Resident Evil 4 is an outstanding game. Introducing for the first time or making popular gameplay mechanics that are now a staple of the genre. At the time it was also, and maybe still is, the most successful, both critically and commercially, entry in the franchise. It is then no surprise that Capcom would join the club of publishers re-releasing their past masterpieces in glorious HD. But did this amazing game received the treatment it deserved?
Before going any further it needs to be said that this is not going to be an in-depth review of the 2005 game but rather a review of this 2011 HD re-release and its new features or lack thereof.
In Resident Evil 4 you play as Leon S. Kennedy, one day Raccoon City cop turned Secret Service agent tasked with rescuing Ashley Graham, the kidnapped daughter the of the President of the United States. His investigation eventually leads him to an isolated village somewhere in Spain, where members of a religious cult may have taken Ashley. This village is only the tip of the iceberg in what is easily the biggest game in the franchise. Before reaching the end of this journey you will have explored castle, maze, ruins, secret laboratory and more. Here is a lengthy game where a first playthrough may clock in at over 20 hours. With plenty of bonus content to unlock and tackle once the main story is over and keep you occupied for several more hours this is certainly a game from a different era. Single player action games like these rarely offer more then 10 hours of play much less 30.
Just another day at the office.
HD collections are common these days ever since this new craze started when Sony release the God of War Collection. Unfortunately not every one of those are created equal. Some are truly a work of art with detailed and reworked textures and loads of new functionalities while others are nothing less than straight ports of the original release. Resident Evil 4 sadly belongs to the this second group.
Let's start with the obvious. Anyone who thinks HD thinks better graphics. That makes sense, after all this is one of the main appeal of replaying an old classic with the eye candy of today's games. Back in 2005 this was possibly the best looking game on the Game Cube and its PS2 counterpart was no slouch either even in a slightly diminished form to accommodate the less powerful hardware. Today's “high definition” version however does not hold up as well, especially when put side by side with better HD re-release like the God of War games. This port is based on the Game Cube/Wii version of the game but shows very little in the way of improvements. Textures, lighting, models all look the same as they did years ago. Simply bumping up the resolution from 480p to 720p does not create any miracle by itself. The game also does not support 3D, however I feel this is much less of an issue since the entirety of the game is very dark. Everyone knows that darkness and 3D don't work well together.
Controls are also disappointing by today's standards. The abilities at your disposal and the way your character moves around is essentially the same as in Resident Evil 5. However this is not to say that Resident Evil 5 didn't bring its share of refinements along the way. Most notably the ability to use the right analog stick for aiming. That game also included the option to use the classic Resident Evil 4 controls for those who preferred the old ways. It is than strange that this version of Resident Evil 4 does include the newer and far more common controls found in every shooter out there. Even more so when considering that none of the control types offered here are the same as those found in the PS2 version of the game and that Capcom did include the possibility of using the L1 and R1 buttons to aim and shoot respectively. Why not go the extra length and allow the player to aim using the right analog stick is a bit baffling. On the PS3 the game also does not include any support for the Move controller. While the original game was not built with motion controls in mind it was later released for the Wii and is often cited as the best version of the game and Move controls would have been a nice addition.
This guy does not like you, not one bit.
Trophies and achievements are there and accounted for but in pretty lousy way. 12 trophies/achievements, none for any of the extra game modes, only 3 of which are not guaranteed through a complete playthrough and no platinum trophy for the PS3 version really shows that Capcom didn't care about this feature and merely added them to comply with Sony and Microsoft's requirements. At least for all of you achievements hunter on the Xbox 360 you still get the benefits on the full 1000 points.
It's not all bad however. This port is based on the Wii version of the game. Which is to say the version that combined the superior graphics offered on the Game Cube and the additional content found on the PS2, most notably the Separate Ways bonus campaign featuring Ada Wong's campaign taking place at the same time as the main story line. This isn't just an hour long bonus mission either. In fact this bonus campaign is probably as long as any one scenario from Resident Evil 1 or 2.
I know what you're thinking but now is not the time nor the place.
When looking at what this release has to offer and putting it side by side with better and more complete re-release all for the same 20$ asking price it's hard to be anything other than disappointed with what Capcom has decided to put out. Its a real shame, one of the finest action game ever released deserved better. Still, if you only ever played the Game Cube version and have so far missed out on the fantastic Separate Ways campaign, this version has its merits. More importantly this is an excellent opportunity for anyone who missed out on what is one of the best game of all time and finally give it a go. If you never played it and discovered the series with Resident Evil 5 and even remotely enjoyed it you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.
It pains me to have to give one of my favorite game a 6 but you should not see in that score any indication of the quality of the game itself. It is still an outstanding action game even to this day worthy of all the praise it received over the years and is in fact what keeps this lazy port from being completely forgettable and in the end this is what really counts.
Score: 6 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)
A 6 may seem rather harsh for what is otherwise one of the finest action game you can get your hands on and if you know that any of the criticism listed here will not bother you or are not someone easily put off by older games without any sort of nostalgia attached to them than you only need to know that Resident Evil 4 remains to this day an excellent game that you should totally play!
Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
(Note that the screenshots shown may not be from the HD versions of the game.)