I’ve been playing Resident Evil 4 on both the new Wii incarnation and the old PS2 version – I’m reviewing the Wii version for a magazine and wanted to check out how it compares to older hardware. I haven’t seen the original Gamecube version, but I take it’s the same as the Wii version, with a tailored-for-Wii control scheme and the extra content from the PS2 version.
As most gamers already know, the game itself is brilliant. I love the way it takes a rural daylight setting and makes it a thing to dread. Also the way it plays with the environment interactivity is classic: the first big lock you see, you can kick it in. You can jump off mostly any ledge and vault any low obstacle, jump through any window, shoot through doors, kick down ladders to stop pursuers and so on. (Well yeah, there’s still the odd inability to duck under tripwires.) It is even more exciting to see the enemies climb through windows after you once you’ve barricaded the doors, and raise fallen ladders to get to you.
The cosmetic differences between the two machines are surprisingly minor. The Gamecube/Wii version is definitely more beautiful, with tons of more foliage and more depth to the colors, but in all the ways that matter, the PS2 holds up. You’d think it was a well-done Xbox game. Mind you, the Wii version is graphically not quite up to par with modern action titles – it’s really beautiful for a last-gen title, but it’s a little questionable to release a two-year old title on a new console without some polish.
But since it’s mostly an action game, it all comes down to the gunplay. The Wii’s controls take some getting used to, but the point and shoot works beautifully. I scored some 95% accuracy on my first play and it was never a chore to line up the shots. Switching to the Playstation DualShock controls, I was surprised that they felt more solid. The basic moving around is shaky on the Wii, and the button placement never feels natural. It is more difficult to shoot on the PS2, but overall, I prefer the old-style controls. You can’t really lounge back with the Wiimote and the need to hold your gun-hand steady becomes tiring after a while.