The Resident Evil "REmake" is frequently offered as an example of just how fantastic the series was back in the day. With its stunning visuals, impressive additions, and less embarrassing opening cutscene, it's easy to forget that this enhanced version of the survival horror classic sold well under two million copies on the GameCube. However, now that Capcom's giving it a second shot – and on more than one platform – it may spell a resurgence for the popular update. But does it live up to its reputation – even over a decade later?
Like its original release, this PlayStation 4 REmake is a stunning recreation of the PSone original. With better textures and in 1080p, every detail of the game is on beautiful, clear display. Whether it's carpets that are just a little out of place – perhaps hinting at a struggle or a chase – or frayed wallpaper, it adds massively to the atmosphere of the already memorable mansion.
People and enemies have been cleaned up as well. They're not quite as human as the latest blockbuster or even last-gen comebacks like The Last of Us Remastered, but that's probably not a sensible expectation in the first place. Still, the textures on clothing and skin have definitely improved, but the slightly wide designs of the characters are exactly as you remember them.
This brings with it the good and the bad: Chris Redfield hasn't yet started his rock punching regime, and his body looks like that of, if you can imagine, a human being. On the other hand, animation can be more than a little dodgy at times, and perhaps it would have been nice to have this area polished up a little.
For relative newcomers to the series, both Chris and Jill Valentine have alternative costumes that bring them more up to date with later iterations of the franchise. Both boast BSAA uniforms, unlocked from the start, which actually look quite good, despite the agony that they may cause Resident Evil purists.
Unsurprisingly, these new costumes are entirely optional, as are all of the other extras that Capcom has crammed into this version. That means that the classic GameCube experience is present and correct – tank controls and all. With that said, the revised method of manoeuvring your main character vastly improves the experience.
Small updates, like being able to point your character in the direction of the analogue stick, add a little extra control in a world gone completely mad. Zombies can be quick and deadly, and being able to turn on the spot that much more quickly puts survival back into your hands; no longer can you blame terrible controls for a death. Shooting is still pretty imprecise, but anything more accurate would turn this into an action game, which it isn't supposed to be.
With the widescreen mode comes a scrolling camera. In the early parts of development, this was touted as a bonus feature, but it barely even registered to us. Perhaps that's just because fixed camera games are such a rarity today that this brings it more in line with our expectations, but the most important thing to say about this is that it doesn't distract from play or impede on the quality of the original game.
The exploration is still based upon fixed camera angles, however, and the usual issues with these apply. Point your analogue stick forward and move onto another screen and your character will turn in relation to where you're now pointing – sometimes in the completely opposite direction. This can be extremely annoying when you're being chased by something, and when it's not clear that the camera angle is going to change. If there's one thing that feels uncomfortable or dated, this is it – and it's difficult to fathom why it wasn't fixed.
There are also some other minor issues and glitches that were present in the original GameCube release. In the right shaped rooms, zombies can clip through walls and hit you regardless of what's in the way. This sort of thing is unlikely to bother someone who has been playing this game for nearly twenty years, but newcomers may be put off by how daft it looks.
The story and acting is still hilariously funny, too, although whether you think that this is a good thing or not will depend on how serious an experience you're expecting. Resident Evil is a title that only becomes goofier with time, but in our opinion, it's all the better for it; it has character and it doesn't take itself too seriously, which is more than can be said for more recent outings.
However, there are still things that are very scary. This is especially true in the PS4 REmake because of the 5.1 sound. This is fantastic – simply perfect. Capcom do more with utter silence than most games manage with a full orchestra and a dozen Hollywood a-listers. A few footsteps, a clap of thunder, and a low groan will be enough to send a shiver down your spine – even if a throwaway line or overly dramatic description is right around the corner to remind you that it's mostly just a parody.
Resident Evil has small issues here and there, and the silly writing and survival gameplay have never been for everybody, but these negatives don't change the fact that this is a fantastic release. The REmake is as enjoyable as ever, enhanced by small improvements that make it that much more playable, and the whole experience hints at just how great a new "classic" Resident Evil could be with today's technology behind it.