by: Paul "EastX" Acevedo
I am one of the few people who skipped straight to Resident Evil 5 without playing its predecessor. While we here at Co-Optimus loved RE5’s brilliant co-op gameplay (I earned all 1000 GamerScore from the base game and recently starting playing through the PC version too), Resident Evil 4 remains many gamers’ favorite in the series. Thankfully, Capcom has just released Resident Evil 4 HD as a downloadable title on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, at last enabling the poor individuals like me to experience this acclaimed title.
Resident Evil 4 takes place sometime after the fall of the nefarious Umbrella Corporation, who seemingly spent more time making zombies and monsters than they did pharmaceuticals. But evil still abounds, as a Spanish cult has kidnapped the American president’s daughter, Ashley. Enter Leon Kennedy on a mission to get Spain back for all of that conquistador nonsense in the 15th and 16th centuries. That, or rescue the whiny and useless Ashley – I forget. As it turns out, the cultists and neighboring villagers have more to worry about than an influenza epidemic. They have been infected with the mysterious Las Plagas parasites, causing them to abandon all standards of hygiene as well as become violent not-zombies.
The new threat, a surprisingly coherent story, an increased focus on action over puzzles, and amazing graphics all helped make Resident Evil 4 a blockbuster on GameCube, Playstation 2, and later the Wii. But does the game still have something to offer for current gen gamers? That depends.
If you’ve played RE4 to death on other systems, the latest version offers little to entice you back. Despite the HD title, Resident Evil 4 simply renders the Wii version’s graphics at a higher resolution. Textures are painfully low resolution and no anti-aliasing or other enhancement effects have been added. On the plus side, it does run in proper widescreen and boasts better color saturation than previous editions. So this may be the best RE4 has ever looked on consoles, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the fan-modded PC version.
While the four-year old Wii Edition offered new (and frankly superior) controls, RE4 HD is limited to the original, clunky controls. Yeah, they’re less clunky than previous games like Code Veronica, but they still feel decidedly antiquated. Leon aims painfully slowly, making it easy for bad guys to get their hands on him before he has a chance to actually point his gun in the right direction. The targeting reticule’s exaggerating wobbling doesn’t help either. It would have been so easy for Capcom to add Resident Evil 5’s much improved controls, and the result would have been the definitive version of the game. Oh well.
Resident Evil 4 HD may not include much in the way of new content, but it’s still the perfect way for anyone who has been trapped in a cave for the last several years to finally check out the beloved franchise entry - and give part 5 additional context. The main game took me 26 hours to complete, with the ‘Assignment Ada’ and ‘Separate Ways’ bonus modes adding even more playtime. Factor in a second playthrough on the unlockable Professional difficulty for its associated Achievement/Trophy and RE4 HD actually offers tons of gaming value for a value price. People who already own part 4 and don’t care about Achievements can safely skip this version though.