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‘Resident Evil’ HD Review: There and Back Again

The beloved Resident Evil remake that first arrived on the GameCube in 2002 would not have been at the top of my list of games that need some attention — that spot is reserved for Resident Evil 2 — but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. It benefits from a low bar, too, as a majority of the “HD remasters” we’ve seen during the last few years haven’t been what I would call substantial.

Resident Evil 4, Code: Veronica X, Devil May Cry — Capcom clearly isn’t afraid to gift their older games some much-needed attention, even if it rarely equates to much more than crisper visuals and a few new features.

Next up is the Resident Evil HD remaster, which releases tomorrow for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. This is an important game, as its reception — that’s critical and sales, but mostly sales — will likely help determine where the series goes next. So that leaves us with a very important question, and it’s one I’ll try and answer for you today.

Is this Jill Sandwich worth returning to for another nostalgic mouthful, or has the decade and change since its initial release left it stale?

The short answer to that question is a resounding yes. I’ve spent enough time with the game now to easily recommend it, even if that recommendation comes with a few caveats.

I can’t imagine there are many people out there who aren’t familiar with the Resident Evil storyline, but it’s been awhile for all of us, so here goes…

In 1998, a squad of super cops called S.T.A.R.S. is sent to a mansion in the woods outside Raccoon City to investigate a string of brutal murders. They disappear, so another team is sent to find out what’s going on. The rest of the S.T.A.R.S end up getting trapped in the mansion their comrades were meant to investigate, and that’s where the game begins.

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Among the surviving S.T.A.R.S. members are fan favorites Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield. Both are playable with their own unique stories and objectives. There was significant replay value in the original and that hasn’t changed. Each campaign is lengthy, even if you don’t spend as much time as I do obsessively managing inventories and seeking out every hidden item.

Much of that is old news, I’m sure. The story hasn’t been changed, but almost everything else has. That includes the static environments, which have been vastly improved so scouring every inch of the Spencer Estate is that much easier. Anyone who played it on the GameCube first ought to appreciate what Capcom has done to update the game for a new audience.

The environments look ridiculously good, even for a remaster of a remake that released in 2002. There’s a number of factors to thank for this, but the introduction of animated models and higher resolution images makes the biggest difference. It’s been ages since I played the original version, but I think some substantial tweaks were also made to the lighting.

It sounds like such a small thing until you see bloom effects in a now 13 year-old game.

The remaster brings with it some new features, too. Widescreen support shows off more of those new-and-improved environments, but purists are free to stick with the standard option, if they wish. The display can even be switched in-game so no time or precious ink ribbons are wasted by those who wish to experiment.

To this day, the Resident Evil remake still has one of the best video game soundtracks I’ve ever heard. It’s atmospheric, haunting and one of my personal favorites. This makes me a wee bit jealous of first-timers since they’ll be able to hear it, possibly for the first time, in super high quality.

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Also worth mentioning if you’re planning on using this to pop your old school Resident Evil cherry is the addition of a slightly more modern control scheme. It’s still decidedly Resident Evil, but choosing it will make getting around those labyrinthine halls a lot less frustrating.

Otherwise, the classic layout is still very much available and ready for veterans of the genre, and like the display mode, the control layout can be changed without having to leave the game.

There’s not much in terms of brand new stuff, unless you count the addition of small things like Chris and Jill’s costumes from Resident Evil 5, both of which are unlocked from the very beginning. Before you get disappointed, I’ll remind you that this game wasalready jam-packed full of content that more than justifies its totally manageable $20 price tag.

This really is a stellar remaster. Saying it’s one of the best doesn’t mean a whole lot when you look at what we’ve had shoveled on us before, but I’ll say it anyway because it’s true. In a sea of remasters that were barely worth the modicum of effort that went into re-releasing them (Code: Veronica X HD) and others that simply didn’t work (Silent Hill HD Collection), the Resident Evil remaster stands tall.

The last few years have taught me to look at every remaster we get with a wary eye and wonder if more effort could’ve been invested into them. Most of the time, they’re really only worth it for fans of the series or for those who may have been looking for a reason to play a game they missed the first time around. Whichever group you fall under, this is worth checking out.

If you fell in love with this remake in 2002, get ready to fall for it all over again. I know I did.

The Final Word: Capcom has raised the bar for HD remasters with this necessary update of a beloved survival horror classic. Dig in, because this Jill Sandwich is itchy tasty.

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YTSub

33 Comments
  • Jason L.

    Jill: “Barry!”
    Barry: “That was a close one. A second late, you would have fit nicely into a sandwich!”

  • Jandra

    Can’t wait to go back to The mansion πŸ™‚ Reviewer can you confirm the difficulty settings at startup?

    • Sure thing! The three difficulty options are climbing a mountain (hard), going on a hike (medium) and taking a walk (easy).

      • El Capo

        Is actually: Mountain (normal), Hike (easy) and walk (very easy), is weird but that’s how it says in the trophies.

        • HeKePe

          I picked very easy and it starts you with no gun. Is that normal?

          • El Capo

            Yes you pick the gun later in the game

  • There was a time when I played RE director’s cut back on Playstation and shit enough bricks to build the great wall of China. God that mansion with the zombies roaming free and that freaking shark thingy on the basement. … Classic and I will play this again!

  • Michael Blanco

    What a mansion!

    • You can’t even see its best feature! This mansion has doors for DAYS.

  • GunsOfNavarone

    Adam – Can you tell me how different or what differences the new control method has ? Are they better than the tank controls ? i.e. character pivots on the spot and you having to push forward with the other stick.

    • judeau13

      I am wondering the same thing. My hope is the new control and camera option is like RE6, as that is the most fluid of the series. Adam, any chance of an elaboration on the controls?

    • With the new control scheme, characters move in the same direction as the analog stick. I preferred it over the original layout because of this, but it’s really a matter of personal preference.

      Hopefully that helps!

      • GunsOfNavarone

        Excellent, thanks for that !

  • Emad Wolf

    pure survival horror

  • So if it is that great, why did you give it an 8,5 and not a 9 or 10?

    • An 8.5 is a great score! And I rarely hand out 10’s.

      • DD-Indeed

        And, it’s not a new game. πŸ™‚

      • Phendranah

        Good to see! I don’t see the point in handing out 10’s often. Makes them less impactful

  • DD-Indeed

    It’s amazing, how good the game was already 13 years ago, so there weren’t too much to work with it to this stage. And I think, that Capcom had originally those Hi-Resolution backrounds and just converted them smaller to fit in the Gamecube-specs, so it was easy just to pick them up again at some point, do some polishing and adding better effects. The result is stunning. They were wise in Capcom back in the day, if they thought about re-releasing this game in higher specs after 13 years. It’s amazing to see, that this old game is almost at the same league in graphical performance, than many newer new games. Capcom made a true gaming masterpiece. Now, it’s time to start polishing the second one…

  • Agent HUNK

    few more hours!!!!

  • Agent HUNK

    I havent seen my friend the tyrant in a very long time..Cant wait !!!

  • Taboo

    Mansion here I come!

  • sliceanddice

    fair fucks… ill pick this up.

  • liltrav88888

    i bought a gamecube just to play this, smash bros, eternal darkness, metroid prime and a few other games

    • Phendranah

      Haha those games are more or less the same reason I got my wii a few years ago. Replace Smash Bro’s with Resident Evil Zero though πŸ˜›

  • Lucas Fernandez

    Alien Isolation? ppfffff Bitch Please, this Resident Evil is pure Survival Horror and it is actually scary!!!

  • Brodequin

    An open note from me to CAPCOM:
    You guys are always expecting big, big profits. From what? For hundred times re-releasing same games again and again? Or maybe for new crap that you
    are serving last few years? Give us ONE DECENT GAME that we deserve,
    and we will love you again…
    Until then:
    I fart in your general direction…

    • Jake

      “Maybe they should change company name from “Capcom Games” to “Capcom HD Remasters”?” if that means getting a HD Resi 2 I’m ALL for it πŸ˜‰ Capcom have been doing remasters of Street Fighter since the Megadrive, its about time they started respecting where this franchise came from, rather this than a mediocre action game like the last 2 have been.

  • Jake

    Cannot Wait!!!!!!!!!! hope it releases at midnight so I can download it while sleeping πŸ™‚ played the psx version to death but never got round to the Gamecube so I’m a half-timer rather than a first-timer I guess πŸ˜‰ so nice to see Chris before the ‘roids!

  • Dave Birkhead

    ITCHY TASTY!!!! and YES IT IS! πŸ˜€

  • 1ceTr0n

    The 15 year old kid who sold all his expensive remote control car stuff to buy his first playstation back in 1996 just for this game is smiling ear to ear to have this classic back. It aint perfect and damnit, that’s whats makes RE so great, its cheesy and unperfect fun with tense and slow paced horror and simple and enjoyable old school gaming thrills.

    Hell, it was fun to remember just how “Tense” I would get walking around those corners in the dead silence with that static camera angle only to have a zombie or dog come outa nowhere and still make me jump outa my seat nearly 20 years later. It makes me, the “master” of unlocking” pretty damn happy to be back in the olden days of console gaming before the internet, online tr0lls, greedy corporation game makers and multiplayer even existed.

    And 18 years later, and I STILL prefer my tank controls to this game. You darn kids and your modern analog sticks and stuff…..

    And for those of you griping about “OMGS, you supportz remakes trash, your ruiningz gamingz!!” Boo farking hoo ya whiner/tr0lls. I uttelry loved this game back in the day and I still have copies of it, so being able to play the remade Gamecube on my PS4 when I don’t have a gamecube anymore with my PS4 is $20 WELL WORTH it for something I enjoy playing playing even 18 years later. So go suck on a rock.

  • sur0x

    guise Biohazard HD remaster steam key cheap here: https://www.g2a.com/r/discountcoupons

  • psychomantis18

    Good review. Loving this remaster. Up there with the treatment given to the Metal Gear Solid HD collection

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