reviews\ Sep 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

Resident Evil 4 HD Review


Considering that its “big” Resident Evil game, Operation Raccoon City, recently underwent a delay into early 2012, Capcom found itself up against the wall for the holiday season.  Sure, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record should be a hit with fans of that series, particularly the ones who avidly missed having Frank West in the leading role, but what else does the company have for the holidays aside from that?  It’s probably that sort of thinking that made them consider translating not one but two classic Resident Evil games for digital release.  While we’re still not entirely sold on how Code Veronica X turned out (why does your character move around like a tank in the old Combat game?!), Resident Evil 4 HD works out just fine.  Not amazing, but fine.

The game puts you in control of Leon Kennedy, a young agent who finds himself tasked with rescuing the President’s daughter in the midst of a strange village, and boy, do we mean strange.  The citizens speak in a dialect that can never quite fully be understood, but one glimpse at these guys and you know they mean trouble.  They come at you with pitchfolks, throwing knives, and other weapons, merely for the sake of killing you dead.  However, that’s the least of your worries, as other problematic creatures--such as an unstoppable chainsaw fiend, a demon fish, and other unnatural horrors--await you over the course of your quest.

Sure, sometimes the plot doesn’t make much sense, but there’s no question that Resident Evil 4 was a defining point for the series, and to see Capcom revisit it with (mostly) loving care is a nice touch.  The gameplay remains untouched from previous releases on the GameCube and PlayStation 2, and while not being able to roll out of harm’s way like in other games may be a pain for some, the shoot-em-up gameplay and survival tactics remain unchanged, truly defining a classic in its time.  Don’t bother telling us about how you don’t feel tension the first time the chainsaw freak comes chasing after you.  It’s there.  We’ve felt it.

The game is rewarding and takes a few hours to get through, and once you do, you’ll unlock a few extras, including The Mercenaries, a mode where you try to kill as many undead as possible within an allotted time limit, and Assignment Ada, where you take control of the luscious Ms. Wong as she completes her own mission, packed in a killer dress and carrying loads of ammunition.  These alone add to the game’s replay value, and even if you’ve experienced them before, it’s worth going through again just to pad your individual ranking with some Achievements or Trophies.

As for the high definition transfer of Resident Evil 4 HD…ehhh.  That’s not to say Capcom didn’t do a good job, because this is easily recognizable as Resident Evil 4, right down to the dull look of the world you’re inhabiting, the cool animations (particular when Leon springs into a jump kick, it’s crazy), and the ultra levels of gore at times.  However, there’s something off.  The game definitely has a grainy appearance to it, as if Capcom was intending to give it a B-movie horror look, rather than going all out with the HD approach.  It’s not a complete disappointment, but for those expecting a shining example of what 1080p gaming is all about, it may come up short for you.  At least some of the larger enemies are impressive, especially El Gigante, who holds nothing back as he tries to pound you into pulp.  (Hell, if you were an angry giant, wouldn’t you want to smush smaller people too?)

Resident Evil 4 HD

In terms of audio, Resident Evil 4 HD is still great stuff.  The dialogue, while a little corny at times (this is RE territory after all) fits the bill when it comes to the terror theme, and the music is decidedly atmospheric, giving you the creeps at just the right time.  The sound effects are good, too, particularly when your bullets enter a baddie’s brain.  SPLAT!

The main question here is whether you want to buy this game – again – for $20.  The HD transfer is questionable, but the rest of Resident Evil 4 HD has managed to stand the test of time, despite the sequel that’s been released and the direction that’s being taken with the upcoming Raccoon City.  If you already own a previous version of the game, you shouldn’t go breaking your back over this one.  However, if you’ve never discovered what it’s all about or just feel like reliving it again without hunting down a physical copy, lock and load.  This is the better Resident Evil game to download.


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