Chances are you’ve played Resident Evil 4 about 194 times already. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this release but the fact is that even on a medium spec machine, which easily dominates the consoles this HD port was released on 2 years ago, the performance is going to be sub par.

I can’t explain why a game that runs at 1080p/60fps on a powerPC Xbox 360 machine runs like crap on a PC – obviously it’s the advanced FXAA and such – but it’s pretty ridiculous. Any time the particle effects become intense on the screen (So, basically, the entire last half of the game when you are being shot constantly and things are always exploding) your frame rate is going to drop into the single digits without at least a GeForce 7 series card.

This release accomplishes one thing, and that’s looking better than the original release – the port handled by Ubisoft back in 2005. All the textures are high-er res, but they are by no means HD. The only reason there’s an HD tacked on this game’s name is because it natively is meant to run at 16:9 resolutions, so at 720p and above it doesn’t look weird.

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Better yet, the game doesn’t even look noticeably better on PC at max graphics than it does on console. Other than that there are some occasional, weird glitches where if you use a controller, it will occasionally display the QTE prompt using the keyboard bindings instead of the controller, but that’s the only technical problem I ever encountered. It also lacks the option to adjust your controller sensitivity, but that isn’t a major problem that will stop you from beating the game.  As far as the game, it’s RE4. Same stuff that was all in the PS2 port except it actually looks the way it was supposed to (You know, remember the PS2 port, and the original PC port by Ubisoft – el terrible). RE4 Ultimate Edition comes with a PDF artbook and a 2-disc digital soundtrack, inherent controller support and the same achievements found on the console release.

The game only has 12 achievements, though. In comparison Resident Evil 5 has 70 achievements, though it was made 5 years after Resident Evil 4 and so better geared for the newer achievement-centric gaming of this decade.  I was honestly hoping for more, no matter how useless they may seem to some people. All of the same achievements from Resident Evil 5, more or less. I guess that maybe, because of the age of the game, it was hard to actually go in and implement event based achievements, rather than objective based achievements – for example killing an enemy a certain way, versus just completing a chapter. All of the achievements for RE4 are based on progress in the game. Beat a certain boss, beat the game, get all the bottlecap figures. Resident Evil 5 has these as well, but also has events – kill three zombies with a gas fire, kill a zombie with a transformer, kill a zombie with a rotten egg, etc. I will forgive Capcom and simply mark these off as a technological implausibility for the game. Except that even Assignment Ada and Separate Ways and Mercs don’t have achievements – which is a huge disappointment.

The game plays exactly the same as GC and PS2, as expected. Who would want it to play differently? . It may just be because it has been so long since the original, but I honestly find the game significantly harder than the original. This is also what makes the HD release so good – it is challenging and it is actually scary (as much as it can be when you’ve replayed it to death.)

This caused me to realize the actual reason Resident Evil 4 and 5 suck so bad on anything but the first play. The initial play-through of the game is like all other Resident Evils. You have no ammo, your guns suck, you are fighting 18 million zombies, and you have little health or health items. When you beat the game and play again, it’s easy. You have ammo, you have abundant herbs, and your guns destroy everything.

I think part of the reason I was so hesitant to buy this game is that I have no interest in it’s replay value. I’ve played and beat and unlocked everything in Resident Evil 4 so many times in the past 9 years that I can’t deal with it anymore – who cares? I literally only have this game because I sold my Gamecube, my friend lost my PS2 copy, and it has achievements – and playing the original on PC was unacceptable.

The HD release is basically, from what I can tell, a proper port of the GC game, which they have not done until now. The PS2 port looked awful, and the PC port was 100x worse than the PS2 port (funny, I know.) With mods the PC version had the ability to look good, if you could get them to work, and in some places looks better than this release. The textures basically look sharpened and cleaned up, as well as some of the camera work, but the game really is just the GameCube version with some higher resolution textures and slightly higher overall pixel resolution.

If you’re a collector or completionist, I’d get this game, but not because of what’s actually in the game already. No. Buy it for the promise of mods to come. Just like RE4 original PC release had a third party HD retexture project, so does this one. Here’s some in progress work.

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As you can see, the mod replaces the environmental textures with significantly higher quality textures than either the original game or the HD version of the game. The people behind this mod have literally travelled to the same locations Capcom did to take high quality source photos, and used the same sources, in order to reproduce the same textures again.

You can download the current build of the mod and see the continuing progress at their website here.

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