‘Resident Evil: HD Remaster’ marks the creeping return of yesterdays nightmares

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Resident Evil: HD Remaster
Capcom
PS3, PS4, XBox 360, XBox One, PC

When Resident Evil originally hit the shelves in 1996, the term “survival-horror” was born. Though there were other darkly-themed experiences, such as Clock Tower, Resident Evil became known as the ultimate horror-gaming experience, with elements missing from the competition such as complicated puzzles, mysterious conspiracies, and most importantly, some genuine scares.

Over the next 6 years, fans of the game would see several sequels, spin-offs and revamped versions of the same game (1997 saw the release of the Resident Evil: Director’s Cut, and just one year after 2000’s Resident Evil Code: Veronica, it was ported as Code: Veronica X). By 2002, eight games in total were available across many different platforms, until Capcom decided to R.E.-release the original, exclusively on Nintendo’s Gamecube, but this wasn’t the original game at all. It was a R.E.-invented, R.E.-imagined, and updated version of the original game–Resident Evil had never looked better.

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Gone was the horribly-acted, live-action opening sequence, while the clunky graphics were replaced with smooth visuals and realistic lighting. Classic, laughable dialogue (“You were almost a Jill sandwich!”) was replaced with a better – but still cheesy – script (“…you would have fit nicely into a sandwich!”), and the soundtrack was updated to make the game even more realistic and terrifying. But where Capcom really succeeded was keeping the gameplay itself the same; limited ammo, inventory management and static controls make the classic Resident Evil the king of survival-horror. It was well received by fans and critics alike with the addition of new, unexplored stages, and story arcs which gave faithful fans something new, and new fans an entirely different experience.

For fifteen years, the only way to play the updated version of the classic game was if fans kept their Gamecube system. Finally, Capcom wised up by R.E.-releasing the R.E.-make on current consoles through digital download for a crisp $20.00, and it’s just as glorious as the original remake.

Unlike the 2002 update, there are no new stages or any other updates to the game’s story. Capcom’s Resident Evil website claims “…we made sure not to change anything that made the original the classic that it is. You don’t mess with a masterpiece, after all” and that is what they stuck to. That being said, there are a couple of updates that players can expect.

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Graphical tweaks and the ability to play the game in 1080p are what is most prominent. Though the look of the game obviously doesn’t meet the standards of current-gen releases such as The Evil Within, that is forgiven within minutes when players meet the first “monster” who ominously looks over his shoulder and sets his sights on his next meal. It is the perfect introduction to a game that does not let go until the final scene, with plenty of surprises and scares around almost every corner.

The sound has been updated to support 5.1 surround so when Chris Redfield is slowly descending a darkened hallway, the muffled sound of his footsteps against the carpeted floor fills the room. Or when Jill Valentine is exploring the forest just outside the mansion, the creatures of the night sound more alive than the monsters stalking her. So, once again, faithful fans can revisit the original, exploring each stage, from the mansion, the resident’s quarters, the sewers, and the heart of the conspiracy that started it all: the lab.

Several new gameplay options have been added as well. Players have a choice of playing the game in widescreen or in its original format, the main characters can wear classic or updated uniforms, and the game can also be played using its original (and somewhat complicated) control scheme, or by using the analog control which might make first time players’ lives a little bit easier. All these options can be switched in real-time, as well as during gameplay, though they seem to be more for aesthetics than anything else.

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Since its original release in 1996, the Resident Evil franchise has seen many changes, most noticeably with 2005’s Resident Evil 4 which added elements of action while maintaining its horror roots. RE5 (2009) and RE6 (2012) said good-bye to the horror element completely and alienated a lot of faithful fans while attracting the Call of Duty audience. But it seems, however, that Capcom may be second-guessing their stance with the release of the HD version of the original remake, and next month’s release of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 which sees the return of series favorites and promises a horror experience much like the original games. There are even rumors abounding that Capcom will release the prequel Resident Evil 0, originally released on Gamecube in 2002, in the same fashion of the updated remake. It seems Resident Evil is marking a long sought after return to survival-horror – albeit through re-releases and a spin-off. No doubt the sales of these games will determine which direction Resident Evil 7 will take.

In the meantime, the newest version of the Resident Evil remake will fill the void for survival horror and RE fans alike. Turn off the lights, raise the volume on the surround sound, make a Jill sandwich, and prepare to R.E.-enter the world of survival horror.

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