Review: Resident Evil HD Remaster
In October of 2011 I played through Resident Evil 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the very first time. I’m sure I’ve spoken about that experience at length in the past, but in short I fell in love with the series. Specifically I fell in love with the first three games. In my eyes the now infamous ‘tank controls’ remain to be perfect for what those games were going for. Since then I’ve always had my eyes on the Resident Evil Gamecube remake. I’ve wanted for years to play that version of the game and, until now, have been unable to.
I didn’t expect my journey back to the mansion to feel as personal as it did. My expectations, what I remembered from Resident Evil, and the way my mind pictured the layout of the mansion from memory was all challenged. The entire game felt so surreal, familiar, and just very slightly different. All of this stems from some of the small changes that were made in the Gamecube remake. Item/zombie placement in certain situations were changed, new areas were added, and now if you leave a zombie to rot they’ll turn into something far more dangerous. Then there’s all of the things that have remained the same. Entering rooms that I distinctly remember from the original game, now with much better visuals/lighting, is such a bizarre feeling. In a way I feel at home, I feel comfortable, because I’ve been here before. I’ve survived this place before and I can do it again. At the same time the small changes, like how the dogs only jump through the window when you enter from the North side, are able to make this whole journey feel new. At the start the of the game as I entered the mansion I felt like I had things under control. This was a familiar place. I know where things are, I generally know what to do, I know what lurks in the shadows. Slowly that confidence went away. What was once familiar slowly turned into the unfamiliar. The first time a ‘dead’ zombie got back up (this time with long sharp claws) served to be a moment of realization that I’m much more vulnerable than I thought.
This remastered version of the game gives you the option to play either in 16:9 or 4:3. The latter essentially gives you the same view from the original game while the widescreen option, from my understanding, is slightly zoomed in to fit. In addition there was work done to the character models, textures, etc that could probably be detailed in a much longer article by someone who knows a bit more than me about this sort of thing. What matters is that the game holds up really well. The whole mansion, especially with the lighting effects, just really captures a super unsettling vibe. Of course there’s also a variety of ambient noises and sounds that go a long way in creating some incredible atmosphere.
What’s probably the biggest addition to this version of the game is a new alternate control scheme. Instead of ‘tank controls’ this new method gives you full analog control over your character allowing for faster movement/running circles around zombies. I should say that I don’t really consider myself a purist. I’ll certainly choose the original controls first, but I’m also open to something new. The alternate controls (which you can switch between at any time) certainly make movement easier, but they also just feel really weird. Consider the fact that the enemy AI wasn’t designed in such a way that you’d have this much mobility to literally run circles around them. I’m certainly not against anyone using these controls (they work fine) and if that’s what it takes for someone new to the series to give this game a chance then so be it. That said I do think there’s a chance it might take something away from the intended experience. There’s something to be said about the fact that limiting your mobility plays into the survival horror part of this game. There are the moments that you just barely escape a zombie’s grab and your heart skips a beat that makes this game so memorable. Do the original controls take some getting used to? Absolutely, but it doesn’t take long for them to become second nature. At the end of the day Capcom did right to give people an option to switch between control methods at anytime.
My only complaint is that the Jill sandwich (among a few others) line was removed in favor of something that wasn’t as weird. That’s mainly because I love that stuff. I love the live action intro and campy writing the original had. I think it added something to the whole experience. The voice acting here is fine and there’s still some campiness every once in a while, but it’s just not the same. Of course that’s a super tiny ‘complaint’ in the midst of what is an incredible game.
I’m now in the midst of my third playthrough with this game which will mark my fourth overall run with Resident Evil 1. Somehow it manages to get better each time I start up a new file. Towards the end of my second playthrough, a crazy sub-three hour no save speed run, I started truly seeing just how incredible the level design is. Beyond that the game is starting to really hook me in a way that I haven’t felt with a game in quite some time. I want to do crazy challenge runs, I can’t wait to do an invisible enemies playthrough, I’m totally going to attempt the knife only run, and unlocking all costumes/endings is an absolute must. I want to see everything this has to offer, something that will likely require me to beat it five times (probably even more), and I couldn’t be more excited to do just that.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Ink Ribbons, limited ammo, limited inventory, etc.
- The way this game plays with your expectations from the original PS1 game
- Survival Horror at its best
- Lots of unlockable costumes, trophies, endings, etc
- Visuals still hold up really well
- Plenty of options related to controls and aspect ratio
What I Dislike:
- No Jill sandwich line