After outings on the GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Wii, Resident Evil 4 finds life yet again on new platforms, this time in HD as a downloadable title on PSN and XBLA. While it’s mostly intact with all of the additional content of its subsequent re-releases, this modern update of the classic game still feels a bit lacking.
The biggest issue with RE4HD is the controls. Sure, you can play with the original control scheme for the PS2, and they even included a slightly more contemporary control scheme that emulates other console shooters’. However, the new control scheme doesn’t go far enough, and will still feel alien to gamers accustomed to the dual-stick trigger-button combo found in practically every recent shooter.
For example, the left stick is used for both movement and aiming the reticle, while the right stick can only shift the camera around when you’re not precision aiming. Even though you can’t move while aiming, a concession of eastern game design that I am willing to overlook due to the game’s age, forcing the player to line up headshots with the same input used to run away from the infected feels awkward and makes the controls feel imbalanced… Like your right hand doesn’t have enough to keep it busy while your left hand works overtime.
I’ll admit it: I first played Resident Evil 4 on the Nintendo Wii, which had its own unique control scheme to capitalize on the motion controller craze of the time, and I felt that it was a strong example of the great potential for engaging motion controls – a potential that was sadly not lived up to by the Wii’s library or its competitive successors’. Either way, using the Wii remote to pick off Las Plagas was fun and felt fairly natural. Why then, does RE4HD not support PlayStation 3’s Move controller, which is essentially a more powerful Wii remote?
Issues such as the controls, ugly textures, framerate slowdown and standard-definition pre-rendered videos are all evidence that this is a lazy port. If this was being handled by any company other than Capcom, I might have held out hope that it would be updated in the future to address these problems. Sadly, that is not the case, and it’s hard to recommend Resident Evil 4 HD at its $20 asking price, unless you’re already dead set on buying it anyway. If that’s the case, then you will definitely find the game itself and all its extra content a satisfying package. It’s just a shame that a game as great as RE4 didn’t receive the loving attention it deserves for a high-definition update.