Resident Evil HD Remaster: Back from the undead

February 5, 2015


Whenever an HD remaster is announced, certain things flow through your head. Will it play exactly as you remember it? Does the story live up to today’s standards? Has the way the developer looked at a game changed over time? Considering the state of affairs with the Resident Evil series, you find yourself asking these questions way too often. Cameras that (kind of) work? Action over tension? Co-op? Gratuitous amounts of ammo and inventory space? Back in 1996, these were probably the furthest things from any Resident Evil fan’s mind, but for better or worse, the series has survived six main numbered games and a number of spin-offs.

With Resident Evil HD Remaster serving as an upgrade to the 2002 remake, was it worth revisiting this entry for a third time?

Resident Evil puts you in control of either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, members of the an elite task force called S.T.A.R.S., the Special Tactics And Rescue Squad. After being ambushed in a forest where the team was investigating the disappearance of the Bravo team, you find yourselves trapped in a mansion that the team took refuge in that was believed to be abandoned. The protagonists soon find that this mansion holds a darker secret than any of them had ever imagined.


At its core, this game is still very much the Resident Evil that we’ve grown to love and miss. The intense atmosphere and the constant need to manage your inventory, as well as solving puzzles strewn throughout the mansion, made players think hard about the next course of action. Save points were limited by the amount of Ink Ribbons you had. And to add more danger to the situation, the 2002 release introduced zombies that come back to life stronger if you don’t dispose of them properly. Collectively, it added an additional sense of difficulty along with just trying to survive.

Since this is another release of a game that had received its “HD” remake in a time before high-definition graphics were a thing, several things were added to keep them in line with modern-day titles. The game’s already-gorgeous (yet creepy) atmosphere is presented in 1080p and allows players to choose between a widescreen 16:9 option or the game’s original 4:3 ratio. Character models and environments have been enhanced to bring out the most for this release. The widescreen option is unable to show everything in a given scene at once, so traveling up and down the screen causes the camera to pan with the character’s movement. The 4:3 setting doesn’t suffer from this problem, so it becomes an issue of whether or not you can deal with seeing less at the price of utilizing your entire screen.


Giving the game the modern-day third-person treatment, a new control scheme allows players to move our protagonists in the direction the analog stick is being pointed. Ultimately, it does make traversing the mansion a lot easier, but the constantly changing screens force you readjust your controls at a moment’s notice. Of course, if you’re a purist of the series, the game’s original tank controls are still very much available. If you’re just in it for the story, the game introduces an easier difficulty that makes healing items and ammo more widely available and enemies weaker.

Resident Evil HD Remaster is a reminder of what the series was like before Resident Evil 4 and 5 dramatically changed what it’s like to play. The modern controls and the touched-up 13-year-old visuals make it easy for any to jump in and rediscover what made the first game so special.

Pros: Gorgeous visuals, classic survival-horror
Cons: Occasional graphical issues

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.