Poor old Leon Kennedy. Zombies would've been fine. He'd know how to deal with them. They shamble, they groan to announce their presence, and as long as you can keep them at arm's length you've got plenty of time to deal with them. Jill Valentine and co. were missing a trick, really - all they needed was a big hula hoop and they could have saved all the herbs they liked for the giant spiders, Nemeses and what-have-you that lurked ahead. Leon though has a bigger problem. A big plastic hoop would be about as much use to him as a foam finger with "Brains Over There!" written on it. In Resident Evil 4, which the US press is currently frothing over more than an open-air Alka Seltzer warehouse in a monsoon, he's got more pitchfork-wielding lunatics chasing him than Prince Hitler. And this lot don't just want an apology; they want to hold him down while the local Leatherface impersonator does a number on his neck with a fricking chainsaw. And he's meant to save the president's daughter from this lot, too. At least our Royals know better than to wind up in cultish forest-clad shantytowns in South America swapping pleasantries with possessed weirdoes, eh?
Yes. Resident Evil 4 - long considered to be on of the Cube's best hopes for success this year - is finally out in the States, and its release there is far more interesting than the emergence of CSI on Xbox and Robotech Invasion on this side of the pond. We've no reason to suspect that Ubi and Take-Two's respective efforts are poor, exactly - we'd just rather spend hours peering at a DHL tracking page right now than waste too much time worrying about them. Given a US Cube or a copy of the FreeLoader disc, and the requisite "night in with the living dead toolset" (1x pizza delivery place phone number, 1x steady stream of caffeinated beverages, 1x cushion to hide behind, 1x light switch (off), 1x lock on the door (on) and 3 or 4x spare T-shirts to sweat through), Resi Evil 4's arrival couldn't be more exciting if it came with a lifesize clone of Milla Jovovich in her hospital outfit from the end of the first movie. Do we need to go over the details again? Enemies that work together. Enemies that run. Enemies that break through doors and windows. A refined control scheme. No more fixed perspective cameras. Some of the most gorgeous visuals ever to grace the Cube. More shocks than a cattle prod testing facility. Milla Jovovich in her -- no, wait, we added that. It doesn't really matter whether you've been here from the start or you gave up on the series when you first discovered you couldn't run and turn at the same time; this is something very different, and, as we're hoping to confirm for ourselves next week, very good. And just you wait until we get that chainsaw controller. Bet Customs'll love that.
And, somewhat depressingly given the state of our January release schedule, it's hardly the only game of note out over yonder water. MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf emerged towards the end of December (and in our consummate rubbishness we forgot to write about it last week), and the consensus seems to be that, to paraphrase one reviewer, it leaves the original looking simple and boring. Which is good news for anybody who liked the look of the first one (one of the very first Xbox Live titles, you may recall) but found it to be rather simple and boring. It's out over here very soon so we'll be having a look shortly. Likewise with one of the other of four big US releases, Mercenaries, which one of our excitable Brits-in-exile friends Stateside has found tempting enough to lure him away from Leon's plight already. Typical, really - the most exciting thing to do on this side of the Atlantic at the moment is sit around debating whether it's okay to make jokes about Nazis. Over there they've got Resident Evil 4, MechAssault 2, Suikoden IV (of which more in a jiffy), and what is for all intents and purposes Grand Theft Auto in a destabilised North Korean landscape where you can blow up high-rise buildings with tanks (right, so, Nazis are a problem, but toppling skyscrapers is no longer a faux pas - got it) whilst whoring yourself to various factions and whistling whenever the Red Cross are around so they'll give you biscuits rather than shooting you in the face.
Given the Yanks' vast gaming riches at the moment, we'd be tempted to chuckle at the misfortune that seems to have befallen those who bought Suikoden IV - which by all accounts is very playable but otherwise ironically unadventurous - were it not for the fact that we know exactly how much pain and misery that disappointment will bring to the likes of Rob and Ronan, and RPG fans up and down the land who were expecting Konami to release it over here - having failed to give us an opportunity to play the highly acclaimed third in the series back in 2002. Given the special affection most devotees of the genre reserve for the third game, encountering phrases like "unbelievably faulty", "world of tedium", "incredibly stultifying" and "incomprehensibly basic" in just one review (Gamespy's, since you're wondering) is quite hurtful. Apparently those devotees can look forward to a satisfying conclusion to the tale the game tells, but it sounds like they might want to do something exciting to help pass the time beforehand. Like being fellated. Or playing with a hula hoop, maybe.
In the meantime, we're going to fire up DHL.com again, and try to fathom whether Hong Kong to Stansted to Paris to London is really an optimal route for a parcel to take. No wonder they charge so much shipping; they're still saving up for a bloody Atlas. Groan.
- PAL Releases
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Xbox)
- Robotech Invasion (PS2, Xbox)
- Key US Releases
- MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf (Xbox)
- Mercenaries (PS2, Xbox)
- Resident Evil 4 (Cube)
- Suikoden IV (PS2)
Will you support Eurogamer?