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Resident Evil HD Impressions: A Real Biohazard

Nostalgia is a funny thing. It can be used to reminisce about days gone by when times were more simple. It can also be used to reflect about some of your decisions in life, both good and bad, as well as loved ones that may no longer be with us. Music, television shows, and films can all spark nostalgia, and in the case of this impressions piece, video games.

Improving on Evil

Capcom announced it would be remaking the remake of Resident Evil, which was released back in 2002 on the Nintendo GameCube. Resident Evil HD features a number of improvements over the previous remake, which includes enhanced textures, 3D models, full 1080p support on current-gen consoles, and frame rate options for PC. New options for controls, display modes and an all-new Very Easy Mode round out the new improvements in Resident Evil HD. Unfortunately, all of these enhancements feels like wasted effort, because the original Resident Evil is such a terrible game in hindsight. Replaying it with all these improvements only accents its flaws.

Resident Evil HD isn't without a handful of merits. First, the visuals look absolutely stunning when compared to the original source material, and even the 2002 GameCube remake. Lighting effects, character models, and renders of items you pick up all look great, even when you’re zooming in on a particular item to examine it. The improved gameplay controls also make playing through Resident Evil yet again a little more bearable.

Aged and Decaying

Only a little, though, thanks to the fixed camera. It's meant to help add to the game’s overall horror aesthetics, but it just comes off as annoying since it consistently gave me the worst possible angles when an enemy was lurking. If a survival horror game wants to give me the slightest chance to survive its enemies, the least it could do is let me see the oncoming threat so I could react accordingly. Each time I heard a groan, I immediately started to panic in hopes that a zombie wasn’t a mere inches away from my character.

This leads into another issue I have with Resident Evil HD: its terrible aiming mechanics. If you recall, the original Resident Evil was released on PlayStation prior to release of the DualShock controller, which means you had to use the original D-Pad to perform many of your movements. This also means Capcom had to come up with a way for players to aim their weapon in a manner that didn’t require an analog stick. So you’re able to aim directly in front of you, really high up or really low to the ground, and as you might expect, this extremely clunky control scheme has not aged well.

The controls aren’t the only thing that that feels outdated in Resident Evil HD as the script, voice acting and face animations all show their obvious age. Resident Evil begins on July 24, 1998 after Alpha team discovers the remains of Bravo team’s helicopter with no signs of any survivors. While searching, the team is attacked by ferocious dogs and are forced to flee into a nearby mansion, which is believed to be abandoned. The opening sequence is a slightly improved version of the Gamecube opening, although I personally prefer the original one any day of the week. But once the game starts, the dialog, voice acting, and facial animations of each character feels completely lifeless and dull when compared to modern-day games. The writing is equally dull as descriptions of items that are examined throughout the mansion are more obvious than they are helpful.

Speaking of outdated, the inventory system in Resident Evil HD is simply terrible. Years of playing role-playing games that offer me the ability to carry nearly everything I come across have ruined me from this game’s eight inventory slots. I often found myself holding my gun, extra ammo, ink ribbon for saves, a key of some sort, and one or two herbs in case I bump into anything nasty. This leaves me with just two or so free inventory spots that I need to rely on if I happen to stumble across something useful. I’m sure the limited inventory is meant to keep the game challenging, but it hews too closely to crosses the line into an annoying artifact of its time.

Conclusion

I’m a sucker for a good trip down memory lane. I’m one of those people that can’t help but to play Final Fantasy 7 whenever it’s re-released on a new console. I often spend entire weekends playing old Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Genesis games that I loved playing as a kid. With that said, I regret volunteering myself to play Resident Evil HD as no amount of polish can help make this shallow and boring game more appealing to me as a modern player.

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