Games of the Decade (part one)
The easiest way to determine what qualifies a videogame as being 'great' is to simply pay an online visit to review aggregation services such as Metacritic or Game Rankings. However, the definition of greatness exists well beyond the realms of simian critics drooling mindlessly over 'Game X' as opposed to 'Game Y'.
The same applies to a game's reception and appraisal by cash-carrying videogame consumers. Heaven knows, for every groundbreaking and innovative title worthy of its fleeting place atop the retail chart, there are a multitude of unimpressive and derivative releases that sell by the bucket load while revelling in their underserved glory.
Therefore, when amassing a 'Greatest Games of the Decade' feature, our thoughts were drawn, not just to the 'best-selling' or 'most critically acclaimed' releases since 2000, but also to those games that left an indelible mark upon the industry, those that made a definite difference, and those that remain important despite the passing of time.
Title: Resident Evil 4
Developer: Production Studio 4
Release Date: January 2005
By the time we'd ploughed through Capcom's five other helpings of blood and gore to reach Resident Evil 4 (the series' sixth instalment), it's fair to say stagnancy was setting in. Much like any other long-running videogame franchise that centres on a single core mechanic, there are only so many bulbous zombie heads you can pop before the experience starts to wear a little thin.
However, arriving as something of a swan song for Nintendo's hopelessly under appreciated GameCube, Resident Evil 4 successfully brought the series back to its original survival-horror roots and breathed fresh life into an otherwise ailing genre. We won't pause long enough to dwell on Capcom's subsequent and most recent shortfall with Resident Evil 5. Moving on...
Packed to the rafters with shock moments galore and genuinely unnerving boss battles that set the heart pounding, Resident Evil 4 worked its nerve-jangling magic by juxtaposing a mixture of claustrophobic camera work and static close-quarter action, against moments of grand scale and narrative gusto that repeatedly shook the player breathless. This winning formula was revisited - and perhaps bettered - by the even more direct and tactile scares laced throughout the Wii Edition of Resident Evil 4.
Of course, Resident Evil 4 wasn't without its flaws, not least its somewhat grimy graphics, the shoehorned character performances typical of Japanese games dragged ass-backwards through the localisation process, and the introduction of damned context sensitive button prompts. But, ultimately, such failings amounted to a mere cosmetic scratch upon a gleaming trophy of a game that had prospective gamers emptying their bank accounts and filling their pants in equal measure.
Boasting quicker and smarter zombies than previous games, an improved variety of weaponry, and a cloying oppressive atmosphere not replicated since 1996's original adventure in Racoon City, Resident Evil 4 ably showed that every once-mighty franchise can be saved from the jaws of doom if it's hauled back to what made it great in the first place.