Game Rant's Trung Bui reviews Resident Evil 4 HD
Resident Evil 4 HD is one of two HD re-releases of the beloved zombie/infected franchise, the other one being Code Veronica X HD, however, RE4 changed the way the series was played and became a big influence in all the subsequent Resident Evil games released.
Aside from re-visiting a classic survival horror game from the past, what exactly does Resident Evil 4 HD have to offer gamers this go around?
Resident Evil 4 HD has been around since 2005, so if you haven't played it or ended up reading a review of the game back then, I'll be brief. Resident Evil 4 tells the tale of Leon Kennedy, of Resident Evil 2 fame, after he's picked up a new job working for the government - following the fiasco in Raccoon City. His assignment? Locate the kidnapped daughter of the President of the United States in a non-descript Spanish countryside area. Insert Leon having to take out a lot of parasite-infested village folk and cultists as he races to save the President's daughter. That's the story in a nutshell.
Gameplay wise, Resident Evil 4 HD still delivers the same kind of goods on Xbox 360 and PS3 as it did in previous iterations. The controls that influenced the later Resident Evil 5 show a bit of their age though. Granted, 5 years is a lengthy time and for a game to still hold up after that long is a good indication of its quality. However, going back and forth from RE4 to RE5, a player will notice differences. For example, after shooting someone in the head to stun, Leon will have to run pretty much next to the enemy to engage in a contextual melee attack. Whereas in RE5, a bit more distance could be afforded.
Leon will be able to stop and shoot with pretty great accuracy, depending on how good players are at manipulating an analog stick. The not-quite-tank controls still function well and add that tiny bit of immobility that ramps up the anxiety factor when faced with a small horde of Las Plagas infected individuals. The controls are easy to pick up for anyone who's played Resident Evil 5, with exclusions here and there, which I'll get to next.
My main gripe with RE4 HD is I wish Capcom had just taken the time to transition the game into the engine used in Resident Evil 5, smoothing out some gameplay and definitely ramping up the graphics significantly. However, that was not the plan for this re-release, unfortunately. Again, the game still functions as it did back in 2005, and when it first released, it was pretty good. A small gripe, but nothing that would dissuade me from playing it again and again.
Graphically, there is age in Resident Evil 4 HD, however, for a game 5 years old, the visuals are still pretty solid. Does the 'HD' in the title make a difference though? Just barely. Textures are sharpened up a little bit and the clarity is better, but there are still times where the game doesn't impress visually anymore. Pre-rendered cutscenes are still an occurrence as it was in the original and it's even more noticeable when those transitions happen.
Sound carries over no worse for wear. The ambient music as Leon explores areas, fights infected enemies, or is in a boss fight is still as great as it was before. Players will find themselves feeling that ominous sense of dread as they enter new areas again and struggle to remember what was there (if they played before) or what lies ahead - the music definitely adds to the atmosphere. Weapon effects sound weighty and match with the respective artillery on a very intuitive level - without sounding over the top or too weak.
The HD version of Resident Evil 4 will also be pretty complete. For 1600 MS/$19.99 PSN players will get the main game, which includes the popular Mercenaries gameplay mode, Assignment Ada, Separate Ways (only available on Wii and PlayStation 2), and of course, achievements. Gamers are going to get some healthy play time out of the package and fans of Resident Evil 4 who have been devoid of their copy for one reason or another should definitely purchase the title. Gamers who have never played the title that redefined Resident Evil (for better or worse) should do themselves a favor and check it out.
Resident Evil 4 HD isn't the most ideal re-release that games have seen, especially when most people have probably played Resident Evil 5 by now, but the gameplay and experience still holds up after all these years. I just wish the graphics had been better improved, if not transitioned over to a new engine. Other than that small complaint, Resident Evil 4 HD is still a solid buy.
Don't forget, there is a sixth Resident Evil game coming and it looks like it might be taking place on a much bigger scale.
Resident Evil 4 HD is available now for Xbox 360 (1600 MS) and PlayStation 3 ($19.99).
Follow me on Twitter @TrungleFever