Capcom created an excellent action adventure game with Resident Evil 4. The game’s number of ports testify to this fact. Some of RE4’s strengths lie in the inventory and upgrade systems, as well as the over the shoulder aiming and diverse environments. The story features plenty of world domination bent villains and heroic moments for protagonist Leon S. Kennedy, but it lacks one thing: a strong plot premise.
6 Years Later…
Leon Kennedy and two other agents have been sent to rescue the US President’s daughter somewhere in rural Spain. The very beginning of the game offers little explanation to this early problem. The audience is never told how she was kidnapped, or why the US government is only sending a tiny, (let’s face it) not-so-elite force. But that hardly matters because Leon Kennedy is back, and fighting zombies in an all-new laser pointing fashion.
Part of enjoying the experience is focusing on that fast paced, zombie round-housing action and seeking out treasure. Try not to think about the fact that Leon is working almost directly for one of the most powerful people on the planet. The United States sends him in with a handgun and some health spray.
Resident Evil does not need defending. The scripts were not written by Earnest Hemmingway or Charles Dickens. With that said, one could offer some ungrounded backup for RE 4’s shaky premise.
It was mentioned before that the US President sends in three mid-quality agents with handguns to rescue his daughter. This idea is only supposed. Early on, the other two agents die and their car is rolled off a cliff. They could have been even more elite than Leon, though surprised by a tractor and a powerful boss or mob of enemies; the audience only hears their demise. Their car could have contained a number of munitions including assault rifles, silencers, C4, or even drones. All of this could have been lost early on, leaving Leon alone with what he carried into the cabin.
In addition to a handgun and health spray, Leon also brings along a radio which he can call Hunnigan, his connection to the US Government. That government does not send Leon any backup, or hope of it, until Leon rescues Ashley. Perhaps one could explain this strange occurrence by adding a fictitious conflict with Spain into Resident Evil’s political canon. Maybe the United States would have risked war with Spain by sending too much help for the president’s daughter. Maybe the plot premise is just super thin and we should proceed to describe some alternate outcomes to Leon’s lengthy adventure.
How it Should Have Ended
Leon and the player spend a lot of time pushing through enemies and puzzles, and never question if bringing down a militarized cult is necessarily their job. Perhaps it isn’t, since Leon does not describe his predicament to the government in much detail. Leon should have told Hunnigan very directly: “Everyone here is trying to kill me.”
It could have been bravado, or he could have just been too focused on those cheese-filled lines, but Leon never says anything like that. He suggests danger, but he never explains how dire the situation truly is. If you only watch the radio transmissions, you can see Hunnigan’s point of view pretty quickly.
For example, when Granados ambush the other agents and the cabin gets surrounded, and Leon kills the first axe-crazed Ganado, he never tells Hunnigan that he lost his backup. Later on he vaguely says “Something has happened to the people here” instead of specifically “a razor monster popped out of this guy’s head and cut me from 10 ft. away”. In fact, from Hunnigan’s point of view it seems like Leon only has to kill a few people and needs to confront the village chief, who seems dangerous, then needs to rest in a castle among some unsavory types.
Leon should have realistically maxed out his courage by rescuing Ashley and calling it a day. Up to that point, he had seen many terrible things- all of which wanted to kill him. How could he, as a responsible US agent, subject Ashley to the onslaught that he knew awaited them outside the church? He should have located the nearest safe zone and taken refuge there while insisted that Hunnigan send real backup. Leon and Ashley could have hid in the woods or underground tunnels, but there is one place in the game that seems especially fitting for a standoff.
The Merchant’s Cave Base
If one assumes that Leon and Ashley can deviate from the system of progression in Resident Evil 4, they might assume that the enemies could deviate as well. What would happen if every enemy in the game united to try and stop Ashley and Leon. Not in an evenly dispersed amount across the game, but in a horde of constantly attacking Gonados. Leon had been to one place where he could stall and repel that kind of force while awaiting real American backup.
On the same lake that Leon fights Del Lago, he can find a cave lit by the comforting blue flames of the trusted Merchant. Instead of bringing treasure and pesos for gun upgrade, Leon would take Ashley and the radio. When asked “What are yah buyin’? Leon can answer “Your loyalty to the United States Government” as he gets the POTUS on the radio. He can promise the merchant all of the spinels he could ever want in exchange for a portion of his munitions and a few hours of his time. This game plan seems quite low-risk, especially in contrast to plowing through many more enemy laced areas.
Throughout the whole game, the player finds no hint of a water top weapon in Saddler’s arsenal, let alone anything that can get huge amounts of enemies over the lake to the hideout. Even if all of the flying enemies are deployed, there are so many weapons practically coating the inside of this Alamo that Leon would have no trouble keeping rural Spain at bay, especially if he had the merchant’s help.
While Leon is holding it down, the US Government could send over a whole fleet of helicopters (instead of the two they sent throughout the entire game) to clear the lake area and rescue Ashley. All of this, before Leon could get a revolver.
When Saddler revealed his plans to a government agent at the church, he became a criminal. The US government had every right to send in Delta Force to destroy Saddler and find a cure for the infected couple. Part of the advantage of this plan is that the Las Plagas eggs might not have matured in either person. Fast action, might have let to an easy cure.
More people also have a chance of grabbing the Las Plagas sample before Ada can, something that Leon could not do alone. Luis Sera also has a chance of surviving, since he does not need to rely on himself to stop the virus.
Let’s be honest, Resident Evil 4 is fun for far more reasons than its plot. If anything, the corny vagueness that Leon avoids backup with contributes to the greatness of his character. It would not be Leon if he wasn’t presenting some excellent one-liners in the face of near-certain death.
There are surely a dozen more ways that this game could have ended that made much more sense. Write in and tell us how you think Resident Evil 4 should have ended!