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With Resident Evil 4 HD, Capcom had the opportunity to take one of the previous generation’s greatest games and update it to a modern masterpiece as well. This summer’s Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time for 3DS proved that, with enough extra effort, even years-old titles can seem fresh and relevant. Sadly, Resident Evil 4 HD has not received the same level of enhancement – upscaled textures are about as exciting as this facelift gets. The survival horror shooter is still classic and worth playing, of course, but not as worth replaying as we’d hoped.
Above: Leon and Ashley return for one of gaming's longest escort missions
Leon S. Kennedy's bloody mission to save the U.S. president's daughter from a creepy European cult (and other assorted horrors) has aged well since it first appeared in 2005, and its charmingly hammy script and heart-pounding boss fights impress every bit as much as they did back then. The inventory system and basic controls might seem a little clumsy by today's standards, but it's still easy to see why Dead Space, Gears of War and dozens of other shooters followed Resident Evil 4’s lead in over-the-shoulder third-person combat. The atmosphere is still stellar, too – even now, a few passages in the game’s gothic villages make the hairs of your neck stand up.
We just wish Capcom had done more. This may be the highest-definition version of Resident Evil 4 to date, but that's not saying much. The character models and water effects obviously received some attention, but the rest of the update amounts to blowing old textures up to 1080p. This is most apparent in the little details, such as how boxes for ammo cartridges in your inventory still look like pixelated scans and the paintings on the wall look like Minecraft creations photographed from above. It's sharper, no doubt, but it's hard to shake the uncomfortable feeling that slightly softer textures may have actually worked better. The sound appears to be completely unchanged.
Above: It never occurs to Leon to just ask this guy to help with the shooting
None of these criticisms will matter, though, if you're one of the three people who have never played Resident Evil 4. For $19.99 or 1600 Microsoft Points, you're getting more than 12 hours' worth of some of the best videogame content ever made, along with every bit of bonus content from the previous outings. You'll especially enjoy the additional "Separate Ways" missions featuring Ada Wong, the spicy Chinese secret agent who manages to kick ass without ever ripping her slinky, split-leg wardrobe. Just don’t expect anything brand new, aside from Achievements, Trophies and a return to the GameCube’s difficulty setting.
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