Resident Evil 4 is ported… again

There are a ridiculous number of remakes hitting retail shelves and online marketplaces all of a sudden. So much so it would seem that reboots, remakes and remixes are attempting to steal the thunder from yearly cash-ins from behemoths such as EA and Activision. While they may not succeed (an HD remake is never going to generate a billion dollars in revenue), they remain a viable, logical business proposition for game publishers. After all, not a lot of work goes into these reboots most of the time. Throw in some sharper visuals, a surround sound mix and some additional content that never made it into the original disc and you're ready to rake in something extra. Resident Evil 4 HD epitomises this phenomenon of lazy porting and while the “all-new” X360 and PS3 versions aren't entirely shabby ports of the survival-horror classic, there's still too much “classic” gameplay and visuals here that really have no place on a modern-day console.

Let's face it. Resident Evil 4 is almost entirely responsible for the modern day third-person shooter, the modern-day survival-horror game and well, anything modern- day that puts the camera over the protagonist's shoulder in a video game. It redefined immersion at the time, not just with the camera but with atmosphere, art direction, some decent (if campy) writing, while striking fear into the hearts and souls of its players with those agonising, painful controls which survival horror games still thrive on. But does the sheer genius of the original give publishers Capcom, who have successfully ported RE4 innumerable times on several platforms, the right to do so yet again? Japanese publishers (Konami and Capcom, in particular) are famous for shoddy, lazy PC ports and one could only hope that a console reboot of Resident Evil 4 would not suffer the same fate. Perhaps that was too much to ask. The game is near-identical to any previous version of the game (if you remember, the PC version actually scaled up to a higher resolution than this latest 720p port) — it plays and looks identical to versions past. You couldn't move while aiming in RE4 (or even take aim with a reasonable level of accuracy) and you can't do it in RE4 HD. Publishers have played the “classic” gameplay card too often and there's simply no excuse for not implementing an optional, refined control system for the “spoiled” modern-day gamer. While a game like Resident Evil 4 literally depends on difficult aiming and sparse ammo for its thrills, it really feels like taking several steps back in an evolutionary chain that has given us the likes of Dead Space 2, Alan Wake, independently developed titles such as Penumbra: Overture and Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition (which made great use of Nintendo's motion control system).

Play Resident Evil 4 HD, and you will realise how much the survival-horror genre has evolved since its original GameCube release in 2005. While the game's contribution to the survival-horror genre is unquestionable, it hasn't aged particularly well, with the pseudo-HD visuals and lazy porting doing it no favours. The next-gen console experience is neither different nor spectacular, so if you own this game on any other platform (GameCube, PS2, Wii or PC), you'll find there's nothing new here. Pick this up only if you want to look back at the first next-generation title in a genre that was virtually defined by the Resident Evil series or if you must simply own what is widely considered the greatest survival-horror game ever made on all your gaming consoles. Resident Evil 4 HD is available digitally on the Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Store.

Keywords: video games