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Critical Reception: Capcom's Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, an enhanced port of the GameCube and PlayStation 2 original that some review outlets are calling "the definitive version of Resident Evil 4."
This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, an enhanced port that some review outlets are calling "the definitive version of Resident Evil 4." Originally released in 2005, the GameCube version of Resident Evil 4 won widespread acclaim thanks largely to its reworked gameplay and an improved control scheme. Resident Evil 4 was a hit with critics and series fans, and even managed to win back a fair number of former players who had previously abandoned the series due to its outdated and occasionally frustrating control scheme. The later PlayStation 2 port took a hit in graphical quality, but managed to retain the GameCube version's gameplay while also adding a number of extra features. The recent Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition attempts to combine the best elements from both versions in a package that adds Wii remote-specific gameplay functions. So far, the attempt appears to have been successful, with critical reaction averaging a score of 90 out of 100, according to Metacritic.com. GameSpy's Bryn Williams is impressed enough with Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition to award it a score of 5 out of 5 stars. "Resident Evil 4 redefined the survival horror experience," he begins. "Sporting exactly the same great additional content as the bolstered PS2 revision, along with spankingly accurate and impressive Wii-specific controls, we're confident in stating that the Wii game is now the definitive version of Resident Evil 4." "The reason that the Wii version is the best is because the new control system makes the gameplay more enjoyable," Williams explains. "Using both the Wii remote and the nunchuck, players will be able to perform all of the regular moves and attacks from before, only now they can do them in a more sensitive, accurate and pleasing fashion." Williams continues: "This is the real key to success. What was a decent enough implementation of combat in the GameCube and PS2 versions is mastered with the Wii's intuitive control system. Williams also praises the motion-triggered combat knife and Wii remote-specific interactive cutscenes as being among the new port's greatest enhancements. "Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is an absolute must-buy for Wii owners who have yet to enjoy the dark delights RE4 has to offer," he concludes. "Its lower-than-average price tag only sweetens the deal." A staff writer at ComputerAndVideoGames.com is also impressed, doling out a rating of 9.3 out of 10. "Ostensibly this new edition is nothing more than a rehash of the GameCube and PS2 versions of Resident Evil 4, but in actuality - thanks to the wonders of Wii - it emerges as a full, bloody rebirth," says CVG's reviewer. Like GameSpy's review, CVG highlights the improved control system as being particularly noteworthy, though its combination of the best elements from the previous PS2 and GameCube ports makes Wii Edition especially significant for Resident Evil 4 diehards. "In terms of the content here, almost everything has remained the same as the GameCube and PS2 versions," the review explains. "Or rather, this edition takes the best from both of those versions. The visuals are based on the Cube game's engine, but nicely upscaled to 480p (progressive scan) and rendered in 16:9 (widescreen)." "The PS2 extras are also here," CVG's writer emphasizes. "Everything is in place, then, to make this the definitive version of Resident Evil 4." Though CVG warns that some may be disappointed in the fact that Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is not an entirely new game, others will find their expectations fulfilled. "We're not going to complain because Capcom hasn't built a new Wii game from the ground up. That's not the point of this release," the review summarizes. "It has the looks, it has the compelling level design, and it has the scary bits. Check, then: this is Resident Evil 4 all over again, but slightly better." Eurogamer's Dave McCarthy, on the other hand, looks at Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition as a step back from the original release. McCarthy describes the GameCube and PS2 versions of Resident Evil 4 as having an improved control scheme in comparison to previous Resident Evil games, and expected Wii Edition "to establish the definitive version of the game: like it was on the GameCube and the PlayStation 2 but with an even newer, more improved control scheme, thanks to Nintendo's universally accessible Wiimote." Unfortunately: "It doesn't." McCarthy spends a good portion of his 7-out-of-10 review describing the Wii control scheme's drawbacks in detail. "The problem is that the aiming process is an uneasy conjunction between pointing the Wiimote and twiddling the analogue stick," he writes. "You'll point the Wiimote at things you want to shoot, but this is a wobbly, fuzzy experience, compared to the precision of the previous versions of the game." McCarthy continues: "And you'll twiddle the analogue stick to steer the screen round if you want to aim at something to the edge of your view or off-screen. And because you can't move the camera round with the Wiimote the absence of a strafe function and the slow turning speed and the impossibility of shooting while moving feel even more backward and annoying than they did the last time around." "Apart from that, it's exactly what you'd expect from Resident Evil 4," McCarthy admits. "It's still one magnificent set-piece after another, and all the neat touches are present and intact." Despite the quality of the source material, the clumsiness of Wii Edition's new control scheme has McCarthy conflicted. "It's just a shame that one of the best ever action games has become another casualty of the Wii controller," he states in conclusion. "Indeed, for a controller that was supposed to herald a new dawn of inclusive gaming there are a lot of third-party publishers who have yet to get their heads round it." While critical opinion is divided in regards to the effectiveness of the Wii-specific control scheme, the bulk of Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition remains unchanged from previous versions, and the package represents great value both for fans and for gamers waiting for a "best parts" version of Resident Evil 4. For series newcomers -- along with those who enjoyed Resident Evil 4 on the GameCube, PS2, or PCs and wouldn't mind playing through the experience again -- a purchase seems like a safe bet.

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