Every Resident Evil game before Resident Evil 4 was either too scary for my brain to process or too fiddly for my uncoordinated hands to play. I fucking shat myself when Nemesis jumped through a window in the police station, and the combination of the faeces smudging against my buttcheeks and my trembling, preteen hands rendered me unable to play Resident Evil 3 any longer.
When RE4 came along in 2005, I was mentally and physically equipped to deal with survival horror games, having grown pubes and developed a morbid addiction to scary shit. As much as I loved Jill Valentine because she could do everything Burly Dude Chris Redfield could without the obnoxiousness, Leon Kennedy was, and will always be, my favourite RE character. No surprise there, seeing as my favourite Final Fantasy character was Squall, the widely-hated sadboy. Leon’s foppish semi-emo haircut that said ‘I listen to Taking Back Sunday but I won’t be a huge disappointment to my parents,’ the John Motson coat and the boyish good looks – these were all things I wanted in my life, so naturally I gravitated towards RE4.
Back home with my purchase that bankrupted my working class pockets, I’d already decided the money I spent on RE4 was worth it, and I’d only just watched the opening cutscenes. Venturing through the woods into a (seemingly) abandoned cabin, I knew this would be one of those games that would stick with me forever – maybe it was the scenery, maybe it was the revolutionised controls and camera angle, or maybe the eerie atmosphere so early on – and after about 16 playthroughs, RE4 was placed on a pedestal and hasn’t been knocked off since.
RE4 was a massive success on every level because it had everything. Previous RE games were straight up terrifying but lacked interesting gameplay. RE4 retained the horror values of its predecessors, but added dynamic action, a unique twist in the narrative of Resident Evil and some new enemies that almost made me shit myself again – the Regeneradors.
These fuckers are 7 and a half feet tall, they shamble about with their freakishly long arms swinging down by their knees like a zombified gibbon and the worst part is they do. not. fucking. die. Okay, they do eventually die with some help from an infrafred scope and some strategically placed bullets, but imagine playing through the game as a young teenager and this fucking thing comes at you – all bullets fly everywhere, nailing the creature in a million fleshy places, but the Regenerador (as its name suggests) grows its limbs back within a few seconds. AND THAT BREATHING THO.
If I were to break out my old copy of RE4 for another playthrough, it wouldn’t be purely for the nostalgia factor. I grew up on this game and it was an integral part of my life, but it’d be discourteous of me to use that as the main reason for playing it in 2016. It’s still a bloody great game today, and if the current trend of remaking (not remastering) continues, the game that most deserves that special treatment is Resident Evil 4.