Resident Evil 4 HD… Is NOT HD!

Enough is enough Capcom.

I have been a dedicated and loyal fan for decades – remember Sweet Home on the NES? That was one of my first introductions to this company, along with many more when the Super Nintendo was around. Capcom was a byword for effortless quality, which continued into the 32-bit era, where I went from liking Capcom to absolutely loving them, with Resident Evil being a franchise I thought I couldn’t live without.

But it is Resident Evil 4 HD that has shown me Capcom’s true colours, and the title says it all. Resident Evil 4 HD is… not HD!

Let’s clear this up for people – when Resident Evil 4 was released back in 2005 (yes, it HAS been that long!), we weren’t yet into the HD era – it had literally just begun, so the textures and modelling was done to fit a standard definition TV set – which is 480p. Even the Wii version used these assets.

If you put the Wii version on your HDTV – which displays in 1080p, or HD Ready TV at 720p, that’s a larger screen than the image the game is used to. This means two things – one, you’ll display the image in the middle of the screen with massive thick black borders around it. Not cool. Or, as is the standard practice, the TV will stretch the image to fit the screen.

Now, think about this VERY CAREFULLY. Actually, here’s a demonstration you can even do at home. Get a marker pen and cut out a square from a normal plastic bag. Write something on the plastic – “Capcom Are A Bunch Of Lazy Gits” for example – and let it dry before the next step, which is stretching the plastic. The plastic stretches and becomes a little warped, and the writing stretches, cracks and breaks with it.

In laymans terms, this is what we call “Upscaling” and it’s really the laziest way to do it. And that’s all Resident Evil 4 HD does – it upscales. It’s not tuned for HD 1080p, it’s not even tuned for 720p HD Ready. It is, at its most basic, an old game stretched to fit a modern screen.

It makes Resident Evil 4 look so much uglier than it should do. This is even by todays high standards in SD far from an ugly game, but upscaled it just looks a mess – what little touching up has been done to keep lines straight is undone by textures stretched to breaking point.

Add to this the reality that the PS3 version won’t have Move support, and that this is essentially the Wii version stretched out and you’ve got an end result – a product that has been revered for six years, and never bettered, being cheaply banged out. No love, no respect has gone into this “HD” version – it’s not even HD, the sound has been DOWNGRADED to normal stereo, and the excellent Wii control method is all but forgotten.

Resident Evil 4 HD is still Resident Evil 4, but this is an unloved and cynical version and it is so obvious that this game is the victim of a careless, thoughtless and disrespectful Capcom. If this game was a lady and they walked into a room with you, you’d go up, give her a hug and say “Leave him. He’s not worth it honey!”

If you must play Resident Evil 4, sans wiggly laser, get a cheap second hand Wii and a copy of Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition – your screen will upscale just as the HD version does, but you’ll have the better control mechanism for it.

All Resident Evil 4 HD does is make me angry. This could – should – have been a celebration of one of the gaming industries greatest triumphs, a series reboot that redefined a genre and a game that is tense, action-packed and gloriously ridiculous to boot. Not to mention a game that put Capcom firmly back on the map after a tumultuous few years – this should have been an homage, a salute to a game that made them so much so quickly and a loving, respectful reloving of a game that made so many people so loyal to their brand.

That it isn’t is a damning insight into Capcom today.

EDIT; I’ve also been informed that the PC version of Resident Evil 4 has a thriving modding community, who have taken the game and replaced all the SD textures with lovingly crafted HD textures. You can even get a patch that allows you mouse aiming a la Wii Edition.

Might be worth considering that version for that alone, but fans can’t keep fixing these mistakes. They SHOULDN’T keep fixing these mistakes…

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