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Resident Evil HD Remastered Review

  • First Released Mar 30, 1996
  • Reviewed Jan 19, 2015
  • PS4

The tyrant lives.

Nostalgia is a tricky emotion to navigate, given how it makes the things we loved so many years ago blossom into legends of the recent past. Or to put it another way: the masterpiece we remember might have been mediocre all along. Sometimes it's better to live in the bliss of our memories and avoid replaying that dusty classic, lest it dump a heavy load of reality on the lovefest.

The trick that a modern re-release must perform, then, is to be like the game we remember rather than the game that actually was, and Resident Evil HD does so admirably. The downside of a successful transition is that it's easy to say that this remake of a remake looks just like 2002's GameCube version. In reality, of course, the newer game benefits from new background textures and some attractive light bloom, not to mention its widescreen aspect ratio. That it looks like your memories of a 13-year-old reality, and not the reality itself, is a victory.

Jill with a shotgun. Not pictured: fake shotgun required to solve the related puzzle.
Jill with a shotgun. Not pictured: fake shotgun required to solve the related puzzle.

Your other memories of 2002's remake, however, should be far more reliable. Resident Evil HD reveals the same mystery, surrounds you with the same areas, and requires you to solve the same puzzles, a slight disappointment given how the remake recontextualized the story and expanded the gameplay. Yet if any lesson is to be gained from Resident Evil 6, it's that you needn't mess with a good thing, and Resident Evil, even purely within a modern context, is an engrossing adventure that benefits from tense exploration and clever environmental puzzles. Much has been made of the series' scares: that moment at which zombified dogs leap through the hallway windows and viciously attack you is one of video gaming's most iconic moments, after all. Yet Resident Evil's finest asset is how it invigorates exploration by making every room you unlock an enigma. Behind every door are glimpses at the mansion's history, hints of experiments gone wrong, and bizarre contraptions coated with an occult veneer. Solving a puzzle is to wipe away some of the fog that obscures your understanding.

Don't get me wrong: the frights remain, though I suspect that you won't leap out of your seats as often as you'd expect, whether or not you've played Resident Evil before. These kinds of horror-story jump scares are a matter of routine in modern games and cinema, though the game still makes the most of them. I yelped when those dogs crashed through the glass, even though I knew they were coming. The fear didn't come just from the loud shattering and throaty snarls, but from knowing that I was defenseless for several crucial seconds once a set of jaws sunk into my forearm. And while the dogs get all the attention, the sharks swimming around an aquatic arena are even more terrifying given their extreme mobility. You can feel the tension as you quickly wade through the water, hoping to avoid the creatures snapping at your heels.

Resident Evil, even purely within a modern context, is an engrossing adventure that benefits from tense exploration and clever environmental puzzles.

No Caption Provided

If you're a total newcomer to Resident Evil, some background is in order. You play as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, members of a special ops force called S.T.A.R.S. (The acronym stands for Special Tactics And Rescue Service.) You spend most of the game exploring a mansion in which you've become trapped while investigating the disappearances of other S.T.A.R.S. members, though it is soon clear that the fate you should most worry about is your own. Escape is your primary goal, but doing so means collecting and inspecting jewels and other doodads, and then figuring out where to put or how to combine those doodads. There is also the matter of those undead freaks roaming about, some of which are apt to return, stronger than ever, if you aren't careful enough to torch their corpses or land a blood-spattering headshot.

You don't freely control the camera during your endeavors. Every viewing angle enhances the claustrophobia while allowing Capcom to carefully place props and lights for maximum effect. Some of the most dangerous places are also given the most limited screen space: you hear the growl of a living corpse behind you, but all you see is the dingy carpet, the peeling wallpaper, and the door that leads to safety. You could move further into the room, but that also means moving closer to the source of the growls--and it takes a moment to aim your weapon, be it the pistol you start with or the more powerful firearms you find later. That specific camera angle has just activated the most primal of choices: to fight or to flee.

High art.
High art.

Elsewhere, the camera simply enhances the atmosphere. A hallway shot emphasizes the lushness of the mansion's drapes with a nearby lamp, yet cracked plates still keep you unsettled. The beauty of a waterfall is undercut by the squawking crows that descend upon you in the same scene; it's the handsomeness and hostility of nature at once. Resident Evil was created with a clear eye for shot composition, so you would be justified in calling the game "cinematic." The fixed camera can be a source of frustration, however. You are fleeing an enemy and the angle changes, barring your view and requiring a quick control adjustment. You must hurry to solve a puzzle before the sliding walls crush you between them, but the quick camera moves create confusion. With great tension sometimes come mild aggravation, whether you opt for the original controls or the updated scheme, which aligns the game with its modern counterparts.

Of course, that's the Resident Evil conundrum: mechanics that keep you nervous and cautious can also lead to a sense of wasted time. There's that limited inventory, which has you juggling items from your stash to your inventory and vice versa, and trudging back to the closest safe room when you don't happen to have the item you need on hand, or don't have any room for that healing herb you just found and so desperately need. There are those room transitions that feature door-opening animations each time. (Walk for three seconds, wait for three-second door animation, walk for another three seconds, wait for another three-second animation: it's a jerky rhythm that stops being charming and becomes tedious over time.)

An injury isn't likely to keep Jill in pain for long.
An injury isn't likely to keep Jill in pain for long.

All the same, there's a beautiful simplicity to Resident Evil HD that serves as a reminder that the best mysteries don't need convoluted stories to be enthralling. Later Resident Evil games would add more viruses and unnecessary subplots, but the original allows that menacing mansion to do most of the talking. In this series, less is more. There is backstory to uncover, but the focus is on the here and now. Your motives are clear and your monstrous enemies are plain, and the scant cutscenes always serve a purpose. (The infrequency of cutscenes is just as well, given the high compression of those old audio files, not to mention the general awkwardness of the voice acting and dialogue.) It is you, the mansion, and your imagination. As it happens, that trio makes for a fine adventure, without the need for more monsters, more outbreaks, and more guns.

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The Good
High-tension, puzzle-fueled exploration
Simplicity of the story and setting allow the atmosphere to shine
Smart, though not dramatic, visual upgrades make for a consistent look
Limited camera angles reveal an eye for scene composition
The Bad
Limited camera angles can also lead to mild frustration
Voice-over audio is distractingly compressed.
Room transitions and inventory system can can get tedious
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Resident Evil

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd has played most of the Resident Evil games, and RE4 still remains his favorite. His review of Resident Evil 6 has to this day earned him more ire than any other, but he believes history will be on his side. He played Resident Evil HD twice, once as Jill and once as Chris, but he missed the best ending both times.
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Avatar image for seabsam1

For the life of me I could not get over the camera angles. I totally could play this game if not for that. It looks like a seriously beautiful game however the controls and camera are too botchy for me. It sucks that that is what ruins a great game. But for that I just couldn't even play it longer than about 5 minutes. This is probably a great game for people who are more seasoned in the gaming industry and are used to all walks of games.

Avatar image for deactivated-5bcecc83a0715

They should've put a first type thing like in mgs

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

After having observed enough environments in the game in somebody else's playthrough, I think I have figured out why the camera was never updated to a more dynamic one; the developers did not recreate all environments with 3D models and textures.

They retained the same technological limitation of the original game: static hand-drawn artwork is draped over an otherwise invisible 3D environment. The static artwork can only be viewed properly from specific angles.

Considering that Capcom has the means to create environments with 3D models and textures, this remastering seems like a halfway-there job.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

Considering that the developers of this remaster did a lot of improvements to the use of the camera for object examination, that they did not even improve the cameras for moving about levels at all is a glaring omission.

I know that some people consider the limited camera to be some kind of "tradition" for the first few Biohazard titles, but this limitation came from limited technology at the time. Sentiment is no excuse for lack of progress in creating a more user-friendly product.

Avatar image for iwoof

i like remakes... more more more!! It's the roots of gaming, and reminds of what made gaming where it is..and keeps some of those past games alive.. where some things/ mechanics/ game styles were left out of the present/ future.

Avatar image for DoomglooM

hmm anyone else listen to Neil Young and play this?? hahaha

Avatar image for Jedilink109

Well of course you're going to get frustrated when the angles change if you use the control scheme where you push the on screen direction you want your character to go. As a kid I hated that tank style control scheme it had until I got used to it, then I realized it was made that way for a reason. Changing to the other way can screw you up as you're running away from enemies. In an action game it wouldn't be a problem, but in something like this, it IS since changing direction on the analog stick makes your character stop moving, thereby opening you up to attack. Either way I know some people complain endlessly about the older control style so I get why they put it in.

As for this game being good, uh yeah. It is. I think it's weird that he sounded almost surprised in the video review that the game was still good after all these years. Well of course it is. It's a great game. And it was a great game when it came out on Gamecube. The limited inventory mixed with the style of gameplay on top of the enemies and limited ammo, terrific puzzles, and great story means there's no way this game would be bad. Or, I guess I should say, there's no way it would've somehow become a bad game just because it has aged.

I am stoked to play it again. I hope they rerelease the 2nd and 3rd games too. :)

Avatar image for moses_dudu

If this was a Rockstar game, it would get 10 out 10.. like GTA4!!!! Actually It is quite clear Gamespot ratings are very biased towards Rockstar games..

Avatar image for deactivated-57bcc1891a93a

@moses_dudu: many people are. everyone loves their games. :D

Avatar image for Earthbound_X

So it the same as the Gamecube version, yet it gets a lower score?

Not sure I get that.

Times change I guess?

Avatar image for Devil_78

Same as gamecube version with better graphic for ps4 yet kevin gave it 7 . What a joke

Avatar image for Princess_Rectum

@Devil_78: Reminder that the Gamecube was a console from 2 generations ago. Hence it should have been better and not so identical to the GC version, being on a new console and all...

Avatar image for chimekolover88

@Devil_78: GameSpot's entire review process is a joke now. The game is the exact same as the GameCube remake with just better graphics and Achievements/Trophies added. idk how it can be given a different score when nothing has changed. its why i don't take there reviews seriously anymore. the whole staff is just a bunch of hacks.

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@chimekolover88@Devil_78: tru dat....they iz sellowtz

Avatar image for SJGSpook

Been playing the last couple of days and it's every bit as good as it was 13 years ago. In fact I appreciate it all the more because modern triple AAA gaming is generally so bad now. The game is challenging, makes you think and is unforgiving. Best of all it doesn't hold your hand like most modern games do.

Avatar image for bolomd

Well written, articulate review.

I probably would have given it an 8, and its one of my favorite games of all time. But the 7 is understandable, and he gives his reasons which are hard to argue with. You have to score the game for what it is. Nostalgia adds value, but only to those who played it before. Otherwise, you have to score it the way it would appeal to a first time player today.

Avatar image for bpmike83

" Or to put it another way: the masterpiece we remember might have been mediocre all along."

This this reviewer on drugs? Resident Evil was mediocre??? Good gosh, no wonder he's the only person on metacritic to not give it a 7
Avatar image for bpmike83

" Or to put it another way: the masterpiece we remember might have been mediocre all along."

This this reviewer on drugs? Resident Evil was mediocre??? Piss off.

Avatar image for jenovaschilld

If you look at the very last part about Vanord the author of this review - you see that his re6 review gets him constant ire. Well I think he has been proven right, I have never seen a game with so much production values made so horribly bad. It is just all over the place as if several teams made the game and none of them talked with each other. I love branching games - like suikoden 3 - but RE6 had nothing of what we fell in love with RE series for. Hopefully Capcom will return the series to its roots or do a Tomb Raider reboot - anything to bring the series back to some form of horror adventure.

As for the video preview above I am now going to try to find a PC version or just download it on my ps3 or 4 if it has it. I could stand a another play through.

Avatar image for BigGhost_AJT

Ugh. "Remaster" of a remake of a game originally made in 1996. No thanks.

Avatar image for bpmike83

@BigGhost_AJT: You clearly haven't played it. I have it on PC and it substantially better than the Gamecube remake.

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@BigGhost_AJT: if you were ever a fan of Resident Evil and never played should at least try it...I just beat the GC version of it a couple nights ago with Chris on normal and got like 3:43 which sucks cuz I was aiming under 3 hours so I could finally get that rocket

Avatar image for BigGhost_AJT

@DoomglooM@BigGhost_AJT: I too played it on the GC but it was years ago. I liked it. I just can't see myself playing it again.

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@BigGhost_AJT@DoomglooM: I've played it on GC upon it's release, shortly after, a while after, a while ago, and not that long ago....well more than that cause I've beaten it alone for that system over a dozen times at least, and I have a feeling I will be playing, and beating it again....besides....I NEED THAT ROCKET LAUNCHER! hah

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@BigGhost_AJT@DoomglooM: what's next ya know? haha

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@BigGhost_AJT@DoomglooM: Yeah I hear ya this all capcom's got for the series right now?? I mean they may be testing the waters to see if the old school will uprise again who knows...and yeah this isn't the only game to play out there I'm sure you'll find something else.

Avatar image for gamerkyng

This Game brings back the spirit of my childhood! xD Me and a friend played this game in one weekend and it was an amazing fun! Solving the puzzles and arguing about the next steps to do with nearly no munition and health packages. This old school survival trip was more fun than all the last three Resident Evil games combined!

Avatar image for RushSykes4456

Its amazing that this game still holds its amazing survival horror scene. im so glad they decided to bring it back in HD. Great review @!!!!

Avatar image for ecs33

I love the limited camera definitely adds to the suspense of the game. The only good RE that did not have fixed camera angles was RE4. Capcom has failed miserably with that formula since.

I love this game. It's a great value buy for only $20. The game looks amazingly crisp at max settings and runs super smooth. I can't believe this came out in 2002.

If you loved the Gamecube RE then I highly suggest getting this. 8.5 imo.

Avatar image for Hordriss

@ecs33: I'd argue that Resident Evil 5 was an excellent action game, although didn't do so well with the horror side of things. They tried to get scares with ridiculous monsters, and that didn't work so well, although they did create tension by ensuring you couldn't pause the game.

I honestly think RE4 was too long - it got to the point where it felt like it kind of outstayed its welcome a bit. Don't get me wrong, I do think it's a great game, but I feel like there were some of the less memorable bits later on in the game that seemed to serve no real service to the plot and only existed to extend the playtime.

They tried to go back to horror in RE6, but the whole thing just felt like a massive fail.

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@Hordriss@ecs33: lol hey I agree, they weren't really Bad Games!....just not the type that RE games were supposed to be to me!

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@DoomglooM@Hordriss: I agree with everything ya said btw

Avatar image for mrtvi

I played the 1996 for the first time this week, and for the first RE game I've played it's great really. I didn't mind the blocky graphics and the sound is just so immersive, it really gets you into that atmosphere. I think it's the silence. GOD the silence is just creepy. No sound, no melody. I don't know when I played a game so silent before.

Avatar image for therealpakso

Soooo this is what old raging RE fanboys want from the series......?

A hard, Slow and shit gameplay game....

CAPCOM FOR THE LOVE OF GOD These dumbasses that keep saying (Return RE to how it was before) Don't know squat!

It's just because they grew up with it so their stupid minds keep thinking that that's the best way for the series to go so they can (relive) their childhood memories..

They just don't wanna move on and realize how much the gaming world has changed since then..

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@therealpakso: Don't play it then Beeyotch!

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@DoomglooM: and maybe if YOU were around, you'd realize how much gaming has changed....

Avatar image for Hordriss

@therealpakso: The original Resident Evil is one of those things where you either get it or you don't. Yes it's hard. It's more puzzle orientated, and in many cases it's better to avoid confrontations where you can to conserve the limited ammo you have.

Personally, I love it and that's not just a nostalgia thing. The atmosphere is unmatched by any other game in the series (although Resident Evil 3 with the Nemesis relentlessly coming after you does pretty well in that regard).

Although I appreciate that this type of game will not be to everyone's taste.

Avatar image for DoomglooM

@Hordriss@therealpakso: I agree with everything you said too and I also love the old school more than just nostalgia...and I still get jumpy when I play em, especially with Nemesis's ass chasin me around all crazy like lol

Avatar image for ecs33

@therealpakso: I like RE4, but the old school RE is just a different type of game. I guess it's not your cup of tea. I personally enjoy the suspense and adventure.

Avatar image for DutchmasterNYC

@therealpakso: at the bottom of the article it states that Kevin's favorite is RE4, which many would consider the harbinger of the more action-oriented gameplay you seem to enjoy.

Avatar image for masonexcell

There is a mod that greatly reduces the door loading screens (for the most part) that works very well. The only cumbersome thing about the mod is that you have to start the game up and then turn on the mod. But it's definitely worth it, if you value your time.

Avatar image for zaxevil

Capcom should also make remake of Resident Evil 2 & 3:Nemesis, totally die for it XO. this one... not really.

Avatar image for Hordriss

@zaxevil: Couldn't agree more. I'd love a remake of RE2 especially. That game was awesome, I still play it on my Dreamcast now but would love to see it get remade in HD.

Avatar image for XxXDarkness0XxX

Kevin gave this a 7 cause it wasn't a RPG

Resident Evil More Info

  • First Released Mar 30, 1996
    • DS
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation
    • Saturn
    Resident Evil is a rare gem that has been able to make the jump from a video game to a computer game nearly flawlessly.
    Average Rating14423 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Resident Evil
    Developed by:
    Capcom, NexTech
    Published by:
    Capcom, Nintendo, NEC, Virgin Interactive, Media Kite, Tec Toy, PCHome, Sega
    Action, Adventure, Survival, 3D
    Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
    Rating Pending