Exhibit A – Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD

Proof the industry is headed down a very silly path.

Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD has me annoyed.

It’s not that I don’t love Resident Evil 4; I do. I have loved it since release – I imported it from the US, because the European version took F-O-R-E-V-E-R to arrive. I love it’s warmth; the charm and the wit, the banter and the jokes that lift the tone from time to time and keep it from feeling too much like a stodgy action shooter. I love the set-pieces; the cable car ride, the minecart rollercoaster, the little maze, the ruined proving grounds. I love the merchant; dirty, dirty freak that he is. I love the bonkers plot, I love Salazar and Saddler who are the two most hilariously daft baddies for years (although Alfred Ashford is still my personal favourite of the series!). I love Ada Wong – here in her pre-whitening phase, where she is exotic and dangerous. I love Resident Evil 4. I love it unequivocally.

But – and it’s a BIG one – this is the eighth re-release in nine years. And that’s just too much.

Why? Well, no doubt this slightly upscaled 60-frames-a-second version is cheap. Cheap to make. Cheap to market – we all know about Resident Evil 4’s mythical status by now. Cheap to sell digitally; limited physical runs aside. At a time when Capcom is clearly rather strapped for cash, it’s turning on a game that it feels that it can bank on to pull in some quick, easy money.

But another version of Resident Evil 4? I mean, the PS2 version was technically impressive… for the time. Porting the Gamecube original was as amazing as it was rude to Nintendo, really. The iOS version… uhh… let’s forget that happened, shall we? The first PC port was sloppy as hell. The fans remade that and it’s done alright since. Then the Wii Edition; perfect controls. Can’t be bettered, unless Capcom do more of the gyroscope stuff on the Wii U. Then you have the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 “HD” versions; although that’s probably being polite. They upscaled them… but forgot to clean it all up. The net result was pretty disastrous, and I was pretty horrified Capcom treated it with such utter contempt.

Part of all this links in with my last article and some prior points; all the focus on Nintendo not innovating or doing anything new in the press is rather strange and silly when you hit on announcements like this (which make no effort to talk bad about how it’s ANOTHER release of the SAME GAME, with no additional content!). Nintendo is sadly becoming nothing more to the industry and the press now than a smokescreen; a scapegoat, a distraction from their own troubles, problems and lack of imagination and innovation. They can blame Nintendo and smack talk it all they want, but Nintendo isn’t the one making these decisions for them. That’s entirely their own fault. And any suggestion of anyone blaming Nintendo for it is something to be EXTREMELY cynical over. Judge all by the same standard, or frankly don’t bother. Nintendo isn’t ‘special’ in this regard; no matter how blindly you want to believe the lie.

And it isn’t merely Capcom either; EA, Activision, Sega, UbiSoft – take a look at their releases and it’s almost wall-to-wall annual updates, sequels and placing a whole lot of eggs in very delicate baskets (and new IP must succeed or die – WatchDogs has to sell something like seven million units in its box office month. Resident Evil 6 didn’t even get that, and nor did Tomb Raider…). The risks are monumental too – Capcom cannot proclaim ignorance here, after all. It’s finances are in trouble, having spent a lot of money in recent years placing an awful lot of its hopes and dreams into Street Fighter (which has a very select crowd), and Resident Evil. And the series isn’t doing very well, either.

But, here’s the killer (7) – Capcom has plenty more in its stable than Resident Evil 4. For example; why, Capcom, not HD up Haunting Ground/Demento and release it on PSN/XBox Live? Pretty it up a little, sharpen it up a bit, upscale and add a £15 price tag on it and I’d be MORE than happy to part with some cash again for one of the most overlooked horror games of the PS2 era. Clock Tower 3? Oh yes Capcom, that wasn’t all that bad. Actually it was quite a lot of fun! Onimusha? Pretty sure most of us wouldn’t mind a tarted-up HD trilogy there! And then you have God Hand, Chaos Legion… heck, why not tart up Dino Crisis? There’s plenty in Capcom’s back stables that could be prettied up and pushed on the market to improve its finances AND its image.

Another version of Resident Evil 4, after so many extremely shoddy versions, isn’t the way forward. If anything, like Revelations HD, it feels like a step backwards.

Capcom, like so many, is banking on Resident Evil 4’s popularity and credibility to sell it. No tarted up textures, no major cosmetic work; just pushed to 60 frames a second (and as anyone will tell you, for some games the difference between 30FPS and 60FPS can be astronomical in terms of visual quality and difficulty). And no, that’s not good enough. Even at £15, that’s not good enough. We can buy plenty of versions of this game; most of them pretty awful, but hey, the Wii Edition is still stellar (and doesn’t cost the earth either). And if you can get it, people have already spent years tarting up the old PC version; no, it won’t run at 60 frames a second, but really, that’s a minor niggle many blow up to be bigger than it should be (it’s when things drop BELOW 30FPS that you should be moaning!).

It’s pushing out another version of the same game, with minimal updates, cosmetic enhancements or technical changes. And it expects me to pay another £15 for it? No Capcom. I’m sorry. But no. Not this time. I love you, I love Resident Evil, but it’s time we moved on. I don’t want to keep reliving past glories; I want a better tomorrow, I want imagination and creativity. Failing that, do a freaking blend of Mercenaries and Raid modes, in a game, with locales from all the games, a huge selection of characters and weapons and sell it as massive fan-service. And failing that – there are far better, more more WORTHY games in your back catalogue that really, desperately could do with a revisit.

Resident Evil is stuck in a rut because we keep redoing the same games over and over – familiarity is breeding a large amount of contempt. The future isn’t here, Capcom. And no matter how you try to pull the wool over our eyes, no matter how much you try to convince yourselves otherwise – the series needs to evolve from Resident Evil 4. It doesn’t need to BE Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 4 happened. And it was good. We will always have that. Always cherish those memories.

But almost ten years on? Eesh Capcom, really? It’s time to move on. Remember how much praise you got for Lost In Nightmares, the short but extremely popular DLC pack for Resident Evil 5? The DLC that almost – ALMOST – justified the price of the otherwise pretty bland main game? Why don’t we do that. Set sail for that kind of concept, hand in hand, as fans and the creator, into a brighter tomorrow.

We’re ready when you are.

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