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Resident Evil creeps back

Jan 28, 2015

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Resident Evil HDIt's no secret that Capcom loves to milk its lucrative Resident Evil franchise. Case in point: the company has just released a remaster of a remake of the original game, for both consoles and PC. The title actually holds up very well - it's just a shame that anyone playing it for the first time likely won't be able to fully appreciate what it has to offer.

The seminal game in the series, which follows a special forces team trying to escape a mansion, was released for the Playstation back in 1996. It featured a horrendous script and voice acting cast, but it's widely considered to be the grandfather of survival horror. The game was remade for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2002, and improved on the original in virtually every way.

Fast forward to 2015, and that remake is given the high-resolution treatment and a few additional updates to appeal to a new generation of gamers.

Resident Evil HDMost notably, the original "tank" controls can be swapped out for a new control scheme that allows the on-screen character to actually move in the direction the left analog stick is being pushed. It's a small and obvious change, but it's absolutely critical, as the original controls were awkward and are now terribly outdated. Purists can still opt for the original control scheme, though.

The problem is, I'm not so sure players who have never experienced the original or remake will take too kindly to other features of the game that have been left in. Things like autosaving, full camera control, and moving while shooting are common in most 21st century shooters, but are nowhere to be found in Resident Evil HD.

Resident Evil HDInstead, players need to find ink ribbons that can be used to save at typewriters (and hope they don't get killed by one of the many dangerous foes lurking throughout the mansion on the way). Players are also at the mercy of pre-rendered static camera angles, numerous environmental puzzles, and shooting that's done with both feet firmly planted at all times. These things are sure to be completely foreign to most of today's gamers.

The process of saving is sure to be the most divisive - even for a long-time Resident Evil fan such as myself - but the set camera angles only add to the game's creepy vibe. There's nothing more frightening than walking into a hallway and hearing a Predator-like clicking emanating close by from some experiment gone wrong, and not being able to tilt the camera in order to get a peek at what might be lurking around the corner.

The game really does nail the atmosphere, and the new remastered 5.1 surround sound only adds to that. It's often the simplest, classic scares that are still the most effective - a flash of lightning filling a room with ominous shadows, the breaking of glass underfoot as you try to quietly slink past a zombie, or soft piano music giving what's sure to be a false sense of calm.

Resident Evil HDIn terms of graphics, the game does clearly improve on its predecessor, although you don't have to squint too hard to find plenty of muddy-looking objects that belie an otherwise pretty game.

Puzzles are a staple of the Resident Evil franchise - particularly the earlier games - and they add a completely different layer to this game. Players really will have to keep their wits about them and pay close attention to any and all clues found throughout the mansion. One skipped passage from a diary, for example, could mean a lot of aimless wandering as you try to initiate the next step toward finishing the campaign.

Even experienced players will be doing a lot of backtracking throughout this game, due mostly to the fact that characters can hold eight items in their inventory at most (six if you're playing as Chris Redfield).

This causes the pacing to suffer, although a new puzzle, boss battle, or special item usually isn't too far off. It's worth noting that a new Very Easy mode has been added for this remaster. It will help in terms of stocking you up with more ammo, for instance, but it won't solve any of those puzzles for you.

Resident Evil HDI really did enjoy my time with Resident Evil HD, and it shouldn't be punished just because this generation of gamers may be a lot less patient. Still, there are more than a few things in the game that simply don't work, even for a long-time fan of the series.

Resident Evil manages to be mostly successful as it shambles onto consoles in 2015, but here's hoping we don't see Resident Evil: Ultra HD any time soon.

 

Resident Evil HD
Format: Playstation 4
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site: http://www.capcom.co.jp/biohd/en/index.html

Rating: 7.5 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.