Two survival horror classics – remastered for a new generation
As a big fan of horror games, I have to say, the last few years have been nothing short of phenomenal. The Evil Within, Outlast, Until Dawn, Five Nights at Freddy’s―those are just some of the truly terrifying modern frights I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The icing on the cake though was when Capcom, who after years of giving us action-oriented Resident Evil games, went back-to-basics last January with the stellar remastered edition of the original Resident Evil.
Now, just one year later, we’re once again getting treated with a remastered version of an all-time classic horror game with Resident Evil 0. Not only that, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this historic franchise, Capcom has released a special physical disc compilation―the Resident Evil Origins Collection―containing the high-definition remastered editions of both Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0. This collection is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
With the Resident Evil Origins Collection, you’ll go back in time to relive the original survival horror masterpiece, Resident Evil, in addition to its critically acclaimed prequel, Resident Evil 0. Both games have received the full remastering treatment, featuring new high-resolution textures, 16:9 widescreen support (or play using the original 4:3 screen ratio), modernized controls (classic controls also available), and support for 5.1ch audio output. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Genre: Survival horror
ESRB Rating: M (Mature, 17+)
Resident Evil HD
Released in January 2015 as a digital release, Resident Evil HD is available for the first time on disc in the Resident Evil Origins Collection. Before I dive into what’s new, I should point out that this is a remastered version of the 2002 GameCube “remake” of Resident Evil, which introduced new gameplay elements, modified puzzles, extra environments to explore, and new story details. So, Resident Evil HD is technically a remaster of the remake of the original 1996 Resident Evil on PS1, as confusing as that may sound.
The story will take you back to 1998 to the now notorious Raccoon City incident involving reports of bizarre murders on the outskirts of the city. You can choose to play as either S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) Alpha Team member Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, who have been sent to investigate the disappearance of the Bravo Team. The rescue attempt soon turns into a nightmare when the group is confronted by savage, mutated dogs that attack with bloodthirsty rage, forcing Alpha Team to take shelter in a nearby mansion. Little do they know, even worse horrors await them inside.
As the game that coined the survival horror genre, the original Resident Evil intentionally imposed restrictive game design choices to make you feel tension and anxiety at all times. Cameras are placed in fixed positions to heighten the sense of confined space and isolation, ammo and healing herbs are in short supply, your character moves with stiff tank-like controls, and game saving uses a finite ink ribbon system. If you’re a purist and want to experience Resident Evil HD with its classic controls and brutal difficulty, you can, and for an even greater retro feel, you can switch to old school 4:3 aspect ratio.
For gamers who have never played the original Resident Evil, as well as those who have, but prefer the luxuries of modern game design, Capcom has introduced welcome new features in Resident Evil HD. For starters, you can switch to a gorgeous 16:9 widescreen mode and play the game with a contemporary, full-screen view on your high-definition TV. In this mode you will notice that top and bottom of the screen will be slightly cut off, but these areas will automatically scroll into view as your character moves around. In addition, the CG cutscene movies will also be presented in the widescreen ratio.
Another enhancement is the inclusion of an alternate control scheme that lets your character move in the direction of the analog stick. This is in line with current control standards, and I found it much easier to use than the traditional set-up. Lastly, on top of the all the original difficulty settings, there’s an all-new Very Easy Mode, which is ideal for those who want to enjoy the story and play at a more relaxed pace.
Graphically, a lot has been improved in Resident Evil HD, most noticeably the significantly upgraded game textures and lighting effects. Side-by-side screen shot comparisons (see examples above) show the large boost in graphical fidelity, such as the extra character details, refined environmental textures, smooth shading, and realistic lighting. While you’ll still find the odd visual hiccup, such as occasional clipping, overall the Spencer Mansion, and the mutated creepy crawlies that inhabit it, look superb.
Resident Evil‘s enormous influence on gaming, and especially the survival horror genre, cannot be understated. As the definitive revisit of the 2002 GameCube remake, if you’re itching to relive this classic, or want to experience this iconic piece of gaming history for the very first time, Resident Evil HD should not be missed.
Resident Evil 0 HD
The second game included in the Resident Evil Origins Collection is Resident Evil 0, the fear-inducing prequel to the original game. Set a day before the Mansion incident, Resident Evil 0 puts you into the role of S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team rookie Rebecca Chambers as her team sets out to investigate to unusual murders occurring in Raccoon City. After an engine failure causes their helicopter to crash, Rebecca searches a nearby train stopped dead on its tracks and meets Billy Coen, a suave death row convict on the run. When the two discover that the train is filled with deadly, flesh-eating creatures, they agree to partner up in hopes of surviving the nightmares that lie ahead.
Resident Evil 0‘s game design structure is very similar to Resident Evil HD, in that the cameras are still placed in fixed positions, ammo, health and ink ribbons are limited, and by default your character moves similar to a tank. There are two major differences though that set this game apart. The first is the ability to switch between your two characters at any time, turning the game into essentially a “co-op” single-player adventure. The puzzles often require you to use both characters to solve, and there will be times when you get separated and need to progress forward alone. A second big difference is that in Resident Evil 0 there are no connected inventory boxes to store your items and supplies. Instead, you can drop them anywhere you please on the ground, and then go back to retrieve them at any time. It’s a slight improvement overall, but I still found myself constantly fiddling with my inventory due to the extremely low number of possessions your characters can hold at any given time.
As shown above, the remastered version contains the same level of graphical enhancements found in Resident Evil HD, including 1080p high-resolution support, as well as 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios. You’ll also get high-quality 5.1 surround sound support, and the alternative control scheme on par with modern games.
There is no Very Easy Mode this time around, however once you complete the game you’ll unlock the all-new Wesker Mode, where you play as the evil, behind-the-scenes mastermind of the whole series, Albert Wesker. The version of Wesker you control is his super form after being infected with the Uroboros virus in Resident Evil 5, where he has powerful―almost comically powerful―abilities. For instance, Wesker can charge up and unleash a powerful Death Stare from him glowing red eyes that can pop the heads of every zombie in the room. He also has a lightning fast Shadow Dash that enables him to move at incredibly fast speed. Given how ridiculously overpowered Wesker is, this mode is really meant to be played as a rewarding victory lap or to challenge yourself with best time to completion.
The Resident Evil Origins Collection gives you two of the all-time greatest survival horror games, on disc, in one package. With over twenty hours of gameplay between the two games, and even more fun with the all-new Wesker mode, there’s tons of content packed in this compilation. Enhancements, including the high-definition graphics, widescreen support, and modern controls, breathe new life into these timeless journeys. While there are still signs of aging in each game, such as occassional graphical clipping, awkward fixed camera angles, and severally limited inventory space, these are excellent remastered versions of two classic games every survival horror fan should play.
+ Beautifully enhanced graphics
+ Superb high-quality sound
+ Modernized controls
+ Steeped in nostalgia
+ Wesker Mode is choatic and fun
– Fix camera can be cumbersome
– Inventory management still a chore
– Few nagging technical hiccups, like clipping
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 4/5 (80%)
By Paul Hunter, Editor Gaming
I work out of Toronto, Ontario as the Editor of Gaming here on the Plug-in Blog and as Editor-in-Chief of NextGen Player. I am thankful for having a loving and patient wife who doesn’t mind my 40 hour a week obsession with gaming. You can follow me on Twitter @NextGenPlayer and on my exclusive Vine gaming channel. Come join the conversation!