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The greatest horror game of all time REturns from the dead

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    Resident Evil HD Remaster

    Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding

    The greatest horror game of all time REturns from the dead

    Resident Evil HD Remaster is like a dream come true for fans of the franchise. Yes, we’ve already visited the infamous Spencer Mansion multiple times already; in the release of the original game in 1996, in the Director’s Cut version, in the GameCube remake, in the handheld Deadly Silence game, in the Wii port of the remake, and in light-gun form during Umbrella Chronicles in the Wii as well. However, this HD Remaster breathes new life into this game and makes it better than it ever has been before. As far as I’m concerned, Resident Evil HD Remaster is the definitive classic survival-horror Resident Evil experience.

    Resident Evil HD Remaster’s biggest improvement comes in the form much better controls. There’s still the option of using the old tank movement, but two seconds with the new control scheme will make it impossible to ever go back. It’s smooth, responsive, and prevents you from making Jill and Chris run head-first into walls constantly. It’s such a huge improvement that it almost makes this feel like a brand new game.

    So right away, a common detraction of the game back when it originally released on the GameCube, the tank control scheme, is made irrelevant. The new control scheme is not the only improvement from the original title, and I will touch on the many other tweaks Capcom has made throughout the course of this review.

    This game is a classic survival-horror title through and through. Honestly, it’s quite possibly the best representation of the genre possible. It features all the genre’s hallmarks, such as puzzle solving, atmosphere-building, horrifying imagery, blood and gore, jump cares, and inventory management. If someone ever asks, "What’s a survival-horror game?", they need to be immediately directed to Resident Evil HD Remaster.

    The entirety of the original game is intact in this version. Players choose between Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, and then attempt to survive the night in the terrifying Spencer Mansion, which itself is located on the outskirts of Raccoon City.

    There are fundamental differences between Jill’s campaign and Chris’s campaign. While they are largely the same in many respects, some differences include the characters they interact with, different solutions for problems in the game, and there are scenes that are exclusive to one campaign. There are even multiple paths through each of the campaigns as well, and I almost always notice something new whenever I play through this survival-horror classic.

    The gameplay is exactly as fans will remember it, except it controls much better and is just overall, much, much better. Players solve puzzles, battle the zombies and other creatures in the mansion, and simply try to survive. Discovering the mystery behind the Spencer Mansion is still thrilling to this day, even for someone like myself that knows every plot twist and has thoroughly explored all the nooks and crannies of the house many times over.

    Due to the improved controls, Resident Evil HD Remaster is much easier than the GameCube version of the game or even the Wii version. There’s an easier difficulty mode as well. However, I would still consider the game much tougher and less forgiving than most modern video games. The ink ribbon save system means that there is a limited amount of times in the game that you can save, and there are no checkpoints; die, and it’s back to the last save point. Limited ammo and healing items combined with enemies capable of killing you in a single hit makes Resident Evil HD Remaster a significant challenge.

    Resident Evil HD Remaster begins with the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team investigating the disappearance of their comrades, the Bravo Team. S.T.A.R.S. is an elite police force that is stationed in Raccoon City, Colorado and used for especially dangerous cases and circumstances. Cannibal attacks have been reported in the area, and so the disappearance of the Bravo Team is even more distressing.

    While investigating the downed helicopter of the Bravo Team, the members of the Alpha Team (among them, Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, Albert Wesker, Joseph Forst, and Brad Vickers) are attacked by zombie dogs and forced to retreat into the nearby mansion. From there, the story of the game unravels like an excellent, pulpy mystery novel, with a dash of corporate conspiracy thrown in for good measure.

    The dialogue has been drastically improved from the original PlayStation game. Whereas that game is notoriously corny, the remake goes for a more grounded, scarier horror experience. The characters speak more like actual people, and while the game’s plot is still fairly cheesy, these improvements make the story much easier to invest in, and the characters are much easier to relate to than before.

    The game seems fairly linear, but there are various events that can alter the course of the plot, resulting in a variety of different potential endings. Certain characters can live or die based on player actions, and certain plot developments may or may not arise based on a variety of factors. This keeps the story interesting for each playthrough, as Resident Evil HD Remaster is a game that is designed to be played through over and over again without getting boring. It partly achieves this with its storytelling methods and offering players reasons to attempt to play the game in different ways to see how it can change the story and influence the characters that are a part of the story.

    The GameCube version of this game is still a knockout to this day in terms of looks. It has remained one of the better looking video games of all time, but Resident Evil HD Remaster takes those graphics a step forward. Everything looks crisp and gorgeous. There’s a high level of detail in the character models as well as in the environment. The camera angles are the real star of the show, though. The fixed camera angles sometimes cause annoyance during tough combat situations, but I wouldn’t remove them because they add such beauty and cinematic flair to the whole experience. There are slight pans with the camera angles that have been added and other little touches like that to create an even better atmosphere than ever before.

    Voice acting is superb, and the music is second to none. The sound effects combined with the music and the brilliant camera work all help to create an unrelenting atmosphere of horror like few other games are able to conjure.

    My only gripe (and this is really one of the only knocks I have on the game at all but it’s a pretty glaring issue) about the visuals is that they didn’t update some scenes. There are these short little sequences every so often throughout the game that look like they were pulled from the PlayStation 1 version. They are incredibly ugly, pixelated to hell, and I’m not sure I’d be able to tell what was going on if I didn’t already know from having played the game a million times before. It’s strange that there’s such an oversight like this as the rest of the game looks great and they obviously made an effort to improve the graphics in every other possible area.

    If it’s your first time playing through the game, then expect to spend anywhere between 15 and 20 hours exploring the mansion. After that, there’s still playing through as the other character, unlocking alternate costumes, and going through the game on different difficulty settings and in different modes. There’s even a mode that you can unlock that makes all the enemies invisible. On top of that, there’s a variety of achievements to unlock that challenge you to complete the game in different ways, such as playing through the entire game without saving or using only your knife to fight the enemies. If you get skilled enough, you can beat the game in under three or five hours to unlock new weapons. As you can tell, there’s a whole hell of a lot to do before it’s time to put this one back up on your digital shelf, and due to the high challenge and absolutely brilliant game design, playing through the game over and over again never even gets close to boring.

    Resident Evil HD Remaster is the best survival-horror game ever made. It’s the best representation of the genre, and it is a good argument to revive these types of games properly. I highly recommend that everyone play this as it is a true gaming classic. Spend some time in the Spencer Mansion and you will be craving for more, even after unlocking every achievement and spending countless hours roaming the halls. But don’t go into it thinking you’ll be safe. Because if you do, you’ll be wrong.

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