Resident Evil 4 is now available on Nintendo Switch, which means one of Capcom’s best action titles from the last few decades can now be taken wherever you go. I don’t need to tell you that is a Very Good Thing.
Originally released for GameCube in 2005 before being ported to everything short of your gran’s washing machine, Resident Evil 4 was a bold departure for the survival horror series, ditching the fixed camera angles and claustrophobic environments of the original games for an over the shoulder view with more focus on action.
That’s not to say Resi 4 couldn’t bring the scares when it wanted to, mind. The game managed to blend old school chills with intense thrills, challenging puzzles, and fearsome boss fights. There are so many memorable moments from Resident Evil 4, that even the intensely irritating Ashley can’t derail the good times.
So, in the spirit of celebrating the re-release of the iconic Capcom hit on Nintendo Switch, let’s take a look at the five of the best moments from our time with *deep breath* LEEEEOOOON.
The Genius Of The First Hour
The game starts off with our hero Leon S Kennedy – a little older and wiser than he was during the Raccoon City kerfuffle – exploring a European village on the trail of the President’s missing daughter. Naturally, it doesn’t take long for our hero to realise that the residents of said village are more likely to stick a pitchfork through your face than offer you a cuppa and a slice of battenberg.
After putting down his first angry villager in a deeply unsettling encounter, Leon slowly makes his way through an eerie forest on foot in search of his missing team. It gradually becomes more and more obvious that something seriously screwed up is going on, before the whole thing reaches a breathtaking climax in a massive fight with an entire village of townsfolk.
The villagers are immediately worlds away from the shambling zombies of the early games. Not only do they look human, but they act human. They talk to each other, use weapons, break down barricades, and force Leon to make use of the environment and stay on the move to avoid being overwhelmed.
Previous Resident Evil titles would force you into cramped locations with one or two enemies at a time, max. The fact Resi 4 ends it first hour with a full on horde battle serves as a genius mission statement for Capcom: This is not the survival horror you were expecting, so strap in.
Losing Your Head Over Mr Chainsaw
You might have first encountered him during the aforementioned village siege, though there’s a chance you missed him there and bumped into him a little later. Whenever you do meet him, the Chainsaw Man is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
Every encounter with one of the freaky sunnovabitches starts the same. You’ll hear a distant rumble of a chainsaw, before feeling your legs turn to jelly and your trousers begin to brown. You have no idea where he’s going to jump out from, but jump out he will, and proceed to absorb your bullets with gusto.
It takes a hell of a lot to put Mr Chainsaw down, see. While it looks like he can feel pain, it sure as hell doesn’t stop him. If you haven’t put enough bullets and/or distance between the two of you, then he will grab you and slice your head off in what was easily the most shocking video game death any of us had even seen back in 2005. Hell, it’s still up there if you ask me.
Even as you start to get further into the game and flesh out and upgrade your arsenal of weapons to deal with threats easier, there’s nothing like the low growl of that bloody chainsaw to remind you that you’re never safe in Resident Evil 4.
The Cabin Assault
Towards the end of Resident Evil 4’s masterful opening chapter, you’ll find yourself in another action packed shootout a little like the opening hour’s village battle.
However, where the encounter in the village offered a relative amount of open space and options, this ambush puts you in a cramped cabin with no escape, and no choice but to do your best to stand your ground and keep the infected townsfolk at bay.
Pitchfork wielding nasties will attempt to clamber into the cabin through every open window, meaning not a single bullet from Leon’s limited arsenal can be wasted, lest you find yourself crying in a corner desperately swiping your knife at whatever comes near as the hordes begin to pour in.
After the game spent the previous few hours telling you keeping on the move and not letting enemies get a hold of you was vital for survival, suddenly finding yourself trapped in such an enclosed space was a properly horrifying experience. At least you had some back up from ally Luis.
Ah man, pour one out for my man Luis.
Meeting The Regenerators And Trying Not To Cry
Every Resident Evil game will force you into at least one situation with a dormant corpse that you just know in your bones is going to spring to life at some point, and Resi 4 is no different, presenting you with a monstrous grey form laid out on an operating table that is so clearly going to rise up and make you cry very soon.
Capcom almost manages to make you forget about the hellbeast lying in wait in the other room by first asking you to complete a short puzzle, which inevitably takes a little concentration and lowers your guard. This nets you access to a separate room in which you read an unsettling memo about just what an impossible to put down mess a Regenerator actually is.
Having been reminded that there’s something deeply unpleasant nearby, you hear a crash in the other room, right on cue. You already know what it is. You hear a horrible, rattling breathing. You already know what is. There’s only one door out of the room you’re in. Sure enough, as you open it, there’s the Regenerator, slowly edging its way toward you.
You knew it was coming, but that doesn’t stop your stomach from dropping out of you before jumping into a taxi to the nearest airport. It doesn’t help that you can’t actually kill it until you find a separate item later in the game. The whole thing is just… well, it’s not fun.
The Jet Ski Escape
Resident Evil 4 is a constantly surprising and unpredictable beast that’s happy to screw with conventions if it means pulling off something you would never have expected, and the ending, which sees you jump on a jet ski with Ashley to escape the exploding compound, is no exception.
Some would argue that this section kind of comes out of nowhere, but as far as I’m concerned, if the choice comes down to Capcom making a cutscene where Leon escapes on a jet ski, or actually giving the player a section in which we get to actually control Leon on a jet ski… well, I choose the latter every time.
You can even pull off stunts as you escape, which is utterly ridiculous and a maybe a worrying sign of the action focused things that were to come for the Resident Evil franchise over the next few years, but I’ll always have a soft spot for this daring escape that capped off an incredible game in style.
Of course, the real beauty of Resident Evil 4 is that everyone will have a different top five moments. Whether you look back fondly on fighting the giant trolls, heading out into the lake to harpoon yourself a tasty mutated fish monster, or even just shooting the merchant in the face, there are no wrong answers.
Unless you enjoyed trying to look up Ashley’s skirt as she climbed down ladders. That was, and still is, wrong.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.