Resident Evil 4 trails into view with chainsaws, cocktails and Loch Ness Monsters

High-resolution footage of the game reveals a very different touch of Evil.

The transformation is complete and the bandages are coming off. Following last week's influx of new screenshots, a movie culled from the Japanese Famitsu Wave DVD magazine has given us a glimpse of Resident Evil 4 in motion, putting those deliciously detailed backdrops, mammoth boss encounters and promised real-time action moves into the context of the Evil we know.

Probably the most obvious common ground between this and previous Cube-based Resident Evil titles is the sheer quality of the visuals. Although the new backwater town environment is a bit more open and presumably demanding than its predecessors, Capcom's latest manages to dazzle with effects you couldn't really gauge from the screenshots, like the way lightning sends sharp pangs of dazzling light through a darkened town, illuminating the shambling hordes of torch-wielding townsfolk as they inch closer to this year's luckless hero, Leon S. Kennedy.

Leon himself may have a bit of a whiny voice, but he's a bit more detailed than previous frontmen, with better and more varied animation to accommodate his more active outlook. One scene shows him toddling up to the end of a long wooden porch and leaping over the side into woodland beyond, turning quickly to squeeze a few rounds off at pursuing enemies. Elsewhere he kicks in doors and leaps through windows, but that doesn't seem to be enough to escape the clutches of Evil this time around, with the non-zombie enemies chasing him into buildings, leaning out of his sights as he lines up a headshot, and organising themselves outside when he blocks off the door, bashing on shuttered windows and tossing in a Molotov cocktail.

It's at this point that more of the physical effects become apparent, with environments no longer made up of a few interactive objects and wholly untouchable but gloriously detailed backdrops. Leon will toss grenades sending enemies flying, knock over ladders, shatter glass and even shoot holes in the top half of a closed door to make room for his shotgun, which is something we've probably all wanted to do in a Resident Evil game at some point or another. With enemies coming at him in greater numbers, it's a good thing he has all this heavy-duty firepower too. This is no mere clutch of zombies rumbling in his wake - it's a full-blown army attacking in packs and lurching forward with a great deal more ferocity and skill than their shambling predecessors.

The trailer also shows Leon racing around in his speedboat - another new feature - pursuing some sort of malformed monster of the deep, swinging his rudder this way and that to stay parallel and finding himself swept overboard into a wake effect that would give Wave Race a decent run for its money. Lobbing harpoons proves fruitless, and as he swims back to his boat the camera picks up on the massive predator as it thunders into the deep and then hurtles up from below, clamping our soon-to-be hero in its jaws. Another boss, the giant from the screenshots, proves a bit of an easier prospect, as it stamps its feet and pounds its fists into the dirt in an eminently avoidable way, but still, it's clear Shinji Mikami's team hasn't lost any of its desire to deliver big, scary and unlikely boss encounters.

More general combat also delivers an intensity perhaps missing from basic encounters in previous titles, with the camera now on Leon's shoulder darting around frantically as an enemy grabs him by the neck and tries to get stuck into his flesh. In another battle he takes a pop at someone's shoulder with his pistol, and then does a spin-kick to send him tumbling. The trailer also shows off the effect of a shotgun to the head and shoulders at close range (which seems fitting less than a handful of days after Dawn of the Dead's cinematic opening), and that terrifying chainsaw attack in motion. For Resi fans, the latter is sure to excite the senses and begs the question "how the bloody hell do you fend that off?"

We shall doubtless find out at E3, ahead of the game's launch on GameCube in winter 2004. We can't wait to lock ourselves away with it. In the meantime, drain the trailer, which also includes footage of fellow Cube title Killer 7.

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Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

Contributor  |  tombramwell

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.


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