The bad guys are no longer zombies, but no less scary.
By MONTY PHAN
LONG ISLAND NEWSDAY
If you look closely at the cover of the game Resident Evil 4, you'll see a guy with a sack-covered head wielding a chain saw. Some words of advice if you play this game: Don't get near that guy.
Also, don't try shooting him with a mere pistol, as I did. It won't work, and he'll end up just sawing your head off, which is what happened to me. Man, I hate that guy.
First released for the original Sony PlayStation in 1996, the Resident Evil series has been so successful that it spawned a new genre: "survival horror," in which the best games are as scary as they are fun.
By that criteria, Resident Evil 4 should find itself at the top of the survival horror heap. Players take on the role of Leon, a government agent -- and a survivor of the events of Resident Evil 2 -- who is sent to a small European village to find Ashley, the kidnapped daughter of the U.S. president.
Right away you'll notice how this game is different from the others: There aren't any zombies. Instead, your enemies are possessed villagers, normal-looking people with an unnaturally overwhelming desire to see your head perched on the end of the pitchfork, ax, scythe or whichever other Home Depot purchase they happen to be wielding.
To the point
The mood of the game is perfect. Creepy music usually portends the sight of angry villagers coming to get you (except one time when I wandered into a shack, confident I had rid the area of enemies because the creepy music had stopped, and a woman with a knife jumped out at me, nearly causing me to drop the controller). Adding to the tension is that it's difficult to peer around corners or see too much of the periphery.
This game also is stingier with ammunition than its predecessors. Fortunately, the aiming system is simple, with a laser sight to help you. However, a head shot won't always get rid of enemies.
And, oh yeah -- kids shouldn't play this. Did I mention the chain saw guy?
Bottom line: Resident Evil 4 is surely the best in the series, and may be among the best this year.