Review: Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition
When many people think of legendary games that have left an indelible mark on the medium, it’s pretty common to see Resident Evil 4 up there with the greats. It’s a game so well designed, that it’s become a tradition for fans to repurchase it every time it becomes available on a new platform. Even myself, I’ve bought the Gamecube, PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii, and PlayStation 3 releases of the game. One version of the game I passed on, though, was the 2007 PC port of the game released by Ubisoft. Being primarily a PC gamer, I was quite excited to hear that the PC version of the game was coming; I was very disappointed to discover that it was such a bad port. That version has since become infamous in just how terrible it was, with one of the more laughable faults being the game’s complete lack of proper mouse support. It’s been a number of years since the release of that port however, and Capcom is poised at setting things right with Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition. Is this release worth your hard earned pitas, or are you best coming back another time? Well, stranger, this port is somethin’ that might interest ya’.
Note: In this review, I’ll specifically just be going over the the additions and improvements for this port, as it’s quite likely that you’ve already played Resident Evil 4. I will not be going over the plot or gameplay mechanics in this review, as those have not changed since previous releases of the game.
Probably the thing you’re most interested in reading about with regards to this release is how the technical and graphical improvements fair. Well, I’m pleased to report that this game has never looked better. First of all, the game supports a multitude of graphical options you should expect in a good PC port, all of which come together to create the most gorgeous version of the game that there’s ever been. Resident Evil 4 has always been a pretty game thanks to Naoki Katakai’s beautiful art direction, but seeing it in 1080p, with X8 anti-aliasing, and the new texture work makes it look unbelievable. The higher resolution and anti-alasing have completely removed the “jaggies” that were once present in the game, creating a very crisp and smooth look to every nook and cranny in the environments.
Some people were concerned with the announcement of the new texture work, and that the redrawn textures might look out of place in the game. Thankfully, they only add to the experience, and in most cases they’re so true to Naoki Katakai’s original work that you’ll really have to look for the new textures to even be able to point them out. Though if you’re not happy with the new textures, and want an authentic experience, you can go into the video options and turn the new textures on or off.
Additionally, there’s other new graphical features such as the post processing filters. They don’t particularly add anything, but it’s fun to play around with them if you want to mess around with the visual presentation of the game. The below screenshot highlights a certain filter that gives light sources in the game a certain golden glow.
Now on to my personal favorite improvement in this port: the framerate. Resident Evil 4 has always had really tight, well fitted controls, and now combined with the improved framerate, I think this is one of the most fluid games I’ve ever played. The precise aiming only feels that much better in 60 frames per second. In fact, it feels like the game should have always been in 60 frames. Of course, much like the new texture work, if you want an authentic RE4 experience, you can cap the framerate at 30 as well.
From a presentation standpoint, Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition excels in nearly every standpoint. There are, however, a few points where I think the old pre-rendered cutscenes clash with the new visual upgrades. For example, in Ada Wong’s bonus campaign Separate Ways, all of the cutscenes are pre-rendered. Since Separate Ways was an addition Capcom made for the Playstation 2 version of the game, there were certain compromises made to get the game to properly run on that system. So all of the cutscenes in where pre-rendered, which means the cutscenes in Separate Ways were never rendered in real time, and thus even this PC port is stuck with those old pre-rendered cutscenes. Now this is something that really couldn’t be helped, and I understand that. However it’s still very jarring when the game transitions from realtime gameplay in 1080p/60 FPS/8X anti-aliasing, to a pre-rendered 480p/30 FPS/no anti-aliasing cutscene that has been blown up to fit your monitor.
The only other flaw I really noticed in this release was sometimes the lip syncing seems to be a second or so off. It doesn’t always seem to be present, but it’s there at times for sure.
The game also finally has mouse and keyboard support, a feature that I’d already mentioned was missing from the Ubisoft port of Resident Evil 4. While I find the default layout of the keyboard and mouse controls are a little messy, you can remap and the controls to whatever suits you best. I personally used the Xbox 360 controller for 98% of my time with the game, but it’s still good to have the option to use a mouse and keyboard.
It should also be mentioned, that Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition is only available on Steam. With that however, it also reaps the standard benefits of the service, with Steam cloud support for your saved games, and of course Steam achievements as all. I ended up going for all 12 achievements, and it was a wonderful little stroll down memory lane.
Resident Evil 4 is a classic in every sense of the word, an experience that anyone that loves videogames should at least try. Going into this version, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy it regardless of improvements, because I had already played it countless times. However, when all was said and done, I’d clocked 28 hours into this version. It’s quite a testament to the game that it’s still so enjoyable and replayable nearly 10 years after it’s original release. So whether it’s your first time wandering into this isolated Spanish village, or you’ve conquered Osmund Saddler’s hordes many times over–Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition is something worthy of buying at a high price!