For old-school gamers there’s nothing quite like that maddening realization that you’re down to one bullet when you hear that ominous moaning coming from just around the corner. Capcom wanted a new generation of gamers to experience true survival horror with Resident Evil HD — a spiffed-up, HD goodness coating of the 1996 classic.
Instead of mailing in a weak retro-fueled effort, Capcom delivers a modern masterpiece of an already pretty spectacular game.
In later years, the franchise has been way more about action so you could be like me and play with reckless abandon gleefully blast away knowing there’s another slew of zombie blasting bullets right around the corner. Take that strategy in this one and you’ll be in for a long trek through the mansion.
In Resident Evil HD, it’s all about strategy and trying not to let your nerves get the better of you. I’ve been playing video games for decades now and this had me feeling completely self conscious for jumping at my character’s shadow and questioning of I really wanted to keep playing this with the lights off?
The improvements to the graphics are immediately noticeable for those who have played throughout the series across the various platforms ranging from the original PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Gamecube and PlayStation 3. You can actually make out all the details in the infamous mansion where Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine find themselves trapped with little hope of survival. Players can choose a more old school look for the two playable characters or go more with more modern designs from recent games.
The real beauty of the game is the enhanced tension the updated graphics and sound provide. Capcom re-established some camera and lighting perspectives to truly tap into that dreaded sense of fear you get watching horror thrillers. And you’ll have to be just as conscious of resource management as ever as you decide if it’s really, really worth going down that hallway with six bullets and one health-healing herb.
Capcom also tinkered with the control format allowing players two ways to enjoy the madness. The first is the retro ‘tank-like’ controls, which are less responsive and instinctive, but do wonders to further enhance the fear factor.
The more fluid alternative mode features more intuitive controls where movements are in synch with the controller so your character will actually move down when you press down on the control stick.
Occasionally, the alternative control gets too sensitive and you’ll get stuck fighting the control to stay on one area while it’s shifting you to another. The 180-degree turn feature allows players to quickly adjust to anything that tries to sneak up on you from behind.
Additionally, Capcom re-recorded dialogue with a new cast and reworked the script to work in characters introduced in future installments. This isn’t some quick money-grab effort with a coat of new paint and Capcom should be commended for putting such care into a project most fans would gobble up anyway practically sight unseen.
Even though some later entries in the series look better and are heavier on action, the mood, tension and embodiment of true survival horror can’t be beat. For $20, you won’t find a better bargain for such an impressive game than Resident Evil HD. That is until Capcom decides on a Resident Evil 2 HD version.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10