Wot I Think: Resident Evil 4 HD

By Rich Stanton on March 6th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

The problem with a classic is that it’s a classic. The medium doesn’t matter – if enough people agree something’s great, then discourse around it is reduced to little more than glowing generalisations and snarky counter-thrusts. Some consider Resident Evil 4 one of the best vidyagames ever created; others counter that, good as it may have been, the world has long since moved on from grotesque monsters, tank controls and rescuing the president’s sizeably-bosomed daughter.

Resi 4 deserves more so, with a little help from director Shinji Mikami, let’s look at the anatomy of a classic.

The Resident Evil series had, by the time of Resident Evil 4, suffered an even crueller fate than the many Z-listers gutted therein. It got old. The first Resi games were from an era when 3D environments in thirdperson were created with fixed angles – simply to look good. There were mechanical implications, of course, and as it turned out this style of design suited horror much better than other genres; the first two Resi games make brilliant use of audio and what the player can’t see to amp up the scares.

But as technology matured and detailed 3D environments became more achievable, these designs felt restrictive to the point of asphyxiation. Capcom had no idea what to do about this and so Resi 4 was one of the most famously stop-start projects in the company’s history – with several abandoned prototypes, and one version that became the basis for Devil May Cry.

Shinji Mikami, the director of the original Resident Evil, was the man they turned to. And when still a rosy-cheeked Edge staffer, I was lucky enough to chat to him about it. “I wasn’t there right from the beginning, I came in after it had been started,” Mikami says. “Basically, as Capcom’s head of development at the time I was given an instruction: to change the series altogether. Outside of that instruction I was given every freedom in how I wanted to recreate it. And that’s why Resident Evil 4 is the game it is.”

Resi 4 abandoned fixed camera angles, extended fetch-quests, and even zombies. “Resident Evil was a horror game,” Mikami says. “But when I started with Resi 4 we decided to lessen that aspect and make it more of an action game. That was one of the two biggest changes.” Survival was out.

To this end Resi 4 created and perfected a new dual perspective: Leon’s body off-centre for movement, and a zooming camera over-the-shoulder for aiming. The environments were now fully 3D, but much more importantly combat had a greater range of possibilities: location-specific damage, like shooting enemies in the knees or the weapon hand, was combined with contextual moves like a roundhouse kick.

This is why Resi 4 is still a blast to play now. Unless it’s a boss, you’re always fighting crowds of enemies and so working out how to both do damage and avoid being surrounded. But these enemies aren’t zombies – they’re ganados, a design so powerful Capcom has used them almost without change in every subsequent Resi. “This was the other big decision,” Mikami says. “Changing the zombies for something closer to human beings.”

“I don’t feel traumatised by crowds of people normally,” Mikami says. “But I think everyone can relate to the idea that crowds of people can be very scary – if, for example, they turn against you.” The Ganados talk to each other, shout at Leon, advance unerringly, and if a group surrounds you a merciless beatdown is incoming. They try to blindside you, get outside of the camera view, duck when you’re lining up a headshot, grab you for their mates to deal the damage, and laugh when they’ve snuck up behind you.

There’s a brilliant idea central to Resi 4′s crowd-controlling that never gets mentioned: invincibility. You can stagger ganados and then roundhouse kick them (among other moves), which deals damage in an AOE fashion, staggers others, and makes Leon invulnerable for the short duration. So in any kind of crazy pile-on you have the chance to pick a shot, dash forward, and clear space for an exit. It’s an arcadey touch that tempts recklessness, but lets Leon take down five or six enemies with one well-placed bullet and a sweeping boot.

These are the very basics of Resi 4′s combat, but then it does what so few other games dare and starts messing with the player. So you’re used to the headshot / roundhouse kick combo, and then chapter two introduces parasites that burst out of enemy heads. They’re deadly, proper hard to kill, and so do you really want to go around headshotting everyone?

The slightest change even to how enemies are grouped can make the biggest difference; there are hulking great clawmen, for example, who are blind. The first encounter is simply terrifying. And afterwards? They turn up in environments alongside enemies that can see you – which force movement and firing.

Later you’ll meet the horrifying Regenerator, a pale and nearly indestructible thing with gaping maw that can only be destroyed by shooting certain parasites in their flesh using a thermal scope – and the game always makes sure you’re doing this in a tight corridor with your back against the wall. You switch weapons, equip the scope, and line up over random bright spots on the body as it gets closer, filling your sight, throwing your aim. On Pro difficulty, there’s an extra parasite in their back. How do you hit that?

This kind of clever design, which squeezes everything out of Leon’s capabilities, is the counter to the most frequent criticism of Resi 4 – the ‘tank-based’ control scheme, whereby you turn Leon and move him forwards rather than moving sideways.

“Fact is,” Mikami says. “It’s an element of the game. And one I feel is crafted to a very high standard. Perhaps the hurdle was too high for the change from horror to action. Perhaps it didn’t work so well in that respect. But from a game design point of view, I think they’re as good as was possible.”

Amen to that. Fact is that criticising Resi 4 for the tank controls shows a wilful blindness to how the game has been designed around them; everything from the layout of the environments to how the enemies themselves orient to your position works in relation to Leon’s movement, rather than some imagined alternative. Frequently you’ll find yourself turning 180° to run away, a touch that always provides a frisson because you simply give up on seeing what’s behind you and run.

Then there’s Ashley. In a twist to the standard damsel-in-distress formula, Ashley is rescued relatively early in the game and then becomes your companion – though she’s still there to be rescued, not to help. As a design element she becomes another variable in combat, a target to be defended, and a moving objective that stops you simply dashing past enemies or abandoning certain positions.

On the note of desirable protagonists, it’s probably worth saying that I don’t give two hoots about Ashley’s ‘ballistics’ – but Capcom create better sexy men than any other company. I’m as straight as you like but when it comes to Leon S. Kennedy there’s something about those curtains, that physique, and his sheer competence at dealing with any situation that… man. Man. Ashley’s not the only one who wants a piece by the end of this.

Anyway cough back to the action! Outlining how Mikami and his team designed Leon’s moveset and the combat system only goes so far to explaining Resi 4′s impact. The craftsmanship is one thing, but beyond this is a grisly imagination that never stops coming up with set pieces, and huge boss fights that are actually fun to play; Del Lago, a monstrous fish-thing you harpoon from a speedboat, the El Gigantes that batter Leon into the ground and off walls, a giant statue of a midget that chases you into the waiting arms of the real thing, ready to burst into a house-sized Final Form.

The imagination in even basic encounters is astonishing: moving through a sewer full of camouflaged insects, listening to their twitching and looking for the tell-tale condensation of their breath.

No single moment astonishes more than the sheer number of them. Holding off an angry mob inside a cabin, entering a castle by cannoning down the gate, suplexing endless cultists, running from boulders, riding a minecart, running from a half-scorpion mentalist in a cage suspended above a chasm, knife-fighting a madman in his personal labyrinth, freezing unkillable enemies and shattering them like the T-1000, diving through laser traps straight out of Mission Impossible, or jetskiiing out on a tidal wave. Long past the point other designers finished up and went to the pub, Resi 4′s team were working into the night.

So about this particular version. There are a couple of niggles, all of which Capcom really should have got right by now. A lot of the environment textures are crummy. This is because Resi 4 was designed to be seen in SD and, despite selling the game on multiple platforms since and trumpeting ‘HD!’ for all they’re worth, Capcom never bothered to have the textures re-drawn. So aspects of this game are SD assets in HD, which look as good as they sound.

I also had serious slowdown issues on release, which were fixed relatively quickly with a patch – but worth mentioning that some users are still experiencing them. Before this I was able to play smoothly by reducing the framerate from 60FPS to 30FPS but obviously that’s not what we want; further fixes are incoming, Capcom say, but in the meantime check out the Steam forums if you’re concerned about compatibility.

More unforgivably, the mouse and keyboard controls still suck. This was the case with the previous PC port published by Ubisoft (I have no idea) and, despite fiddling with the sensitivity and turning mouse acceleration on and off, they never quite felt right. I have some sympathy with the developers here. You can’t on the one hand praise how beautifully Resi 4 was designed around its limitations, and then criticise it for not adapting perfectly to a different input system – though it’s strange that the Wii version worked so well, and one with a mouse pointer doesn’t. C’est la vie.

Resi 4 was one of the first games that, for a time after its release, actually took over my life. Since then I’ve played through it at least once a year, on platforms from Gamecube to PS2 to Wii to the original PC release to the 360 HD release to this latest version. Why? After all, I know the whole experience beat-for-beat and every location and piece of equipment intimately.

The answer is as close to understanding what makes a ‘classic’ as I’ll probably ever get. It’s not that each individual mechanic of Resi 4 is so beautifully-honed, or that there are so many of them, or even that the enemies are still capable of surprises. It’s that many elements of this game never needed to be half as good as they are, or even present at all, and yet every single part has been sanded off and polished. The inventory system is a puzzle game in disguise. Halfway through the game you find a shooting gallery, a shooting gallery, slap-bang in the middle of Salazar’s gothic deathtrap of a castle. It’s as in-keeping with the theme as go-go girls, especially when taking part lets you win miniature models of the game’s cast.

Then you get the Mercenaries, a mode unlocked after the first runthrough that repurposes campaign environments as wave-based shooter arenas. The rules, which mix a combo system with a tight timer and several other bonuses, work such that the challenge of the Mercs scales with your own mastery of the combat system. It never stops getting tougher, offering more, asking for more. It’s a ‘bonus’ mode that might be better than the main game, which is one of the best games ever made, and so good that Capcom made Mercs into a standalone title and has included it in every subsequent Resident Evil.

Resi 4 is a classic not just because Resi 4 itself is a brilliant game. But because it goes beyond this to perfect things most players will never see, and packs extra stuff into every corner it possibly can. There is more pound-for-pound fun in every hour than anything else, and when you think you’ve seen everything another little detail jumps out. You can equip eggs and throw them at enemies. Sit on Salazar’s throne. After fighting Del Lago, you can cruise around on the boat and harpoon tasty fish – or watch the bigger ones try to eat the smaller ones. While riding the Jetski, hit both shoulder buttons during a jump to do a 360° spin. It has never, after nearly a decade of play, stopped giving me new things to enjoy.

“I’m very happy about the reception it got,” Mikami says. “It was a title that a lot of people can relate to – perhaps not as different as you think. Despite what some people said about the controls, controlling Leon and fighting the enemies is a joy. And a big reason is it was a game where people could pick it up and feel the joy, know exactly what game this was from the very beginning. Those qualities make a successful game.”

Capcom has never quite shown Resi 4 the reverence it deserves, despite the fact it was the foundation for their most successful series over nearly the next decade. But that doesn’t change the fact that, for whatever price you end up paying, this is as close as we’re getting to a definitive version of what even Mikami admits was a successful game. Or, as a simple critic like me would put it, a classic.

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79 Comments »

  1. Revolving Ocelot says:

    How’s the controller support? I had the PS2 version from way back, and while I have fond memories of the game I don’t fancy trying to resurrect the console from whichever dusty cupboard it now hides in, so this is on my radar for a Christmas Steam sale.

    I’ve sent my right hand to dispose of you.

    • GamesInquirer says:

      The 360 controller works fine as expected. You can even use the dpad to move since movement is digital anyway. It plays much like later Resident Evil PC ports, just obviously without later moveset additions (no strafing, no moving and shooting, gotta aim while on a standstill, all of it more reasons it’s more suited to gamepad than even the later games). Anyway, if you have other gamepads I guess they’ll work if there’s some software that makes them emulate a 360 pad or otherwise bind buttons and axis and such.

      • Premium User Badge PoulWrist says:

        Thanks for the reply :) I will be getting this and replaying it from the sofa with a friend and a carton of red wine :)

      • Premium User Badge golem09 says:

        The game is designed for digital input, really? It was designed for the gamecube and it’s analogue stick as far as I know.

        • GamesInquirer says:

          Moving forward/back is at a set speed, there’s also a run button modifier you can press simultaneously to alter the forward speed. Turning is also at a set speed whether moving or on a standstill. You’re either turning, or turning while moving, or not turning and you’re either moving, or moving with the run modifier, or not moving. Analog input is reserved for the aiming, possibly the looking around outside aiming too but that’s so limited it barely matters if it is. Not every game that was on consoles past the PlayStation was designed for analogue input everywhere. RE4 basically has the same tank controls for movement as older RE games, it’s mainly the new camera that makes it so different. I’m pretty sure it was playable with the dpad on GameCube as well.

    • Richard Stanton says:

      Your right hand comes off?

  2. drinniol says:

    Shooting enemies in the head made no difference to how often the parasites appeared. HEADSHOT AWAY!

    • GamesInquirer says:

      Yeah, I don’t know why this is such a common mistake people make. At first you might think it’s logical given the attention to detail in most other parts of the game but then parasites will surely appear even when you don’t try to headshot any more, making it clear.

      • flashlight_eyes says:

        It’s been awhile since I have played it, but I do agree that headshotting does not affect the frequency of the headcrap monsters it is not a good strategy against them. Headshotting them causes the monster to come out while they are still standing up and coming at you, which is usually very bad, while if you do enough body damage the monster will usually appear while they are on the ground, and therefore be much easier to handle

    • Richard Stanton says:

      Hello! I realise this is the case – looking now I can see I’ve explained it badly, but my point is that (imo) the parasites are supposed to make you *think* twice about the headshot. What I always liked about them was that for the longest time I couldn’t work out whether their appearance was triggered by headshots or not, so I was experimenting with all different ways of killing Ganados. I definitely think that’s why they’re such an ‘oh shit!’ moment the first time through, because you just don’t know. Good pick up tho, I’ll make sure to really spell it out when I’m writing about the 20th anniversary deluxe edition (hey, this is Capcom right).

    • Wedge says:

      Well, suplexing them made a big difference. Don’t think it let you do that until you got to the monks though, probably because of their more lethal parasites.

  3. Drake Sigar says:

    I’ll tell you something new that happened – I was indulging in a bit of the ole animal cruelty (like ya do) and smacked a cow repeatedly. Then the cow hit me back. The injustice!

    I’d finished the game four times before and never knew that could happen.

    • DoctorCool says:

      If anyone is considering how amusing this might be to try for themselves: Know that the game has a difficulty level that scales with how well you’re playing (i.e. the longer you go without dying, the harder it gets) and killing the cows is a quick way to put yourself right at the top of the scale.

  4. directedinput says:

    The mouse feels bad because it has negative acceleration, here is a video of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPbqwNwvJEw . Hopefully it gets fixed soon.

    • GamesInquirer says:

      Well, mouse isn’t great for this game anyway. It appears suitable when aiming (although the addition of the character trembling makes it feel a bit weird too, on Wii the pointer controls didn’t have that because it was up to the player how steady his hand would be when aiming, yet both the Wii pointing and the PC mouse aiming also kind of break the game’s balance making it easier as the characters before that had a preset aiming speed and capability both finely tuned to the enemy encounters and their own abilities) but other than that it’s mostly useless for this game as there’s no strafing and you move and turn with digital button/key input during which you can merely slightly adjust the camera to look around while maintaining the direction set by the digital inputs, not to turn as in other third/first person shooters. It’s a game tuned to gamepads in a way most other shooters aren’t, but it also makes it really unique in feel and still fun and fresh after all these years as it’s all so finely polished that the limitations that imposed the design don’t feel like technology limitations but as design decisions that make for a unique, fun experience.

      • Convolvulus says:

        As much as I generally dislike playing shooters with a controller, there definitely are a few games that have been tuned well to the imprecision of aiming with your thumbs. Red Dead Redemption is probably the best example I’ve come across.

      • Laurentius says:

        Then why don’t you go to console site and start lauding RE4 controls, as for PC version controls sucked horrible back when it was ported first time and it looks still sucks big time now. End of story.

        • GamesInquirer says:

          Because another primary beauty of the glorious PC platform is that you can use the best tool for any job, from gamepads for games like this to arcade sticks for fighting games to joysticks or hotas for all kinds of flight and space sims (Star Citizen will be technically playable with a mouse and keyboard I guess, much like RE4, but I sure will make use of my CH Products hotas instead, not for the FPS parts obviously but those aren’t what I most look forward to anyway). Those two genres and more generally have mouse and keyboard controls that also suck, with some exceptions (which don’t mean that the other games should work too as the exceptions have different, not universally better gameplay, like Freelancer’s mouse driven interface versus something like Babylon 5: I’ve Found Her or other true space sims that need a joystick or hotas to work well) but no, their real controls and gameplay don’t actually suck when utilized with the proper device the PC thankfully supports, if not officially then by some other software that doesn’t need to be approved by any all controlling first party like consoles thanks to its open nature. Maybe you’re new to PC gaming Laurentius, or somehow lived under a rock and missed such wonderfully practical realities so consider this a free lesson against ignorance and petty vision clouding console hatred, especially when this has little to do with consoles and everything to do with what a given genre or game needs to enable its full entertainment potential to the benefit of its user. Of course that often happens to be mouse & keyboard for other games, maybe even exclusively if you have super narrow tastes, but most PC gamers don’t. Hey, back in the day the keyboard was all you had for every genre there was so some self proclaimed purist PC gamer much like you could have also scoffed at the idea of using a then newly marketed mouse he chose to have some weird prejudice against, you better get that sorted out soon. Or not, having the choice to stubbornly limit the games you can enjoy is nice too, I guess. Game/troll on.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Yes, yes, exactly! You can get a controller that works good enough for $15 anyways, so it’s not like controllers on PC are some niche thing. Complaining about it just artificially limits the PC when the thing that makes the PC special is that you can do anything with it! The alternative is companies just not bothering with the PC when their game doesn’t work with mouse/keyboard, an attitude I have seen and one I think is utter bullshit!

          • Laurentius says:

            Of coure I disagree completly in general sense but that’s not the point here. You put a lot of words to hide simple fact, there is absolutly no reason why RE4 had such horrible controls on PC, like there was no reason why you couldn’t aim with mouse, this is ridiculous and no lauding gamepad controls can change that.
            PS. Game on dude, on your console.

          • GamesInquirer says:

            That wasn’t many words, just a simple point about the versatility of the glorious PC platform (that you just said you completely disagree with, as if that’s some kind of an opinion up for debate and not a fact, lol), which you seem so averse to you’ll bash any games (and gamers that play them) that don’t fit your awkwardly limited notion of what a PC should do alongside some misguided hatred against consoles, so strong that you seem to think telling others they play on one as well as PC is some kind of insult. I guess you really are too young (or worse, too childish) to know what PC is all about. There are plenty reasons, they’re in my first comment you replied to, not in the previous which wasn’t about that as I wasn’t about to repeat points just because you ignored them the first time. Even the RPS article mentions some of them. You should try to understand the design of the software you try to discuss before making some vague point like how it should work just because it fits in a vast genre like third person shooters, as if they should all be alike. They may fix the negative mouse acceleration that is the one technical problem with the mouse and keyboard controls but as I said that won’t be enough because the gameplay is not designed around such controls anyway and changing the controls to accommodate standard third person shooter practices to make them suitable for that scheme would have negatively affected the actual gameplay. That’s all there is to it. Don’t worry though, you can keep on gaming and trolling as always.

          • bill says:

            Some games just work better on different types of controller. Luckily on PC we have access to a huge range of control options, unlike the poor guys on consoles. that’s one of the cool bonuses of being on PC.

            For example, I would never play any kind of flight sim or space sim with a mouse and keyboard, or with a gamepad. Joystick or nothing.

          • Premium User Badge PoulWrist says:

            Well, if the game plays well on a controller, then today I don’t really care. Controller support is generally very good on the PC and you don’t have the issues that controllers used to have way-back-when. I of course don’t like playing most shooters on any kind of controller, but there’s something about the experience of RE4 that is boosted by the controller and its imprecision.

          • GamesInquirer says:

            Yep, a controller works fine PoulWrist. With 360 button prompts and everything. If you have another brand with different button labels you’ll have to get accustomed to that, but it isn’t hard (assuming another brand’s controller will even work, I don’t know but I guess there should be third party software that makes generic controllers emulate the 360′s). Or perhaps it supports other controllers natively and then labels things as button 1, 2, etc, I can’t test this but I don’t imagine they went that far for this release.

      • DrollRemark says:

        Yeah, as much as I love the Wii version of RE4, it does make the game just too easy.

    • Ringwraith says:

      The control issues are strange because RE5 worked brilliantly with keyboard & mouse.
      They did change the aiming style for mouse to default to keeping your aiming centred though, so you could actually turn while aiming, but you could turn it back if you really wanted. Though it made the longbow excellent.
      The only issues were the baffling crosshair (which you could mod out and replace with the laser sight again) and the fact it had no native support for more than three mouse buttons.
      They even included extra bindings for one-button reloads and knife attacks.

      • GamesInquirer says:

        It’s not strange at all since RE5 adopted far more conventional 3rd person shooter gameplay (strafing, moving and shooting, etc) in all versions, consoles included. Of course you could play it with RE4 style controls as well but then you could feel that you were at a disadvantage when you couldn’t do those same things as well or at all. RE4 was a more unique experience that didn’t try to follow other cinematic third person action/shooter games as it more or less pioneered the genre, so every player was on equal footing regardless of the controls options and the game’s encounters, enemies and environments were designed around that level of control and gameplay.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Errrm, I’m fairly sure 5 doesn’t have strafing, and you still have to stand still to shoot.
          You are probably thinking of 6, which did change the control scheme a lot.

          • GamesInquirer says:

            You’re half right, you can’t move while aiming after all, I guess I remembered wrong because the ability to do that was actually in the game before release and it was showcased with some negative fan reactions, but the final game didn’t include that ability. Still, there most definitely is strafing. When you’re not aiming the controls are standard FPS style controls, using the mouse to turn and WASD to strafe, rather than RE4 style controls which don’t use the camera controls to turn but instead the character directional input (left analog stick on consoles, rather than the right analog stick used in most shooters to change direction and aim). But as said, with options you can make it control more like RE4 too, for those who prefer that, but on PC the RE4 style controls are as inconvenient for those who don’t want to use a controller as RE4 is. Perhaps when you played it you had set it to RE4 style controls or that was the default and you didn’t change it, and just don’t have a problem with those on a keyboard like others.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Now I wish I had it still installed to check, but I was fairly certain there wasn’t a strafe option…
            That or there was, but it was rubbish so I never used it. But I still recall having to be terrified of corners at times…

  5. Kefren says:

    Lovely write-up for a game I completed a few times, and have paid homage to since. One point – I think mercs appeared in earlier RE games, either RE2 or RE Nemesis, maybe both. But I remember having played it already when I came to RE4. Even a merc who was a block of tofu with a knife, which was pretty disconcerting for a vegan like me.

    • Richard Stanton says:

      I remember playing as Tofu too! God that took me forever to unlock, but that’s the advantage of being a teenager.

      Yeah there were bonus modes in Resis before this but they weren’t like the Mercs at all – in Resi 2 & 3 they were like survival runs, and in Code Veronica it was the same but you could play if you wanted from firstperson. I think it was just called Battle Mode in CV, in 2 it was the ’4th Survivor’ because of Hunk.

      Hot DAMN I love Mercenaries mode. The best thing about Resi 5 was the way the guy said you could get yourself a ‘naice bonas’ at the start XD

      • Kefren says:

        Ah, that explains it, thanks. I found those modes too hard, so just went back to replaying the main games. RE2 and Nemesis on the PC absorbed my time and imagination a lot more than RE1 on the Playstation, which was just a bit too clunky.

    • GamesInquirer says:

      The Saturn port of the original Resident Evil had a merc-ish mode too, I think that was in fact the first appearance of such an all action score based mode for the series. Surprisingly, since it was the only time the series appeared on Sega’s awesome ill fated system. I liked the main mode best, they really didn’t have the gameplay for all out action back then (I think it was RE3 that added niceties like dodging), but it was still a cool bonus. There were some other differences with boss encounters, the soundtrack and what not, though not nearly as many as in the Director’s Cut version of the game later made for the PlayStation only. Also, the backgrounds tended to look better, but the real time 3D character rendering was worse.

      • Jalan says:

        That was the earliest version of Battle Mode. The Mercenaries mini-game (what was it called exactly, operation Jackal or something? I forget the exact title) began in 3 though and was refined as the series went on. Code: Veronica didn’t have it, opting for yet another iteration of Battle Mode (which had a “makes some things way too easy” first-person camera mode).

        • GamesInquirer says:

          Well yes, I didn’t say Saturn had Mercs, I just didn’t recall the name. Still, they all basically refit campaign areas into battle arenas you rush through while killing everything in order to score points and such. Mercs then was clearly the follow up to Battle Mode and Battle Mode (even though it was also evolved for the Dual Shock version of RRE2 on PlayStation) probably only returned for Code Veronica over a RE3 style Mercs as a homage to the last time the series was on a SEGA system, since CV was initially a Dreamcast only exclusive. Or perhaps at the time they weren’t sure Mercs would become the more popular evolution. I wonder how CV would be with RE4 gameplay, they could probably add such a bonus mode if they ever released it on PC since Code Veronica had full 3D areas even though it used preset camera angles instead of a third person camera. It should be a bonus though, it will probably break the balance in all sorts of ways, more radically than pointer (now mouse) aiming did with RE4.

  6. DickSocrates says:

    There are direct texture comparisons on Capcom’s website. Most/a good number of the textures are new more detailed ones. It’s true they still don’t pass for HD, so one wonders why they bothered. Maybe the game just looks silly with GameCube era polygon counts pasted with HD textures?

    • Baines says:

      It could be that the new textures weren’t necessarily created with their use in mind, how they’d look on the model with that model in the game world.

      The best example is the outdoor wooden shed. The textures used in the Gamecube version looked like aged and weather wood that had suffered more than its fair share of dings. It looked like what you’d expect of a worn down outdoor wooden shed. The HD textures are present in the second image in the article above. They are a higher resolution than the Gamecube textures, but they are images of fresh milled wood. They don’t quite fit the model because it doesn’t look like they use any tricks to give the model more shape, and they make the model stand out in the world because it is the wrong image to use for a worn down outdoor shed.

      It is like someone only looked at the raw texture files without considering what the texture was used for, why it looked the way it did, or what image the model was supposed to convey.

      I’m not saying that you’d get photorealistic graphics just by putting great textures on the original meshes, but Capcom didn’t use great textures in this HD remake anyway. And some other trickery would help. (Capcom didn’t even use bump mapping, I think?)

      EDIT: Is it true the PC version uses content from the PS2 version? I’ve read that about the old PC version, as well as this new one. The PS2 version of the game had models with reduced poly counts compared to the Gamecube version of the game, as well as losing various visual effects coded for the Gamecube’s graphics chip.

      • GamesInquirer says:

        Certain effects are still missing (depth of field, some specular highlights, seemingly anything that used the GameCube’s TEV wasn’t converted to proper pixel shader versions) or are different (the implementation of shadows and maybe lighting is supposed to be all new but it all looks similar enough) but I believe the geometry is all there at its best.

      • bill says:

        I haven’t played it, but after looking around it seems like:

        The PS2 version had lower poly counts and lost almost all the lighting, shadow and shader effects.

        This version is based on the 360 version which has the higher poly GC/Wii models and MOST of the lighting, shadow and shader effects.
        Apparently the lighting/shadows are a little different, but not really. It’s basically only missing a couple of very specific shader effects like some Depth Of Field in the cutscenes. But to make up for that you get in-engine high res cutscenes.

        TLDR: I was worried about that too, but it seems like this version is 99% the good version.

        • GamesInquirer says:

          At least one cut scene is not real time, because it had been a video even in the GC version of the game. I guess they didn’t even have the scripting for it to be real time. You’ll notice its awful IQ :(

          Also, certain animations were key framed at a low frame rate so the game itself running at a higher frame rate doesn’t improve them. It can look jarring, as with the rifle’s reload sequence.

  7. Syra says:

    I loved RE2 (and even felt the same about Leon then, what a dude), but that was the last RE game for me, having really disliked the look of some of the latter ones on PC. Your review makes me more than a little curious and I shall have to try it out at some point, though I don’t have a controller =/.

    • subedii says:

      Another RE2 fan here. RE4 is very, very different in feel, and lives up to the moniker “survival action” as opposed to “survival-horror”.

      They’re both good games at what they do, and even now I have a hard time deciding which I consider the “definining” game of the series.

      Also enjoyed RE3, but I’ve always thought it helps to think of it more as “Resident Evil 2, Disc 3″. I also don’t understand why more games haven’t taken the concept of Nemesis (an enemy that’s tracking you through the game world and could appear at any point to cause havoc) and run with it. It was one of my bigger disappointments that the Dead Space series never experimented more with this concept (personally I wasn’t a fan of DS2, and straight up didn’t bother with 3).

      • Volcanu says:

        I thought the first Dead Space did it quite well. I found that unkillable thing that stalked you to be pretty horrid. I agree though it wasnt a central plank of the game in the same way that it was in RE3. That was up there with the helicopter in Half Life for ‘recurring nasty I was glad to see the back of’ in a game.

        I love the first RE and RE4 almost equally although they are as you say, very different. For me the remastered first one is the highpoint of the ‘survival horror’ Resi’s but RE4 would be on my top 10 games of all time list.

        • subedii says:

          Dead Space’s Hunter is what I was thinking of, yeah. I was disappointed because as an enemy concept, it had such promise and it could have really livened up the whole game even more because you’d never know what to expect, possibly even on replays. Instead its appearances felt too scripted. It could only ever appear at set points of the plot.

          I did like the way you had to finally deal with it though.

          • Volcanu says:

            Yeah I agree it was perhaps a bit under utilised. And it was completely scripted. It’ll be interesting to see how the xenomorph in the new Alien game shapes up. In theory it’ll be exactly what you are hankering for – a nigh on unkillable juggernaught that stalks you and relies on AI rather than scripting to determine when and where it appears.

            All very promising in theory – but it will all come down to execution.

      • Nicodemus Rexx says:

        In many ways Dead Space 2 only shines when you have either a surround sound system you can crank up, or a headset to play it with. I tried playing it using TV sound in the middle of the night the first time I attempted it, and ended up getting bored.

        Later, after I got my Turtle Beach stereo headset, I restarted it and it was SOOO much better. There’s a ridiculous amount of work put into the sound in DS2 that you’ll never hear with regular speakers. Unfortunately I still never finished it, this time because my PS3 died. :/ Oh well.

      • Baines says:

        A constantly pursuing enemy might not be a popular theme because you generally don’t know the pace that the player will take. If the enemy’s pursuit is separate of player progress, then a player may find themselves rushed beyond their tolerance or ability, or alternatively may move so fast that the enemy is barely seen. If the enemy’s pursuit is tied to player progress, then the urgency can look too artificial, particularly if the player acts as a much slower pace than the developers had planned for, but also if the player replays the game and sees that his pace means little.

    • Synesthesia says:

      RE2 DS version will always be in my heart. It’s by far my favourite RE. 4 stories in 2 discs! God, that was awesome. RE4 is excellent though. If you haven’t played it you should. The attention to detail almost gets to kojima levels in some sections. The mercenaries is also a blast. My bro and i couldnt stop playing when we got it. I only stopped playing when i got the handcannon. Man, good times.

    • GameCat says:

      I’ve finished RE4 countless times (plus 5 stars on all mercenaries maps with all characters) on keyboard.
      Yup, just keyboard, without mouse. I had controls scheme that allowed me to play with one hand, lol.
      So don’t be discouraged by lack of gamepad.

    • squareking says:

      I never got around to playing 4 despite being a big RE fan. My last hurrah was Code Veronica On Dreamcast, which I really, really liked. I felt pretty miffed when I heard about 4′s changes. No zombies? More action that survival? Seemed like it became just a scary manshooter. :(

      Whoops, wasn’t supposed to be a reply.

  8. Volcanu says:

    Gogethlow gogethlow….

  9. rockman29 says:

    It’s a fantastic game and just better with the work done for the PC version.

  10. Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

    That first screenshot is amazing.

  11. Christo4 says:

    Why do people hype up this game so much? it was good but not that good. i mean the aim is so retarded, you have to stay still and it still wobbles like he just picked up a gun. i would get the wobbling thing if he was moving but he’s standing still… not to mention that near the end i had to use a scope to see the weak spots on the enemy, but it wasn’t for the guns i was holding so basically i had to redo a ton of content just to be able to pass it, but nope, i ain’t gonna do that.

    • DanMan says:

      I don’t get it either. It’s been a good game at the time, but not that great and especially not today.

    • Mman says:

      “not to mention that near the end i had to use a scope to see the weak spots on the enemy, but it wasn’t for the guns i was holding so basically i had to redo a ton of content just to be able to pass it, but nope, i ain’t gonna do that.”

      While I have no idea how you could get that far without getting a Rifle at some point, you can kill the Regenerators just fine without the scope, even if they’re pretty tough (plus you can just evade several of them).

  12. Baines says:

    Minor point, but you don’t need to use the thermal scope to kill Regenerators. You can kill them with a few shots from the Broken Butterfly, and apparently with the Chicago Typewriter as well.

    • grom.5 says:

      Or incendiary grenade. I just freaked so much for the first encounter that I managed to get stuck, back to a wall. In desperation, I must have throw him 3 or 4 grenades.
      When I saw him burn to death, I was just so relieved…

      • DrollRemark says:

        Doesn’t the flashbang make surprisingly short work of them too?

        • Ringwraith says:

          Any of the monstrous parasites exposed to the air can be insta-killed by flash grenades.
          I always kept some handy in 5.

    • Ansob says:

      You can also kill them by just pumping shotgun rounds into them! Although this really isn’t practical until you get the exclusive upgrade on the Striker, with its 100-round magazine.

  13. Lemming says:

    I do have a lot of fond memories of this game, but those memories are also mixed with terror, frustration, and testing of endurance. I’m happy to let it stay a memory than play through that all over again, I think. Great game ,though.

    Without it, I’m 100% sure we would never have got the really rather good Dead Space.

  14. ironman Tetsuo says:

    Great game, great article, but I take offense to this one little bit…

    “The first Resi games were from an era when 3D environments in thirdperson were created with fixed angles – simply to look good.”

    I’ve always felt that the horror genre lost something in the move to 3D. Silent Hill suffered the same, there were some great uses of framing and editing in those older games, but now the term cinematic only ever seems to equate to “big explosions!”

    P. S.
    The swamp hut level in Resi 4 will always suck, the one bunion on an otherwise perfect game.

    • GamesInquirer says:

      Hm, I take offense because there were plenty 3D 3rd person games without fixed angles (like that little known Tomb Raider game :p). Plus, the environments in Resident Evil 1-3 (and other games, like Parasite Eve 1-2 and even REmake, RE Zero, Onimusha and others a whole generation after RE) were essentially 2D pictures, all pre-rendered (though games like Dino Crisis did use the same technique in full 3D (and 2D in certain parts too, while games like Fear Effect took the pre-rendering one step further and had animated CG backgrounds in parts and even camera angles tracking the character in others, similar to a couple points in Final Fantasy VII and VIII). Fixed angles weren’t only used for third person games to look good either, first person adventures anyone? Anyway it was just one method developers used to overcome system limitations back then, but it was far from the most used or common style with the wealth of different experiences crafted back then.

      P.S.
      Some of the QTEs are another minor bunion.

  15. Nova eXelon says:

    Can someone confirm if this version has surround sound or not? Because I definitely won’t pay 20 bucks just for higher fps and more resolution. Seems like nobody cares much about sound since I couldn’t find a single review that confirms either way.

    Also on the topic of mouse/keyboard: Even if the controls where good with m/k why would I want faster and more precise aiming, when the enemies still have their speed and reaction times as if you would play with a controller? I know only one game that actually changed enemy behavior and that was the original HALO for PC. Demanding good m/k controls without demanding higher difficulty translates to me as “I want to have it easy”.

    • Unclepauly says:

      My version is stereo. I’m pretty pissed as I play most games in surround and ALL stealth or survival type games that rely on audio cues.

  16. povu says:

    Considering the original PC port had no mouse aim at all (arrow key aiming only) without a mod, the controls are still an improvement. But yeah, still pretty mediocre port. As you’d expect from Capcom.

    • malkav11 says:

      I was going to say – there were no mouse controls in the original version and the mod just made the mouse map to a joystick, which has nothing to do with actual mouse controls and was terribly awkward. So having them at all is a giant improvement.

  17. Hunam says:

    I’m not actually a big fan of Resident Evil 4, but one thing that I loved about the game was at the start, you can aim fine, but when you lose your coat your aim goes wobbly, but when in doors returns to precision. Just a little touch that cold affects the aim in the game always made me smile.

  18. sharkh20 says:

    I think this game looks much better on SD. Even today it looks great. I still play the Wii version about once a year even though it feels a bit like cheating compared to using the laser sight aiming system.

  19. bill says:

    So, should I go for:
    - New PC version with mouse/keyboard?
    - New PC version with controller?
    - Wii version*?

    *is the Wii version still available and at a reasonable price? I haven’t actually used my Wii for about 3 years… so it might be nice to get some use out of it. But I haven’t seen it in stores recently.

    Is the PC version better patched now than on release?

    • GamesInquirer says:

      Either this version played with a gamepad or the Wii version, they’re both good. If you can deal with the low resolution output of Wii (or Dolphin runs flawlessly on your PC) and enjoy pointing and shooting you’ll have a ton of fun with that, though pointer shooting does affect the game difficulty, it’s just too easy, but so fun too. Actually, if you have a Classic Controller (or GameCube controller) for your Wii you can also use it to make your first go true to the originally intended experience, then go all out in New Game+ and Mercs mode with the pointer. The game supports both control schemes equally well, which is cool.

    • Guvornator says:

      Wii version can be picked up from CEX for about £4, if you don’t mind a) secondhand games and b) the weird smell of CEX… https://uk.webuy.com/product.php?sku=045496363284#.UxmbwF7knA0

      • GamesInquirer says:

        Checking out the prices on Amazon (US and UK) the Wii version of the game is not expensive even if you go for a new copy. It shouldn’t be a problem.

  20. Geebs says:

    I assume that the QTEs still utterly suck (the dreaded “QTE in a cutscene” was inexcusable then, and it’s inexcusable now), but do they at least tell you which keys to press in this version?

    • GamesInquirer says:

      Yes it tells you the keys but I think they aren’t keys you normally use. I think it had something like x and c to dodge the boulder for example, when I played before plugging the gamepad. Of course it shows 360 controller button prompts when you use that. Perhaps I misjudged or they can be reconfigured, I didn’t go in depth with that and just plugged the controller in.

  21. MobileAssaultDuck says:

    I’ll play this if/when someone mods out the tank controls in favour of proper third person shooter controls.

    Every time I’ve tried to play an RE game I’ve given up after about 20 minutes because I feel like I’m controlling someone suffering from mild cerebral palsy.

  22. SomeDuder says:

    RE 4 is a great game, but I feel like it could have had a different title and no references to Umbrella and still be good in its own universe. Resident Evil, to me, means mansions, laboratories, FMVs and Valentine/Redfield vs anything the T- and G-virii could cough up. But all of a sudden, you play a host-club worker going to the Glorious Nation of Europe, shooting unwashed farmers, bugs and cavetrolls. If that sounds like a scene from LotR, then yea, it does, because this is not RE. And later installments go even further away, shooting blacks in Africa and I have no idea what 6 is about, probably shooting plants on the moon or something.

    I’m getting old. I want my tea and some crumpets.