For Resident Evil developer Capcom, the series’ fourth official outing proved both a blessing and a curse: blessing because it revamped and re-energised the series, curse because it set the bar just a little too high. Having succeeded as a shooter, Resident Evil 4 helped popularize a more action-oriented approach to survival horror. Its monstrous success even prompted Capcom to retool the series’ central ethos, swapping out shocks and scares for bullets and bombs.
With anticipation at an all-time high, the game’s eventual sequel – Resident Evil 5 never really stood a chance. It didn’t help that the intervening years had given the world the likes of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, another third person shooter buoyed by slickly superior controls. Indeed, the same mechanics that had once seemed so special in 4 now felt overly cumbersome, erratic, and even awkward here.
Resident Evil 4 may have broken new ground back in 2005, but it also benefitted from the lower expectations and even limitations of its age. Such comparative ‘issues’ are what give the game its unique flavor, though there are a number of areas in which improvements can be made. Visual fidelity, widescreen support, frame rate enhancements – these are the kinds of blemishes Capcom intends to tackle in its upcoming Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition.
Set to debut on February 28, 2014, this PC-exclusive release features all of the changes made to the game back in 2011, via the original Resident Evil 4 HD. PC players will also benefit from an improved frame rate — a steady 60fps, alongside a number of Steam community enhancements, including trading cards, leaderboards and achievement support. Gamers who pre-order the title will also receive an 80-page digital artbook and 60-song digital soundtrack.
The gradual evolution of Resident Evil 4, from Gamecube-exclusive to multi-platform powerhouse stands in stark contrast to the fate of the ongoing Resi franchise. Like many successful series, including Call of Duty and EA’s sporting stock, a single innovative breakout can and often does lead to bland, repeat iterations. Resident Evil 4 succeeded by understanding and carefully expanding upon the limits of its era — something Resident Evil 6, with its schizophrenic mix of gameplay styles never truly attempted.
Are you planning on picking up this ‘Ultimate Edition’ set? How can Capcom repeat Resi 4‘s success – and where next for the flagging franchise? Have your say in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest Resident Evil news, right here on Game Rant.
Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition arrives February 28, 2014, for PC and Steam digital download. Boxed copies of the game are currently limited to the European market, with both versions set to retail at around $19.99/â‚¬19.99.
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