Friday, March 13, 2009

Separate Ways

I had somehow forgotten that the PS2 and Wii editions of Resident Evil 4 included an extra scenario that I had never played. While I had heard about it at the time of the PS2 version's release, in remembering, I must have confused it with the "Assignment Ada" bonus mission, which was in the GameCube version. Far more substantial than Assignment Ada, however, the "Separate Ways" campaign, clocking in at close to five hours, has given me a new appreciation of this great game.

Filling in some gaps from the main story, Ada's new adventure intersects so logically with Leon's that it's hard to believe that it wasn't part of the original design. Some of Ada's objectives give a new perspective on familiar events, as in the first chapter, where it's revealed that Ada was the one who rang the bells to cease the Ganados' attack on Leon in the village. In a small way, it's actually reminiscent of the dual-scenario system from Resident Evil 2 in that respect. There's also a bit of the Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty angle, where the player's appreciation of the hero is actually enhanced by having to observe from the perspective of a supporting character, though again to a much lesser extent. There are some pretty thrilling moments where you actually get to see and hear Leon fighting off in the distance.

Offering more of the same gameplay from the main campaign, Separate Ways reuses the same enemies and mostly the same environments, although there are a few new rooms to play around in. Ada can use her grappling hook in a few specific spots, and it is somewhat cool to finally be able to reach certain barrels that always existed in Leon's game but could never be reached, though it's a tad anticlimactic to find just random items inside them. Taking the place of the magnum in Ada's arsenal is a cool crossbow with explosive arrows. There is a brand new boss fight, but it's probably the worst one in the entire game. I also came upon a rather dastardly bug whereby Ada's max health is not increased by Yellow Herbs if they are first combined with a Green+Red mix. That was pretty much the only way I took Yellow Herbs in the main game, and, when I continued to do so through most of Separate Ways, I was shocked to find that they seemingly had no effect. Initially, I just concluded that Ada's health topped out at only half the meter. But then why did they keep giving me Yellow Herbs to collect?

Overall, it was well worth replaying RE4 just to check out this content that I'd missed. But now to move on to Resident Evil 5!

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