Resident Evil, not just the series but the first instalment of it specifically, is easily one of my favourite in gaming history. So in many ways, a completely un bias review of the HD remaster may be near enough impossible as it will always hold a special place in my heart, something which I believe will be true of almost everyone reading this.
From the first time you clapped eyes on that foyer which was your first experience of the vast and completely inexplicable Spencer mansion, to the cheesy lines spewed from every voice actors mouth, constantly brining a twinge of humour into an otherwise tense affair. Yes Resident Evil is a classic (one that I first played at such a young age, I had to return it only to purchase it again years later) filled with moments burned into every gamers ‘noggin!
Then, during a strange period of exclusivity between Capcom and Nintendo over the Resident Evil franchise, a remake of this classic came about. Adding in some new terrors such as a whole new set of voice recordings! *shudder*
Then there was those Crimson Heads, essentially Zombies you’ve killed returning to life yet again, making them newly un-dead, un-dead creatures! These bad boys could run, open doors and scratch you something fierce with their freshly grown nails!
Something so small an addition really added a sense of strategy to your actions as you could avoid some Crimson Heads, simply by burning the corpses before they have a chance to rise again, but with only a limited amount of gasoline to hand, you’ll have to choose wisely and protect the corridors you’re most likely to re-tread.
This re-building of a classic from the ground up, only went on to cement the title as a founder, if not the founder, of true survival horror. Blending what is essentially a new age point and click adventure with a sluggish yet brutal action title, throwing you up against rabid dogs, giant snakes, spiders with acidic venom and a scientists daughter who's been experimented on for so long, she closely resembles Mr. Blobby’s evil twin, in a fit of rage and fighting back the munchies!
As with the original you can choose to run the gauntlet as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, each equipped with a Knife and Lighter or Gun and First Aid Spray respectively. Not to mention the fact that, while Jill is considerably weaker, she can carry a lot more. Just how important that factor is in your run through is dependant on how you play and works as somewhat of an extra difficulty setting for those doing a speed run.
When the remake was released, it had brought about an element of item management as a sort of meta-game, requiring you to shuffle about what you carry and how you carry it, sparingly running for the safe houses to throw those un important items into storage. The visual make over brought a fresh edge to the game while the Crimson Heads kept the tension pumping as you back tracked to solve puzzles, something that was lacking in the original iteration.
So with this HD remastering, does it deliver as much of wow factor?
Well, it’s a complicated yes and no answer. With a lush 1080p resolution, the game looks pretty stunning on next-gen consoles, with the backgrounds and textures given a nice refresh its great to see the game on top form. Wanting to appeal to original fans and new players alike, you can choose to play the game in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect rations, should you fancy a bit of widescreen action or that portable television feel but perhaps the best addition is that of the new control scheme.
I personally stuck with the original sluggish or ‘tank’ controls, simply because I’ll die before experiencing the first game in a 2015 control scheme, mainly out of bitterness and the refusal to grow up, but should you fancy a smoother experience or are too young to appreciate that era of controls, then you can flick over to a more standard concept of character movement controlled by one stick.
That's not to say these new controls are bad, in fact quite the contrary as they manage to balance on a fine line the fresh accessibility offered while still holding on to the tension of combat. Forced to stand on the spot and hope you can dispatch your foes before they get close enough for a nibble. This forced positioning is part of what made and still makes this game such an intense experience, with most battles fought in long, tight corridors or small blocked rooms, with barely any room to move or plan.
In short, I love Resident Evil and I cant help but love what this version brings to the table, updating the game to offer a fresh look and feel for a brand new audience without stepping on the toes of the purists among us. The gameplay is as addictive as it ever was while retaining all of that tension, even when I knew what was coming next, I still jumped out of my skin and died more often that I should really ever admit to.
The puzzles are tough as nails, with absolutely no hand holding on display, so if you love horror games with something to test that juicy brain of yours, you simply have to play this game!