When a game of the year releases on a brand new console, people listen. People want it. We all want to experience that same enjoyment we did when we first played it, and perhaps more importantly, we all want to be able to replay that great game whenever we want. So when Capcom announced that they were working on Resident Evil 4 for the iPhone, everyone listened.
And for good reason. Resident Evil 4 is often considered the best in the series. Just read one of our reviews if you’re unsure about the game. On the iPhone, however, RE4 is a completely different beast, namely because it’s much smaller, much lighter, and played much differently.
Gone are the beautiful cinematics and stunning audio, dropped entirely to better suit the normal mobile gamer (read: it takes less space). Clocking it at just over 70MB, RE4 on the iPhone is not a full-fledged port, but rather a well-designed mobile version of the same game. The controls work, the gameplay is there, and the thrill of the hunt remains. RE4 on the iPhone literally cut all the fat away from the game, leaving a timid text-only plot and the most memorable sites and scenes from the original.
The controls are similar to what was found in Resident Evil: Degeneration, the controls are simple: one virtual analog stick for movement and aiming, where aiming is toggled. A few right-hand buttons act as the shoot, knife, and pick up commands. A menu system is all touch-based. The start screen has a quick CGI intro with famed Resident Evil hero Leon Kennedy.
The game itself is barren with content and detail. Created for the original iPhone (and iPhone 3G), there was less processing power than both the Nintendo Gamecube and Sony Playstation 2. Instead, the real danger players will face in RE4 is making the shot in time with the proper aim before one or two of the on-screen zombies grab you. At first, it’s exciting, and then it gets tedious, but towards the end it once again picks up.
Having tested RE4 on both an original iPhone and the 3GS, it’s safe to say that there are no issues on either device and that the game generally runs fine, with minimal slowdown. We did not test the iPad Edition for this review.
What is clear having gone through the campaign is that the iPhone version does not do the series justice. Sure, it gives us instant access to shoot zombies straight out of our pockets, but Resident Evil 4 has always been special because of all of the elements it introduced. For the iPhone, much of that is lost, even though manic gameplay returns, if only for a short while. For the nostalgia and price, some players may be interested in downloading the game. Otherwise, we recommend sticking to your home console and enjoying the beauty through what is still a fantastic title.