Platform: PlayStation 3
Release Date: January 20, 2015
If you somehow haven’t played the original Resident Evil yet, then first off, you’re a freak, but secondly you’re in for a colossal treat, because Shinji Mikami’s all-time classic is one of the best survival horror games ever made, and it’s safe to say that this is the definitive, scariest iteration of the title (and there have been many re-makes and ports of the game). Mikami’s recent return the genre with The Evil Within, while a step in the right direction, seemed to let a lot of hardcore fans of the genre down, and after all this time, with him overseeing this release, it’s only fitting that this once again will be the title that people remember.
The game sees you operating as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, members of the STARS team who have been sent to investigate trouble at the old Spencer mansion, when it turns out that a zombie outbreak is afoot. Much different than the “survival” horror games of today, you’ll see yourself navigating through stationary camera angles, maintaining a limited inventory as you ration out health, ammo, and even ink ribbons, which allow you to save.
While not a ton has been added in this remake of the game, what has been done is fairly significant in an aesthetic sense. Basically, Remaster is taking the Gamecube’s popular remake of Resident Evil (in terms of the extras in gameplay, story, and features) and ramping up what that already-excellent game did. As nice little extra, some new, fancy costumes have been thrown in for good measure, like the BSAA costumes from Resident Evil 5, for both Chris and Jill.
Another handy upgrade here is that the clunky tank-controls that the early games in the series were known for can now be replaced with an analog control scheme. It’s an interesting experiment, not to mention a good enough entry point to the series, if the former ’90s controls were what kept you from these games. That being said, the analog version isn’t without its flaws either, like how the joystick is the sole “button” for walking and running, rather than using two separate ones. This new design makes it easy to slip into running, which can kind of be suicide in this game.
One of the more practical and appreciated additions is a streamlined reloading system that doesn’t see you having to go back to the game menu to do so.
While this is a beyond minor quibble, the “door loading” segments are still included in the game, which certainly adds to the tension and fear factor, but there should also be the option to ditch them. The only reason they were included in the original games was a clever way around loading screens, which is now certainly not a concern due to the gaming power present. The DS’ port, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, loses them, so there’s certainly been precedent set on the matter. Another tiny issue is this feels like it should be the ultimate, final port of this game ever and a game like that should have every detail and inclusion from previous versions, lest we be plagued with a reason for another remake.
Thanks to the impressive REmake seen on the GameCube, the title was already working off of pre-rendered backgrounds and exceptional real-time 3D character models, but the upgrade is kind of ridiculous. This looks better than The Evil Within even, with the game sporting some of the best graphics on the PS3.
Also thrown in are robust lighting and smoke effects that make the already creepy game even more unnerving. The title’s running at 720p, but the difference the HD makes and how much focus it gives to all of this is worth the purchase alone.
While the updates are beautiful touches, they’re not without their flaws, such as suffering through surprising frame rate issues. A title that’s this old really shouldn’t be sloshing around at this point, especially when the Wii’s version of REmake doesn’t suffer from such things. The enhanced stats give a little more leeway in the area, but it still happens a little more than it should.
Naturally the update has tacked on a widescreen option that isn’t the greatest, but option of the original 4:3 ratio, the game leaves you with the choice of choosing whichever you prefer.
While Remaster hasn’t really done anything to beef up the audio, the package the existing version was operating off of was already top-notch. The game features a precise, terrifying, atmospheric sound design and a soundtrack that only heightens everything. There was no need to really rejuvenate this area any, but it’s worth noting all the same.
Resident Evil HD Remaster is the ultimate, definitive edition of the game. It takes everything that’s been offered up in the past for this slick, much loved survival horror classic, and updates it all with tremendous upgrades in the graphics and presentation department. There’s even some extras in the form of costumes that are thrown in too, all of this making up for the extremely small hiccups in the game, like occasional frame rate issues. None of this ever hindering the deeply, creepy experience.