Baby Eagle in danger
The village of horror: At the beginning, Leon S. Kennedy has to confront the infested residents with pistol and knife.
The starting position remains the same, of course: around six years have passed since Leon S. Kennedy had to deal with the putrid legacy of the Umbrella corporation in Racoon City. Now new troubles are looming: Ashley Williams, the daughter of the US President, was kidnapped on a trip to Europe and taken to a Spanish village. Once again, the battle-hardened agent has to put on the Chevignon leather jacket and make sure that Baby Eagle – the code name of the kidnapped offspring – comes back to Potus-Papa’s house. Of course, that’s easier said than done, which Leon learns shortly after his arrival in the pampas. Because the villagers not only turn out to be extremely aggressive and religious fanatics, but also go completely crazy due to an infection with the Plaga parasite: Armed with axes, pitchforks, chainsaws and shovels, the so-called “Ganados” mercilessly hunt down the US agent who runs for his life in the small village after the two village policemen who accompanied him have already ended up at the stake. But Leon knows how to defend himself to keep the rabid pack in check.
At the beginning of the game, the US agent only has a measly pistol and a knife at his disposal to make the staggering opponents stumble – after the corresponding command has been displayed, this gives him a chance to hit the red-eyed monsters with an ammunition-saving roundhouse kick . The term survival horror, coined by the Resident Evil series and laying the foundation for one of the most popular game genres, is no coincidence. Because shooting around as if stung by the Call of Duty tarantula only partially achieves the goal in Resident Evil 4. Leon fares much better when aiming carefully while saving as many bullets as possible – the villagers at the beginning of the game are just the prelude to the abstruse atrocities that the player will experience in the roughly 20 hours of the first run-through – and some of them eat nine millimeters for breakfast.
On the road with Mr. Slowhand
At the beginning, it’s mainly in the village that things get down to business. The stressful Horde terror has lost none of its intensity.
The shooting gallery principle of the original is largely retained in the new edition: the player looks over Leon’s shoulder and, at the push of a button, equips the selected weapon, which can now finally be equipped directly via a quick menu using the control pad. Aiming initially feels sluggish and a bit imprecise for any lucky player who hasn’t had any contact with Resident Evil 4, as does the movement speed, which feels strangely slow and sluggish. You can and must get used to it, because: That’s the way it’s supposed to be! The movement patterns of the opponents are also precisely and finely tuned to the physical shortcomings of the character and thus ensure a perfectly seasoned measure in the panic stew. So the first action scene in the village only appears to be a wild hunt that is supposed to make the player break out in a sweat. Those familiar with the scenario know that – assuming the right route – you can easily jog in a circle in front of the rabble-rousers and don’t have to fire a single bullet to get the situation under control after an agonizingly long five minutes.
Then the bell of the church tower rings and, as if hypnotized, the unfriendly villagers withdraw into the former house of God. Valuable resources and often well-hidden treasures can be found in every game environment, which makes searching the dilapidated huts and gloomy cave systems under the small town even more fun. All scenarios that the player visits throughout the story are full of secrets, optional puzzles and, more recently, a few side quests that require you to revisit areas you have already travelled. But beware, despite some very pleasant quality-of-life improvements, Leon’s high-expenditure expandable briefcase will eventually fill up – and it hurts more than a pitchfork in the stomach to not be able to take the packet of shotgun ammo or any other item with you from the inventory to create the necessary space in the Samsonite.