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Resident Evil HD Impressions: A Real Biohazard

The Resident Evil remakes just keep on coming as Capcom has remade a previous remake of the classic game that kicked off survival horror, Resident Evil. And, boy, is it a stinker.

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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.

Senior Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    January 19, 2015 8:00 AM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, Resident Evil HD Impressions: A Real Biohazard

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      January 19, 2015 8:20 AM

      Damn, pretty brutal review.

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      January 19, 2015 8:23 AM

      So it's pretty much the original with improved graphics? Sounds like what I was expecting.

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        January 19, 2015 8:41 AM

        Yeah, that was my take. It isn't so much a new remake as it repolishing the old remake. Which is fine, if you know what you're getting into. Sounds like Daniel didn't.

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          January 19, 2015 8:46 AM

          Yeah I don't get the review, what was he expecting a totally revamped game? I want the original so I see no problem here

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          January 19, 2015 9:22 AM

          I knew what I was getting into since I've been keeping an eye on this game for some time. I played the original RE, and I enjoyed it at the time. I missed out on the GameCube version, so I was genuinely excited to pay RE HD.

          If you listened to this week's podcast, I said I'm all about nostalgia. I still play older games from time to time to scratch my nostalgia itch. I just can't get back into RE considering how much survival horror games have advanced over the years. It just feels really dated.

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            January 19, 2015 9:34 AM

            Fair enough. I actually did play the Gamecube remake back at release though. I had time to make my peace with the more limited mechanics of RE1 more than a decade ago. The first Resident Evil game has become kind of a "time capsule" game for me in that respect. It is what it is. My expectations were that this was just going to be a repolished version of that game.

            I say this not having any vested interest in purchasing this game on release date, although I'll probably pick it up someday during the inevitable Steam sale.

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            January 19, 2015 10:50 AM

            How has survival horror "advanced", though?

            If the most recent Resident Evil and Silent Hill games are any indication, then I want no part of it.

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              January 19, 2015 1:41 PM

              ANSWER ME FOR IT WILL DETERMINE YOUR WORTH AS A HUMAN BEING

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                January 19, 2015 2:20 PM

                sveld UNLEASHED

                Did drunk System Shock unlock a portal to your inner demon? I hope so, this is going to be awesome

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                  January 19, 2015 4:24 PM

                  Seriously, though - survival horror is about frightening you through sheer force of atmosphere and keeping your resources low. Nothing I've seen recently from the supposed standard-bearers of this genre, Resident Evil and Silent Hill, have accomplished that.

                  So I would be curious to know what games Daniel's looking towards for survival horror now, and in what ways the genre has, in his view, advanced.

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                    January 19, 2015 4:38 PM

                    I think the genre has split and now we have horror/thriller titles and some games that are sort of survival based. The last of us on the highest difficulty is a bit of classic survival, but no puzzles.

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                      January 19, 2015 7:41 PM

                      More specifically, we have three types of survival horror games:

                      1) Pure survival horror: strong atmosphere, low resources. See: Outlast, Amnesia, Silent Hill, Resident Evil 0-Code Veronica. (RE0 sucked, but I digress.)

                      2) Action-survival horror: strong atmosphere, more action, less resource management, although resource management plays a larger role on higher difficulty levels. See: Resident Evil 4, Dead Space 1-2.

                      3) Complete and utter shit that publishers try to pass off as survival horror even though games in this category have more in common with Call of Duty than they do classics like RE2 and Amnesia. See: Dead Space 3, RE5-6.

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                    January 19, 2015 4:43 PM

                    Outlast

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      January 19, 2015 8:27 AM

      Simmer down, Daniel. I'm gonna take you to task on a few points.

      1. Aiming: The Resident Evil remake implemented an auto-aim function that was not mentioned in your write-up. To trigger it, all you have to do is hold the aim button, and your character aims his or her weapon at the nearest enemy. Tap the L button (on GameCube; no idea what button you press in the HD version) and the character pivots to the next closest zombie. There is absolutely no need to swing your gun between enemies manually--which, admittedly, is and always was clunky.

      2. Inventory Management. Deciding what to carry and what to stash in an item box is an integral component of classic RE games. Survival horror is all about making decisions. Do you take a gun AND ammo, or leave ammo behind in the hopes that you'll find some along the way? Should you lug kerosene and a lighter (in Jill's case) with you in order to incinerate slain zombies, thereby preventing them from rising again as the tougher and infinitely more terrifying Crimson Heads? Your issues with the inventory system sound like yours and yours alone. (Protip: never, EVER carry an ink ribbon. Why would you? Every save room has an item box, so when you want to save, retrieve the ribbon from the box, save your game, then put the ink ribbon back.)

      3. Script, Voice-acting, and Writing. Again, the cheesiness of the voice-acting and script, and the plainness of the item descriptions, is by design. Resident Evil was inspired by B-horror movies; it's not exactly Chaucer, and it's not meant to be. In regards to item descriptions, you are meant to probe deeper into each item yourself by rotating its 3D model and examining further to root out secret compartments and switches.

      Ultimately, Resident Evil HD is not a remake. It's a port of a 13-year-old game. What you see is what you get. Unless Capcom promoted it as a remake, it would be silly to expect more.

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        January 19, 2015 8:29 AM

        Expanding on my first point: auto-aim solves the problem of camera angles occasionally hiding a zombie. As soon as you step into a room, you should hold the trigger and watch to see if your character targets an enemy. If your character DOES NOT target an enemy, there is no enemy nearby, and you can move around freely, at least until you round the corner.

        This is survival horror, son! Use the tools given to you!

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        January 19, 2015 9:39 AM

        1. I didn't notice the gun automatically targeting zombies. I guess in my complete terror of being attacked by a zombie, I didn't realize it. Still, performing a headshot or shooting at zombies coming from above or below you is still pretty difficult with the lack of a proper aiming mechanic. I'm obviously not a developer, but would it really be that difficult to actually support analog sticks at this point?

        2. While I acknowledge inventory management is one aspect of RE that's integral, it still makes things really difficult. Like I said, I know I've been spoiled with inventory systems of modern-day games, and that probably made my experience with RE that much more unpleasant.

        3. I actually enjoyed some games with B-movie aspects. The House of the Dead Overkill and Dead Island are two that come to mind right now. RE feels more like a D movie, if there's such a thing.

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          January 19, 2015 11:13 AM

          Dead Island was terrible Daniel, what have you been smoking? :P

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            January 19, 2015 11:38 AM

            Huh? Dead Island is awesome.

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              January 19, 2015 11:39 AM

              I don't know. I just wasn't a huge fan of it after I played it for a while. Was too repetitive and stuff.

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              January 19, 2015 11:45 AM

              Awesomely horrible

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              January 19, 2015 1:07 PM

              Dead Island was indeed awesome.

              • rms
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                January 19, 2015 6:46 PM

                The polar reactions to DI are fascinating. I thought it was magnificent.

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      January 19, 2015 8:53 AM

      you just committed Shackreligious Shackicide

      I agree with you tho, I've never been able to get into the first one because the controls and inventory are so nutsack; felt that way on PS1 20 years ago, wasn't expecting it to be different on PS4

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        January 19, 2015 9:07 AM

        This isn't a port of the original. It's a port of the remake released in 2002, which addressed practically every complaint critics had about RE1 when it came out on PlayStation. You really should try this version.

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          January 19, 2015 9:17 AM

          I didn't play the gamecube remakes; I'll probably pick it up when it's <$10, I generally like your advice

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        January 19, 2015 9:16 AM

        Yea - I know how much most Shackers have been looking forward to RE HD, but I had to stay true to my personal opinion about this game. And to be honest, I'm not the only one on staff that didn't like this remake.

        As a reminder, this is my own opinion of the game. If you enjoyed RE, especially the GameCube remake, then you'll probably enjoy this.

        I don't know how, but hey, to each their own.

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          January 19, 2015 11:30 AM

          Stop calling it a remake. It's a port of a port. Everything you're complaining about is from 1996, back when this type of game really didn't even exist. There was no pre-established design or concept.

          Everything you're complaining about is what made the game what it was back then and made the series as popular as it is.

          It was a hard unforgiving game with dialogue meant to be cheesy and even literally lost in the translation from japanese to english.

          You were forced to make decisions and wern't even meant to mow down every zombie you came across. Even back then there were tons of players who didn't dig the mechanics/brutality but for those of us that did, we loved it and it went on to create an entire genre much like the Souls games are doing today.

          Yes the aiming always sucked but they did improve on it in the port you played but apparently you didnt even spend the time to figure that out or even read about in the manual or online. It's not like it was a hidden thing. Which to me means you just wanted to diddle with it enough to write a short review which comes across as more of a 1st impression review after farting around for a couple hours.

          Trying to hold this port up to modern day console games is laughable to me. Especially when you think about why the last couple of RE games have been bashed for being turned into run and gun shooters and not survival horror anymore.


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      January 19, 2015 8:59 AM

      Stopped right here, "because the original Resident Evil is such a terrible game in hindsight." and closed the browser tab.

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        January 19, 2015 9:03 AM

        Yeah... Much as I like Daniel, his write-up didn't come across as objective.

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          January 19, 2015 9:26 AM

          There's a compliment in there somewhere. :)

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            January 19, 2015 9:38 AM

            The first clause of the first complete sentence. :)

            Again, I feel your write-up (I won't call it a review because you didn't) overlooked key points. You might consider addressing them, because without them, it sounds like you didn't spend much time with the game.

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        January 19, 2015 9:11 AM

        Exactly.

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        January 19, 2015 9:17 AM

        I agree with all of his points, but it was a pretty rubbish review :(

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        January 19, 2015 4:24 PM

        That line made me look up this clip http://youtu.be/X0Q93v7hGZA
        Then decided not to post it in response to the whole article.
        But I went to all that trouble to find the clip so goddamn it Imma post it somewhere and here's as good as anywhere else!

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        January 19, 2015 6:44 PM

        I think he meant that it didn't hold up well. It was a great game for it's time, which is why it's been revisited so much.

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      January 19, 2015 9:36 AM

      only thing this review is missing is a picture showing where RE HD touched you

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      January 19, 2015 10:44 AM

      You don't sound like someone who enjoys the genre in the first place. I thought the game was and still is excellent. I don't even care about the auto aim improvements.

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        January 19, 2015 1:34 PM

        I actually do enjoy the genre. I like Resident Evil 2 and 4 the most out of the entire series. Although, now that I think about it, I didn't enjoy The Evil Within either.

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      January 19, 2015 10:47 AM

      Even the memory of Dr. King is not going to be able to save Daniel from this continued Shack piling.

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      January 19, 2015 10:58 AM

      You probably could've been a bit more tactful seeing as how it's a 19 year old game and HD remakes tend to be shallow in terms of new/improved features. I realize it's a remake (PC) of a remake (GCN) of an original (PS1) but it's kinda like comparing Combat for the Atari 2600 to Battlefield 4. Resident Evil in '96 was pretty cutting edge for its time. To put things in perspective: 1996 was the year Duke Nukem 3D and Super Mario 64 came out. Games have changed *a lot* since then and I'd expect a remake of a game that's 19 years old to show some signs of age no matter how many coats of paint are slapped on it.

      Still, I get what you're going for in the article and I'm sure this game will appeal to the RE fanboys seeing as how the series

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        January 19, 2015 10:59 AM

        Also: Not shackpiling. Just some constructive criticism. I probably wouldn't pick it up anyway because RE2 was the best one (imo) before RE4 came out.

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          January 19, 2015 12:58 PM

          TIL "shackpiling"

          On the subject.. I wouldn't mind giving it a shot, just out of curiosity, but im not really considering playing through the same game again. I've spent enough time with the PS1/GC versions.

          It's the same game.. Not that I was expecting anything else.

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      January 19, 2015 12:57 PM

      Really looking forward to it, will be playing it on the PC tonight.

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        January 19, 2015 1:21 PM

        I'm deliberating between the PC and PS4 versions. Not that I expect much difference.

        Can't wait to re-live "the mansion incident!" :D

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          January 19, 2015 3:39 PM

          100% PC and I will tell you why : * for starters the consoles run @ 30fps :( *

          - PC 60fps+ unlocked
          - 16AF consoles have it limited to 4 - 8
          - AA any level you want consoles have limited AA
          - Set your color saturation etc to what ever setting you want from your graphics card control panel
          - Vsync and triple buffering is only on the PC
          - SSD loading times not available on the consoles

          \m/

          Totally man I can not wait I only played the PS1 version and missed the GameCube version so I will be going in fresh I don't remember much from the PS1 so it will be practically like a new run I am looking froward to it.

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            January 19, 2015 4:32 PM

            - SSD loading times not available on the consoles

            What?

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              January 19, 2015 5:35 PM

              If you put the fastest SSD in you PS4 it will not compare to a PC in the case when you have the fastest STA3 SSD or RAID0 trhe fastest SSDs OR use a RAM disk or SATA Express drive or the king a M.2.

              Basically you can never achieve the loading times that a PC can achieve on the current consoles even with a SSD upgrade in the PS4 case.

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                January 19, 2015 5:38 PM

                Good thing you have that door opening animation not bottle necking you in anyway... oh wait.

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                  January 19, 2015 6:23 PM

                  yeah, that's the thing, literally none of those reason valcan listed matter at all, it's not a fast paced game, and all the backgrounds are prerendered so who gives a flying fuck about any of that at all?

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                    January 19, 2015 8:14 PM

                    Sorry kid, you are too young to understand

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                January 19, 2015 5:39 PM

                Certainly true but you can significantly reduce poor load times in the PS4 (and surprisingly the XBO) by replacing the disk with an SSD.

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                  January 19, 2015 5:57 PM

                  For sure, it makes a big diff just not a PC diff, but for most it is over kill at that point.

                  Really the loading times are not that bad to begin with it is just a reason if you are undecided and have not modded you console and need to make a decision on a certain version really.

                  I think for the 60fps alone on the PC would be worth it over everything else personally.

                  Which version did you get?

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            January 19, 2015 6:24 PM

            Does 30 fps really matter in the context of a 13-year-old game, though? RE's getting the HD treatment, but under all those layers of paint, it's still a GameCube game.

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            January 19, 2015 7:28 PM

            ah, if you missed the GC version then deff. check it out. It's so much better than the default PS1 game imo. + they added a few new effects and things in this new remake to make it look even better (aside from the resi texture/bump)

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          January 19, 2015 4:37 PM

          Pc, plus if you preorder, you get an artbook and soundtrack

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      January 19, 2015 1:54 PM

      I shall contribute to this Shackpile!

      As others have said, I dunno what you were expecting dude. It's a port of the Remake of RE1, not a remake of the REmake, as it were. And all everyone expected was the REmake ported to the PC with modern stuff but no actual gameplay changes or anything. We weren't expecting a new game, so why were you?

      Again, as others have said, most of your criticisms of the game are part of what makes it so fun (limited inventory, less focus on combat). David Craddock's wonderful post hits pretty much everything I could say really as a response. The "enter a room and turn and hit auto-aim a bunch to see if there's any enemies around", the "don't carry ink ribbons because there's no need", stuff like that.

      I said in a thread this weekend that I dislike RE4 and what came after it because they changed it from a survival horror series to an action-y run and gun kinda series..and I think it's a bit unfair to judge an (enhanced) port of a 13 year old remake of a (now) 19 year old game (then a 6 year old game) against standards set by games that came after it. This is a time capsule piece, a historical touch-up, not a brand new excursion into the genre. And it's unfair to critique it as that was it's supposed to be, because that was never Capcom's intention with this port/RErelease. (See what I did there? ;))

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        January 19, 2015 2:44 PM

        Man, RE4 is a masterpiece. It's just the right balance.

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          January 19, 2015 3:54 PM

          It`s good

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          January 19, 2015 6:49 PM

          I think it's absolute shit, from the camera to the changed combat mechanics to the overall theme shift into being an action game rather than a survival horror game and a number of other things as well. As I said then, I know I'm in a minority and everyone loves RE4, but I think it's absolute shit and the start of a new series that is Resident Evil in name only. The last "real" RE game was Code: Veronica.

          I know, I'm in the minority. But I'll shit on RE4 as often as I can shit on FFVII, which is to say every chance I get.

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      January 19, 2015 5:20 PM

      The don't get the criticism for the limited inventory. Neither Jill or Chris are carrying big backpacks, so carrying everything would be ridiculous.

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      January 19, 2015 6:21 PM

      It seems to me that PS1 games have aged very poorly

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        January 19, 2015 6:25 PM

        This is an HD port of the GameCube game released in 2002, not the PS1 game released in 1996.

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          January 19, 2015 6:46 PM

          Although it would be fun if they did include the original (or the Director's Cut? The Dual Analog version? RE1 had almost as many versions as SF2 had) just for shits and giggles.

          Part of me wants to play the original original, huge janky polygons, bad FMV opening and terrible voice acting. It woulda been cool had they included it somehow in this RErelease.

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            January 19, 2015 7:33 PM

            If you have a DS or 3DS, you should get a copy of Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (Resident Evil: DS. Get it?!) It includes the director's cut, plus a remixed version with new puzzles and sections that make use of the touchscreen. It's excellent, and perfect for vets who want to go back to the original game but want new puzzles and challenges to conquer.

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          January 19, 2015 6:54 PM

          I know, its just seeing all the speedruns of old games lately made me realize how few of them are still being played vs other consoles

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      January 19, 2015 10:31 PM

      Jill Valentine looks like Kate Beckett from Castle.

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        January 20, 2015 4:35 PM

        I hadn't really noticed that before but I think I see what you're seeing.

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      January 20, 2015 12:02 AM

      I'm sorry but the only thing that stuck in my head out of that whole article was you crying about your lack of inventory space. Did you not play the original and if so you must have bitched then as well.

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      January 20, 2015 12:41 AM

      Haha the PS4 version as the same gamecube issue of freezing right before camera transitions.