Gaming Reviews Resi4

Published on April 2nd, 2014 | by Joseph Saulnier

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Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD

There’s a case to be made for striking while the iron is hot, so for those
who subscribe to the idea of video games being regularly tossed aside for a
newer release, *Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition *is a strange
proposition.  Critics (and fans) have maintained that the *Resident
Evil 4*is still one of the best entries in the series, and now a new
audience is
being brought into the fold.

Following *Resident Evil 4*’s debut on the Nintendo Game Cube, a slew of
ports brought the game to various consoles, including “remastered” versions
on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and the PC.  But the PC version was never
the adaptation that PC fans wanted, which is what Capcom claims to be
fixing now.  Does the *Ultimate HD Edition* meet this claim?

Exactly how you see the game measuring up to that question depends on your
hopes for the long-awaited PC port, with the previous version lacking mouse
and keyboard controls, customization of graphics, resolution and frame
rate.  Those problems are solved with this “definitive” PC version of the
game, adding mouse support, (some) custom key bindings, remastered textures
and customizable resolution.  Not to mention a frame rate locked at 60 fps.

For those who may have missed the original release of *Resident Evil 4*,
it’s worth mentioning how much the games differs from what is now expected
of the series.  When Ashley Graham – daughter of the American President –
is kidnapped and held hostage in rural Spain, the game’s hero, Leon
Kennedy, is sent to track her down.  In his pursuit, he comes across a
village filled with infected members of a religious cult, intent on killing
nearly every outsider they encounter.

The decision to populate the game with frantic, maniacal human beings
instead of Zombies still pays off, resulting in twisted monsters and
genuinely shocking enemies that still hold up in terms of character design
after all these years.  And, while Capcom has emphasized the increased
level of polish and improved textures as a big selling point for the *Ultimate
HD Edition*, there is only so much that can be done with nearly decade-old
assets.

Since the quality of the game itself (which PC gamers *wanted* to enjoy in
the first place) was never in question, it is safe to say that the majority
of any criticism that can be leveled against the *Ultimate HD Edition* has
to do with technical aspects.  Now don’t get me wrong, hiccups and
overlooked glitches are par for the course, but when the game bears the
title of an “ultimate edition”, even the minor issues seem like massive
drawbacks.

For starters, the decision to lock the game to 60 fps sounds promising, and
when all aspects of the game are hitting their stride the results are
fantastic.  But when a taxing effect, texture or amount of enemies on
screen deal a blow to the game’s speed, the action slows to accommodate
it.  While this is far from game-breaking, a significant decrease in
performance for a game this old is unacceptable.

If that were the only technical issue to make it past Capcom, I might
forgive it.  But the improved textures are a similar source of drawbacks
that seem unnecessary.  Improving a game’s texture can only accomplish so
much to boost the appearance of characters that still have the same number
of polygons they did 10 years ago.  Beyond this, it’s the inconsistent
application of the improvements that is a bigger concern.  Fans will enjoy
seeing characters and key locations rendered with higher levels of detail
than the original, but placing them up against textures which have not been
treated with these improvements results in a hodgepodge of distracting
contradiction.  It certainly doesn’t erase the benefits of adding detail
where the developers have chosen to add them, but it’s difficult to look
past them.

The bottom line is that the improved textures can occasionally give
locations and spaces entirely new levels of detail – but projects a design
and concept that the original developers certainly never intended.  Where
the original assets communicated a clear and cohesive sense of foreboding
and horror, the uneven improvements affect this in a not-so-good way.  The
original resolution and textures are accessible from the game’s menu, but
it clearly defines the issue at the core of *Resident Evil 4*’s
“definitive” PC port: the times have changed in same fairly important ways,
and Capcom’s efforts are not always perfect in their attempt to remaster
games.

From a mechanics standpoint, the game still holds up.  Even if mouse and
keyboard support has been added (with some odd choices, like removing mouse
support in menus, inventory screens, etc.), there’s no ignoring the fact
that the game was designed for a controller.  Hopefully, the time elapsed
since the game’s original release means most PC gamers possess an Xbox 360
controller, or other third-party controller, to avoid this issue entirely.

It’s difficult to criticize too much of *Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD
Edition* since games are made to be played, and the terror of having to
plant your feet to fire on a horde of enemies – and the feeling of power it
brings – is as strong as ever.  The mechanics, pacing, unique story and
writing that fans initially loved are alive and well.  But the technical
issues and inconsistencies in a game this old is an area where Capcom
totally missed the mark; had they managed to resolve these pitfalls, then
this would definitely have been worthy of the “ultimate” title.

As it stands, *Resident Evil 4* is as strong as it was in 2005, no matter
how pretty it looks.  But as the “ultimate edition” of any game, this port
trips and falls where it doesn’t have to, and invites criticism instead of
silencing it forever.  A shame, but for those who never played through the
game, or those thinking of waxing nostalgic, this one is a no-brainer.

3.5 stars out of 5


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