This high definition ‘remaster’ of the original Resident Evil has been available on Steam (and via other outlets) for a while now, and I have to say that it falls short on a number of key issues. Firstly: the controls. While there are two methods of control (‘alternative’ and ‘original’), neither actually work particularly well and cause confusion and annoyance during play. With the ‘alternative’ controls, when you’re running around you are pressing the direction keys (or pushing the joypad) in one direction, and the scene cuts to you running in another direction and you suddenly find yourself at odds with your instincts. Even the ‘original’ controls see you constantly bumping into corners or pushing things when you don’t want to. Secondly: the first Resident Evil was never a great game in the first place. The script and dialogue were (still are) rubbish, frankly, like they were written (translated from the original Japanese) by a teenager writing fan fiction. “Thanks for saving my life. By the way: shouldn’t you be elsewhere?” I lost count of the number of times I screwed-up my face in disgust at the trite story and childish inter-character conversations. I guess that fixing this wouldn’t make it Resident Evil one any more though, would it?
Still, Resident Evil HD Remaster does have its plus points. As you’d expect: graphically it is now much more interesting and detailed than previous incarnations. The playable characters are beautifully-modelled and animated, even if their expressions have less life in them than a Nigel Farage smile. All the environments are now mostly real-time 3D (instead of entirely pre-rendered) and the new dynamic lighting really does add massively to the atmosphere and tension. And they are what Resident Evil is all about: building tension; slowly, slowly – then biting your head off with a shock attack. A rocking chandelier in the distance can play with your mind as the shadows move around (“what the hell is that?!” was probably my number one thought as I crept wearily through the playfield), and usually it was little more than the dynamic lighting fucking with my head.
You can play as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield (Jill gets more inventory slots; less health than Chris, and both have different support characters as the story progresses) and the majority of the story takes place inside a creepy mansion. Compared to, say, Resident Evil 4, this is bog standard survival horror fare. If you don’t mind the niggling controls, slow movement, and annoying typewriter save points (ugh), then you might enjoy this. I’d say that Resident Evil HD Remaster is more for completists, than anything, and at a £15 price point I would recommend waiting for a sale than paying full price for it.