Resident Evil HD Remaster ReviewPrice:
PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, X360
Remastering games is a phenomenon that leaves me conflicted. Part of me thinks games should be left to stand in their original form, and developers should instead focus on creating new experiences. Then again, hardware advances so quickly that games can become unworkable on modern machines in as little as ten years. So updating classic titles, ensuring they function and are enjoyable to play on the latest hardware undoubtedly has some moral value. On top of that, I can't deny that it is nice to see certain games given a lick of paint, especially when the game in question has aged particularly badly, or the developers made a special effort in their improvements.
But then lies the question; how far should a remaster go? If the developer is charging for the updated version, there's a sense the alterations should be extensive, perhaps going so far as to rebuild the game from its very foundations. But if you do that, is it then the same game? Plus, if you're going to update a game for modern audiences, should those changes be limited to how the game looks? What about outmoded gaming conventions, or problems identified with the game at the time of its original release?
Basically, the whole concept kicks off a massive fight inside my skull. My brain is consumed in a cartoonish cloud of dust with fists and boots protruding from it. To be honest, Resident Evil HD Remaster really doesn't help the situation, because it's actually a remaster of a remaster. Nyyyyaaaah. Capcom have taken the 2002 GameCube version of Resident Evil, which was itself a complete graphical restructuring of the 1996 original, and stretched it to fit across your widescreen monitor while avoiding making the pixels so big you could spot them from orbit.
So like a developer overhauling a treasured title, let's pull Resident Evil apart and see what works and what doesn't. Essentially, the HD remaster makes tweaks and additions to every element that isn't actual game content. HD resolutions have been added, while the pre-rendered backgrounds have been combined with 3D models and topped with post-process effects. Sound quality has been improved, and a more modern control system has been added alongside the traditional layout.
The result is a game that feels almost perfectly at home on a modern PC, although there are a couple of minor flaws. For the most part the backgrounds look crisp and detailed, but there are some areas of the Spencer mansion that needed greater attention than they received. In particular, the second-floor eastern corridor and the underground aqua ring still look fairly grainy. In addition, the new control scheme is designed squarely for gamepads. If you play with a keyboard and mouse, getting your character to walk in a straight line remains a challenge. Oh, and static camera transitions still pose a problem for control consistency, which is a particular nuisance during the small number of timed puzzles.