This is a relatively bare-bones port of a fantastic game that offers just enough in the way of improvements to call itself the best version available.
There's no denying that Resident Evil 4 is a classic. The game, when it originally released in 2005, was met with almost universal praise and is widely considered one of the best games ever made. The praise wasn't seen from just the game press, however, but also from the fans of the series itself. Even in the face of a drastic style change over previous installments, many long-time vets of the franchise took to the title and what it had to offer. Let alone the large amount of new players that the game brought to the series. To this day it is looked at as one of the best, if not the best, in the series and I feel it deserves this label. Since its original release on the Gamecube, the title has found its way too many different platforms, including PC. While the original PC release for Resident Evil 4 was certainly less than stellar, gamers have always hoped for a worthwhile port of the game to eventually arrive on the platform. The question is, is that finally the case this time around?
The game follows the actions of Leon Kennedy, the cop-for-a-day protagonist from Resident Evil 2. Leon is now enlisted in what is essentially a shadow group under the President himself, tasked with looking into the disappearance of the President's daughter, Ashley Graham. Set in an unnamed location based in rural Europe (Capcom claims the game is based in Spain), Leon's investigation quickly turns into a search and rescue and a fight for survival against an army of indoctrinated villagers as well as things that are much, much worse.
Throughout the experience, you will guide Leon through depressing, though incredibly well realized and deeply atmospheric, environments scavenging for items, solving puzzles and, occasionally, holding off the rare undead or brainwashed Spaniard. All while in an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective. This was new to the franchise when the game first released and has been the way of the series since, moving away from the somewhat awkward and archaic movement and combat systems that the Resident Evil games, up to that point, were known for.
The game tells an interesting story but, as is true with almost all of my reviews, I speak of as little of the story as humanly possible. Story is one thing I feel truly needs to be experienced first-hand and any real look into it somewhat ruins it for anyone reading. What I can say is that throughout the game you will find yourself in some extremely tense situations, exploring some very unique locations, and left in the company of some truly interesting characters. Generally speaking, it's damn good.
Vague, yes, but that's how I do things.
That's enough about the game though. It has been almost a decade since the game's release and I would think anyone who was ever actually interested in this game has at least tried it in one form or another. This review really is meant to touch on the port itself and question whether or not it is worth the current asking price. Well, I can safely say that if you are already a long-time fan of the game, or if you are just trying out the game for the first time, this is certainly what I would consider the 'definitive' version of the game. If you are a hardcore PC gamer and like to keep your gaming experiences tied to your platform of choice as much as possible, you finally have a proper version of the game to play. While you can argue that the Wii version offers a lot to the title in the way of its controls (and I entirely agree), there is no doubt, from a technical standpoint, this is the version to get.
While versions of Resident Evil 4 HD originally appeared on the PS3 and 360 more than two years ago, now, having been brought over in the form of 'Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition' to the PC, gamers finally have the chance to experience the game in 1080p/60 fps right out of the box. This was doable with mods for the original PC release, though it still came with its own set of issues and, let's be honest, modding is still very much a hassle for the vast majority of players. Having a solid experience with little to no tweaking to the game is going to be a major plus for a lot of people. So, how good is the port? Well, to be honest, for a port of a game that is now almost ten years old, coming out more than two years after originally being released on console, I feel it's fair to say that Capcom pretty much did what was needed to justify bringing it over to PC and to label it the “Ultimate” edition. As I said earlier, this is the only version of the game to be found playing at 1080p/60 fps. There is no denying that is a major upgrade from what was seen with the console versions. Aside from that, however, there is little in the way of today's standard PC niceties that people very well now come to expect. The video options menu is rather barren, consisting of little more than resolution options, AA, shadow and texture quality and then options for post-precessing (I took to the default and setting number two, personally). Even as far as the AA options go, it seemed to blur the image a bit in the hopes of smoothing out jaggies, so I chose to go with AA options provided by my GPU itself. Cranked up, there was very little in the way of jaggies when playing in 1080p. Other than that, the promise of a “complete visual overhaul” comes in the form of some reworked, high-res textures that, honestly, more need to be pointed out than anything. They are very much cherry-picked and don't do a whole lot to improve the game's visuals, sadly. If the developers put the time in to rework the majority of the game's textures, it really would have made a huge difference. What we are left with, however, is more or less a PR selling point than the huge change it's sold as on the store page.
That said, I will hold to the fact that Resident Evil 4, as old as it is, is still a fairly good looking game. There is no denying that its age is showing, but the game still holds up to this day, which I feel says a lot.
As far as controls go, this is a huge improvement over the original PC release, featuring full mouse and keyboard control (ON PC!!!) as well as proper support for a 360 pad. While I would say both control schemes are more than serviceable, I did feel that aiming with the mouse was a bit floaty and not quite precise enough for my liking. With that being the case, I chose to stick with the 360 pad and I had absolutely no issues there. The game controls flawlessly with the controller and it's a simple plug-in and play sort of deal. The game allows you to rebind the controls when using the mouse and keyboard, which is nice. I did feel that the default controls were fine though. As for the controller, there is no way for you to rebind the controls yourself, but you are offered a number of different pre-sets and I felt they all worked well and served their purpose. So while there is no real issue with the way the controls are setup for a pad, I always appreciate the option to personalize the control scheme, especially considering I favored the 360 pad this time around. It's very much a minor issue though.
There's not much else to say here. This is a relatively bare-bones port of a fantastic game that offers just enough in the way of improvements to call itself the best version available. Close to a decade after its original release, good design proves to be good design and the game is still an engaging experience and a blast to play. While I am more than a little disappointed that Capcom didn't put the extra effort in to make it something truly special; putting the title to rest with a bang, it's still a solid port that warrants its cost and I definitely recommend checking it out. Just the fact that a proper retail version of the game is finally available on PC should be enough to get people excited. For me, it was just another excuse to delve into a great game.