Review: Resident Evil 4 HD

“Hello, stranger!”

I LITERALLY squealed with delight when I met up with The Merchant in glorious HD and heard those sweet guttural sounds pour from his hi-def lips.

Well, I’m assuming they came from his lips.

The thing is, my old friend’s got a purple scarf covering his face, so you can’t be too sure of what he’s sporting underneath. Especially in the world of Resident Evil.

For those not in the know, this week marked the release of Resident Evil 4 HD for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; an HD release of Resident Evil: Code Veronica quickly follows next week. If you’ve read this blog in the past, you know how excited we get for RE around these parts.

After five core Resident Evil titles, the series was seeming a bit stale…so Resident Evil 4 turned the series on its head back in 2005. Survival horror took a back seat to action. The fixed cameras of past games went out the window, replaced by a dynamic system that zoomed in behind your shoulder when you wanted to aim and fire. Slow moving zombies shuffled out of the way to make room for the Ganado — a parasite-riddled, fast-moving, intelligent group of enemies. Leon S. Kennedy from Resident Evil 2 returned, bigger and badder than ever — without looking like a steroid-using freak (I’m talking about you, Chris Redfield) — as a US Government operative on the search, famously, for the President’s Daughter! To paraphrase a character in Mean Girls, he wasn’t even in some Spanish-seeming country looking for bioweapons!

While some hated the new direction, the game proved to be a huge hit. Nintendo Power named it the 2005 “Game of the Year,” whilst IGN has the title in the list of their “Top 99 Games of All Time.” I personally recommend the action-packed title because it continues a storyline that hardcore fans know and love, whilst at the same time being easily accessible to newcomers.

Oh — almost forgot. Somewhere in there, a couple years after the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3, the ruthlessly evil Umbrella Corporation went DOWN. I’m not ruining the plot for you; Leon says as much in the game’s opening. And as you probably surmised, those cinematics — and everything else in the game — have been updated to HD. Six years on, the game never looked so good.

Now, it’s a safe bet that you’ve already experienced Resident Evil 4 in one form or another. Let’s get down to if you should bother with this iteration. It’s got the full game. It’s got all the bonus content available in various versions of the title, including Separate Ways and The Mercenaries (unless you’re in Germany, then no Mercenaries for you!). Of course it has updated, hi-definition graphics that look quite good. Best yet, the game has achievements or trophies, depending on your console preference.

That last selling point was all it took to get me on board. Truthfully, it’s a great game that looks great, AND I’ll be able to show off my prowess by collecting the 1000 gamerscore on offer (it’s a “Games on Demand” title, not an Xbox Live Arcade download). The gamerscore is spread out unimaginatively over 12 different achievements, with most being for basic level completion (hint: shoot the water. You know what I’m talking about.). Getting 100% completion on the game won’t be too difficult; one achievement is to complete the game on its hardest level, which is easy if you finish Separate Ways first so Ashley (the aforementioned President’s Daughter) has a sweet suit of armour to protect herself from baddies.

The one problem I have with the title is its controls. In 2005, having the “fire” button mapped to one of your thumb-controlled buttons might have been okay. Not so in 2011. Even with the “Type II” control scheme in place — using the left trigger to aim and the right trigger to fire — I died many times over because my current-game muscle memory kept trying to move Leon’s aim around with the right stick. EVERY movement in the game is controlled by the left stick, and while the right apparently controls the camera, it didn’t work very well at all. I walked into far too many bear traps to count. Remapped controls mirroring Resident Evil 5 would have been perfect.

If you’ve played the game in the past, you’re not a die-hard fan, and you don’t care about the achievements — it’s a pass. It’s not remade like the original PlayStation Resident Evil was for GameCube, it’s just another way to experience the title. If you’re heavily into achievements, the Resident Evil series, or you were a first-time fan of Resident Evil 5, you should definitely pick this title up. The download costs $29.95 here in Australia.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.