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Evil returns! Capcom successfully re-invents the survival-horror genre with Resident Evil 4

Earlier this year, Japanese developer Capcom released the eagerly anticipated survivor horror game “Resident Evil 4” for the Nintendo GameCube. The latest instalment in the series once again trusts you in the shoes of U.S agent Leon S. Kennedy who has been dispatched to a European city in order to locate the president’s kidnapped daughter. Upon his arrival to the city, Agent Kennedy (who survived the horrors of Raccoon City in Resident Evil 2) soon realizes that he’s not welcomed and is mobbed by a group of possessed locals.

Prior to Resident Evil 4, the famed Capcom franchise grew tired and gamers started to feel the strain. Instead of progressing, each entry in the series had the same gameplay elements. From sequel to sequel, the sense of déjà vu remained, and the franchise became bland and unoriginal. The sixth entry in the series (Capcom released the series prequel Resident Evil 0 and a spin-off entitled Code-Veronica) almost followed-up with the same dull formula, that is until the development team behind the game decided to scrap the project and restart the undertaking with a new vision in mind.

Sure, the latest sequel is still very much a Resident Evil title at its core. You’ll still have your fair share of puzzles to solve and backtracking to do, but the game is now more action oriented. Instead of trying to avoid a nasty slew of zombies in order to conserve ammo, your character is actually encouraged to bring down his foes in order to survive his latest ordeal. The game also does a great job in distributing ammo as you will not only find your ammunition scattered throughout the levels, but downed enemies will also reward you with additional slugs on occasion.

Resident Evil 4 also features a new angle that replaces the clunky camera angles of past iterations. This time around, you follow your character around from a behind the shoulder third-person perspective. The new viewpoint allows you to see more of your surroundings, and also helps you get through the game’s faster-paced action sequences with ease.

Resident Evil 4 is one of the best-looking video games of this console generation. The visuals have a cinematic feel and are reminiscent of modern day horror movies. The ambiance set forth by the backdrops adds to the surreal impact of the game. The elemental effects are utterly outstanding. The rain and fog effects are spectacular and add to the creepiness of the game. Resident Evil 4 definitely manages to push the GameCube’s processing power to its limits, and remarkably does so without any noticeable frame rate issues.

The game also features a solid soundtrack that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The latest Resident Evil title also features some top-notch voice-acting that is backed up by one of the series’ most entertaining plots.

If you own a GameCube, there’s no reason not to own Resident Evil 4. The game is one of the console’s premier titles and delivers a gaming experience that’s worth checking out. You don’t have to be a fan of the horror genre to enjoy what the game has to offer. Forget about the previous instalments in the series and try out Resident Evil 4, you’ll definitely be satisfied by the results. A watered down version of the game will be available for the PlayStation 2 later this year.

Andre Barriault lives in Dieppe and is currently a contributor for the Game Invasion channel on Chris Pirillo’s Lockergnome technology network. You can check-out Andre’s game-related blog at www.gamingcult.com.

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Light and Dark Face Off in Metroid Prime 2 (Preview)

On Nov. 15, our favorite female bounty hunter Samus Aran returns to a GameCube console near you in “Metroid Prime 2: Echoes”. In her latest adventure, Samus crash lands on the planet Aether, a world torn between light and darkness. Samus will face-off against characters from both sides of the light and dark rifts creating a truly unique experience.

From what I’ve played of the title, the core graphics for Metroid Prime 2 are very similar to those of the original Prime, which is still to this day one of the best looking GameCube titles on the market. For the latest iteration, Retro Studios has improved the already stellar graphics engine by adding more detailed environments and features superior lighting effects. Technically you’re getting the same Metroid Prime visual quality enhanced by some modern improvements.

What sets Metroid Prime 2 apart from the original are its multiplayer capabilities. Now up to four people will be able to duke it out against each other in classic first person action. The finished product will include two multiplayer modes, deathmatch and bounty. The deathmatch portion is your straight forward shoot’em-up where the goal of the game is to rack-up the highest kill count. While in Bounty mode your goal is to collect the biggest possible purse before the counter runs out. Sadly, the multiplayer aspect will be limited to split screen gameplay as no LAN or online play is featured in the game. Still a multiplayer Metroid Prime will definitely be a party favourite.

Metroid Prime 2 is definitely worth picking-up for GameCube owners. Lets just hope the that the title doesn’t get overshadowed by the other powerhouse games coming out in November (Halo 2, Half-Life 2 and Need for Speed Underground 2). For one thing, Metroid Prime 2 looks like one of the year’s best GameCube titles.

André Barriault lives in Dieppe and is co-editor at the gaming website www.XGR.com – Originally published in [here] magazine in Oct. 2004

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