The critically acclaimed Resident Evil 4 marked a real paradigm shift for the franchise. A 2005 GameCube exclusive (for a time), this was the title that did away with a lot of the trappings of survival horror as we knew it. Gone were the clunky controls and characters taking four to seven business days to turn around, replaced with a far more action-oriented style of play.
It may have began life on the GameCube, but the success of Leon S. Kennedy’s second adventure has seen it ported to just about every other system in existence since. Whether your current playthrough is your first or you’ve completed the game countless times over the years, here are some tips and tricks that you may never have known about.
10 Take Down Krauser With Just Your Knife
If you’ve played through the game, you’ll have surely noticed that Jack Krauser, Leon’s former-ally-turned-foe, is pretty darn handy with a knife. He’s an agent experienced with all manner of firearms and other weapons, but the simple knife seems to be his favorite.
The game’s trying to tell you something here. In the later stages of the game, you’ll engage in a super-dramatic boss battle with Krauser. When he breaks out his trump card, that absurd, mutated, blade-like extend-o-claw of his, you wouldn’t think of falling back on your own knife, but you’d be surprised how very effective it is on him, staggering him and dealing huge damage. It’s tough to pull off, with his range and the cramped area on top of the tower working against you, but you’ll put him down in seconds this way.
9 Make Short Work Of Verdugo With The Rocket Launcher
Another thing that Resident Evil 4 players have surely noticed is that rocket launchers are incredibly effective. You just point the boom-y end at who/whatever you want to take out, and they explode out of existence. They’re in very short supply and don’t come cheap, though, so you’ve got to use them very sparingly (outside of the unlockable one with infinite ammo, naturally).
To get the best bang from your buck out of that single shot, you’ll want to save it until your late-game encounter with Verdugo, Salazar’s infamous “right hand man.” Near the end of the castle segment, this lightning-fast and nigh-invulnerable beast attacks you in an area littered with cans of liquid nitrogen. Simply “use” one of the cans when the creature is in range to temporarily freeze it in place. While it’s immobilized, a single hit with the rocket launcher will defeat it.
8 Make Good Money At The Shooting Range
When you first gained access to Resident Evil 4’s shooting gallery minigame, you might have wandered in, tried out a round or two, then decided it was more trouble than it was worth and left. It can be a bit of a slog, after all, and the bottlecap figurines you can collect won’t mean much to anyone other than completionists.
However, it’s worth sticking with, especially in a new game run when you want to pump every upgrade you can into your favorite weapons. In the menu, you’ll notice that the bottlecap figures you collect are displayed in rows. You’re rewarded a nice cash reward for every row you complete, and while it’s not a huge amount, it’s certainly worth the free money once a playthrough. If you’re a good shot and always go for the bonus Salazar targets, it won’t take long at all!
7 HUNK Can Dispatch Those Pesky Bella Sisters With Ease
The Mercenaries is a bonus mode within the game, an arcade affair that sees you dispatching waves of enemies across familiar Resident Evil 4 locales (and one that isn’t) for high scores. Each stage is inhabited by a miniboss exclusive to that area, all of whom are very dangerous and can end your run in a flash if you aren’t careful.
You probably know that Krauser can one-shot any of them with a simple use of his arm transformation attack. However, you may not be aware that HUNK can do the same thing to the Bella Sisters, the minibosses in the village. All you have to do is stun them with a headshot or flash grenade, then run up and perform your Neckbreaker melee attack. They’re the only miniboss this trick works on, so it’s very niche, but it sure is satisfying!
6 All Knife, All The Time
So, yes. We’ve already seen that Leon’s humble combat knife really does a number on Krauser. Experienced players will also be aware of the simple, yet effective, handgun shot, melee, knife-knife-knife technique carries you surprisingly far through the game.
Only true experts, however, know how to really utilize this to its fullest. Enemy attacks tend to be very telegraphed, meaning that you can easily dodge, dash in to knife them, dodge out again and repeat. It’s absolutely not practical in terms of damage, but you can stagger foes, cause them to drop their weapons and just defeat them outright with this technique most of the time, if you’re patient.
5 Make Ashley Invincible
In games that take themselves super-seriously sometimes, with their gore, adult content and nonsensical plotlines, it’s fun to unlock a costume that’s just a little out there. Leon’s 1930s gangster outfit, complete with fedora? You’d better believe we’re down with that.
As a bonus, choosing this costume when starting a new playthrough will also outfit Ashley in a suit of armor. Not only does this look similarly ridiculous, but it also serves a practical purpose in the game! In her armor, Ashley is completely impervious to just about all damage, and she’s too heavy for enemies to carry away. The best part? They still try to do so, which treats the player to a comical animation where they buckle under her weight and drop her. True experts know how to utilize this invincible Ashley as bait to prevent Leon being swarmed.
4 Use The Las Plagas Removal Laser As A Deadly Weapon
Well, yes, this one is a bit of a cheat. You see, the Las Plagas removal laser you can unlock as a weapon is strictly non-canon. That machine Leon and Ashley use to remove their parasites during the game’s climax? This tech is just a little more sophisticated than that.
Completing the game on Professional mode grants the player the P.R.L. 412 for subsequent playthroughs on that save file. It’s a very sci-fi looking weapon that fires beams of light, in quick bursts or concentrated charged shots. It’s capable of one-shotting just about everything in the game and boasts unlimited ammo (watch its charge level, though).
3 Using Dynamite Ganados As Deadly “Allies”
Early in the game, those dynamite ganados sure can be deadly enemies. Should you get yourself caught in a blast, they’ll deal absurd damage to Leon, potentially killing him outright. They’re the bane of inexperienced players.
However, those who have mastered Resident Evil 4 often see these enemies as a huge help rather than a hindrance. They’re just as dangerous to their fellow ganados as they are to you, and with a little luring, you can lead dynamite ganados to wipe out waves of their allies without you even having to fire a shot.
2 Exploiting Capacity Upgrades
Now, for the most part, ammo doesn’t tend to be too much of an issue in Resident Evil 4. Enemies are quite generous with their drops. However, certain special weapons, such as the magnum, require you to be a little pickier with your targets. They’re boss killers and should be used as such.
To help with this, you can exploit a handy little trick within the weapon upgrade system. When boosting a weapon’s capacity, the merchant will throw in a free magazine. If you save these upgrades for when you’ve fired all your shots, it’ll pay dividends.
1 Those Deadly Doors
While Leon and his various lumpen enemies are much more mobile than anything the series had offered up to this point, their movements are still quite clunky. As we’ve mentioned previously, though, this only means that enemies are easier to manipulate. Back in 2005, when you double-tapped the “open door” prompt to kick it open instead, stunning and knocking back the enemies that were trying to break it down, you felt like a true action hero.
You’d be surprised how far you can push this concept. One canny player, YouTube’s Dante Ravioli, has defeated the chainsaw-wielding miniboss (and even the deadly Verdugo) using only a door!