Leon S. Kennedy is back, and he's better then ever in Resident Evil for the Wii. Fans should remember Leon from Resident Evil 2 as the rookie cop who found himself among the chaos of the T-virus outbreak in Raccoon City on his first day on the police force. Resident Evil 4 takes place six years after the disaster of Raccoon City. During that time, Leon has had special government training, making him quite the one-man-army. His newest assignment takes him far away from the United States to a remote location in Europe to search for the president's missing daughter.
Previous installments of the Resident Evil franchise have focused on exploration, conservation of ammo, and survival. Resident Evil 4 breaks away from the traditional Resident Evil format, and emphasizes the action. Ammunition is definitely more plentiful, and Leon is forced to fight huge hordes of enemies in wide open areas, a definite switch from prior entries in the series. The game is rather linear as well: after the player clears an area, there's no going back. Resident Evil 4 also breaks from tradition by not having the fixed camera angles that would constantly change as you move; instead, the camera is fixed behind Leon so you are getting a constant view of things over Leon's shoulder as you play.
The controls for this game have definitely been perfected with the Wii version. Players will use the nunchuck controller to make Leon walk or run, and the Wii remote to aim and shoot at targets. It is very smooth and easy to handle, and the Wii remote allows for quicker and more precise aiming that just isn't as easy to accomplish with regular GameCube or PlayStation2 analog controls. Another neat feature is Leon's knife: a simple swing of the Wii remote will make Leon pull out his knife and perform a quick slash at whatever target is nearest in sight; alternatively, the player can hold down the C button to keep the knife at the ready, and press A to slash at their convenience. Another fun feature is the context sensitive controls during cinematic scenes. Don't think you can nap during a cut scene because you will be required to press the right buttons and shake the Wii-mote in order to keep Leon alive.
Resident Evil 4 has a wide variety of weapons to play with, but contrary to previous Resident Evil's , there is no universal storage container to keep all the items in when they're not in use. Leon can only take with him what he can carry in his attaché case which is based on a grid system -- each item takes up a set amount of squares on the grid. Larger attaché cases, new weapons, and tune-ups for those weapons may be purchased via a weapons merchant if you have enough pesetas, which are dropped by enemies, or gained by selling treasure.
The graphics for this game are stunning; the environments are very realistic and creepy. The character models for Leon and all the other characters are also quite well done and animated, and thus look very true to life. For example, Leon's hair will move slightly when he turns from side to side. Small details like this make the game all the more impressive.
The audio is a huge contributor to the atmosphere of the game. All of the music -- or lack thereof -- sets the mood for each particular area. When Leon is spotted by an enemy, or when there is a lot of action going on, the music gets intense, and it makes the gameplay all the more exciting and scary. When nothing in particular is happening, there won't be any music playing. The music during the action sequences isn't overly powerful, and it doesn't take away from the game; rather, it helps to put the player into the right mood for the situation.
The sound effects are also subtle, yet they are a huge contributor to the overall feel of the game. One example is while reloading one of the various weapons, the sound of the gun reloading comes out of the Wii-mote speaker, letting the player feel like they are actually holding and reloading a gun. The voice acting in this game is also top notch, and the voice actors they chose for each character -- enemy and ally alike -- were quite well chosen. On top of that, to add to the creepy atmosphere of being in a scary foreign country, all of the enemies speak Spanish; unless the player speaks Spanish, they will not know what the enemies are saying, though their body language will usually say enough that the player will get the gist of it.
The game has a very steady learning curve: once the player has everything figured out, the enemies and challenges become steadily harder, but not so hard as to make it too difficult to beat. It is also never too easy; thus, it has a perfect balance which makes the game all the more fun. Throughout the game, Leon will receive helpful hints from Hunnigan (the mission support), and other characters will provide clues if the player gets stuck. Akin to previous Resident Evil games there are random files, journals, and helpful notes that provide hints and progress the story along as well.
This game is definitely worth picking up, whether you're an old fan of the franchise, or just a casual gamer looking for something new to play. The Wii version of Resident Evil 4 could definitely be called the "ultimate version" of this game just for the superior controls the Wii remote provides. Sadly, the Wii version doesn't provide anything new as far as extras or side missions that hasn't already been available. If you already own the GameCube and PlayStation2 versions then it might not be worth it to shell out the extra $30 for this game.
Final Verdict - 10/10
If you have only played the GameCube version, then you'll be delighted to hear that the Wii edition has all the extras that were only previously available in the PlayStation2 release. These extras, combined with the excellent graphics of the GameCube version and the superior Wii control scheme, makes the latest incarnation of the Resident Evil series definitely worth the purchase.