- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Here’s a look at some hardware and software that’s available:

Resident Evil 4, from Capcom for Game Cube, rated M: content suitable for ages 17 and older, $49.99; and Resident Evil Apocalypse from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment for DVD-enabled computers and home entertainment centers, rated R, $29.99.

Horror and hands-on action await adults as they enjoy a pair of multimedia releases celebrating a legendary video game franchise.

First, the king of survival horror gaming returns to television screens with a new third-person experience that is more of a nonstop, stylized battle through the Village of the Damned than its zombie-filled predecessors.

Resident Evil 4 takes place six years after the Umbrella Corp. has been financially destroyed because of a government crackdown on its deadly mutation projects. Now the protagonists involved in controlling its nasty creations have moved on to new covert missions. One of these, Leon Kennedy (made famous in Resident Evil 2) has been assigned to protect the president’s family.

As he is given the new orders, it just so happens, the president’s daughter is kidnapped and held in an ancient Spanish village pulled right out of Hammer Film Productions’ version of “Dracula.”

The player controls Leon as he moves about gorgeously rendered yet sinister trails, shacks and claustrophobic environments while collecting armaments, ammunition and even gold coins to replenish his arsenal.

Very possessed, very angry villagers and grisly creatures get in the way of his mission. Using pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers and even a kick to the head, Leon puts them out of their misery.

Features such as a clever puzzle menu system allow the player to carry only a certain number of items based on whether their rectangular-shaped equivalents fit into a grid-designed game board.

The dripping “atmos-fear” and moody music will suck the player into a game that often looks as though George Romero stepped behind the camera.

Additionally, quick moving, sneaky enemies spring into action or stay strategically hidden, ready to strike at every horror-film-cliche moment. Dropping one’s guard can lead to a painful pitchfork to the chest or ax to the cranium.

This brutally shocking, violent, nightmare-inducing game should be attempted only by mature adults of sound mind. Its gorifying proceedings will have players pining for the days when all they needed to worry about was a bunch of lumbering undead.

Next, a respite from the controller-induced hand cramps can be had through viewing a movie that’s a near-perfect visual recreation of Capcom’s gaming experience.

The sequel to the 2002 movie “Resident Evil,” “Resident Evil Apocalypse” arrives as a two-disc DVD set. It is loaded with action as Raccoon City has become a petri dish where the Umbrella Corp. is testing its nasty T-virus mutation on the population.

Milla Jovovich reprises her role as Alice, but actress Sienna Guillory steals the show as Jill Valentine, a character well-known in Resident Evil circles and brought to stunningly accurate life in dress, speech and mannerisms.

The film plays exactly like the video game series and is especially similar to Resident Evil 3: Nemesis as lead characters explore areas infested with the undead, acquire weapons, battle bosses and occasionally talk between incidents of graphic violence.

The protagonists also run into classic Resident Evil creatures, such as those bloody demon dogs; sticky Lickers; and, of course, the bulky and nearly unstoppable Nemesis.

Director Alexander Witt packs a bunch of distress into the 94-minute effort, which takes up the first disc along with a trio of optional commentary tracks, the most informative by writer-producer Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt.

A quick check of the second disc will reveal a 50-minute look into the production of the film, 20 deleted scenes and some boring featurettes. I am flabbergasted that at no point is the new video game discussed, nor do viewers get a chance to play a level of the game or even link to the Resident Evil 4 Web site (www.capcom.com/re4).

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or send e-mail ([email protected]washington times.com).

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