Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition Review

We think we've saved Ashley Graham before, but we're still loving it. Here is our review of Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition

RELEASE DATE: February 27, 2014PLATFORM: PCDEVELOPER: CapcomPUBLISHER: CapcomCATEGORY: Third-person shooter

I’m tempted to call this aretrospective and not a Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition review. It’s not really a review if you’ve played the game multiple times on different systems (most recently on the PS3 & PC, but previously on the Wii and GameCube), right? Surely, 60 fps doesn’t change the core experience enough to make it like playing a brand new game…(it doesn’t).

Seeing the comparison pictures for the first time is an eye-roller. There isn’t enough to distinguish the HD and SD world apart at first glance. And when the HD improvements are noticeable, all the old stuff looks even more dated. Leon still maneuvers like he has something up his rectum, and the environment still pops in and out sometimes. HD version is SD version is original version. Don’t be fooled.

The real question is how has this game withstood the test of time? After all, the gameplay is stiff, the “HD” textures in the new Ultimate HD Edition on PC make everything else look weathered, and those cinematics make you cringe — often times mouths are moving too slowly to be speaking so fast. More often than not, I’m usually disappointed with HD versions of old things as I find they barely ever deliver on their promise.

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But what I’ve realized is that developers aren’t really marketing these games for a brand new generation (like what Virtual Console did by releasing the ORIGINAL version of a game, and if you don’t like it, you’re just not a cultured gamer, kid). It’s the people that remember the great story, tone, and pacing of Resident Evil 4 that go out and purchase these “remasters,” hoping for a new experience with a game they love so much. The Ultimate HD Edition won’t make you feel like you’re playing Resident Evil 4 for the very first time (unless you are), but it will remind you why you’ve loved the game so much since 2005.

And there’s something to that.

What other Resident Evil game has received as many “remasters” as 4? None of them. Because RE4, in its change of gameplay and perspective, its revamping of a story that had (in a way) grown stale, and genre mixing (from survival horror to third person shooter/action), is the epitome of what a RE game should be: action-packed, moody, and still capable of scaring the s*** out of you (especially in that goddamn castle). That’s RE‘s signature brand of play. Every other zombie game is one side of the spectrum or the other, focused on survival horror (where you’re trying to escape the zombie danger) or zombie-bashing action (where you ARE the danger). RE4 was the fusion of both, playing ball in both courts, one second you’re in Silent Hill and the next you’re Duke Nukem.

Many fans think RE4 marked the beginning of the end for their beloved series. And who could blame them? RE4 was a coup, released exclusively on the GameCube instead of the PlayStation. It WAS meant to bring the series to a whole new generation, one being fed tons of World War II shooters. Certainly, that had an influence on the action hero feel of Leon S. Kennedy.

Capcom reprises their ace with Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition to help us forget the convoluted mess from recent installments (6 is a bigger abomination than any of the mutants in the actual games). And it’s still fun, and you’ll be invested. But no, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. In fact, HD remasters have the opposite effect on me. The horrifying baddies pop up, and instead of being scared, I’m just looking to see how they were enhanced by the fancy HD and 60 fps. There’s nothing here to make me say this version is the ULTIMATE version, the way RE4 was meant to be played. It’s just ANOTHER way to play it.

Still, it feels good.

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4 out of 5