Resident Evil HD Remaster: Review

More like ‘Resi-don’t Evil’, amirite? Thank you, thank you. Try the t-Virus-riddled canapés, I hear they’re delightful. Actually, my smart aleck shenanigans apply to the directionless disappointment Capcom’s seminal scare-’em-up has devolved into post-Resident Evil 4; not this thoroughly enjoyable HD remix of a horror landmark. Let the age of fixed camera angles, fastidious item management and manual saves rule the Earth once more.

Ain’t it strange how all things old become new again? Just take the horror genre’s revival this generation. Suddenly, things that go bump in the night are back in vogue. Yet as spine-tinglingly terrific as Alien: Isolation, Outlast and The Evil Within all are, it’s unlikely they would exist without this, the true daddy of survival horror. 

Alright, so REmake (don’t scoff, it’s a perfectly valid name) is actually a handsome and quite expert 1080p double-take of an already existing redux of the PS1 masterpiece. Confusing, no? To clear things up, this is an HD sprucing-up of 2002’s GameCube reimagining. 

And boy does the freshly purdied-up Spencer Mansion and the many decomposing delights that lie within gaming’s most iconic haunted house look far better than a 13-year-old title has any right to. Thanks to some sterling art assets that have really stood the test of time, Resident Evil’s striking mix of beautifully drawn pre-rendered backdrops, rich lighting and superb character models make this coffin-dodger a real looker.

Old school Resi has never handled better, either. With the implementation of a new alternate control scheme which falls more in line with modern third-person shooters moving Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine around the decadent and deadly halls of the mansion no longer feels akin to steering an M4 Sherman around an ice rink.
“This haunted house looks far better than a 13-Year-old title has any right to.”
Capcom’s infamous ‘tank controls’ can still be found in the options menu if you’re a titanium-fingered purist, of course. But for the perennially cack-handed such as myself, the far smoother turning circles and the fact you no longer have to hold down a run button are massively welcome additions.

Locking UP
After enduring the overblown sadness of Resi 6, returning to the Just For Undead Men roots of real survival horror is super-refreshing, if overly savage. Are those first few hours exploring both the heebies and jeebies of the Arklay Mountains house often wilfully obtuse? Damn straight. Prepare to face roughly 319 locked doors while juggling a series of ornate keys that initially seem to open diddly squat. Yet persevere past the stern lack of hand-holding in the opening sections and the game’s choking action sequences quickly seduce your oh-so-delicious braaaaaains.

Shiv Ribbon
Quite perversely, enough time (and crappy Chris Uncharted-lite campaigns) has passed that once-archaic systems feel fresh again. The ink ribbon manual saves make gingerly pushing down an unknown corridor a tense thrill ride; each wrong step capable of nixing 20 minutes of hard-earned progress. Those expertly fixed camera angles forever frame the horror in such a way every screen looks like a painting come to cerebral cortex-scoffing life. Even faffing about with item boxes is a delicate and intoxicating game of precise resource management.

Resident Evil is wryly paced to boot. Whether wading through shark-ridden waters in an aquarium or using a chemical to pow Plant 42 right in its Little Shop Of Horrors kisser, Capcom spaces out its undead scares beautifully.

Will the unforgiving mechanics sometimes prove too daunting for the part of you spoilt by constant checkpoints, Stephen Fry tutorials and infinite rocket launcher ammo? Perhaps. But it’d be your loss to give up on the thrills and chills of this seminal horror because the modern mollycoddled gamer in you can’t adjust. If you don’t mind saying so long to over-the-shoulder aiming and Leon’s karate kicks, there’s much to enjoy in this vintage mansion. And all for the low price of under £20. Happy Valentine’s, indeed.


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