Game review: Resident Evil remake - still wicked after 19 years

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 January, 2015, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 February, 2015, 12:14am

Resident Evil

Some classics never die. The original Resident Evil is a frightening masterpiece, an iconic game that debuted on PCs in 1996 and all but created the survival horror genre. Nearly two decades later, the series is still lumbering along zombie-like through inferior sequels and spinoffs, never managing to regain its initially startling composure.

It's little surprise that developer Capcom has bestowed upon us another remake of the never-bested original. Available on the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC, this edition is in fact a remake of a remake, and obsessive fans will recall the then-impressive 2002 Gamecube update of the game.

The Nintendo exclusive came at a time when remakes were a rare occurrence in the game world, made all the more impressive that it was fully spearheaded by Evil's original architect, Shinji Mikami.

The appropriated concept was kept intact, where a team of cops encounter zombie attacks in a haunted mansion, but the Gamecube edition was no mere graphical update.

It broke down the already-pioneering game to its very core. Gameplay mechanics were rebuilt from the ground up, with a fresh focus on resource management, new areas to explore and borrowed elements from the other sequels. There was also a complete overhaul of the surface-level details, with inspired B-movie visuals and sound.

The remake was a stunning success, and the developers have rightly decided to leave it basically intact, alongside a heavy spit-shine and modern additions.

As expected, this next-gen edition looks and sounds fantastic: enhanced high-definition graphics mean that the oft-imitated movie-like visuals are as close to reality as possible for a game, while the soundtrack and dialogue still alternate between hauntingly atmospheric and irresistibly cheesy.

Visually, there are purist options to switch between modern 16:9 and retro 4:3 ratios, as well as classic 30 frames or super-sheened 60 frames per second. But more satisfying is the control choice: one of the franchise's issues has always been the frustrating, fractured camera angles and movements. Here, you're given the traditional but outdated "tank-style" approach, alongside a modern, direct control system.

Considering the weak state of survival horror, with even Mikami dropping the ball with last year's The Evil Within, the remake of Resident Evil is a minor revelation - especially at just HK$160 a download.