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Resident Evil HD (PS4)

February 19, 2015

Resident Evil HD (PS4 Version)

1407233827-bh-re-hd-key-visual-hall-e81629What’s Good:
– Sharp, uprezzed visuals.
– Perfectly realized and suspenseful atmosphere.
– Alternate character, as well as unlockable costumes and modes provide good replay value.

What’s Bad:
– Rare occurrences of rough, pixelated-looking environments.
– A few intrusive system messages.

What I thought: “A game that has withstood the test of time.”

At Home in Hell
Since the version of Resident Evil which this HD remaster is based off of was found on the Gamecube, it was no doubt a more daunting task to uprez the various backdrops than it would have been for something consisting of purely polygonal visuals, but a fabulous job was done here. The lighting is moody and reflected reasonably well on the (sharply uprezzed) player character, and there are only a few rooms found several hours into the game which look dated. Generally speaking, if no one told you that the game this remaster were based off of was over a decade old at this point, you would likely never notice.
The original Resident Evil is an interesting game by terms of setting. While there is a clear progression, and the environment does change over the course of the game, in the grand scheme of things the scale of this game is very small. It may be a mansion, but by the time the game ends, you will be traversing its dimly lit backrooms and its dusty corridors with confident purpose; taking shorter and shorter pathways to your goal as more routes are opened up.
The fixed camera angles add to the suspense, as each new corner is a test of courage; not knowing who or what may be lurking nearby.
As you investigate, items and keys are procured to open up new areas of the mansion and its grounds, which drives you forward at the perfect pace.
Modern games are obsessed with big. It has to span the globe. The environment needs to be entirely open-ended. There is a fear that if the player is left in one location or one environment for too much time, they will quickly become bored and move on. Resident Evil is proof otherwise. That labyrinth laid out before you at the start of the game holds its secrets and its monsters ready to tear you limb from limb, but come the game’s conclusion, you feel oddly at home within those blood-stained walls. This feeling of learning your way around a static environment is something that has been lost in modern games.

An Arsenal With a Worthy Adversary
As you make your way through the game, you stumble across a varied array of weapons, some with much rarer to find ammunition than others. As you have limited inventory space, it’s up to you at how armed to the teeth you choose to be as you tackle the mansion, and as some enemy types are tougher than others, a good amount of thought is put into managing inventory against offensive items, healing, and mission objects.
Every enemy type is intimidating, and new ones are introduced as you progress. A lot of bases are covered in this game’s gallery of monsters, and even having played through the game once with each character, there are sections of the game that still squeeze my stomach upon entry.
Monsters are very proficient at ending your life, and even if you think you’ve killed one, it may manage to get the last word in despite your efforts. Limited ammo and health items require you to think carefully about whether you want to expense resources in dealing with an enemy, or if it would be possible to simply run past them to worry about later.
There are surprises to be found in interacting with the enemies in this game, and the stiff challenge makes the reward for your efforts all the more worth it in the end.
It can be stressful to progress, but if things are simply too rough to manage, this HD remaster comes with a Very Easy mode, unlocked from the start, which provides additional items and severely less powerful enemies. This mode truly makes the enemy interaction a joke though, so I would recommend overlooking this difficulty. There is no suspense if there is no fear of death.

The Master of Unlocking
Classic Resident Evil games come from an era in which Capcom games didn’t constantly hit you over the head with paid DLC, and instead offered in-game unlockables as an incentive to play through the game more than once, Resident Evil HD holds a modest but nowadays admirable number of unlockable costumes and gametype variants, which are rewarded upon completing the game with each character individually (which unlocks a new costume for that character), or as a duo (which unlocks a few additional challenge-increasing modes).

I’m Not Afraid of Anything Anymore
This HD remaster is a testament to how well a nicely paced video game with a unique setting and a firm but fair difficulty can hold up over time. The classic Resident Evil formula originated  just shy of two decades ago now, and still holds up in ways many games of that era simply do not.
This release has been a reminder of how tense and frightening the Resident Evil series was before it went the action game route, and it makes me salivate at the mere idea of an HD remake of more of the classic Resident Evil games in this same vein, or perhaps even a modern entry in the series done in the classic style.
If you’re like me and were too much of a scaredy cat back in the day to brave the mansion’s halls, or if you are too young to have had the opportunity to experience it in its prime, this is an excellent version of what is well-regarded as a classic, and with a $20 price tag, the value proposition is a no-brainer. You should play this.

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