Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition Reader Review
Okay, can we just skip the formalities here. If you've not played Resident Evil 4 yet, march your pasty butt out there and buy this. This "review" is more of a comparison to the Gamecube and PS2 versions, the changes made and whether these changes justify paying full price again for what is easily one of the best action titles made the past few years.
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is notable for a few reasons. First, the control method has changed. The graphical gloss that was missing from the PS2 version is back here, with true widescreen support and higher resolution textures. It contains all the bonus content from the PS2 version - notably Seperate Ways, a mission-based side story featuring Ada Wong. In essence, Wii Edition is the full package we should have had long before its release - all the content and the visuals to boot. But why should people pay AGAIN for a complete version of a game most of us played to death long ago?
Well, pull up a chair and I'll begin.
The thing that makes Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is the control method. More importantly, the Wii Remote's trgetting system. It can be a bit dodgy to get to grips with at first (My targetting accuracy for the first stage on my first go was a frankly pathetic 58%), and you get a pretty ugly crosshair on the screen. Practice, however, makes perfect and the patience invested in the targetting system pays dividends much later on in things like The Mercenaries. Slowly, but surely, you learn to take your time with the crosshair. Careful aiming and learning to prioritise targets. Headshots become second nature rather than a nice bit of visceral entertainment, conserving ammunition - and yes, accuracy eventually does improve (I have now managed to do stages with 100% accuracy. I doubt I'd ever have pulled that off on the Gamecube or PS2). This becomes even more prominent in The Mercenaries, where often ammunition can run out rather quickly as you chain together a string of Ganados-slaying. With the Wii remote, and the sharper aiming, I started to set scores on my first runs through that I'd have only dreamt of in the past - some may think this takes away from the challenge, but challenge based on some wibbly-wobbly targetting is a pretty lame way to do it, and the reward is knowing that you are in control, rather than worrying about the cursor going a bit wonky at the last moment. In short, the accuracy that you learn to handle with the targetting system is worth a crosshair on your screen, without question.
Again on controls but on a slight tangent, is how much more user-friendly the action moments have become. My own personal experience, the knife-fight later in the game used to fill me with dread, as I knew that with a normal controller, I'd likely balls it up at some point. However, the swiftness of having all your action moments in the one hand (remote side), and usually seperated into waving remote for movement-based actions and A and B for other moments, meant that repeatedly, time and time again, the knife-fight sequence has stopped being a chore and turned into one of the best parts of a frankly lovely game. It really is amazing what a difference such a simple change makes to a game - even if it was only down to practicality of the button layout, it's ended up being a lesser-touched on but very important step in taking a rough edge away from this game.
Whilst Resident Evil 4 is an old game, the visuals of the Wii Edition hold up surprisingly well. Of course, it does help the Wii can pull off visuals of the Gamecube version - which were always better. Having all the content of the PS2 version is a great boon, Seperate Ways is a very enjoyable bonus (because, let's face it. Ada is fantastic. Ada game please Capcom! Now if not sooner!). Load times seem much smaller, the game seems smoother, and - again with the controls - it does handle much better.
The only real downside is that this IS the same game, with no discernable differences in how it progresses (I'd have liked to have seen some added bits, a lot like Code Veronica X - something that just changes things a bit mid-way through), and that you can get everything worthwhile on Easy mode, with very little to no real necessity to push on to Normal and master that. You could very easily get the Chicago Typewriter and the Handcannon without ever touching Normal mode. Which is a shame as I do think it detracts from making a person play the actual normal mode proper. However, some people may prefer the condensed methodology at work. Call me fussy (and you will), but I'd have liked some changes, some new bits, or perhaps more of a reward from Normal. This is just personal taste.
The big question is, however, does this refinement really make it a better game and, more importantly, worth a repurchase? The simple answer is - yes. It never ceases to amaze me how such simple changes in the control system actually make the game a much more enjoyable experience - but they do, and the Wii Edition is by far and away the best version of one of the best games of the past few years. The big problem with Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is that, even with it's slicker and more intuitive controls, that there have been no changes to the game to really add interest for those of us who have been through it several times before. We KNOW Capcom will do changes - back to Code Veronica X - but for some reason they didn't really consider it here. Maybe it could have ruined the game. Who knows? I'd have just liked to have seen something more going on.
I personally much prefer the Wii Edition but can see why some may have had their fill of this game - third incarnation and no major changes. Sure, time has taken its toll a little and there really isn't much justification that this got released AGAIN. However, being able to sit back and play this game, reeling off headshot after headshot, not worrying about the action-sequences, and enjoying the game as an action title without interruptions has made the purchase worthwhile for me. Yes, a Wii Edition was always a cynical exercise in milking a cash-cow. If not for the better controls, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was a pretty silly thing to do.
I think the one thing that I can take away from RE4: Wii Edition is how the controls really can make a game better. Whether by design or by limitations it doesn't matter. Going back to standard controller targetting just makes me, myself, realise that the Wii Remote is a beautiful piece of kit when put in the right hands and implemented in the right way.
It's very hard to go back when this type of control makes such perfect sense. It's just a crying shame that, other than the best controls of all versions, they didn't feel the need to make the game better in other ways. It's the best version. But we, as gamers, have been spoiled somewhat since we first saw Resident Evil 4, that the same great game with better controls can feel... well. A bit on the lazy side...
8 / 10