Resident Evil HD Remake

You have once again entered the world of survival horror….good luck
The original Resident Evil on the PlayStation was a game which helped shaped the survival horror genre. Personally it is a title very close to my heart, as it was my very first horror game experience. When the remake was originally released on the game cube in 2002 it was hugely successful, true to the original title but also re-imagined and graphically stunning for its time. Now here we are, almost 20 years after its original release, and it is clear to see why this game still measures up. So, as survival horror fans across the globe equip their combat knives, tighten their bandannas and prepare to once again enter the Arklay Mountains and brave the Spencer Mansion, I throw my STARS badge into the ring and join them……
So as we look forward, somewhat apprehensively, to the release of Resident Evil Revelations 2 we are treated to an upgrade of the remake of the original Resident Evil (try saying that ten times fast). I am not ashamed to say that as the intro started on my Xbox One I was cheering and grinning like an idiot. I was enjoying myself so much in fact that I didn’t realise one of the new features until it popped up on my screen, Resident Evil finally has achievements (or trophies if you prefer)! This might not seem like a massive update to gamers who have grown up on Xboxes and PS3s, but for the long term gamers who played the original and the remake on release, this is a massive thing. I also no longer have to keep my memory card as proof of my zombie killing and survival expertise, I still will but I don’t need to….
The remake added new areas and bosses to the original game, along with full visual and sound re-mastering. The addition of the graveyard in particular was a lovely touch and the way things are switched around and repositioned meant that even the most avid Resident Evil fan had to rethink their approach. Even now several times I find myself heading the wrong way, as my memory confuses the position of items between the original and remake. The boss creatures also got a full makeover and are now terrifically terrifying. As I said earlier though, the best thing about this remake is that nothing has been taken away from the original; it feels like Resident Evil from the tip of its snake filled attic to the toes of its zombie infested basement lab. It feels like this is the game Capcom would have made originally if they could have and as a long term fan I didn’t have a single complaint (other than having to battle with the GameCube control pad before).
So will it be nostalgia or heartbreak? Sadly fans of the Resident Evil genre are no stranger to disappointment. Operation Raccoon City, released in 2012, promised the same mix of new and old by returning to the streets of Racoon city during the events surrounding the outbreak in Resident Evil 2 and 3. I don’t have enough space in this review to tell you just how wrong they were. Also Resident Evil 6 was generally viewed as a disappointing addition to the series, in my opinion this was an understatement. It seemed for a while that the series had peaked and was steadily on the decline, however the release of Resident Evil Revelations demonstrated a slight return for the series to its former glory. The dark and creepy locations mixed with a feeling of isolation and a lack of multiplayer in the main game showed that Capcom still remember what made Resi great in the first place; the fact that it was SURVIVAL horror, not a shoot ‘em up action film. Add this to the HD release of Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica on next gen consoles and Resident Evil fans began to feel the spark of hope reignited.
So for those who haven’t yet joined STARS and have no idea what the game is about allow me to bring you up to speed. You play either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, a part of the Racoon city STARS (which stands for Special Tactics And Rescue Service) division, Alpha squad. There has been a series of grisly and bizarre murders, where victims appear to be eaten. When a bunch of hikers go missing in the nearby Arklay Mountains the STARS Bravo team are sent in to investigate. Communication with the Bravo squad is quickly lost and the STARS Alpha squad, led by Albert Wesker, are sent in to rescue their missing compatriots. They find the Bravo helicopter abandoned, apart from the mauled and obviously dead pilot. As they continue to search the woods Alpha team is attacked by feral dogs and forced to flee for their lives into an abandoned mansion. What lies within is a dark story of deceit and fear as you fight to stay alive against fiendish puzzles and genetic horrors. Damn Umbrella pharmaceuticals…..
So what’s changed? Well to be honest not much, but I like it that way. The game itself has not been changed in any way apart from the graphics and sound getting a next gen makeover and the aforementioned achievements/trophies. There is a nice new twist on the control system though, you can now choose between classic Resi controls and a more up to date control system, which utilises the ‘run in that direction’ style of movement as opposed to the ‘turn then run’ format. An adaptation of The GameCube control layout is also available if you are that way inclined. There are also some alternate game modes for the more hardcore players; invisible enemy mode is back (where all the enemies are invisible) as is true survivor mode (which takes away auto aim and the strange cross dimensional link of the item boxes) and One Dangerous Zombie mode (in which the dead STARS member Forest follows you around with an ‘I’ll take you down with me’ mentality). I would not recommend these modes for the casual gamer, but definitely a great challenge for veteran horror players. I could ramble on about this game for another fifteen pages but sadly my editor will not let me and I’m also cutting into your hunter killing time, so to sum up……

The only complaint I have about this game is that there’s not enough of it. I managed to play through the entire thing in less than 3 hours quite easily, but the price-tag does reflect this. I also found it had good replay value due to the differences between the two character’s playthroughs and the choices you can make, which impact on certain team members survival chances.

This is the best way to introduce a new generation to an old classic, no longer will I have to defend my love of the Resident Evil series with a ‘back in my day’ speech. Now I can just load it up on my Xbox One, hand them a game pad, and tell them to come back to the discussion once they have completed their survival horror education. It’s not exactly shocking but this is a game I would recommend to any horror gamer for immediate purchase….. I’m serious, go and buy it….right now!

……why are you still reading?!

Gameplay and Controls – With a multitude of control options and top notch game design I doubt you will have much to complain about in this category. The only thing that prevents me from giving top marks is the frustration of sometimes having to tap the investigate button to find the right spot for interaction, frustrating as hell on a speed run!

Sound and Music – It sounded great back then and it really still does. Certain little considerations on the sound effects are just fantastic, such as footsteps and echo altering depending on environment. The music fits the areas in the game perfectly, creating just the right atmosphere of dread and terror.

Graphics – The graphic are not perfect, but they have been amazingly updated for HD. The addition of the BSAA character costumes shows the level of change and although the locations still look dated in places the characters and items look incredible.

Story/immersion/replay-ability – Exploring the mansion and slowly uncovering the truth of what happened through documents while solving puzzles and fighting off different enemies is a great mix. The story, while a little obvious in places, is still well written and explained. You really feel that you are surviving an ordeal while also having little moments of feeling like a complete badass! New modes and the choice of Chis or Jill adds to the replay value, as do the new online scoreboards…

Final Score – A nostalgic trip back to when survival horror didn’t mean a dodgy stealth system or mowing down enemies with superior firepower. The updates took nothing away from this classic game, a definite must for every horror fan.

Watch The Trailer Here