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Resident Evil 4 HD

Score: 82%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror/ Action/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Released yet again, on yet another platform, is the critically acclaimed genre-busting fourth outing in the Resident Evil franchise, but this time, Capcom stuck the "HD" label on the end in typical marketing fashion. Resident Evil 4 HDís claim to fame this time around is that the developers have increased the visuals of the game by increasing the resolution of the textures and maximum display resolution. What this means is that most of the game looks far more pleasing to the eye than the aging RE4 from the days of the Nintendo GameCube (and subsequent releases). It also means that this review will be a bit front-heavy since the gameplay elements have not really changed much.

While it is easy to see that the main characters and many elements of the game do look much better now in RE4 HD, one canít go without saying there are still remnants of days gone by. By themselves, the remaining "old" textures wouldnít look very nice by todayís standards, but they would somehow hold up due to the dingy look that they have. However, because there are randomly old textures mixed in with the newly updated ones that have 4x the resolution or better, they negatively stand out immensely. For example, one object that was actually quite large was a hanging statue that just didnít hold up and looked completely out of place due to it being avoided (or was it missed?). This is an absolutely unfortunate case that more care wasnít taken in this regard.

Being that Resident Evil 4 HD is being touted for its new visuals, it was also disappointing that the developers didnít put a bit of time into bumping up polygon counts to avoid some pretty noticeably faceted silhouettes of main and enemy characters. Unfortunately, there were certain times during cutscenes where the camera angle was close to characters (or objects) that pointed out these flaws greatly. Iím sure that some of this has to do with their engine capabilities and other factors, so it is a bit understandable, but because of these things, "HD" is a bit of a stretch. Additionally, there were a number of graphical glitches in the game where textures literally flickered and became black temporarily.

Where the game is truly "HD" is that players do now have the option of taking advantage of every pixel on their 1080p monitors. RE4 HD offers up basically any resolution that your monitor can handle now, so that is a nice upgrade for fans. Even with this being an older title, however, youíll likely need some pretty decent specs to maintain 60fps (you can optionally choose to cap at 30fps too). I actually tested on multiple machines (same specs) thanks to Steamís download and play anywhere model, but I have to say that in each case, I suffered extreme framerate drops during both gameplay and cutscenes. During cutscenes at high resolutions, for example, the audio would play as normal but the video lagged behind, sometimes drastically. Lowering the game resolution to 720p helped, but even that didnít solve things completely for in-game lag in outdoor in-game situations.


Gameplay:

For those who have been living under a rock, hiding from the zombie apocalypse that is Resident Evil, RE4 broke the mold of the survival horror genre by taking away the pre-rendered scenes and giving players a true over the shoulder third person game. For its time, this was actually groundbreaking, and for better or worse changed the face of RE forever. Iíll admit that at the time, I didnít care for it much at all. Maybe I was stuck in the past, but there was something fun about the static camera style of gameplay than traditional cameras mounted to players. Admittedly, I didnít give RE4 much of a chance on GameCube back in 2005. Fast forward nine years, stick a new (and much better) controller in my hand, update the graphics (mostly), change the control scheme (slightly), and it is time to give the game the time of day.

Controlling Leon Kennedy and sent to an isolated village in Spain, you are on the hunt for the US presidentís daughter, Ashley. Of course, things immediately and terribly go wrong for Leon as the villagers attack, sometimes with relentless numbers. As we see them early in the story, these villagers look to be zombies. But are they? (Spoiler Alert! Oh come on, youíve had nine years!) Instead, they are possessed by and are merely hosts for parasites that control their every action. Pitchforks and torches in hand Ė no, really Ė these Spanish villagers attack as they see you and call their friends to join in on storming your castle.

As Leon makes it through from one area to another, more of the true story unravels and he eventually is able to track down Ashley, only to find himself in the dilemma of trying to get her out. Ashley will trail Leon as he progresses, and she has her own health meter to contend with. The enemies in the game are typically more interested in recapturing the presidentís daughter, so protecting her becomes your main mission, but Leon can also accidently kill her too.

Like other entries into the RE series, Resident Evil 4 HD allows you to save by finding typewriters and checkpoints are scattered throughout areas in the forms of doors and ladders, so death doesnít always been a reload thankfully. In addition, you are able to buy, sell, and upgrade weapons to help you dispatch of all creatures that reside in the village and beyond. The system works out quite well as you come across merchants to deal with. There are also a few bonuses hidden throughout the game.

While there are certainly moments of very linear gameplay in Resident Evil 4 HD, the flow of the game was actually done very well and helped carry our hero from location to location. If it werenít for some of the slowdowns and frustrating controls, RE4 HD would have been an outstanding game. Iím sure that others will have completed the game in a shorter period of time due to my sometimes unnecessary exploration, but for me the game was accomplished in about 26 hours and does have replayability beyond that with unlockables.


Difficulty:

There are actually multiple difficulty settings to choose from in Resident Evil 4 HD, and I actually played through on the Normal setting since it was the default. Upping to Professional (unlocked) gets you killed faster as Leon wonít be able to take as big of a hit, and lowering to Easy has the opposite effect.

In addition to the settings, one has to also factor in the control scheme. This one truly took me a long, long time in which to grow accustomed. As a result, there were a number of deaths recorded by simply flubbing the controls or not being able to see very well due to the camera position and Leonís body obstructing one side of the scene.

As for the enemies, just like in any game, they get progressively stronger, and so should your weaponry to help compensate. The initial villagers, for example, will tend to stumble a fair amount after a shot to the head and that allows you to quickly run up to them and kick them to deliver an added blow that doesnít cost you a bullet. Knifing them is another way to be a silent and efficient assassin, but close quarters combat can ultimately come at a cost. Keep your eyes out for environmental weapons too, as that can usually help dispatch multiple enemies at a time. Some of the other enemies and their hideous bodies get much more difficult to kill, or respond more to certain types of weapons. Sometimes the game will give hints about this, and other times it is a bit of trial and error, but either way you want to dispatch of baddies efficiently or risk running low on ammo and really putting yourself in a pickle for certain situations.


Game Mechanics:

As I mentioned, Iím really not a big fan of the controller layout. I personally found that the third scheme (out of 3) worked the best, but none of them really offered the same type of movement that we are accustomed to in 2014. Youíll also have the option for keyboard and mouse control. Iíve read that it has improved, but this is the first time Iíve had the opportunity to test and just prefer a controller. That said, the keyboard/mouse combo worked pretty well overall. Thankfully, RE4 HD does support the Xbox Controller, so I used the Wireless PC Adapter and it worked flawlessly.

Unfortunately, even a good controller canít help with the way movements are programmed. While I certainly understand and respect the legacy of standing to attack or reload, it was far too frustrating, partly due to the camera angles. Most of the time the camera didnít bother me, but any time an enemy attacked from the left, Leon obstructed the view and that, in my opinion, took away from the gameplay a bit. Attackers from behind were also frustrating due to a lack of awareness the close camera brings. Adding to that was a steep learning curve for the controller. Okay, maybe itís not so bad, but for whatever reason, I couldnít wrap my brain around it for hours. The shooting vs. knifing was probably my Achilles Heel for a while, but once it sunk in, the game actually became fun.

If you havenít played RE4 at all or maybe didnít play through very much since 2005, then Resident Evil 4 HD is likely worth a look. Just keep an open mind and give the controls a bit of time. Youíll also probably need to be accepting of likely running into framerate issues, especially if you plan to actually play in HD as the title suggests, which is honestly why RE4 HD just canít deserve the higher score that it should if the score were strictly based on gameplay.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:



OS: Windows XP/ Vistaģ, Windows 7, Windows 8; Processor: Intelģ Coreô 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz or better, AMD Athlonô X2 2.8 Ghz or better; Memory: 2 GB RAM; Graphics: NVIDIAģ GeForceģ 8800GTS or better, ATI Radeonô HD 4850 or better; DirectX: Version 9.0c; Hard Drive: 15 GB available space; Sound Card: Standard audio device
 

Test System:



Mac Book Pro with the following installed as a dual-boot:
Windows 7 64-bit with Service Pack 1 installed; Intel Core i7-3720QM CPU @ 2.60GHz 2.60 GHz; 8GB RAM; NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
Xbox 360 Wireless Controller with PC Adaptor

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