You know how most horror movies have a part where one guy knows he’s cornered by the monster and just blindly attacks yelling before getting ripped apart? I lived that moment once in Resident Evil 4. It wasn’t even a scripted event in the game. It was just an emergent thing that happened.
I’ve retold this story a few times online at places like 1up or BitMob but I was surprised when it didn’t show up on a search of my blog posts on this site. So, for RE4’s 10th anniversary, in case you hadn’t read it yet or couldn’t find it anymore, here’s my best personal experience with the game.
After a dozen runs on Normal mode – most of them with extra items taking the fear out of the game, I decided one day to finally nut up for my first Professional (hard) mode run. Right from the beginning all the way through, the game re-asserted its position as one of the most intense pieces of entertainment media in recent years. This was true most of all during the ordeal with the Verdugo – arguably RE4’s most dangerous boss.
For those that don’t remember its name, the Verdugo was that nigh-invincible thing you fought in the castle sewers – the “right hand.” For those who haven’t played RE4, this is a boss whose normal claw swipe can decapitate you instantly. Unless you freeze him with liquid nitrogen, he’s the only character in the game who can shrug off a direct hit from the rocket launcher.
I’d heard stories of how Professional mode players had to die enough times for RE4’s dynamic difficulty to make him actually killable. The conventional wisdom is that if you don’t have a rocket launcher, don’t try to kill him and just survive for four minutes until the elevator arrives. Even though I didn’t have a rocket launcher I thought I could get by and kill him with the help of an upgraded Broken Butterfly Magnum.
A few minutes, nitrogen tanks, and every last bullet I had later, he was still alive. Next option? Uh… run down the sewer towards the elevator room and knock down more nitrogen tanks on the way? Maybe I’d almost killed him and these last few submachine gun rounds I found could finish him off right?
I found myself in the last room with the elevator – which hadn’t arrived yet, and absolutely nothing left on me. A table was pretty much the last thing separating us. I knew I was going to die.
It wasn’t like how you usually die in video games where you make a mistake and instantly pay for it. I actually had a few seconds in which to realize I was screwed. As Verdugo took a step towards me, I took out my knife all like “let’s do this,” realizing I’d seen this moment in a dozen horror movies.
Then the elevator came up behind me.
The reason Resident Evil 4 is one of my favorite games is because it wasn’t just able to provide me intensity, but also desperation. So many games these days pamper you with lots of guns, regenerating health, and generous save systems. For a while even horror games, ironically in pursuit of RE4’s legacy, just let you shoot ugly monsters without taking the time to craft intensity or desperation. When is the last time a game put you in a situation where you literally didn’t think you were going to make it?
My first Professional mode run through RE4 didn’t get easier after that moment either. After again draining all my ammo on the Krauser fight, I spent the rest of the game just stunning enemies and running away from them. I still had to beat the final boss with nothing other than the knife.
My reward: A corrupted memory card.
- Don’t forget about the in-progress retexture mod at re4hd.com
- An old post on why RE4 is still the best. https://noplatform.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/why-has-no-one-surpassed-resident-evil-4/
- My favorite review of RE4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAWw22987Iw
- So Starshock is pretty much on hold. http://t.co/ZZ8bdDAvHv
- A new fan-made Left 4 Dead 2 campaign looks good. http://t.co/t65FlfChvP
- ???? http://store.steampowered.com/app/335420/