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The gameplay has definitely been streamlined for RE4, and you don’t find yourself running backwards and forwards over the same ground for hours like you did in previous games. The puzzles are set at just the right level to be interesting, but not frustrating. There’s even some “reaction time” moments thrown in, where you have to hit a specific button combination within a second or so – the best example of this is the knife fight, where you have to react quickly or end up as sushi.
Unfortunately, although the puzzles aren’t annoying or frustrating, the excessive amount of boss characters is. I know there was a time when end of level bosses were needed to add longevity to games, but those days are gone. I’m not even one of those gamers who complains about bosses too much, and having the odd boss character to get past can be quite rewarding. But RE4 seems to have one boss fight after another, and another and another. Some of the bosses are truly amazing to behold, but you’re still going to be stuck there while you try figure out where the weak spot is, and then how to exploit it without dying. In fact, if it wasn’t for the exorbitant number of bosses in RE4, it would probably have been the first game to have walked away with a 10/10 score and an Editor’s Choice award. But a game as good as this one didn’t need to throw in this many boss fights in order to squeeze out an extra hour of gameplay.
But even the excessive use of bosses can’t dampen my enthusiasm for Resident Evil 4, I’d even go as far as saying that it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played – and that’s saying something when Half-Life 2 and Halo 2 were released only a few months ago. If you liked the previous RE games you’re going to love Resident Evil 4, and even if you hated the other games you should still give RE4 a try, as it’s so much better than its predecessors.
Not only has Resident Evil 4 breathed new life into the survival horror genre, but it’s breathed new life into the GameCube. If you have a GameCube you need to buy this game and if you don’t own a GameCube, it’s worth buying one just to play Resident Evil 4.