Top 10 moments in Resident Evil 4, ranked

Stellar moments from a stellar sequel

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Though Resident Evil 4 might not prove the series’ peak in terms of straight-up horror, it’s tough to argue its best-in-series status. Ranking the best moments from a game that’s a collection of great moments is no easy task, but RE4 deserves it and more, so we’re even going one step further.

We’re ranking the best moments in the game in a way that’s not overtly predictable.

10. Literally losing your head

One of the first things players realize upon playing Resident Evil 4 is that Leon S. Kennedy has roundhouse-kicked his rookie days behind him. The new Leon seems to share more with Dante from the Devil May Cry series than with his own RE2 iteration. But, still, not everything is as easy as it seems. Despite his newfound combat proficiency, the game has a very efficient way of reintroducing humility right back into cocky players.

Thus, we introduce Chainsaw Man, a dude who doesn’t really care about Leon’s spin kicks. Despite looking mostly human, this ragged beast will immediately kill our hero if he gets too close. And it’ll be wicked, honestly.

9. Hey, it’s that dawg.

You thought we’d just put the “El Gigante” fight in here and call it a day? No way. In retrospect, that’s one of the least interesting encounters in the game. As it is mostly just another boss fight where a creature ten times the size of their opponent inexplicably fails to utterly obliterate him.

Sadly, We Cannot Pet the Dog in Resident Evil 4. Still, good-hearted players do get the chance to release a good boy from a bear trap — something arguably even better. Generosity is its own reward, some Facebook quotes say, but Resident Evil 4 wouldn’t be one of the best games of all time if it didn’t always manage to surpass our expectations.

During the fight against the giant, players who chose to help the dog will then see it appear out of nowhere to join the battle. And that’s the moment that makes it all worthwhile.

Resident Evil 4 VR
Screenshot by Destructoid

8. The Del Lago Easter Egg

Though many call the lake monster battle boring, the lake itself features one of the jumpiest Easter Eggs ever.

Spoilers for a 20-year-old game: Trigger-happy players beware, because shooting the lake a few times before the Del Lago encounter will cause the monster to burst out of the water and eat Leon.

7. The U-3

The game doesn’t really explain this boss, and that only makes both it and the encounter itself all the more strange and interesting. Fans of the series can say whatever they want about Resident Evil 4 getting a little too cozy with the action genre, but this sequence feels like full-on horror.

Bonus points to the U-3 because he really looks just like the precursor to the enemies from the Dead Space series.

6. Salazar’s right hand

We’re not talking about Leon’s joke about Ramon Salazar’s hand coming off. We’re talking about the ensuing battle, one that puts the player up against Verdugo. This is yet another boss whose looks and attack patterns differ from anything we’d previously seen in the Resident Evil franchise.

Verdugo looks like a mix between the Xenomorph from the Alien series and a Cenobyte, with just a bit of cockroach added to the nightmarish combo. Verdugo acts slow at first, but he’ll also charge at players as soon as they feel at ease, with a speed that guarantees a few jumpscares. Verdugo is also bulletproof, which means players will have to find a smart way to win.

Verdugo is an action-puzzle, something all Resident Evil bosses should be.

5. Finding out it has one of the best minigames of all time

The Mercenaries was already a part of the Resident Evil games before Resident Evil 4, but this is when Capcom perfected the series. It comes as a no-brainer, really the more action-oriented game in the series would provide the best possible home for the most action-y of Resident Evil minigames.

Resident Evil 4 would’ve been a masterpiece even without the inclusion of Mercenaries, but Capcom put it in seemingly because they just wanted to humiliate the competition that badly.

4. The occasional glitch

You know a game is a keeper when even its glitches play in its favor. Resident Evil 4 doesn’t really feature gameplay glitches, but its cutscenes sure do — and they can’t help but elevate the experience further.

Who can forget the Jet-ski glitch? Which remains as funny today as it was 20 years ago.

Or how about Ashley’s super suplex?

3. The Regenerator’s entrance

While it might not be the strongest enemy in the history of Resident Evil, the Regenerators sure bring the series to its creepiest.  We won’t show the creature because we want players to experience the horror of both looking at it firsthand and the despair of trying to find a way to deal with it.

Screenshot By MobyGames

2. Finding out there’s an even worse Regenerator

As we’ve previously stated, RE4 doesn’t occupy the series’ throne because it was just better than its contemporaries. It occupies the throne because it was so unnecessarily above everything else. Capcom had the creepiest monster in the series, the Regenerator.

They could’ve made something else, or, hell, they could’ve just taken some time to rest, but no. They went ahead and created the “Iron Maiden”, which is essentially a Regenerator that’s covered in spikes.

Not bad for the “game that abandoned horror”, huh?

Screenshot by Destructoid

1. Entering the village (and the seamless gameplay intro)

Sorry, but the “Bingo?” joke already sucked by the time the game came out. The entire village set piece that precedes it, however, still holds up today — even if you’re not playing the remake. It does a great job of getting players acquainted with what they’ll have to deal with throughout the adventure, without the need to bother anybody with tutorials — because everything just flows perfectly.

Many developers leave the creation of a title’s first level for last, because making the first level when you already know what your game will be about allows designers the opportunity to create the best possible introduction for players. The village sequence really captures this.

The village from Resident Evil 4 is the ‘00s equivalent to the original Half-Life’s train ride as far as effectively setting the tone for the tale of terror to come.

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Tiago Manuel
Tiago is a freelancer who used to write about video games, cults, and video game cults. He now writes for Destructoid in an attempt to find himself on the winning side when the robot uprising comes.