A few months ago, Dann had bet me that in two weeks I'd be able to pick up Resident Evil 4 for twenty bucks at Game Crazy. I challenged him to put his money where his mouth was, and he took me up. On April 2nd, I went over to Game Crazy and that found the only used copy was about $40. I picked it up, and on Tuesday I'll get my winnings. In the meantime, I've been playing a good amount of Resident Evil. I think I've put in about five hours in the last week, and it's been pretty darn enjoyable.
Everything that was right with RE1 is righter in RE4. Everything wrong is fixed. There are still zombies (even if they're not undead), but now they seem more threatening and unpredictable. There are still puzzles, but now they seem less completely out of place. There are still typewriters, but you never find yourself spending an hour trying to find a ink ribbon to save. It's just the best survival horror game I've played. (I'm not counting Eternal Darkness, which is on its own plane.)
There are some problems, but they're pretty minor. As most survival games do, RE4 has "protect this defenseless idiot" segments, and they're annoying. If I was a black ops badass, and I was told to protect some idiot schoolgirl, I would give her strict instructions about where to stand, and I would not let her obstinantly stand in one place while I run around flushing out zombies.
Also, in the end, I probably wouldn't give up if I let the president's daughter die, but knew that I could still stop the world from being enslaved. Priorities, Leon!
The game has numerous references back to the previous Resident Evil games, and I haven't found them completely ridiculous, yet. I only sort of understand it all, though. Since I hated RE1 and RE2 so strongly, I never played all the way through. Instead, I spent hours, a few months ago, reading an extensive description of the plot of every RE game. It didn't cover one or two of them, but it was pretty exhaustive. It made it clear that RE1 was sort of interesting, and that Codename: Veronica was moronic. Sequels should not be obliged to suck.
I think all this monster-fighting is affecting me. Last night I had a weird dream about monsters, but I can't remember it. The night before, I had horrible nightmares.
I was on a school bus, sitting near the front. We were driving up to a grizzly scene on the street: a few young kids had been hit by a vehicle, and their bodies were lying in the road, grotesquely mutilated. Nearby, some other kids (possibly the friends of the vicims) look on. The bus driver kept driving, and as he did so one of the onlookers stepped in front of the bus and was run down. The driver was upset, but kept going. This happened several more times! We'd come upon mangled bodies in the street, and more people would jump in front of us. Sometimes, the victim threw himself in front of the bus with no bodies nearby; he'd just appear to be a pedestrian until the fateful moment.
When I say that the bodies were gruesome, I want to be really clear: I remember very clearly the way that joints were broken apart and how flesh had been torn and broken.
Finally, as we approached a corner near my parents' house, I saw the familiar scene in the road ahead. "For fuck's sake, stop!" I yelled at the driver. He did, and as we screeched to a stop, one of the kids stepped sideways in front of the bus, but somehow got between the engine compartment and the windscreen. It was as if there was a clipping problem in my dream's rendering. The windscreen (and presumably the firewall) smacked into him and his face bled on the glass.
When I woke up, I was still tired, but didn't want to fall asleep again, lest I go back to that same dream.