GAME REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL HD REMASTER / DEVELOPER: CAPCOM / PUBLISHER: CAPCOM / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, PLAYSTATION 3, XBOX ONE, XBOX 360 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Based upon the Gamecube remake of the release that kick-started an entire franchise, Resident Evil HD Remaster is everything Evil Within should have been. Retaining the daft B-movie plot and slow, methodical gameplay as you face down the shambling hordes of the undead, it doesn’t take long to realise that a minor graphical upgrade was all that this ever needed.
The story is exactly as fans remember: the S.T.A.R.S. police taskforce is sent in to investigate multiple murders near Racoon City, only to find the woodlands infested with horrors. With the first team having crashed and the second separated from their helicopter, the survivors seek refuge from the undead nightmares within a sizable mansion. Unfortunately for Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, they soon realise the fun has only just begun…
For all its overt cheesiness, Resident Evil’s greatest success stems from its slowly building, chilling atmosphere. Whereas many modern releases opt for fast moving swarms of zombies or mobs, the classic series’ main appeal came from the threat of the slow moving moaning rotting monstrosities. Thanks to the narrow camera angles, extremely limited ammunition and the threat of corpses returning in vastly more powerful forms, even the most basic enemy can prove to be a severe threat.
The mansion itself is chillingly designed with deep shadows and beautiful rendering which stands up well even today. It’s a credit to the developer’s skills that so many locations, from the main foyer to the underground labyrinths, remain so memorable and maintain a sense of constant isolation. The real dread and tension is evoked by walking along the same corridor a hundred times to find nothing, then running headfirst into a zombie the moment you become complacent. Well, that or a zombie dog after they start breaking into the mansion from outside in one famous bit.
Unfortunately, with every strength comes a flaw. While the port is thankfully stable and runs at a smooth sixty frames per second, there’s no overlooking a few notable failings of the original. The auto-aiming system leaves no opportunity to reward accuracy, and the needlessly limited inventory space the player is offered can slow an already slow burn to a shambling crawl. Even ignoring the Stone Age textures and uncanny valley characters, the flaws following successes improved upon are glaringly obvious from the beginning.
This is really all that Resident Evil HD Remaster is – every success and failing has been brought forwards in this latest remastering, with little real change. That said however, it still remains an extremely well made horror game and those still smarting from the painfully disappointing Evil Within would do well to give this one another chance.
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