The original survival horror brand is back and for once we're not rolling our eyes at another HD makeover. Rather than an unnecessary PS4 port of Resi 5 or 6, this is a HD makeover of the 2002 GameCube exclusive remake of the 1996 PS1 Resident Evil. For those of you yet to play the GC version, this will be a remarkable experience if you enjoyed the original game.
The remake was extremely faithful to the original, meaning lots of fixed camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds. There's no need to worry about the dated 'tank' controls as there's an option to switch to modern analogue movement rather than having to spin on the spot before moving. The different camera angles as you move onto a new screen can still have disastrous results that see you accidentally turn around and run straight back into a zombie's bitey embrace though.
Depending what difficulty you choose will affect how conservative with your ammo you are. Although it makes sense to save ammo when you can run past a zombie that you know will keep coming back later. The game is notably tougher than you'll remember if you're coming from the PS1 game thanks to the inclusion of Crimson Head zombies that reappear in older areas if you don’t burn corpses and they move much faster than their shuffling forebears. Defensive items like knives and tasers can be used to retaliate against bite attacks, ensuring that you're not as reliant on green herbs or health sprays.
Gun combat is still quite clunky and not being able to manually go for headshots can make body shots feel wasteful. But the emphasis on just doing enough to get through areas is a part of the game's DNA that we fell in love with all those years ago. Compare it with the shooters stylings of modern entries in the series and it’s easy to see where the series started to go wrong. That said, the Revelations titles seem to be trying to steer the series back towards its roots.
Some parts of the game appear very dated though, especially the inventory system. Playing as Jill gives you eight item slots, making her the clear choice over Chris, who can only carry six. Considering your pistol and ammo takes up two slots, a health item another and maybe one for the ink ribbons essential for saving your game and it doesn't take long before the game descends into an inventory management sim. You can end up carrying an item like a crest of jewel around for hours in the hope of finding where it's used and you'll often find new things, but can't pick them up as your pack is full. Items cannot be dropped either.
The series' magic chests are incredibly useful for storing items, as they magically appear in other storage chests in different locations. There aren't many of them though and you'll have to endure a lot of back and forth as you ferry items around the mansion. If you've never played Resi 1 at all, it could really test your patience by modern standards, but I'd still urge you to give this remaster a go, especially if you've enjoyed any of the recent Revelations titles, the Evil Within or even titles like Dark Souls.
The puzzles aren't particularly taxing, but examining items in your stash for clues or hidden switches feels incredibly rewarding. The updated map is useful too as a room or corridor will be coloured red until you've picked up all the items or interacted with the right element - although it staying red because you've left some herbs there can be annoying if you're at a loss of what to do next. As tempting as it is too go online for help, you're going to get so much more from the game if you just stick with it. Finally finding a key to all those doors with a specific emblem on them is a fantastic feeling too.
The atmosphere is still more than capable of sending a chill down your spine and there were a few solid jump scares that still caught me out after all these years. I was prepared for the dogs, but not the tentacles or that spider. So gross. Trying to run away from a shark was hilarious and terrifying in equal measure though. So much of the action is ridiculous, but in fun ways that the series seems to have all but forgotten.
There are some downsides to the game worth mentioning. The lack of an auto save and the distances between save stations can see you going long periods without saving, making any death particularly heartbreaking. So be prepared to break up your rhythm with lots of treks to make a save.
The character animations have held up well, but the pre-rendered backgrounds are occasionally a little fuzzy to behold. The FMV movie sequences don't appear to have had any remastering at all and are a garish stain on an otherwise polished product. As a PS4 download, this weighs in at a bloated 15GB, which is insanely large for a game made up of pre-rendered backgrounds. I don't think Jill's new boob-jiggle mechanic is using that much data either.
A £15.99 asking price initially appears a bit steep, especially if you have the GC version, but if you don't, this is more than worth a look as you can expect to get between five and eight hours of play, depending on how often you're tempted to peek online for help.
- Still Scary
- Rewarding puzzles and action
- Movement improved over original
- Tiny inventory
- Manual saves. I don't miss you.
- Pre-rendered backgrounds can be a bit fuzzy
The Short Version: This HD remaster of a remake is a remarkable homage to the original survival horror masterpiece to be enjoyed by fans of the original PS1 game, the GameCube remake or even complete newbs. Some of the mechanics like the dated inventory system can and will frustrate, but the overall journey is a rewarding one through one of gaming’s most important games. Can we finally have that remake of Resi 2 now please, Capcom?