Resident Evil 4 has been a rather polarizing entry in the Resident Evil franchise. Fans of the games released prior to the 4th game saw it as a departure from the traditional gameplay style of survival horror, where your character would face huge, intimidating environments which looked very familiar but had an eerie, unfamiliar feeling to them also. Moments were paced, atmospheric and built up to moments where you would face off with an undead monstrosity. Of course there were dynamic moments in the older games also but they still retained that horror “feeling”.
Others saw the game as a welcoming change of pace, with the action becoming much more raw and engaging where dynamic moments would occur more often and where the enemies would just line up in massive groups to rip you to shreds. Environments we're smaller and crowded, which gave the impression that you we're trapped with nowhere to run from the many horrors that would confront you. In any case Resident Evil 4 received critical acclaim for many video game sites and publications and was successful on all platforms it was released on. Nevertheless there was one version that didn't fare as well as it did on the other ones and that was the PC version. The PC version contained low quality cutscenes, no mouse support and graphical glitches. Capcom has finally rectified this problem with the newest version of Resident Evil 4: the Ultimate Edition. With a host of new features tailored especially for PC gamers, Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition looks to be the definitive version of this controversial yet hugely enjoyable title.
Six years have passed since the disastrous events of Raccoon City. Leon S. Kennedy, a survivor of the outbreak now works for the U.S. Government and is charged with finding the President's daughter. His mission takes him to a village where the inhabitants have become psychotic killers. Leon must now hurry to find and rescue the President's daughter while fending off the deranged villagers along with other monstrosities and find out who is behind this catastrophe.
Like most other HD remakes, RE4: UHD is identical to the original version. You control Leon through a third-person perspective and help him fight through the village and other harrowing environments against increasingly monstrous enemies. You'll start off with a handgun and a combat knife to defend yourself with but later you'll find better weapons to fight back against the monstrosities including shotguns, machine guns, grenades and more.
The game also brings the inventory system from it's predecessors where you can access weapons, healing items, files which help unravel what's going and the map to help get around the environment. You can also combine items in the inventory screen and create new items such as more potent healing herbs and upgraded weapons. Once again you have limited space in your inventory and you must be prepared to sacrifice your favourite gun in order to stock up on important items such as healing items and more ammunition. Luckily, for an act of patronage towards the merchant character with money you've collected, you're able to upgrade your inventory to accommodate more space, as well as buy new weapons and equipment to help you survive the onslaught.
Since you're heavily outnumbered even with fire-power at your disposal, you're able to use the environment to your advantage. You can gain higher ground by climbing stairs, ladders and climb onto rooftops where enemies will clumsily limber towards you upward, making them easy pickings for a hail of bullets or a couple of grenades. You can also use furniture to block the door, buying you more time to set up mine darts with your Mine Thrower or heal yourself. These mechanics open up a wealth of tactical advantages where you're able to plan ahead and en-kindle your survival instincts. The hunted becomes the hunter as the environments become your playground where you able to lure your prey into a guaranteed death-trap.
This new Ultimate Edition comes with many improvements made especially for PC. The game now runs at 60 frames per second in a 1080p format. The game's textures have been revamped and are now crisp and sharper than they've ever been, with highly detailed environments and character models. It's actually remarkable that a game that was released in 2005 still looks this good today. Keyboard and mouse controls are now fully supported and as the game is on Steam there are achievements, cloud-saves and trading cards included. The mini-expansion “Separate Ways” where you play as Ada Wong is also included with the ultimate version. All these new improvements and additional content means that this version of RE4 is the most feature-rich and most improved version available.
The environments are nicely varied from the decrepit village to underground ruins all containing psychotic killers and mutant beasts ready to fulfil their murderous instincts and as mentioned earlier they are designed like tunnels or small arenas which give the impression that you're trapped with whatever predator comes your way. The sound-production is still very solid and effective even by today's standards. Weapons resonate powerful gun-blasts, the atmospheric and intense soundtrack sets the mood for a grisly and daunting action-packed journey. The “b movie” voice acting gives the game a rather bizarre yet charming perk with Leon's cheesy one-liners and other badly-written lines of dialogue from other characters. Resident Evil 4's graphical and sound production was of high quality back when it was released and with this ultimate HD remake, the game is still able to hold up very well today.
Resident Evil 4 has still got it in terms of graphics, sound design and gameplay. Resident Evil 4 is still as fun and action-packed as is was before and the HD facelift has helped this game hold up well visually. Even so RE4: UHD brings some of the annoying faults that the original had along with a few problems of it's own.
Right now there are a few technical problems with RE4: UHD. There's some annoying glitches in the game such as shadows and reflections flickering. Also some of the textures in the game haven't been converted which makes them look out of place next to the newer textures. What's even more annoying is that the pre-rendered cutscenes for Separate Ways still uses Playstation 2 cutscenes which look old and spoils how the rest of the game looks.
The quick time events you come across in the game hamper much of the enjoyment. It's never fun to know that the effort you put into getting to a point prior to a QTE is decided by the timing of just one button press and even less so when you miss the cue and have to try again. The enemy AI isn't the brightest you'll ever fight with. They'll simply continue to limp towards you as you fill them will bullets. They never seem to change their attack pattern or use a different strategy even when their at a disadvantage such as your character attaining higher ground or your character having much more fire-power, but then again you can't really expect much from insane, mindless killers.
Out of all the versions of Resident Evil 4, this ultimate HD version is hands-down the best of them all as it looks better than the others, runs much better and includes far more improvements. Even after 9 years, Resident Evil 4 is still able to bring raw, frantic action and give players an intense rollercoaster ride though a perilous and incredibly hostile environment. If you feel nostalgic and wish to play this game after a long time or if this is your first time giving the game a shot, then grab the Ultimate Edition of Resident Evil 4 and find out why this game even after such a long time, has still got it.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition for the PC provided by Capcom.