6 years ago, Resident Evil 4 revitalized not only the Resident Evil franchise, but the action-adventure genre as a whole. For Resident Evil, it meant the end of static camera views and tank controls, replaced by a buttery-smooth over-the-shoulder perspective that placed more emphasis on action while still maintaining a certain degree of traditional survival horror. The impact was no less profound on the action-adventure genre, which quickly replaced the tried-and-true centered camera for the slightly oblique view featured in everything from Dead Space to Batman: Arkham Asylum.
So now, 6 years later, Capcom has re-re-re-released Resident Evil 4 with the obligatory HD upgrade and polish to bring it to modern consoles. Is it worth the twenty bucks on what is technically its fourth platform?
To be honest, Resident Evil 4 HD feels, appropriately enough, like Resident Evil 4 always has. Once the initial shock of the HD graphics wear off—which ups the resolution of the game but not the polygon count on the models—it sinks in that Capcom did nothing else to bring it up to date. Ironically, the Wii version of the game, which debuted on inferior hardware, felt a bit more refreshing and new than this due to the motion controls. I can only imagine that playing this on the Playstation 3, whose Dualshock controller has remained unchanged since the Playstation 2 days, must be déjà vu with a new coat of paint. I played it on the Xbox 360, and it felt virtually unchanged from the Gamecube and PS2 versions except in the controller in my hands and the graphics on the screen.
However, that doesn't change the fact that Resident Evil 4 is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, an absolute classic. Playing the game is still satisfying, even if the gunplay mechanics feel a little clunky in the shadow of later games that improved upon them. The story is still intense and filled with twists and turns, and the first reveal of Las Plagas is still shockingly gruesome. Simply put, it's the same Resident Evil 4 you've known and loved since 2005.
If you've never played it before, Resident Evil 4 is a hell of a history lesson that still holds a lot of weight even today. If you've already faced off against Los Illuminados and lived to tell the tale, then you could probably take a pass.
Resident Evil 4 HD is available now on Xbox Live Games on Demand and the Playstation Network for $19.99.