Considered to be the defining game of last generation, Resident Evil 4 is still a masterpiece in the eyes of so many gamers. Now, six years after its release, the game is being ported onto two more consoles for the three of you out there that have yet to play it. RE4HD (which is how I will refer to it from now on) is Capcom’s latest foray into the HD remakes that are so popular this generation. Amazingly, the game has aged surprisingly well, but the so-called “HD” portion is a little more misleading than it should be.
For those of you not familiar, let me break down a little bit of the story here. You play as Leon S. Kennedy, a former Raccoon City Police Officer now working for the Secret Service. Your task is to rescue Ashley Graham, who just happens to be the President’s daughter. His investigation takes him to a small town in Europe where he runs into the game’s foes: the Los Ganados. These are not zombies, but humans infected with a parasitic organism. This makes them more agile and harder to kill. What unfolds is a cheesy but exciting romp that will run you between 12-15 hours.
The first thing I want to get out of the way first; this game is not truly an HD remake. Instead, Capcom has opted to simply upscale the entire experience with a few tweaks here and there. RE4 looked good when it released, and when you first see it in HD, you will appreciate what they accomplished all those years ago. By today’s standards, though, this is rush job and it shows. While the character models and water effects have received some treatment, you will notice the lack of upgrades in paintings, items and more. They still showcase some pixelization more often than not. This is, by far, the best looking version of the game, but it could have been so much more.
Capcom has included all the bells and whistles that came packed over the years to make this package more than worth its price tag. The campaign is hefty for an action game, clocking in between 12-15 hours, and you also have the new inclusion of leaderboards to compare times with friends and gamers around the world. Mercenaries is also here, along with “Separate Ways,” which features the always stylish Ada Wong. There is a ton of content here for $19.99, and if you have never owned or played the game, this is the version to get. Of course, you also have Achievements/Trophies to earn, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how incredibly lazy they are. Only 12 for each console, and not even a platinum on PS3.
RE4HD is still a fantastic game, and one that really shows how well a polished game can hold up over time. There are three main segments in the game, and each one keeps the pacing exciting. Sure, there are giant sections of escort mission involved, but honestly, there are simple ways to keep the frustration to a minimum. One of the major changes the fourth iteration made was a move away from more survival horror, to a more action-horror motif. Leon can upgrade his abilities and health over time making him a bona fide badass by the end of the game. There are also ample amounts of ammo and weaponry to dispose of the infected inhabitants of the town.
The game does a great job of mixing it up. Moving from shooting to puzzles to boss encounters at always the right time. Nothing ever feels stale and this really shows the care and dedication that Capcom was known for during the time. The game also opens up the harder difficulty, as well as the fun-inducing infinite rocket launcher, upon completion, making a second playthrough almost a given.
It is hard to really go into length about RE4HD simply because it is one of those games that almost everyone has already worn out. If you are a fan, this is the best version to own. Xbox 360 owners this is your only chance to own it, as the game has never appeared on a Microsoft platform. If you already have it on Gamecube, PS2 or Wii, there is little reason to come back for seconds unless you simply want the convenience of the download format. Even after six years, this is still one of the best games out there, and it has aged ridiculously well.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.