An Undead Hunger Walks Still. . .
I have a problem. It's a shallow, selfish, absurd problem, but a problem nonetheless. My problem is Resident Evil 4. This was the fourth or fifth title I bought for my Gamecube, and even though I purchased the game after acquiring the system it runs on, I still hail it as the reason for owning the platform. I really love this game. It has so much of what I want and so little of what I don't. It filled some sort of void in my gaming library and now we are inseparable. I think about it all the time. I can feel the controller in my hand, my fingers unconsciously executing the button combinations as I play through the experience in my head. Phantom pressure resonating through my fingers as I subconsciously reload and quick-turn and sprint from a boulder. Basically, Peewee would be lucky to marry this game.
The problem is whenever I fire my Cube up, if RE4 isn't loading, it feels wrong. Don't misunderstand. I like other Gamecube games. I just bought Tales of Symphonia used and am really enjoying it, but, I still can't stop thinking about using Leon to kill crazy asses with a shotgun. Even while I'm playing and enjoying other games I keep thinking about taking them out and putting in Resident Evil 4 instead.
With my Xbox or DS or other system this isn't a problem. The temptation is absent. Only when I turn on the former Dolphin do I start getting the Granados-killing jitters. I have completed the game 7 times; started it probably closer to 20. I make up these little stipulations when I'm playing. I'm only going to use the first shotgun. How fast can I make it through with the Chicago Typewriter? Don't use any heals. I rarely complete the entire game with these criteria satisfied but I just love playing so much I just start it right back up again.
When I say this game fills a void in my gaming collection I think I'm half right. I think it is filling a void in my life, and that makes me a little worried. Am I so obsessed with the termination of these shambling abominations of nature that I need a daily dose to keep from having withdrawals? Have I subconsciously substituted the walking damned for the problems in my life and find solace in the violent explosive assassination of these dark bastards as a kind of therapy?
I fear that the game stopped being an obsession long ago and started being a coping mechanism, an escape so raw and visceral that nothing can get in the way of the release of tension. I love sitting down after a long day and being transported to the cold, damp wood outside of the small, rotting village. Listening to my feet come down on the wet grass in the methodical rhythm of a steady jog. Stopping abruptly as a figure stumbles out of a dilapidated shack held up by weeds and moss. I can see those beady red eyes focus in a moment of realization. The stumble becomes a lurch and I notice the dull hatchet clung in one bloody hand. I take a step back on my right foot and level the shotgun. The smooth walnut tucks neatly into my shoulder as I hug the stock of the weapon. I see a red flicker of light dance up the torso of the attacker before resting steadily on his twisted sneer. The mechanical click of the trigger pull is consumed by the barrel's angry roar as a squadron of lead shot is hurled into the face of my deranged assailant. The kick raises the gun in the air as the body falls to the ground and another shell is pumped into the chamber and ready to fire as soon as I regain my stance. On the screen Leon is stone and stoic. In my living room I exhale a sigh and flex my toes. The silence after the blast is calming. Maybe every time one of the risen or possessed is turned to ash with steel and gunpowder some little stress of the day is exercised from my mind.
Resident Evil 4 also has the unique stance that nothing in the game is scarier than its hero. If you play your cards right you never have to run from anything that's not a boulder or a giant statue. Every single thing in that game can be defeated by conventional means. What the hell is that, a zombie? Shoot it. The lost member of Gwar! Shoot it. Oh no, a creepy scorpion guy! Freeze it, and then shoot it with a rocket launcher. If this game was more realistic the Granados would run when they saw you coming. By the end of the game you've killed almost a thousand guys, which, is a tad high for a Resident Evil. It's hard not to get a sense of euphoria from the power that comes along with a body count of that magnitude.
It's that sense of empowerment along with that constant methodical release of the action that keeps this game alone in my Gamecube. Resident Evil 4 single handedly killed the system's library for me. It's excellence in setting, execution, and polish just wipes away the need to ever open the tray on the top other than to put the second disc in. It's unfortunate that I find this game so appealing as I don't really get to explore more of the games made for the Cube, but, I suppose that is a small price to pay for a game that seems to satisfy all the pleasure centers of my brain simultaneously by making me shoot zombies.