God Hand’s penultimate fight pits Gene against his rival Azel in a knuckle-breaking slug-fest that demands that the player understands every pillar of the games mechanics. To stop him from resurrecting the ancient devil Angra, you need to pick and choose your moves to beat his, to reposition to gain a tactical advantage, and to bob and weave around counter attacks that can lead into a button mashing power struggle you’ll feel all the way down your arm. And just like main character Gene, Azel can activate the supreme powers in his arm and execute a fast-action barrage thanks to his God Hand. To beat him, you need the full cooperation of a focused mind and tuned body.
Fifteen minutes into Resident Evil 4, Shinji Mikami and his design team test your comprehension of the mechanics they’ve been invisibly teaching you since you selected ‘New Game’. Former rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy had just fought his way through the Ganado’s Village and now finds himself catching his breath on an old dingy farm. Stray slightly from the beaten path and you’ll find a radiant pearl necklace enticingly suspended above a barrel of putrid water, patiently waiting for you to find it. Retrieving this necklace is your test. You can’t just reach out and interact with it, so you draw your handgun and shoot it loose- and immediately fail as it falls directly into the barrel of sludge beneath. When you pull it from the filth, your inventory lists the item as ‘Dirty Pearl Pendant’, its picture a grimy mess. Looking back at the barrel, you notice the 2×4 propping up the lid, so you shoot that next and watch it create a cover. Since you didn’t learn the lesson before, you do now: Resident Evil 4 rewards tactical gunplay.
Let’s study the notes: