The original Resident Evil was a truly groundbreaking game, it popularised the survival horror genre and created a massive money making franchise for Capcom. After a few poor releases in the series in recent years (I’m looking at you Resident Evil 6), the original is back on consoles and PC. This isn’t a full remake of the 1996 original but more of a HD remaster of the 2002 Nintendo Gamecube release. When I heard this game was being brought up to modern standards I was hugely excited, after all this is one of my all time favourite games, so did I enjoy going back to Spencer mansion or is going back ten years into gaming history a nightmare?
I am sure you know the premise by now but just in case you didn’t, Resident Evil has you stranded in a secluded mansion with decaying Zombies, rotting dogs, mutant spiders and even a massive snake -all out to kill you. You have to manage your inventory, with limited slots available for you to carry items and ammo, it is even more limited if you play as Chris. On top of all this you have to solve some fairly expansive puzzles that require you to explore for keys or items, as you try and escape the mansion and uncover the secrets of the Umbrella Corporation and their monsters.
The biggest selling point of this remaster is the graphics that have been updated in high definition. I am glad to say that they look amazing. Credit has to go to Capcom, who have done a really impressive job in up-scaling the visuals of the infamous mansion. It isn’t perfect however as some areas look seemingly untouched, the outdoor areas in particular look ragged and slightly washed out, it is a stark contrast to the more visited areas of the game, this does highlight how impressive the updated character models look, though as they stand out like a sore thumb in these areas. The old cut scenes and dialogue are untouched from the Gamecube release, this sadly does mean a lack of ‘Jill Sandwich’ and other cheesy lines from the original, and it also means that many of the in game cut-scenes are also left in their original SD format, this looks terrible and is disappointing and surprising as 5.1 surround sound has been added so why not HD FMV cut scenes.
Nothing in terms of gameplay has been added to this release, it is the same as it was in 2002 and playing through it I quickly realised that games just aren’t made like this anymore. I mean this in the best possible way, this game had me thinking, fearing and surviving from one room to the next. The newer Resident Evil games completely lack the suspense that fills this game; you are always on edge of running out of ammo or health. Enemies can chase you through doors and in the case of Crimson Heads come back to life if you don’t dispose of them in time with kerosene and a lighter. You also have a few last chance weapons to enable counter attacks, these are unique to this particular game in the Resident Evil series, it’s a shame they aren’t in some of the other titles..
Whilst the gameplay is the same, how you move about is not. You now have a choice of how to control your character, the traditional ‘tank’ controls are still there but you now have the option of using a new scheme that allows you to turn on the fly by just pushing in the direction you want to go. With static camera angles this does at times mean when you transition between angles you end up moving round in circles and have to stop to figure out which way you should move, but it is easy to get used to. The new controls do seem to make the game feel easier, avoiding enemies is far easier now you have full control, no more pivoting on the spot to get away. The new widescreen screen ratio is well implemented, it will move with you slightly as you run through certain areas, this does add to the cinematic effect of the game and is a nice new touch.
I have really enjoyed playing through this game again, it is a reminder of how good Resident Evil used to be, I also hope it is a reminder to Capcom that action isn’t the way to go in this series, and that a return to its roots would actually be a step forward. I hope that sales of this are good enough so that Capcom go back and remake other acclaimed games in the series, namely Resident Evil Zero, Two and Nemesis, but only if they are completely made from the ground up like this title originally was. If you are a returning fan of the series then this is a great way to play through a classic of the genre again. If you are a newcomer I highly recommend you try it, the new controls make it far more accessible and you may learn just why Resident Evil is such a long running series.
Reviewed on the Playstation 4