Re-releasing older console games for the current hardware generation is a common practice nowadays. Since the machines aren’t backwards-compatible anymore we should be thankful for the opportunity to buy games we’ve already bought once a second time, right?
Most of these games are labeled ‘remastered’ or some such, probably to justify the usual price tag upwards of 30 bucks. But more often than not what we actually get is the result of the lowest possible effort. Upscaled resolution, maybe a wee bit sharper textures, that’s it.
Thankfully there’s another, much better way to do it.
Holy crap, Capcom, what you pulled off here is nothing short of a miracle: the wet dream of any nostalgia-wallowing oldschool gamer and a great, modern take on survival horror that actually makes the competition look old (pun intended) in one game.
But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
I’d initially intended to wait a while before buying the Resident Evil 2 remake. I’m still pretty engaged in Black Desert at the moment, and in today’s market waiting just a couple of months often means buying an already discounted game.
But after hearing more and more good things about it I realized that this was a golden opportunity to do something gamers often talk about yet rarely do: vote with my wallet.
I mean, I’ve talked about how much I like good horror games in general and one certain game, also made by Capcom*, in particular. Nothing would make me happier than a high quality remake of Silent Hill, and what better way to entice Capcom to do it than to show them that there’s money to be made with that kind of stuff? Also, Resi 2 happens to be my second favourite horror game of all time, so…
I went and bought the standard edition at full price. That I also splurged on the classic soundtrack is a given, for just three bucks in the PSN store. Kudos for letting us buy the DLC stuff individually instead of forcing us to also pay for some costumes and weapon skins just to get the soundtrack.
‘But Mail, what about the game itself, is it worth the full price?’ I hear you ask. Absofuckinglutely!
I think the biggest and most appropriate compliment I can give the game is: it looks and feels exactly as I remember it from twenty years ago.
Well, you know how we tend to remember only the good aspects of stuff we liked while having completely forgotten about the bad ones? The original Resi 2 had fixed camera angles often denying you a clear view of the action, clunky controls, hilariously bad voice acting and, of course, horrible graphics by today’s standards.
This remake remedies all that and more while keeping everything intact that made the original awesome.
Inventory management, safe rooms with shared storage crate and typewriter for saving the game, different herbs and gunpowder types to combine for different effects, and various puzzles, most of them not overly complex, are all still there.
Pretty much everything has been made smoother and more convenient though. When an item is no longer needed, for example a key you’ve unlocked all corresponding doors with, it’s marked with a little symbol so you know you can safely throw it away. The game isn’t only saved when you use a typewriter, it also autosaves at certain checkpoints, especially when a harder fight is imminent. There are many such small details that don’t change the game in a fundamental way but make it less tedious and more enjoyable.
The story hasn’t changed much as far as I remember, minor details maybe; the same applies for the police station’s layout and where and when you meet certain enemies or allies.
One change that’s very beneficial to the game’s atmosphere is the fact that most rooms and hallways are pitch-black now. It doesn’t impede the gameplay in any way because Leon pulls out his flashlight and points it in the direction he’s facing completely on his own, he can even use a two-handed weapon like a shotgun at the same time. It doesn’t make the game any harder or less convenient, just spookier and thus better.
The lighting is superb overall, as is the sound design. I wholeheartedly recommend playing with surround sound, you’ll constantly be on the edge of your seat even without any zombies in sight.
What I didn’t expect at all was a high gore factor, but boy, did we get one. I deliberately refrained from using screenshots showing that stuff, but believe you me, there are some brutal scenes in there. Now that I think about it the original wasn’t any less gory, the graphics just weren’t up to the task. The way I see it the violence doesn’t serve an end in itself though, it conveys the dire straits you’re in more than anything.
Of course there are boss fights too.
I generally don’t like boss fights in games like this, but the ones I encountered until now didn’t aggravate me too much, which is saying something.
I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m really impressed and delighted by the job Capcom has done here.
Whether you loved the original or just like horror games in general, you owe it to yourself and all likeminded gamers to buy this one right fucking now! You won’t regret it.
*Edit: Doh, I just realized that Silent Hill wasn’t actually made by Capcom but by Konami. A shame. I hope someone at Konami is watching this too though!