--- Resident Evil ---
Here are a few comparison shots of Resident Evil 4 for Gamecube and for Playstation 2. The Gamecube version is a much better looking game, but the PS2 version has some extra content, which is pretty decent. It needed it, 'cause it's not nearly as pretty or immersive as the original Cube version (as you can see below). We'll have some pics and video of the bonus content for PS2 soon.
The PS2 version of RE4 is a fair imitation of the GC one, and we compliment it on the fact that it runs just as smoothly as the original. But it does make a lot of graphical compromises. The biggest one is the loss of most of the lighting. The PS2 version sacrifices the ambient world lighting, and also much of the dynamic lighting. For example, take these 3 shots below. On the left, Leon is first lit by the muzzle flash from his shotgun, and then by the barrel explosion. On the right, there is no light from the muzzle flash on Leon's face, and the explosion is somewhat more subdued.
There's also a lot of fairly subtle geometry loss in the PS2 game. For example, trees have fewer branches. Take a look at these comparison shots:
Character models suffer from lower polygon counts and texture detail, as well. Take these dogs, for instance. These shots are also another example of the dull uniform lighting on the PS2.
Here's another example of compromise, this time in a video clip. In this room, the PS2 version is missing the lighting from the torch behind Leon, and the water on the floor as well. Click the picture for video; it switches versions halfway through.
And here's another video, 'cause water just isn't impressive in a picture. Same deal, the video switches halfway through.
One more video, this one shows another difference in dynamic lighting--lightning strikes! The lightning on Gamecube looks incredible; illuminating the whole scene, and casting shadows. On PS2, it's easy to not notice the lightning at all. Below are before/after pictures, click for video.
Here are a couple of shots showing the difference in Leon's belt light. On the Cube, it's a real light source. On PS2, it's just a foggy glow by Leon's belt.
Further in the game, there's a very cool (but improbable) lava area, with big steel dragon-shaped flamethrower machines. The video below takes a look at this area in both games.
Okay, so much for the bad news. Now here's the good news: the extra content.
The biggest chunk of the new stuff is Ada's complimentary mission to the main story, called Separate Ways. It's split into 5 missions (or reports, as the game calls them) of about an hour apiece. Not bad at all. Unfortunately, most of that is played in areas you've seen before in the main game, and only one boss is 'new' (and even he is patterned after the Right Hand). That seems to be the theme of Separate Ways: a cup of new, and a gallon of old.
Still, it's nothing to shake a stick at; it's better than most games get when they're ported, or even remade. Here are some samples of this extra. First, the story blurbs behind each 'report' (click to enlarge).
Each of these reports is accompanied by a video sequence. In keeping with the theme, which, except for #5, is made of clips from the game that you've seen before. Report #5 is made of clips from Separate Ways (almost all of them) that you've seen before by the time you get there. Here are videos of Reports #4 and #5:
Playing as Ada is cool, and some of the ways her story intertwines with Leon's are cool, too. Others seem forced. Capcom also walks a fine line here, story-wise. Showing too much of Ada's motivations and capabilities runs the risk of ruining her mystique.
Ada gets her own weapons in Separate Ways, some of which aren't in the main game. Our favorite is the bowcaster, which turned out to be a lot cooler than it looked when Ada bought it from the merchant. Here's a clip:
She also gets to use her trademark Grapple Gun--in designated spots, by pressing "A", of course!
Back in the main game, there are a couple of new extras as well. Namely, a new 'super gun', the Plagas Remover, and a new set of outfits for Leon and Ashley.
The Plagas Remover is kind of a gun version of a Shock Grenade. It can blind enemies, or kill them if their Plagas (ie. tentacle head) is exposed, just like shock grenades do. Charged, it kills enemies outright--if they're in its direct line of fire. Here video:
The new outfits are good comic relief. Leon gets an embarrassing 20's gangster outfit that's funny for a few seconds. Ashley gets an indestructible suit of armor, which is good for much more entertainment, and makes the game much easier besides, because she can't be hurt or carried away in this outfit.
That's it. Those aren't ALL the differences--look for pics and clips of Ada's boss fights when we get around to it--but it's enough to make a comparison.
We've seen a lot of magazines and website chicken out of making a recommendation of which version to get. Well, here at gameswelike.com, we have the balls to say what we think (maybe it's 'cause we don't have any loyal readers, or editors). And we say the Gamecube version is the one to get. It's the better version, by far, even considering the extra content of the PS2 version. The Gamecube version looks hugely better, sounds better, plays better, and at this point, is the cheaper one to boot. The extra content is made up of too much re-used material to offset the big loss in immersiveness that the graphical and aural downgrade brings with it.
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