Resident Evil HD Remaster PS4 Review

When I’m asked whether or not I like horror games or movies, I cannot simple give a one-word answer. It’s such a diverse genre that ranges such a great deal. It’s like someone asking you if you like comedy. For me, there’s nothing less imaginative than a film or game full of jump scares; sudden changes that simply trigger a natural reaction in the form of a flinch. That in itself isn’t horror and is certainly not an art form. The real masterpiece is in the anticipation, the immersion and the feeling of unease that builds up inside until you want nothing more than to drop the controller and run away.

Originally, Resident Evil was released on the Playstation and later remade for the Gamecube. This remake was a complete revamp; all art was greatly improved and the design took some major changes too (some of which came from the ‘Directors cut’ edition also on the Playstation). This newest version of the game is a HD version of that remake.

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There are two characters to play as; Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, both ‘Alpha Team’ members of a force called the ‘S.T.A.R.S.’. After losing contact with ‘Bravo Team’, the gang are sent to ‘Raccoon Forest’ in search, but get attacked by mutated hounds and split up before they take refuge in a rather unusual mansion. Their goal is then to locate any survivors, find an escape route and of course, keep themselves alive.

I have to say that the first in the series is my favourite horror game of all time, and I don’t hesitate it writing that. Most of what gives it a place in my heart lies in its music, it’s camera angles, the mansion and of course those Romero style zombies who give me the chills to this day. Anyone who played this game before knows exactly what I mean when I say ‘those camera angles’. Aside from the artistic and technical advantages of having static cinematography, it creates a special feeling that’s difficult to describe. Not knowing what is outside of the current camera framing is scary. For example, you enter a small room and have the camera pointing at your corner of the room. You have no idea what’s in the rest of the room. It makes you pause for a few moments and listen for any signs of danger being footsteps, the groaning zombies or even the sound of someone being eaten. This combined with the slow, unique music make the experience incredibly immersive.

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Most of your time playing this game will be spent managing your items and looking for new ones. One of the small differences between the two characters is their inventory space, but whether you have 6 slots or 8, you are guaranteed to run out of pockets at some point. You never quite know whether to take more ammo, guns, keys or medicinal items of some variety. There are also a great deal of objects to be collected that each have a specific use, and there’s no way of knowing when that time will come. You also want to keep a few slots clear for anything useful you might find on your travels.

I got the impression in playing the remake for the first time that a great deal of the previously unlocked rooms are now locked. This means more problem solving but also makes the game a little more linear. I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing because the amount of new content more than makes up for a little more backtracking. And most of all, it doesn’t feel like the new content has been added to pad the game out; for boasting rights about ‘such and such of extra hours of gameplay added’. It feels like that content could have been there from the beginning, and I know that if we’re to go back to the original, I would miss it.

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One of the key features with the remake originally was how the zombies had to be cremated to be permanently killed. I didn’t know this and thought that the corpses that littered the place never vanished like they did in the original, for a little extra realism. That was until one got back up after I had walked by countless times and ran at me. These re-animated zombies are known as the ‘Crimson Heads’. They can be easy to kill but difficult to dodge. Burning zombies after killing them is always recommended, but required further inventory slots to carry both the gasoline and the lighter. One of the interesting things about the mansion is how journals explain what the victims experienced as they turned into zombies. And it wasn’t just the people who turned either; the dogs, spiders, plants and even sharks were all experimented on in some way and each became their own group of terrifying monsters.

The remake in HD looks fantastic. The partly pre-rendered backgrounds allow for almost unlimited detail, and the objects and characters lay on top nicer than I expected they might. The lighting effects and particles also look at home on the Playstation 4, with no crudely rendered textures in sight. One particular new area in the woods looked stunning. The dynamic real-time grass blowing amongst the trees give a real sense of life that was missing from the original.

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I suppose the real questions are ‘do the visuals justify it being on a PS4‘ and ‘is this near-20-year-old-game still fun’, and I can safely give you a one-word answer; yes. It almost pains me to say it, but I can’t think of reason to play the original over this beautiful HD Remake. The visuals look like it was made for the PS4, not a console now 2 generations old. As for the gameplay and design, it’s perfect for anyone who likes a little less action and more slow paced exploration and that feeling of not wanting to explore for fear of what you might find. It’s still such a great game all these years later, and is a must play for all horror game fans, especially those who never go to play the original. And if you still aren’t convinced, check out our PC footage bellow.

9 out of 10