ATB’s Best Games Ever: (2) Resident Evil 4


The “American prevailing” is a cliche that only happens in your Hollywood movies. Oh Mr. Kennedy, you entertain me. To show my appreciation, I will help you awaken from your world of clichés.

This is the list of At the Buzzer’s top 25 games of all-time, as voted on by the main ATB cast members and other friends of the show. We’ve reached the top five, which means things are about to get REAL. For more information on how this whole thing works or for the other games on the list, check out the Related Links at the bottom of this post.

2) Resident Evil 4 (GC)

Chris: The first Resident Evil game I played was 5, and for once I think my preference for co-op cost me.

residentevil4boxIt’s not that RE5 was a bad game. It’s just that it was the first step in a beloved series going down the wrong path. RE5 was more of an action game than survival horror, and RE6 — well, that game’s just ridiculous. So my first experience with the series was with a game that was missing its soul, its spirit.

Resident Evil 4, on the other hand, might be the best survival horror game ever made. This is especially surprising because of the game’s appearance on the Gamecube, considering that this was right in the middle of the “Nintendo only makes games for kids” argument that a bunch of people complained about. RE4 was dark, gritty, and fully deserving of its Mature rating, a stark contrast to most other games for the system.

That ambiance sets the stage for a fantastic game, however, that builds on the success of its predecessors. Leon Kennedy’s life isn’t in great shape — he has an infestation inside of him, the president’s hot daughter has an infestation inside of her and needs rescuing, a girl in a red dress whose life he saved keeps messing with him, and oh yeah, there’s infected people everywhere trying to kill him. Having to keep Leon alive through all of this, especially during the times when he’s escorting Ashley and charged with keeping her alive, adds to the suspense. And all of this is from a perfect over-the-shoulder angle, giving you just enough space to see what’s in front of you while leaving you constantly worried about what you can’t see.

If I had a time machine, somewhere on the list (probably quite a ways down) would be going back and playing Resident Evil 4 before the series got ridiculous and lost sight of what it made it so great.

RE4 made an appearance on four different voters’ lists, including a number one pick from Dave and a top-five spot from Shaun. In fact, it was just onnnnnnnnne point from being the best game ever.

Dave: I’ve never understood the zombie craze. I get one movie, maybe the TV show, but I don’t understand the culture. People who go and make plans for the zombie apocalypse like it’s going to be a real thing confuse the hell out of me.

That being said, the reason I loved Resident Evil 4 is because they kept the zombie feeling without the zombies.

Instead of having mindless beings who just kind of stumble toward you, you have people who are possessed by a parasite working together to kill you in all sorts of different ways. Which of course leads to the excellent gameplay of RE4. As you arrive in the town, you never feel like you’re out to stop anyone; rather, you’re there to save Ashley and get her the hell out of dodge and not get your head chopped off in the process.

Not only was this game the finest game I’ve ever played from start to finish, it was one of the few amazing games that ever was released on the GameCube, which isn’t a very long list unfortunately. The third person over-the-shoulder view brought you into Leon’s mind while also making you feel like you are actually about to be jumped by the next zombie around the corner. The laser pointer aiming system made precise shots and quick movements necessary as you fight through horrors that no human should ever experience.

Shaun: If there is a game in history whose failure I would have bet money on, it’s Resident Evil 4. Marred by a long, troubled development history that saw more than one reimagining (one of which ended up spawning Devil May Cry, if you can believe that), it just didn’t seem like Capcom’s effort to revitalize the premier survival horror franchise would succeed.

Well, Resident Evil 4 didn’t just revitalize the series; it revolutionized gaming completely.

Graphically, it was the most realistic game released that generation, a mind-boggling feat considering the minimal horsepower possessed by the Gamecube in comparison to its peers. The game engine, lighting, and textures were simply phenomenal, setting the stage for the stark grittiness of the game’s tone.

And it was gritty, from the opening moments. After seeing his companions get brutally murdered, Leon is thrust into a fight where he has to fight an entire village trying to kill him.

Fight isn’t the right word — survive is more like it. I’d never seen that in a game before; Leon, running through a “zombie” infested village, knocking down ladders, barricading windows, and doing whatever he could to create distance between him and his bloodthirsty attackers. His fight for survival was a visceral, white-knuckle experience that didn’t let up.

The over-the-shoulder aiming was precise, and a huge step up from the Sherman tank controls the series was known for. People may gripe about not being able to shoot and move today, but at the time, the difference between Resident Evil 3 and 4’s movement and fluidity was like going from running underwater to riding a dolphin. A flying dolphin that surfs on rainbows. Yes, it’s that different. Shut up.

Resident Evil 4 was so unique because it prioritized, more than anything, incredible pacing. Rather than get complacent after perfecting its core gameplay, RE 4 continued throwing new angles at the player, relying on quick time events and dynamic boss battles to change up the formula. Yes, quick-time has been abused to the point of absurdity know, but at the time, it was a great mechanic to immerse the player in cutscenes. The title’s portrayal of Leon Kennedy is one of the biggest reasons he remains one of gaming’s most cool, iconic characters, and I don’t think the game gets enough credit for doing the loathed “escort mission” right (in fact, in some cases, the player can exploit Ashley for aid in the fight). RE 4 is balanced, progressive, and brilliant; it’s also one of the main reasons I’ll argue the Gamecube was the golden age of gaming.

Don’t let the series more recent, flat iterations sway you; RE 4 is a game that must be experienced.



(3) Chrono Trigger

(4) Mass Effect 2

(5) Knights of the Old Republic

(6) Pokemon Red/Blue

(7) Portal

(8) Final Fantasy VI

(9) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

(10) Super Mario 64

(11) Kingdom Hearts II

(12) Persona 4 Golden

(13) Super Mario Bros. 3

(14) Halo

(15) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

(16) Super Smash Bros. Melee

(17) Super Mario Galaxy 2

(18) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

(19) Final Fantasy IX

(20) Star Fox 64

(21) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

(22) The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

(23) Fallout 3

(24) StarCraft

(25) Bioshock

Best Games Ever: #50-26

Best Games Ever: #75-51

Best Games Ever: #100-76

Honorable Mentions


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