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Resident Evil HD review: Digging up old graves

Hayden Dingman | Jan. 21, 2015
I'm going to go ahead and split my review of Resident Evil HD into two reviews--one for those who are really nostalgic about either the 1996 or 2002 versions of the original Resident Evil, and one review for those who've never played before.

And then there'll inevitably come a point where you're stuck and simply don't know what you need to do. Like any adventure game, these times are absolutely infuriating. You wander around in circles desperately hoping some clue will stand out. "Do I need the broken shotgun for this part? Is it something to do with these herb things? Does this bookcase move?"

The difference is that in a typical adventure game, "being stuck" costs you nothing. In Resident Evil, every circuit through the mansion means potentially more ammo wasted, or more kerosene burned, or more herbs consumed. You're slowly but surely burning through your already-limited supplies and still can't figure out the solution.

It's a game from 1996, okay? It's unfair, and it knows it's unfair. It's designed to be unfair. There's something extremely satisfying about Resident Evil for that very reason — feeling like the odds are stacked against you, and you're trapped in a mansion with no idea what to do or where to go. The traps are very real. The confusion is very real. It's almost like a simulation, in that regard.

Does that sound fun to you? Great! Go ahead and pick up Resident Evil HD. It's beautiful (for its age) and the modernized controls at least lower the barrier to entry.

I'd also understand if you don't think it sounds fun at all, though.

Despite this industry's reputation for being forward-focused, gamers are secretly a community obsessed with the past. "What? You never played [insert classic game]?" It's a common refrain with this pastime, and while it's not the friendliest way to phrase that concept I think it's done with the best interests at heart. It's not necessarily "Wow, I think I'm better than you," and more, "That sucks you missed out. Hopefully you get to experience that game some day."

But as some of these games come up on twenty, thirty, or even forty years, I think it's perfectly acceptable for people to start saying, "I don't get the appeal."

It can be simple. "Why are these three-second door transitions in between every section? They really ruin the pacing." You could explain that it's because the transitions originally masked lengthy PlayStation loading times, but do they make the game better? Or do they just feel right because they were there the first time you played Resident Evil and taking them out would be like making Greedo shoot first?

Bottom line

If you're a fan of the Resident Evil franchise, or if you picked up the series at Resident Evil 4 and always wanted to go back and see what the original was all about, or if you're just generally interested in the history of video games — go play Resident Evil HD. Capcom's done a brilliant job updating the graphics and making sure everything runs smoothly on modern PCs.


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