The Resident Evil series holds a special place in my heart. In fact, there aren’t too many series available that make me want every game in the anthology. And now, a third Resident Evil 4 is in my collection. The game that reinvented the Resident Evil series has made its way to the iPhone.
Although, after playing Doom Resurrection, I was less than excited about another shooter. With that being known, is this another failed iPhone shooter? Or does it provide a glimmer of hope for future shooters on the platform?
As many iPhone games have proved, the price is not always indicative of the quality of gameplay and replayability. And because of the number of great, cheap games, certain expectations come with more expensive ones. For most, replayability is a definitive factor when justifying the purchase at a price point such as $7.99. Resident Evil 4 has a great amount of content with a 12 chapter, watered down story mode, as well as a mercenary mode; it’s similar to the mode in Resident Evil Degeneration with 24 timed stages. But does having a worthy amount of content matter if the controls are overly frustrating?
Controls for an iPhone shooter are, as a developer, the most difficult to get right. And for a gamer, is a large factor in whether the handheld shooter is worth picking up time and time again. Doom Resurrection, an on-rails shooter, proved that the use of the accelerometer was the most intuitive and enjoyable aiming control system. Resident Evil 4 Mobile Edition takes you off rails which can greatly improve gameplay. Through the use of a virtual joystiq, you control the entire movement of Leon S. Kennedy. Movement is solid and easy to control, but when switching to weapon mode, the virtual joystiq also serves as the controls for aiming, which quickly becomes clunky, difficult, and overly frustrating in a game that requires fast reaction and accurate aiming.
The story is told not in cinematic cutscenes, but instead in text and still images. The writing is very bland and never descriptive enough to truly capture the real storyline. However, for a port of a title that has been released on five different platforms, this isn’t a huge loss. But for those that may have missed the previous releases of Resident Evil 4, do not expect to be fully brought up to speed with the storyline.
Each chapter serves as more than enough for one gaming session. Not because the chapters are particularly long, but because it will undoubtedly become frustrating before finishing the current chapter you are playing. With controls that take away from what little enjoyment this game could provide, that justification of a $7.99 game becomes a bit harder. Add to the list the lack of sound effects to make one more aware of surrounding enemies and the amount of difficulty to quickly react to any given situation and any casual gamer would start questioning such a purchase. The real question is, can the nostalgia carry you past its obvious flaws?
As with the original Resident Evil 4, currency is accumulated throughout gameplay to allow the purchase, sale, or upgrade of weapons. As you progress through the game, more weapons and upgrades become available. This element adds to the already great amount of potential replayability. Should the story mode not provide you with enough money to get that weapon or upgrade you would like, mercenary mode is the answer to that problem.
Mercenary mode, which many will associate with the recently released Resident Evil 5‘s mercenary mode, allows you to enter 24 timed stages, with certain weaponry depending on the level. Your goal is to kill as many enemies as you can within the allotted time. The only mode that may have you coming back for more provides players with a great means of grinding out cash for those desired upgrades and weapons. But again, the fun this mode provides is squashed by the controls as well.
I will, without shame, while still knowing there is no loss in credibility, admit that I did not complete this game. Not because it was too difficult for me, but because I saw no chance for improvement after playing more than half of it. The story mode served its purpose for short gaming sessions and the mercenary mode was a good distraction at times. But if a game does not allow me to easily do what I set out to do, it is the end of the road for me.
Despite the top notch graphics and my love for the Resident Evil series, I could not find the fun that lies deep down. However, the title shows promise for iPhone shooters. If anything, Resident Evil 4 Mobile Edition provided me with something to look forward to: an iPhone shooter that actually controls well, provides a good amount of re-playability, and most importantly, is fun and challenging without being overly frustrating. But if the controls are something you feel you could get used to, and you are a hardcore Resident Evil fan, proceed with caution. It is possible that it can provide you with a good amount of enjoyment, but for those casual iPhone gamers, I strongly recommend saving yourself from the frustration.
Resident Evil 4 Mobile Edition – 5/10