Thunderbolt logo

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition

Leon Kennedy has a problem. He’s standing at the edge of some godforsaken farming town in the Spanish backwoods, supposedly on a mission to save the President’s daughter. The place is a muddy sprawl of dilapidated houses, maggot-ridden food, and deranged villagers. You wouldn’t think that there was anything wrong with them at first glance, but the blood-rimmed eyes and gore-stained clothes suggest something sinister. The stench of rotting flesh and festering wounds is a dead giveaway. Of course, he’d be blind to miss the bonfire in the center of town, where a corpse is being roasted for God knows what purpose. The thing is how normal everything else seems; comely women are tending to chickens, and men are pushing wheelbarrows of hay around. But there-

“¡UN FORASTERO!”

Leon doesn’t need to know Spanish to know what that guttural scream means. Six or seven villagers have forgotten their chores and are now staggering toward him, armed with pitchforks, knives, scythes, and other tools of the trade. A poorly aimed woodsman’s axe whizzes by, barely missing his unprotected flesh. Now that he can get a closer look at these people, he realizes just how dangerous they are. Every one of these Ganados is glaring at him with dead, sunken eyes. Their skin is sickly pale, spattered with blood and hideous scars. Their clothes are a tattered mess of mud and guts, as if they’ve forgotten the concept of sanitation. Given the state of the village, that wouldn’t be surprising. But there’s no time to ponder over that now; unless Leon does something, his cojones are likely going to be served up in tonight’s paella.

screenshot

“The place is a muddy sprawl of dilapidated houses, maggot-ridden food, and deranged villagers.”He backs away from this crowd and blindly reaches into his inventory case. Since Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition features all of the upgradeable weapons from the previous game, our hero has access to a decent selection of pistols, shotguns, rifles, semiautomatics, and other conventional weaponry. Leon grabs his trusty Red9, unloads a couple of clips into the nearest Ganado’s knees, and delivers a roundhouse kick squarely into his jaw. However, the man doesn’t just stumble back. His head explodes like a smashed cantaloupe, spewing a fountain of putrid gore in every direction. But just when Leon thinks he’s done with his victim, the headless body gets back up and starts attacking him again. The gaping hole in the man’s neck is suddenly plugged and expanded by a sprout of writhing, slimy tentacles. Facing certain death hero tosses an Incendiary Grenade and reduces the villagers to smoldering meat.

And that’s just the first area.

Leon’s journey will take him deep into the Spanish wilderness, where possessed villagers, bloodthirsty mercenaries, and tyrannical madmen are all waiting to rip him to shreds. He’ll have to explore the dreary landscape by the moonlight, wandering through splintered barns, majestic castles, and ruined fortresses. While much of the quest will involve brutally slaughtering the hundred of enemies in his way, Leon will have to contend with a small assortment of simplistic puzzles and minor fetch quests. Nothing too elaborate or fancy; just retrieving a key from a certain area, moving blocks onto panels, and other obstacles that shouldn’t pose a problem to a weathered gamer. The most prominent hindrance to your quest is none other than your objective: Ashley, the President’s daughter. You’ll meet up and lose her a few times during the game, but you’ll be forced to protect her whenever she’s by your side. In true damsel-in-distress fashion, she’s almost completely helpless; if an enemy carries her away long enough (or slashes her into bloody ribbons), you’ll have to face the unforgiving Game Over screen and begin the area anew.

screenshot

It’s not like the game is hard, though. Far from it. Sure, you’ll have to deal with hordes of flail-wielding monks, swarms of acid-spewing insect monstrosities, flaming crossbow and rocket launcher firing squads, tentacle-slinging wolves, and house-sized mutant freak, but many of them can be handled with surprising ease. All of the areas in Resident Evil 4, from the wooden village cabinets to the marble floors and plush furniture, are packed with ammunition, cash, and restorative items. Unless you’re completely inept at aiming, you should have little trouble kicking everyone’s asses and having bullets to spare. The game tries to balance things out by including enemies that, unless you happen to good reflexes, will kill Leon instantly. Between the vividly detailed images of him getting roasted by lasers, having his face melted to the bone, skull clawed through, neck broken, and head slowly sliced off by a chainsaw, our hero will have face quite a few perils along the way.

“Unless Leon does something, his cojones are likely going to be served up in tonight’s paella.”While all of this does seem daunting, you have an ace up your sleeve: the WiiMote. Instead of featuring the tried and true control scheme of the previous versions, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition lets you wield Leon’s arsenal with far superior speed and handling. While most of the movement involves using the Nunchuck attachment, the main controller works well as a makeshift weapon. At least, when it’s working properly. If the Wii’s Sensor Bar doesn’t pick up your movements, you’ll find your targeting reticule stuck in awkward positions. Nevertheless, there’s no more need to juggle shoulder and attack buttons; simply press a button underneath the controller to aim (gamers with shaky hands need not apply), and press another to fire. Even reloading requires little more than shaking a WiiMote. Sometimes you’ll have to swing the WiiMote to use Leon’s knife, or rotate it to operate machinery. Little gimmicks aside, the Wii Edition shows off just what the controller is really capable of.

screenshot

Unfortunately, that’s the end of the original content. Instead of having more original features and options, the Wii Edition simply combines all of the extras from the previous versions of the game. You’ll still have a blast playing the Mercenaries mini-game, using the Wii controls to blast through endless hordes of enemies to attain high scores. If you get sick of playing as Leon, the Separate Ways mode allows you to play through parts of the story, but as a secondary hero who appears throughout the game. While there are other bonuses, like the Movie Browser, game previews, powerful new weapons, and alternate costumes, veterans of the previous versions will be left wanting more from this title.

That’s not to say that Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition doesn’t have anything special for the fans of the old game. While the WiiMote combat can be a little flaky, it still outclasses the clunky, unintuitive controls of the original. You’ll still get to relive Leon’s bloodstained quest in all its glory, right down to the hilariously cheesy dialogue and incredibly stylized levels. But if you’ve never played Resident Evil 4, you owe it to give it a shot. The gruesome gameplay and finely crafted graphics make for one of the most stunning and engaging action games of all time. Besides, seeing Leon’s head getting chainsawed off never gets old.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2005.

Gentle persuasion

Think you can do better? Write for us.