Resident Evil 4 is regarded as a seminal moment in the series, one where the series was reinvented in a radical way. It took Resident Evil out of its survival horror roots and made it more action oriented. Its development cycle reflected this big change. One of the earliest versions was scrapped as later made into Devil May Cry. The second version was the one that was first officially announced, but was soon scrapped. The next version was scrapped as well, though some of its features were carried over into the final product. Leon Kennedy was still the protagonist in all these and was supposed to contract the Progenitor Virus in the second version. The version that was finally released on the GameCube was met with universal acclaim, selling millions across all eventual ports and winning numerous awards.

6 years after Raccoon City is wiped off the map, Leon is sent on a mission to rescue Ashley Graham, the president’s daughter, from a mysterious cult in rural Europe. The cult is revealed to be Los Illuminados, led by Osmund Saddler, who control local villagers through the use of Las Plagas, a parasitic lifeform that is eventually given to both Leon and Ahley. Leon teams up with Luis Sera to fight off the villagers at several points, and who has a secret of his own. Taking refuge in a castle leads Leon and Ashley to encounter Ramon Salazar, Saddler’s right hand man and head of that ‘magnificent architecture’. Salazar recaptures Ashley and sends her to nearby island before being destroyed by Leon. On the island, Leon encounters former comrade Krauser who is in league with Saddler. The ex-RPD officer is able to overcome all these obstacles, save the girl, and escape.

Whereas previous RE games featured the infamous ‘tank’ controls with fixed camera angles, RE4 scrapes that system entirely. The behind-the-back camera that follows Leon around zooms in to over-the-shoulder when entering aiming mode. A laser sight on weapons adds to more strategic shooting, which can lead to shooting out the legs and following up with a satisfying kick to the head. This change in perspective is perhaps the most radical change the game makes to the series. This switches the gameplay to fighting larger groups of enemies with ammo more plentiful then before. This is also because enemies are no longer the slowly shuffling zombies but locals called ‘Ganados’ who can attack in packs, dodge, use weapons and work together. The ‘fourth-dimensional’ item boxes are done away though the game introduces an equally odd element in the merchant who you can buy weapons and items from. He greets you by saying ‘Welcome!’ and opening his coat, which is still not as creepy as G-Virus infected William Birkin from RE2 implanting his own daughter with an embryo so Claire is forced to find a mutant morning after pill. Perhaps one of the more significant additions is the return of Ada Wong, though Leon isn’t as naive to her intentions as he was inRE2.Her look is this game is faithfully reproduced by Li Bingbing in the latest RE film. The PS2 version of the game contained a separate sub-game starring Ada called Seperate Ways, which chronicles her behind-the-scenes actions. The Las Plagas parasites add yet another item to the virus/toxin/etc list of the series that include the T, G, TG, T-Veronica, Progenitor and NE-T Viruses. At least the films kept it simple and just had the T-Virus.

Handgun vs giant tree trunk? Sounds fair

As great as the move to action-oriented gameplay is, it does take away from the series’ survival horror roots. There’s no really sense of the survival aspect where you have little ammo and many more enemies. You basically just blast away at every enemy, but a close range shotgun blast to an enemy’s head is always satisfying. The environments are more open which take away from the tight, closed in areas that created such suspense, particularly in the remake of the original. Finally something must be said about the voice acting. It’s been a given up until RE4 that any game in the series would have subpar voices, but certainly not this one. Though there is still some goofy lines, the quality is miles beyond any other game. Salazar in particular is great in voice and delivery. For the final installment of All Sorts Of Evil, Chris returns yet again in Resident Evil 5.