’s a fourth Fatal Frame (Mask of the Lunar Eclipse) coming out for the Wii. While it has only been announced for Japan and Europe, I still hope it might see a release in the US.

I know what you mean, though, as games like Fatal Frame are pretty rare. Have you tried the Siren remake on the PS3?

I can only assume it was a selection bias. You know how everyone knows some moron who saw Norbit? Review sites probably keep someone around who likes scarce ammo, poor controls, QTEs, and gimmicky boss fights, and toss him games like this.

Resident Evil 4 isn’t a survival horror game. Capcom may say it is, but it isn’t.

Think of it as an action horror game and go from there.

Oh please. Complaining about “scarce ammo” or “poor controls” in RE4? You just don’t get it, then. That’s not the game’s fault.

RE4 is an excellent rendition of all the game mechanics actually suggested by early zombie movies such as Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. It is the way it is because it needs to be like that in order to instill the fear/panic that it does. It’s by no means unwieldy, but the player can’t treat it like a FPS and expect to understand it.

As for the story, yes, it’s hardly the best writing seen in games. I think the point is to enjoy its narcissistic campness, but I can see how this may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

See, I could never get into it because (absent perhaps the Wii version…I don’t have a Wii) I could never get any sort of decent aim together in any version I tried. It’s a game where locational damage is a huge factor and conserving ammunition is very important, and I can’t shoot straight in it. So I get into the village (yes, the first scene of the game) and die horribly. I’d so hoped that the PC version would fix that, but they neglected to have mouse support and the aiming is actually worse than on PS2 using either available control scheme (controller / keyboard).

It’s a pity, because it sure looks like I’d enjoy it if I could play it.

yeah I had a hard time with the controls as well, mostly because I can’t aim with the left stick. Not being able to move is fine, but please let me use the stick that every other game uses for aiming.

You’re playing the wrong version- the PS2 controller is a very poor match for the control scheme. The Cube controller is a bit better but it’s really on the Wii where the game really shines.

I wouldn’t necessarily give up though- the game is relatively long (you’re maybe a quarter of the way if that) and I think it really gets better as it goes along.

The story clearly is shit, but the action is really meaty. It’s not a creeping horror kind of game, but I found much of it very tense. Mechanically it’s been surpassed by Gears of War, but personally I think it holds up.

If you’re not feeling it after 5 hours, it might not be your thing.

The Wii version is the best.

One of my favorite games.

I don’t think you can say that Gears of War “surpassed” RE4 mechanically. The base mechanic may be similar, but the resulting dynamics are quite different.

But yeah, the Wii version is a lot easier to use. As for left-stick-aiming, one simply has to get used to it, or pass on the otherwise excellent game.

The first time I played RE4 on the PS2, I quit after 2 hours and didn’t touch it again for months. What it took to get me back into it was seeing someone play who was really good at it, and dominated the mechanics of the game to get amazing results. Much like with Godhand, I needed to see some of the potential in the controls in order to put in the time to get there.

Take that first village situation: there are at least three possible places you can hole up during that engagement. They have different risk/reward ratios, and one even introduces a fairly challenging higher level enemy. Once you know how to play effectively (shooting conservatively, moving, and employing context sensitive attacks in order to control crowds), it turns into calculated mayhem rife with possibilities.

As for the plot, I think it’s exactly the sort of thing that completely eluded No More Heroes. That is, satire with depth that also works as a parallel B movie story on its own. Leon calmly pshes his way through some of the most absurd scenarios imaginable, armed primarily with the ability to fight effectively without the crutch of a circle strafe.

There are ups and downs in the design, from moments of brilliance like the “two paths” you have coming up to the lows of the Alien boss. But I can’t think of another game that I purchased for two different systems and played multiple times on both, and I felt rewarded by the experience every time. Then again, my wife actively encouraged me to play because she enjoyed watching it, so perhaps the chemistry has to occur across the board.

I’d also say the game has a tendency to inspire angry initial first impressions by people who came into it expecting something more universally accessible and simultaneously create exceptionally rabid me-too ism in its fans. It’s definitely got very little in common with Fatal Frame or Silent Hill, which for me is its greatest strength. I like that style of games as well, up to a point, but for a game to really pull me in I need a solid, well balanced action element that pays off in the long run.

Also, the merchant alone is a superior character and mechanic to anything in any game BJB has ever liked. Ever.

Anyway, we all have those moments with 10/10!!! games. Maybe it’d be best to come back to it during a gaming drought versus a time period like this one. I know I will.

Seconded, and bear in mind that it’s not really a survival-horror game, but more of a tactical shooter oriented around crowd control. The rules go like this:

Shooting people in the head will cause them to stop and stagger, and you will deal a lot more damage. However, subsequent shots beyond the first will likely miss. Shooting zombies in the arms causes them to drop their weapons, and they will most likely charge after coming out of their stagger animation. Shooting them in their legs will deal a small amount of damage, but cause them to drop to their knees, with a long stagger animation.

You can roundhouse kick enemies during the head shot stagger animation, dealing damage in a fairly wide angle in front of you. This will knock enemies off their feet, allowing you to reposition yourself. You can do a suplex during the knee shot stagger, which causes massive damage to a single target (and potentially to enemies behind you), but it disorientates you massively because of the camera shift and long recovery animation.

The point is that you’ll mostly be facing more than one opponent, and you’ll have to prioritize which one is going to be able to deal you damage first (sort of like in light gun games) and how you can cause “splash damage” to all of them. If one is carrying a throwable weapon, that enemy is immediately the biggest threat, unless the enemy is quite distant. Some enemy types are more prone to charging, so you should keep them in check. The list goes on.

When you’ve made your decision as to which enemy is more of a threat, you pop a shot. You decide where to shoot the enemy dependent on what outcome you want. You want to deal damage to a group of enemies standing close to each other, you shoot the middle zombie in the knees and perform a roundhouse. If you’ve got a single enemy left and you want to conserve ammo, pop him one in the knees and suplex your victim.

Of course, as the enemy types becomes more varied, you have to vary your tactics accordingly. When you get enemies with sprouting parasites, you should stay the fuck away and try to figure out a way to insta-kill them. There is a way, and I could tell you every single trick in the book, but what would be the fun in that? Experiment!

The best thing would have been to make a 50/50 mix of this game and God Hand. Especially with the roulette wheel attacks.