Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (Video Game)
Developed and Published by Capcom
Yes it is more than worth $30.
What’s that? You want a whole review? Fair enough.
To save me breaking open a fresh box of eulogies, you should definitely check out the review of the original GameCube version of the game that we ran when it came out two and a bit years ago; the one where I called Resident Evil 4 the best game I’d ever played.
So do I still stand by that two and a half years later? Actually yes I do. There’s no question that the graphics are no longer as impressive as they were back then, especially if you’ve gotten used to this whole HD thing, but the strengths of the graphics remain the same as they were then.
Resident Evil 4 wasn’t a technical showcase even when it came out. A top tier game certainly, but what really made RE4's graphics so impressive were the attention to detail and art design. Those are still impressive today, and while the game would certainly look better running on a high end PC or a next gen console compared to other games on the Wii, RE4: Wii Edition is surprisingly still amongst the best.
No major improvements have been made from the GameCube version when it comes to the way the game looks and sounds. True widescreen rather than letterboxed widescreen is now an option, which is no small thing, but that is really the only change. The sound remains identical; not a polygon on Leon’s head has been adjusted.
It’s a little disappointing they didn’t go a little bit further with it, as despite not being a powerhouse, the Wii is more competent than its purple box like cousin. But as I said, the game has held up rather well.
Oh and yes, with an asking price of $30 it would be pretty stupid of me to expect more than we get for our money.
Without question, RE4: Wii Edition is the definitive version of the game. It has the best graphics of any version (including the PC version). It has the best sound of any version. It has all the bonus content from the PS2 release (which has seen some improvements). It has the much improved new control scheme. Hell, even if you hate aiming with the Wiimote you’re covered as the game supports both the GameCube controller and the Wii Classic Controller.
So how do those new controls work exactly and what makes them so great? Well for the most part they work exactly as I’ve been imagining RE4 would control on the Wii since long before a version was ever announced for the system. You control Leon’s movements with the nunchuck in your left hand. The stick moves him just as it did on previous versions, with the large Z trigger working as your run button. Down and run performs a quick 180 degree turn. The C button goes into knife aiming mode, though you’ll likely never use it.
So far so normal. Where it gets interesting is what’s going on in your right hand. The A button is your action button. The 1 button brings up the map. The minus button is your inventory. The plus button you’ll use to tell Ashley what to do when she’s with you. The B trigger brings you into aiming mode and this is where the key difference comes in.
Rather than aiming with the analogue stick as in previous versions, in aim mode you aim using the Wii’s pointer. If you aren’t familiar with the Wii controller, it works kind of like a 3D mouse, or a laser pointer. To aim up you point it up, and so on.
One thing you might not like, is that to turn Leon’s view you’ll still have to use the analogue stick. Leon turns quickly, and if you’ve played Zelda Twilight Princess you’ll already be used to the system. It does take a little bit of time getting used to it, but it works just fine. An option to have the screen turn when your crosshairs get near the edge would have been ideal, but I think I’d have found myself using the system in place.
Aiming this way transforms the game in quite a few ways. First of all, the laser sight of old is gone (though it’s back if you play with the Classic Controller or the GameCube pad). Instead you have a crosshair that floats on top of everything. Even when you aren’t aiming your crosshairs are on screen to help keep your bearing. Pull that B trigger and your crosshairs turn green, or red if you’re aiming at something that can be shot. Then you just hit A to shoot.
To make it even easier, while you’re aiming as you pass over something you can shoot, the Wiimote vibrates slightly which feels really good and helps you key in very quickly to the new aiming system.
After just a short while of getting used to the new system (a much quicker learning curve than the old one I might add) you’ll be pulling of rapid headshots in quick succession and other things that you couldn’t have done with the analogue aiming.
Naturally this makes the game slightly easier. You’ll have an easier time managing your ammo (something which wasn’t too difficult to begin with) and you’ll get out of stickier situations than before. To compensate the number of enemies you encounter has been increased, but there’s one other thing to remember: Resident Evil 4 always had an automatically adjusting difficulty.
If you’re flying through the game it’s going to throw tougher stuff at you than if you’re getting killed over and over again.
While the game is unquestionably slightly easier, that doesn’t harm the experience one bit as it hasn’t so much removed any challenge as it has removed some of the annoyances with the old aiming.
That isn’t the only change for the better. While you can use your knife just as you did before, by holding in the C button and aiming with the analogue stick and attacking with the A button, you’ll never need to.
Flick the Wiimote at any time when you aren’t in aim mode and Leon will turn automatically and swipe at the nearest thing. Again, this does make the game slightly easier, but it makes breaking open boxes and crates for ammo so much less annoying that there’s no question that it’s an improvement. Hell it just feels better to physically swipe the Wiimote to get Leon to swipe his knife. In aim mode the same motion works as reload which isn’t really an improvement one way or another.
One final little change is in the interactive cutscenes. Now, you’ll occasionally be called upon to shake the Wiimote or turn it like a crank rather than just repeatedly hammering a button, which is something I won’t miss.
There is one thing I do miss, though; in the original game there was a degree of randomization as to the buttons you’d be called upon to mash or hit in combination during these cutscenes. It always kept you on your toes as if you reacted incorrectly the game would often punish you for it. While there are still some cutscenes that have randomized inputs, a great number of cutscenes that used to have randomized inputs don’t anymore.
It’s a very small complaint, but it’s the only area where it feels like the change wasn’t for the better which is why I point it out. The motions are nice but why not ask me to swipe to the left instead of the right, or to shake the wiimote side to side instead of up or down instead of just letting general shaking do the trick.
"Separate Ways", from the PS2 version, has been polished up a little, though you’ll definitely notice that it doesn’t look quite as good as the main quest, it has been improved from how the PS2 version looked. It still uses videos instead of in engine cutscenes, but it’s great to have the GameCube models and textures in there instead of the lower quality ones the PS2 had.
I feel I should say a little about "Separate Ways" for anyone who had the GameCube version of the game and is looking to upgrade.
"Separate Ways" has you playing as Ada Wong, the femme fatale who pops up a number of times during Leon’s main quest. The mission gives you a bit more insight into what she was doing as Leon was having his adventure, as well as revealing that Ada was behind one or two key occurrences that happen during the game.
It’s fun to play through the same environments with different enemies and usually taking a different route to Leon did, and it’s fun to use Adas grappling hook to get on top of things that Leon couldn’t get up to, but the overall quality of the experience isn’t quite up to the very high standard of the main game. One thing it isn’t is as big as the main quest.
Ada’s adventure is split into 5 chapters, with each taking around an hour on average. The next chapter usually skips ahead a little, so instead of carrying on from where you left off, you’ll usually skip ahead to a later area in the game meaning that you still won’t know exactly what Ada was up to the whole time.
It’s a great extra though all the same as it does give a lot of backstory to the main quest and while it’s lacking in new enemies and bosses, there is one brand new area you’ll get to play through which is probably the highlight of the experience.
So really the question it comes down to is this. Have you played Resident Evil 4 before? If you haven’t and you’ve got a Wii or plan to get one, this game is more than worth your $30 and is definitely the version you want to be picking up. If you haven’t played the game in a while and feel like you could play through it again, or if you only played the cube version, then I’d definitely recommend you consider picking it up as the Wii controls really do make the experience better.
It feels like there’s one less thing between you and the action happening on screen. It’s easier to get lost in the adventure as you join Leon and Ashley and Ada, even if it’s as familiar to you as it is to me.
5 out of 5
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