Review – Resident Evil 4 HD
Best game of all time gets a reskin.
As a reviewer/international playboy/gentleman rapper I know that when it comes to games, there’s no such thing as a wrong opinion. As with music and films, it all comes down to personal taste and as such every opinion expressed needs to be taken with a healthy dollop of salt and most of them (excluding anything from an ‘Official’ magazine or the occasional very shit blog) are valid. That is unless you try to tell me that you didn’t rate Resident Evil 4. By all the metrics we have, Resident Evil 4 was a stunning game. In 2005 it was so far ahead of the competition that it may as well have been Usain Bolt. With rocket skates. Racing against the Magic Numbers (remember them? WELL YOU FUCKING SHOULDN’T).
It wasn’t my favourite game of all time (when pushed I’ll always say Kings Bounty on Windows Mobile 6 or the Speccy strategy classic Rebelstar 2) but it is definitely the best I’ve seen with every element coming together in spectacular fashion and as an achievement whore I’m now used to playing a game, maxing it out and disregarding it afterwards but Resident Evil 4 is a game I’ve completed nine times now – three times on the Gamecube, five on the PlayStation 2 and now once on the Xbox 360 – and it’s still pretty much unfuckwittable in every way.
For the unitiated (WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?), the game sees your stepping back into the role of Leon Susanboyle Kennedy (the floppy fringed protagonist of Resident Evil 2) as he journeys to Spain to rescue Ashley, the president’s daughter who has been kidnapped. Eschewing the tank controls and fixed cameras of the early Resident Evils, a series that was a husk of its former self thanks to Capcom’s usual trick of taking something and milking it to death, the fourth iteration of the series (not including the light gun games or the overrated Code Veronica) was built from the ground up, improving on every aspect. Viewed from behind Leon, Resident Evil 4 gave you far more freedom that the previous games allowing you to dive through windows, kick open doors and climb ladders to get away from your enemies which was lucky as the Romero-style zombies of the earlier games were replaced by a far more tenacious enemy: a town of infected Spaniards, the Ganados, who’s creation was more than a little influenced by the classic John Carpenter horror flick The Thing.
From the starting village to the giant castle to the final act in the military compound, the action is pretty constant with new enemies being introduced all the time and a selection of what many consider to be the best bosses in gaming. The most suprising thing about playing this game six years after it first appeared is the game’s power to scare the player. From the dogs in the hedge to the terrifying sound of the Regenerators, I was genuinely cacking it at times. Luckily a fine selection of fully upgradable weapons helps you improve the odds of your survival but no amount of handguns will comfort you when you’ve got a spanish woman with a sack on her head about to decapitate you with a fucking chainsaw. This horror onslaught also has the interesting effect of making you actually worry about Ashley. Sure, she’s fucking useless in a fight and just cries ‘Leon!’ at you every few seconds and keeps getting re-kidnapped, but every time the game reunites you with her I felt better because it’s your job to keep her safe.
This port of the game, Resident Evil 4 HD, doesn’t change any of the classic gameplay and includes the additional PS2 modes on top of the lengthy campaign and sublime Mercenaries mode. As such it should be a straight up ten out of ten, even if the original controls haven’t been adapted for the 360 pad as well as they could have been. Unfortunately though this port adds nothing apart from some higher resolution graphics textures which look okay until you get up close and give the cutscenes a clunky, unnatural look thanks to the six year old animation. They could have done a lot more with this version, sure co-op play may have been too much to ask, but a simple, basic reskin really isn’t enough to justify the 1840M$P asking price. However, the gameplay is still so fucking good that you can’t go too far wrong. If it’s a choice between this and the usual XBLA guff, Resident Evil 4 HD is the answer. The question? What’re you buying, Stranger?