Resident Evil has been a really divisive franchise lately, straying far from its survival horror roots for more action-oriented gameplay in the latest entries in the series. Some see this as progressive, or a necessary evil in order to compete with the latest action blockbusters in the market. Others see it as selling out, or the continued decline of the genre. Either way, the franchise is here to stay and continuously evolve, as we can see with the upcoming episodic Resident Evil Revelations 2, with a slice of the game coming out each week after the intial release. But for all of those survival horror purists out there longing for the good old days, it seems that Capcom has got you covered, with the re-release of 2002’s Resident Evil, remastered for a whole new generation.
Resident Evil HD Remaster
Developed and published by Capcom
Available on the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Reviewed on the PC.
The Resident Evil HD Remaster takes us back to where all the horror began, where many players first experienced Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine’s fateful venture into a gigantic, labyrinthine mansion full of undead monsters and genetically manipulated monstrosities that lurked in every dark corner and every blind turn. This remaster isn’t based on the original 1996 version however, instead bringing us back to the newer Gamecube version that not only made the game much more awesome, but brought a slew of new features to the table as well, making it one of the more critically acclaimed entries in the series. It’s also one that translates excellently to current and past gen consoles, and makes for a killer good time.
It also happens to be quite gorgeous. The original Gamecube release was without a doubt a good-looking game when it first came out, with new, more detailed, 2D pre-rendered environments and new character models and animations, but the remastered visuals take it up a notch. The Resident Evil HD Remaster looks excellent, boasting sharper 1080p visuals, tweaked character models, improved environments, and the option to play both in the original 4:3 aspect ratio and widescreen. Sure, the difference between the 2D pre-rendered environments and the souped up characters is noticeable, since there is only so much you can do with them and they’re from 2002, but it’s still such a good looking and impressive job that you probably wouldn’t mind. The same applies to the CG cutscenes, which remain largely untouched and lifted from the GC version, but still look decent. Kudos, Capcom. You really did a good job with this one.
In regards to gameplay, Resident Evil HD Remaster plays just like you remember, with Capcom being smart enough to not alter it where it counts. As before, players get to select from S.T.A.R.S. members Chris and Jill (complete with bonus optional skins from their RE5 appearances) and head into the mansion in order to get to the bottom of things. The first thing you’ll notice is that all-new stick movement controls, the biggest addition to the title. Instead of the classic tank controls that reigned in the first couple of entries, players can now move in the direction they point the analog stick towards, which makes avoiding enemies and obstacles a bit easier than ever before. Playing with tank controls is still an option as well for those wanting the original experience, so it all comes down to nostalgia factor and preference.
The rest of the game remains large familiar however, which is classic Resident Evil goodness. Being an adventure game, players must explore the dangerous mansion and gather a number of important items that will allow them to progress, be it by unlocking new paths through the mansion, rewarding new weaponry, or tackling a difficult enemy that can’t be defeated via firepower. Players have to contend with item management, as both Chris and Jill can only carry so much and must juggle items as they move along the mansion, as well as hallways and rooms full of zombies and monsters wanting to eat them alive, which requires a mix of smart movement and firearms to survive.
As before, ammo is scarce in the mansion, so the name of the game is avoiding foes as much as possible, especially thanks to the all-new Crimson Head zombies, one of the scariest monsters in survival horror history. In the 1996 game, you killed a zombie right and it was dead for the rest of the game. Here however, player must decapitate, burn or explode zombies, or else they might come back to life faster and more aggressive than ever before, changing up the core mechanics as players have to rely more on avoiding zombies than shooting them down. The game does feature the defensive weapons introduced in the Gamecube version though, which allow players to escape an enemy’s grasp on a one time basis with breakable items, so players do have some options when it comes to surviving the now deadlier undead.
And then there’s other things to contend with as players descend into the mansion’s depths. Killer sharks, the famed reptilian hunters, and other things that’ll have you see the game over screen time and time again. Oh, and the classic limited save system. It’s back and have you second guessing yourself over and over again.
Resident Evil HD Remaster is an excellent remaster of a classic game, and one that shows how remasters should be made. It keeps all the classic survival gameplay that fans know and love, adds a couple of interesting options like new movement controls and widescreen support, and makes it pretty with tweaks to models and environments, all without messing up the core game. Add in the budget price of $20, and you got yourself one hell of a game and a fine example of the genre. If you haven’t snatched up a copy already, I recommend you do so now.