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Capcom

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Action-Adventure

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Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways (XS)

By Evan Norris 28th Sep 2023 | 2,847 views 

A grapple a day keeps Las Plagas away.

Reviewer's Note: Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways was reviewed on an Xbox Series S.

When it comes to value, prestige, and overall quality, the 2023 reimagining of Resident Evil 4 doesn't need any help. It already ranks among the best titles of the year, and sits alongside Capcom's finest remakes. Yet that didn't stop the publisher from sending over a helping hand in the form of the DLC campaign Separate Ways. A reinvention of the bonus content included initially in the PS2 version of the original Resident Evil 4, Separate Ways, like the 2023 remake, delivers a reworked storyline, modernized gameplay, and high-end graphics. But does it also deliver greatness?

Set concurrently with the storyline in Resident Evil 4, Separate Ways follows mysterious agent Ada Wong as she infiltrates the Los Iluminados stronghold in order to collect a powerful substance known only as "the Amber". Not only does the DLC provide a unique perspective on the events of Resident Evil 4, filling in blanks and shining a light on previously unseen character motivations, but it also provides connection points for the larger Resident Evil remake universe. Only by experiencing Separate Ways can you appreciate the full weight of the story, and anticipate conflicts yet to come.

Indeed, because of these connection points, not to mention the size and scope of the DLC, Separate Ways approximates one of the dual campaigns from earlier Resident Evil games. It's not as substantial or as consequential as, say, Claire's campaign from Resident Evil 2, but it's closer than you'd think. If you're invested in the characters from Resident Evil 4, or in the larger RE universe, consider this add-on required playing.

Even if you can't tell Leon S. Kennedy from John F. Kennedy, Separate Ways is essential due to its exciting, improvisational gameplay, which in some instances improves upon the base remake. The add-on carries over much of what makes Resident Evil 4 so special — tactical shooting, visceral close-quarters knife combat, and dramatic finishing moves — and adds to it via Ada's Grappling Gun. Used sparingly in the original expansion, the Grappling Gun becomes Ada's signature tool in this remake, allowing the deadly agent to leap around certain battlegrounds, and, most importantly, launch into melee attacks from a distance. In Resident Evil 4, Leon can begin a melee move after staggering an enemy, but he needs to be right on top of them. Ada, conversely, can zip across the screen and pummel staggered enemies from afar. Furthermore, if players invest in a special case charm, they can also disarm shielded enemies. The Grappling Gun is a total game-changer. It speeds up the rhythm of the game and allows quicker movement, both vertically and horizontally. 

The Grappling Gun also plays a big part in the best boss fight in Separate Ways (and one of the finest boss fights in the storied history of Resident Evil). It's a spectacular, surprising set piece in the farm area where Ada must outmaneuver and topple El Gigante by zipping between the ground and several rooftops, as the hulking monster crashes into each building. Another stand-out battle takes place later on, and features the Black Robe, an enemy lieutenant with a few brief appearances in the main game. It's a multi-phase, multi-location fight that pushes Ada to her limits. While Separate Ways can't compete with the breadth of boss battles in Resident Evil 4, it owns arugably the two best individual encounters.

Although Ada's adventure improves upon Resident Evil 4 in some ways, it also commits more unforced errors. For one, the DLC leans on several augmented reality detective sequences, which grind the proceedings to a halt as Ada follows left-behind footsteps. They're out of place in this setting. For another, Separate Ways swings and misses with a very promising monster in the campaign's final act. Players are treated to a bit of lore and a scary reveal, and then things just fizzle out. It feels shoehorned in.

Normally, the random inclusion of an underdeveloped monster might be used to pad a game's running time. But Separate Ways absolutely doesn't require any padding. With a run time of 6-7 hours, it's significantly longer than the original expansion, and just as long as the full Resident Evil 3 remake. At $9.99, it's something of a steal.

As with Resident Evil 4, Separate Ways looks and sounds great. The graphics, textures, and lighting are excellent, and the creepy, sinister sound design stands out, as always. If there's one drawback, audio-wise, it's the voice performance of Lily Gao, who brings Ada to life. Ada Wong has always been enigmatic, aloof, and a touch imperious — which is part of what makes her so interesting — but in this DLC she sounds indifferent, even bored. The good news is that Ada has some great lines, a few of which are clearly meta commentaries on the predictability of certain Resident Evil scenarios, and she remains a total bad-ass. There's one cut-scene in particular, toward the end of the game, which cements her status as a legendary RE character.

Capcom nailed it with Resident Evil 4. Not only is the base game a contender for GOTY, but its add-on campaign Separate Ways is now a top candidate for best DLC of 2023. It retains many of the best pieces of Leon's adventure, and expands upon them with exciting new boss battles and a game-changing Grappling Gun. Some of its novelties don't add anything important to the proceedings, but in general it's an outstanding addition to the RE canon and an ideal complementary piece to the remake of Resident Evil 4.


VGChartz Verdict


8
Great

This review is based on a digital copy of Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways for the XS, provided by the publisher.


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