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Resident Evil HD Remaster Review

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Replay Value:



Overall Rating:       8.4



Online Gameplay:

Not Rated





Number Of Players:




Release Date:

January 20, 2015

Resident Evil is an iconic name in video games. However, in order to properly evaluate this particular remaster, we need to understand the reason behind the franchise’s legendary status. Is it legendary because of the often infuriating tank controls and tedious inventory system? Of course not. It was singularly remarkable due to its atmosphere; the tension and urgency the original title(s) generated was unparalleled and really, unlike anything we’d experienced in games up to that point. This is what’s on display in the Resident Evil HD Remaster and if you can accept that other elements fail the test of time, you’ll be plenty satisfied.

In short, as is the case with most upgrades of retro games, you must allow nostalgia to play a role. That’s the point, obviously. If you don’t, if you’re a newcomer seeking a bit of history, you may end up laughing and pointing at those of us who remember the unbelievable impact such games had.

At any rate, a remake of a remake can be difficult to analyze. Here, we’re talking about an updated version of a 2002 GameCube game, which was a remake of the revolutionary 1996 PlayStation classic. The good news is that we get the expanded widescreen view, enhanced background textures, and fresh lighting. The bad news is that even with such upgrades, the game falls shy of other remasters we’ve seen recently, likely because the original graphical content is just so outdated. Yes, we’re talking about a first-generation PlayStation experience. Then again, that atmosphere remains untainted and just as effective as ever…especially ‘cuz you might’ve forgotten some of those fearful segments and reliving them is a joy.

The sound suffers from compressed voiceovers and a set of effects that could’ve used more sprucing up. Again, with a game that’s nearly 18 years old, you’re going to get a production that falls well shy of what we know and appreciate today. Even the GameCube update is over 12 years old. Still, the soundtrack is beautifully composed and orchestrated, the audio is good enough to punctuate those jump-out-of-your-seat moments with horror and surprise, and the nasties still make appropriately nasty noises. Resident Evil had great sound for the time and some of it remains impressive and wildly effective. Simply transport yourself back in time and indulge in the greatness, if you can.

You will play as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, both members of the special ops team known as S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service). The setting is a mysterious mansion, where you end up getting trapped on a mission to locate missing S.T.A.R.S. agents. It doesn’t take long before your initial goal falls by the wayside, to be replaced by the much more urgent goal of survival and escape. You’ll evade and attack a variety of creepy monsters, including the memorable zombies, and you’ll solve quite a few puzzles in your harrowing quest. You’ll combine valuable items in your inventory as well and although that inventory system is really the opposite of “streamlined,” I still took to it like a fish to water (not everyone will, though).

As I said above, the fear is the focal point. If the game can still create that creeping sensation, if it can put that tingling at the base of your spine, if it can tense up those fingers, then it’s doing its job, regardless of age. Resident Evil HD Remaster, while in some ways a testament to how far the industry has come, can still make you jump. It’ll still make you hesitate before entering a new area. Those dogs busting through the window? Okay, we all know it’s coming and yet, when it happens, our bodies invariably respond. This is precisely why these games had such an impact, and why they’ve turned out to be some of the most important efforts in the industry’s history.

All of that remains. Perhaps it’s clouded by many years of advancement, which only serve to emphasize the shortcomings of yesteryear. And maybe you’ll experience a few cheap deaths, and maybe you’ll get bored retracing your steps several times over for a particular puzzle (the origin of the “fetch quest”…?). But you know, it works. Humans experience fear when we feel uncertain and defenseless and throughout this challenging adventure, those are the dominant sensations. Whether you’ve resolved to stand and fight or you’re running for your life, that tension is always there; the palms will get sweaty and the pulse will race. Yes, we see that it’s outdated. But this updated version also proves that technological advancement has no bearing on artistic and emotional greatness.

This is coming from a long-time fan of the series and one who appreciates true survival/horror. I also know the difference between gore and titillation, as opposed to the Hitchcockian method of inducing fear. One requires talent on the part of the creator(s); one does not. One has an immediate and lasting effect; one only serves to further desensitize an already frighteningly jaded populace. It’s why I will always give these original RE creations plenty of praise. But it doesn’t mean I’m allowed to give them a pass when it comes to the aforementioned old-school drawbacks. For instance, the camera in those days was often a bigger enemy than anything on the screen.

That still holds true here, as the fixed camera is a double-edged sword: On the one hand, not being able to see what’s making that horrid noise contributes to our fear. On the other hand, not having a full vision scope is just plain infuriating. We also must admit that the fixed camera can be an even bigger problem during critical moments where the player has to move. These cameras never supported fast movement well, unless the camera was drawn back far enough, and it’s not in the RE games. The tank mechanics, tedious inventory, and sometimes deadly camera always got in the way back in the day and unfortunately, that really hasn’t changed. It’s just amplified due to the refinement of today’s games.

But speaking of that inventory, while it can be a pain sometimes, it also plays into the vulnerability of the character. It’s a limited inventory, which means you can’t carry everything, and that requires plenty of planning and strategy. On top of which, there’s nothing quite so unsettling as taking a peek at your stock and realizing you’re almost out of healing items. You’re in a tough section of the mansion, you don’t recall seeing any other herbs out there, and you can’t combine anything in your inventory that will help. These are the situations for which this franchise is best known, even if we don’t always acknowledge the truth. The atmosphere, environment and situation in which you find yourself are legendary; the technical aspects surrounding all that are indeed secondary.

Resident Evil HD Remaster is exactly what you expect it to be, but it’s also a work of extreme contrasts. While showing you how far gaming has come, it puts a vivid, nostalgia-shattering spotlight on all the old-fashioned flaws. At the same time, the spotlight can shift in mid-session, from highlighting the technical shortcomings to emphasizing the game’s timeless ability to instill terror and suspense. Personally, I think the latter spotlight shines brightest because there are so few games that achieved their manifest intent so damn well. Achieving that goal withstands the test of time and that’s what matters, especially for die-hard followers of the series. And let’s face it, they’re the intended audience for this remaster.

The Good: Terrifying atmosphere remains effective and timeless. Well-paced gameplay creates tension. Many well-designed puzzles add variety. The mansion is wonderfully designed and full of thrills and chills. Visual upgrades, while not especially impressive, are consistent throughout.

The Bad: Camera is as big a problem as ever. Inventory system can be tedious and frustrating. Lingering archaic hitches.

The Ugly: "RE was the epitome of 'ugly' but in a good way, of course."

2/9/2015 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (22 posts)

Monday, February 09, 2015 @ 9:11:05 PM

You....scored it low because of the inventory system and camera angles?

NOW I'm done here. Nothing else needs to be said.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 8 down Disagree with this comment

Monday, February 09, 2015 @ 9:37:28 PM

Yay! He is gone!

Agree with this comment 2 up, 6 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, February 09, 2015 @ 10:06:53 PM

Great. Have fun trying to find a critic who doesn't mention these obvious issues. Go yell at GameSpot, IGN, etc.

And if you think 8.4 is a "low" score, you've got your own problems.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 2/9/2015 10:08:12 PM

Agree with this comment 5 up, 4 down Disagree with this comment

Monday, February 09, 2015 @ 11:02:37 PM

Though I personally don't have a problem with the camera or inventory I don't necessarily disagree with Ben's complaints. 8.4 is a great score for a game more than a decade old. Shows how well it's held up.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 12:09:46 AM

$20 he comes back for some more butt-hurting fun.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 3:12:52 AM

Admittedly I agree with him on this, I don't think it's fair to critize the game for it's camera angles - If anything I am glad it still has it. Since RE4 the majority action/horror games have that over the shoulder camera perspective. I believe films have cinematography for a reason and that horror games really benefit from set camera angles. Take the iconic moment in RE where your running down that narrow corridor, the camera is set with a window in the foreground and your character running towards it. The dog bursting through the foreground is far more striking than having the over the shoulder camera view, where you just see the action happen in the background, it's far less threatening.

But the review was fair, I just wish we'd get horror games which brought set camera angles back... I don't feel so sentimental about the tank controls :P

Agree with this comment 2 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 11:08:25 AM

Vivi: The camera wasn't good originally; how is it good now? Critics complained then that it was a problem, as they often did with fixed cameras in 3D games.

Read GameSpot's review. Kevin VanOrd spends a lot of time on the camera issue and how it's just not that great and never has been.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Lone Wanderer
Monday, February 09, 2015 @ 10:45:18 PM

Mind explaining how this, a remake from generations past got a 8.2 in graphics, where as Dying Light got a 7.5 in graphics?

Agree with this comment 3 up, 6 down Disagree with this comment

Monday, February 09, 2015 @ 11:00:54 PM

Because it's not Dying Light? Different game, different standard.

Last edited by Jawknee on 2/9/2015 11:01:01 PM

Agree with this comment 4 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 12:12:14 AM

::bashing head against the wall:: How do people not understand that a decade old game will be graded differently than a brand new game in terms of visuals?!

Agree with this comment 3 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 1:28:40 AM

Oh, don't hurt yourself, LV. Trying to explain such things to certain people will give one an aneurysm.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Monday, February 09, 2015 @ 10:52:08 PM

Good review, now I can't wait for RE 2 remaster...

Agree with this comment 1 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Monday, February 09, 2015 @ 11:03:05 PM

Zero is likely to be remade before 2.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 12:14:50 AM

I expect a FF7 remaster before we ever get a RE 2 remaster.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 3:07:15 AM

If they release Resident Evil Zero HD separately for 16 pounds I will be furious! The game should have been bundled with this game already, it's the reason I haven't picked it up yet - & That I have it on Wii already.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 5:19:59 PM

It could be but it would cost 40 . No way they would sell both for 20 only when pretty much all remaster are 40 .

Last edited by berserk on 2/10/2015 5:21:06 PM

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 4:39:29 AM

Not willing to pick this up and play for the 10th time. I know every cranny of this game.
If they would remade RE2 on the other hand...

Agree with this comment 1 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 5:21:58 PM

What i told myself but bought it anyway and once i start playing , i just can t stop until i m forced to do something else .

Last edited by berserk on 2/10/2015 5:22:45 PM

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 5:30:45 AM

i'm still not sure if this gunna be my type of this game but i still hope it turn out well i alawys do,i want some one to enjoy it

happy gaming

Agree with this comment 1 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 11:19:26 AM

Still playing through a stack of games I got for Christmas, and the newly re-released Metroid Prime Trilogy for Wii U as well. But I'll definitely make my way to this one eventually. Oh how I miss the classic survival horror days...

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 11:35:06 AM

Did you grab the MP Trilogy when it was $10? Such a sweet deal.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015 @ 2:53:44 PM

I did! Precisely because it was 10 bucks, I couldn't possibly say no :) I don't think I'd played the original Prime in easily 12 years. There are a handful of maddening design choices -- there's a stretch in the phazon mines where I couldn't save my game for 90 straight minutes; some of the platform jumping is infuriating -- those were problems common to early-aughts 3D games. Overall it holds up quite well, and I'm crossing my fingers Nintendo will revisit this series sooner than later.

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