Resident Evil 4 had one of the most tormented developments in any game in which four proposed versions of the game were discarded by the developers before the finished product was released in 2005.
Following numerous successive alterations, it was decided to change the game's genre to reinvent the series. In a later interview, he mentioned that he was put under enormous pressure by Capcom, threatened with the series' cancellation if the game had not sold well. According to newly-assigned producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Inspired by Onimusha 3, a game Mikami had enjoyed playing but felt could have been better with a different view, he decided to place the camera behind the playable character. To go along with the new gameplay and story, a new type of enemy called "Ganado" was created, as opposed to using the undead creatures from previous Resident Evil games. Furthermore, producers expended additional detail to modify and update characters that had previously appeared in the series. In a documentary explaining the conception of the game's characters, a game designer stated he intended to make Leon Kennedy "look tougher, but also cool".
Full Model Change
Because the game contains no zombies, this installment is a radical departure from the series formula. The enemies were originally planned to be more paranormal in nature, but this was seen as too much of a departure from the rest of the series. Instead, the main enemies are parasitically-controlled humans referred to as "Los Ganados". Considerably more intelligent and more agile than the zombies from previous games; Ganado are a very different sort of foe. These new enemies run, dodge, wield melee and projectile weapons and are capable of following complex instructions and working collectively. Once simple farmers, these Ganado are the product of an infestation of Las Plagas parasites. They are also capable of following Leon up ladders, through doors and even through windows, proving them to be very relentless in their pursuit.
Resident Evil 4 also contains changes to the inventory, camera angles, and movement control system. Normally, the camera remains behind the player character, who is visible from the waist up, and stands just left of the center of the screen. The camera zooms in close behind Leon for an over-the-shoulder view when the aiming button is held, and all ballistic weapons (save for those with telescopic sights) are given laser sight for aiming.
The inclusion of laser sight and over the shoulder aiming gives players an unprecedented amount of control in their attacks. Previous Resident Evil titles always had the gun pointing straight ahead with the ability for players to tilt their weapon up, or down; Resident Evil 4 expands this considerably. Enemies now respond differently to bullet impacts to various parts of the body. For example, a shot to the foot may cause an approaching enemy to stumble, while a shot to the arm might make an enemy drop their weapon. Ammo is more plentiful than in previous installments, primarily because enemies drop ammo after they are defeated. A large selection of weapons may be purchased from and continuously upgraded by the Merchant using the currency in the game, the peseta.
Item management has also undergone significant change. While previous installments restricted a character to carrying a set number of items, Resident Evil 4 bases the number of items a character may carry on a grid system in which each item takes up a set of squares on the grid. The player's carrying capacity may be expanded by purchasing larger attaché cases. In addition, key items are now kept separately from weapons and healing supplies, allowing the player to acquire them without dropping current items or backtracking to the nearest item chest to make room. Treasures may be collected and sold to the Merchant for pesetas. The healing herbs from the previous games are back and in addition to the traditional green and red herbs is the yellow herb, which when combined with a green herb (or a mixed herb), increases the player's maximum health. Blue herbs don't make an appearance in this game since there is no risk of poison.
Another new aspect of Resident Evil 4 is the inclusion of context-sensitive controls. Based on the situation, the player can interact with specific aspects of their environment, such as by kicking down a ladder, jumping out of a window, or dodging an enemy attack. The player can perform a melee attack against a Ganado (as well as other enemies) while the enemy is stunned or crouching. The game also features a permanently mapped knife button, which the player can use in addition to firearms. The knife is more useful than in previous titles as significant damage can be dealt without being at risk from attack.
The game also features a more cinematic presentation by using letterbox. Loading times are kept to a minimum, unlike previous Resident Evil games, where moving between areas required a load screen. In Resident Evil 4, the game loads only between areas denoted by green action text. An area may feature anything from a few buildings to a huge military base. Doors are manipulated by hitting 'action' next to them, after which the character opens the door slowly and quietly. If the player presses 'action' twice, the character will kick the door open (which can send enemies to the ground). Cutscenes load almost instantaneously making the transition between gameplay and cutscenes almost fluid. However, the PlayStation 2 version loads slower, and has lower fidelity sound effects outside of cutscenes due to audio RAM constraints.
Resident Evil 4 uses fully three-dimensional in game graphics; ingame scenes and movies (for the GameCube, Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions) are rendered in real-time. This allows for a mobile camera - a change from most of the previous games in the series which used pre-rendered, occasionally animated backdrops with superimposed 3D characters. The game's visual quality and attention to detail were lauded by critics and many described the game as the best-looking GameCube title.
The game is designed to not fully use the 4:3 screen area, but rather to run in a letterboxed format; this choice was most likely made to save on fillrate, since a large part of the screen does not have to be rendered. An anamorphic 16:9 mode was implemented in the PS2 port and included in all subsequent versions of the game. This mode omits the borders of the 4:3 mode, but still renders the game in the same resolution and utilizes the TV to stretch the image. This results in blurrier graphics, more visible dithering and no additional field of view being added to the game. The widescreen image also has small borders at the left and right, meaning that the aspect ratio is still not exactly 16:9.
Some graphical differences exist between the GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions. The PlayStation 2 version uses pre-rendered FMVs recorded from the GameCube version instead of real-time footage for cutscenes, though these FMVs have comparable graphical quality to the rest of the game. For the PlayStation 2 version, graphical effects are reduced in detail. Even more noticeably are the water, shadow, and fog effects, as well as a reduced draw distance. Polygon count has also been lowered in many instances.
The GameCube version of Resident Evil 4 went through slight modifications in each regional release since the initial one. The North American version was the first and the original to be released, followed shortly by the Japanese version (titled Biohazard 4). These two versions are reportedly identical in most aspects (excluding localization), with the major differences being that animation involving decapitation were censored and removed from the Japanese version. This was presumably due to the fact that Biohazard 4 was the first game in the series (not including re-releases and ports) to be rated by the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization, which objected to the game's depictions of decapitations. When Leon is killed by a chainsaw-wielding Ganado, his face is rather unrealistically mutilated. In Japan, the Assignment: Ada minigame is titled Ada the Spy. In addition, the Japanese release of Biohazard 4 contains an "Easy" mode, while also lowering the amount of money and first aid spray which can be found throughout the game, it also features classic fixed (but dynamic) camera angles similar to CODE:Veronica in Ashley's game-play segment exclusively.
The PAL versions of the game went through several changes from the North American version. This includes more balanced gameplay, a new Easy mode and increased firepower in some guns. In addition, the listed firing speed for rifles has been changed to reflect their actual firing speed in the game more accurately.
In terms of violent content, all the PAL region versions are identical to the North American version. This is with exception to the German version of the game, which has the Assignment Ada and Mercenaries minigames left out. Since all PAL versions include multiple localization, the game sold in the Netherlands is identical to the UK version. Only the language of the manual is different in each country. The Swiss and Austrian version, however has all the original violence of the normal game and also includes the two mini-games that were removed from the German version while shipping with a German booklet.
PlayStation 2 Port
A PlayStation 2 port of Resident Evil 4 was released in America on October 25, 2005. Despite earlier rumors of a downgraded port due to the PlayStation 2's hardware limitations, impressions of the port based on a preview build have been generally favorable. Many critics stated that the PlayStation 2 version's graphics were very close to the GameCube’s, despite a lower polygon count, which resulted in a loss of character and environment detail.
The port is missing many lighting effects, however, and water effects needed to be re-designed (ripple with transparency, but a flat surface with no reflections) as the PlayStation 2 hardware does not have the same capabilities as the GameCube. Some small things were left out of the PlayStation 2 version, for instance, the barrels that Leon breaks throughout the game are missing a circular rim on the top compared to the GameCube version. In an interview, Ganados polygon counts were compared to that of the GameCube version revealing how much polygon counts were sacrificed.
it can also be manually compared when extracting the models with proper methods or other methods such as the use of "unofficial" tools and emulators showing the differences in models when comparing the two version. Some character model physics were also downgraded or completely removed due to the sacrificial and downgrading of model quality such as Ada's hair, Leon's back hair, Ashley's hair and Skirt being no longer animated as they were in the original game release.
Additionally, almost all the GameCube’s real-time cut scenes were converted into movie files in order to maintain a better quality. This results in the player’s character appearing wearing their default costume, regardless of which accessories or outfits were actually chosen. Furthermore, voices and sound effects quality outside of the cut-scenes had been reduced due to disc space being quickly used and audio RAM constraints.
The gameplay balancing present in the PAL GameCube version applies to the PlayStation 2 version as well (though the North American release has no Easy option). A 16:9 mode was added in addition to the default letter-boxed display; this effectively only zooms the game in and does not offer a larger field of view.
To compensate for the late release, Capcom added new content made specifically for the PlayStation 2 release and later the Wii and PC versions.
- Separate Ways (The Another Order in Japan), a five chapter minigame which revolves around Ada Wong's involvement in Resident Evil 4, and her connection to Albert Wesker, a former member of the Raccoon City's S.T.A.R.S. division, who is now attempting to revive Umbrella. During the minigame, the player can use two exclusive weapons (a pump-action shotgun and a bowgun with explosive arrows).
- Ada's Report, a five-part documentary, which analyzes Ada's relationship with a particular character and their role in the plot. One unlocks portions of the documentary as they progress through the Separate Ways minigame.
- New costume set, which portrays Leon as a 1930s mobster, and puts Ashley in an indestructible suit of armor. If equipped while Leon is in his Mobster costume, the Chicago Typewriter turns into the 1928 model, with a drum magazine as opposed to the regular box magazine. Since the Chicago Typewriter has infinite ammo, and thus no need to reload, hitting the reload button while in the mobster costume and aiming the Chicago Typewriter will result in a "taunt" from Leon, one in which he adjusts his hat, the other he throws the hat into the air, catching it while posing. In addition to the Mobster and Knight outfits Leon can be equipped with a Raccoon City police uniform with Ashley wearing a somewhat revealing pop-star outfit.
- P.R.L. 412 (Plaga Removal Laser), a laser gun which can be used to instantly destroy enemies. Unlocked by beating the Professional difficulty setting.
- Movie Browser, a feature that allows the player to view cutscenes from the both Separate Ways and the main game. The feature is unlocked after a player beats the game.
- Amateur mode, an easier difficulty setting which is exclusive to the Japanese and Spanish versions.
PC (2007) Port
A PC port of Resident Evil 4 was developed by SourceNext and published by Ubisoft. This port was based on the PS2 Version and was released in the United States on May 15, 2007 and Europe on March 2, 2007. Capcom also released a PC port of the game in Japan and Taiwan. The port contains the bonus features from the PlayStation 2 version.
The port was less than well received, despite this, as it features numerous flaws (such as requiring a trainer hacks to use the mouse to aim). Although being able to run at a higher resolution than the console versions, the PC game is notable for having the worst graphics of all the ports, with the lighting being almost completely absent on the first release version. This was remedied in a patch (1.10) though, which makes the game look similar to the actual PS2 version. other flaws include the low resolution textures, the usage of the pre-rendered cutscenes since it is based on the PS2 port, and the laser being blocky when compared to PS2/Gamecube.
It also had one of the most active modding communities in the series, with custom models, skins, etc. available for download.
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition was released in North America on June 19, 2007, and in Europe on June 29, 2007. It features the bonus content from the PS2 version and has many alterations compared to previous ports, taking Wiimote aiming into account: the shooting mechanism uses a much larger reticule that turns from green to red when an enemy is targeted as opposed to a very narrow laser sight, a "quick knife" command is added that auto-targets the nearest enemy or object, and motion sensitive quick time event prompts are included as well as button presses. In The Mercenaries Leon and Ada can change outfits by pressing 1 or 2 buttons while selecting them, also Ada has her knife from Separate Ways in "The Mercenaries", unlike in other versions.
Visually the game is on par with the original GameCube version, as opposed to the somewhat inferior graphics of the PlayStation 2 version, although in very few instances the inferior PS2 graphics are mistakenly retained, such as herbs having lower detail models in some places. The P.R.L. 412 was significantly upgraded and now shoots several beams instead of just one. The Wii version also supports the Wii's Classic Controller, which reverts aiming and the laser sight back to the original format. The only other noticeable differences are that the game seems significantly easier, and that all of Leon's actions appear to move slightly faster (the most noticeable being the knife aim animation; holding C will equip the knife, aiming is done with the control stick. Leon noticeably aims the knife significantly faster than in all previous versions).
A basic mobile edition was released for IPhone/IPads and also Android; it uses the MascotCapsule engine and it's very basic.
- The graphics are slightly less smooth.
- The Mobile Edition of the game is much shorter.
- The game has five difficulties: Beginner, Normal, Professional, Hell, and Extreme.
- Aside from the greenish-yellow liquid that bursts out of an enemy after dying, there is no bleeding in the Mobile Edition of the game.
- All breakable objects that can contain items are all wooden crates.
- No money can be found in wooden crates.
- All in-game scenes are replaced with slideshow pictures with text (with the exception of the ending scene and the opening cinematic).
- The player cannot barricade doors and windows.
- The Merchant only appears before you start a mission.
- New weapons can only be unlocked in the main game. They cannot be unlocked by completing minigames.
- The only weapons that are available to purchase are the Handgun, Shotgun, Semi-Automatic Rifle, Rocket Launcher (both normal and infinite), Chicago Typewriter, Hand Grenade, Flash Grenade, Magnum, Mine Thrower, and the TMP.
- Ammunition is available to purchase from the Merchant.
- Green Herbs can be purchased from the Merchant.
- The price of all weapons are lower.
- Incendiary Grenades and the P.R.L. 412 are excluded.
- A rifle called the "P.M. Rifle" can be found in a wooden crate, and it is equipped with the Infrared Scope.
- All Iron Maidens were replaced with regular Regeneradors.
- The enemies that were excluded from the Mobile Edition were Iron Maidens, Novistador, Colmillos, Armored Garrador, and Giant Chainsaw Man.
- The bosses that were excluded from the Mobile Edition were Del Lago, and Bitores Mendez.
- All death scenes were excluded (such as decapitation scenes).
- Luis Sera does not fight with Leon on the Cabin scenario.
- Krauser can only be fought in his parasitic form.
- The player cannot play as Ashley.
- All enemies and bosses do not have special looks on them; they all look like standard enemies.
- Ganado only attack by strangling or by using hatchets and pitchforks.
- Zealots only attack by strangling or by using scythes and crossbows.
- When a Ganado throws an axe, he cannot take out another one.
- Treasure, Keys, and other items can be easier to find.
- Minigames are excluded (with the exceptions of the "Coin-Shot" and "Mercenary Mode").
- Blue Medallions cannot be found in the main game.
- The player cannot change into different costumes.
- Sometimes the mobile edition is not complete.
PS3 / X360: HD Edition
Capcom released a remastered high-definition version along with Code: Veronica for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A disc version was released only in Japan on September 8, 2011, called Biohazard Revival Selection. In Europe and North America, the game was released on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live on September 20, 2011 as Resident Evil 4 HD, this port is directly based off the Wii port, having all the new features that the Wii added. However, it should be noted that the cutscenes of the Separate Ways scenario are not in HD and have had their resolution lowered and placed in sepia format. Aside from the updated HUD, the Movie Browser is fixed to now display real time cut-scenes instead of the PS2 pre-rendered cut-scene, like it was the Wii version. The Mercenaries costumes cheat remain and fully work.
PC (2014) Ultimate HD Edition
This version was based on the previously released PS3/360 HD Versions to compensate for the "bad" port that was released in 2007, as this was based on the "HD" Versions which was based on the Wii Version (which was also based on the original GameCube release with added PS2 Bonus Content) This version features all previously seen additional content including the achievements from the latest "HD" Console versions. Additionally It also includes around 13 GB of "supposedly" HD Textures which includes a few remade textures while the rest is upscaled.
The game can be played with SD (Standard) and HD (High) quality textures, a filter option and an FPS (Frames Per Second / Game Rendering Speed) Lock option was also added allowing the user to select from 30 or 60 FPS Options.
This port suffered with various problems like slowdowns or game crashing on release and the lack of proper HD Textures, however, after a series of patches to fix the game it was well received for it's quality despite it's huge data size. Some fans also took the liberty to update the game's textures on their own.
Special editions and bonuses
During the GameCube launch, retailer chain GameStop released Resident Evil 4 in a limited special edition, packaged in a tin box, along with an artwork book about the story of the series, a laser cel of Leon, and a soundtrack CD. The PlayStation 2 also saw a special edition, (though official, released by Capcom itself), packaged in a "fake tin" plastic case, along with the artwork book, a documentary DVD, and an Ada laser cel.
Game developer NubyTech also made a special chainsaw controller. This controller is a reference to the chainsaw-wielding Ganado, Dr. Salvador. The GameCube version is yellow, while the PlayStation 2 version is orange. The controller is very detailed in appearance, featuring blood-stains and a bloody image of Leon. However, due to its less-than-ideal layout and cost, it is seen more as a collector's item rather than an enhancement to the gameplay.
- Main article: biohazard4 Original Soundtrack
The original 2-disc soundtrack CD for Resident Evil 4, composed by Misao Senbongi & Shusaku Uchiyama, was released in Japan on December 22, 2005 and its catalogue number is CPCA-10126~7.