Widely considered one of the greatest games of the last decade, Resident Evil 4 makes its way to the iDevice with its core gameplay intact, even if the overall experience is seriously abridged. More of a “greatest hits” collection of action sequences than an adventure game, the story mode has been split up into 12 short missions that are inspired by the console title.
These missions will take you to different locations you’ll recognize if you’ve played RE4 before, fighting familiar enemies like El Gigante and other clawed nightmares. You’ll also have to face down chainsaws, catapults and pitchforks.
This isn’t a problem though, because the game controls beautifully, at least by RE4 standards. The virtual analog stick isn’t quite as nice as a real one when aiming at enemies, but it’s still easy to pop an infected in the head, run up, and roundhouse kick him in the face. If you’ve played Resident Evil: Degeneration, you’ll have an idea of what to expect here, but everything is much faster and less cumbersome than in that title.
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A context-sensitive button will appear for picking up items, kicking people and propping up ladders, making it simple to interact with the environment. During escort missions, Ashley (the girl you’re trying to save) can be told to follow you or stay put, and she still ducks out of the line of fire like in the console versions.
The missions here only take about 15 minutes to beat, but the difficulty is high enough that many will take you quite a few tries. Luckily, the mysterious item-shop man makes an appearance before every mission, and you can upgrade your guns, body armor and ammunition stocks if you get stuck. There are plenty of options for upgrading your weapons, and even your carrying case can be upgraded a few times to hold more items, like in the original.
Between missions, the story is told through slides using screenshots from the console games and poorly translated text. Unfortunately, the story mode is completely unfinished. It’s like Capcom adapted some of the best scenes from the first two thirds of the game, got tired of it all and then called it a day.
This isn’t a huge loss; there are so many gaps in the story as it’s presented that it won’t make sense unless you’ve played the original anyway. That said, it still reeks of laziness, and it raises a larger concern: is Capcom going to try and charge us for the rest of the story later?
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Although the story mode is incomplete, a separate mercenaries mode is also available. There are 24 missions in this mode, and the goal is usually to kill the most enemies within a few minutes for a high score, using environments ripped from story mode. Sometimes, you’ll also have to escort Ashley or defeat some boss characters. These missions are fun, although with no rankings or leaderboards of any kind there’s nothing to compare your score against, which isn’t very satisfying.
Luckily, the score you earn in mercenaries mode directly translates into cash in story mode, so if you get stuck (and you will) you can play a few mercenaries missions and power up your character. You’ll need to switch between the two modes, because new mercenaries missions are unlocked by progressing in the story. Once you beat story mode, you’ll be able to play through it again with all your items and cash on a harder difficulty.
Overall, Resident Evil 4 is a blast to play. The controls have been faithfully translated from the console titles, and most of the action thrills are intact. The music and sound effects have been carried over, and the graphics get the job done with a great draw distance and smooth framerate.
Despite the incomplete story mode, this is unrivaled as an iDevice 3D action shooter, and the 15 minute missions are perfectly suited for mobile play. If you’re a fan of RE4 or action games in general, set your sights here.