Resident Evil Review

Richard Walker

Resident Evil was my sole reason for buying a GameCube upon its release back in 2002 (well, that and Resident Evil 4). A remake of the 1996 original was just too good a prospect to pass up, bearing in mind that this was long before the market became flooded with the damn things. This Resident Evil is a remastering of a remake then, rather than a remake of a remake. Anyone young enough to have missed Resident Evil in its classic guise are in for a treat. Shinji Mikami at his brilliant best, Resident Evil is all about managing with scant resources, using your wits and simply surviving.

He just wants to be hugged.

This remastered version adds a new widescreen aspect ratio, shinier graphics and a new 'alternate' control system for the modern gamer. If you fire up the game using this new alternate control system, switching back to Resident Evil's old tank controls almost renders the game unplayable. The difference is actually rather astounding. So much so that it's hard to believe I was ever able to steer Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine down the labyrinthine corridors of Spencer Mansion, given how unwieldy it all feels. Thank sweet zombie Jesus for this alternate option, making the game far more accessible, especially for newcomers. Or indeed for anyone who hasn't played the game for 13 years and doesn't fancy wasting time turning on the spot. Purists, meanwhile, can stick to the original system if they prefer. Everybody wins.

But is returning to the hallowed grounds of Spencer Mansion every bit as enjoyable as you might hope? Hell, yes. Nostalgic memories come flooding back regarding everything you enjoyed about playing the old 1996 game, and all of the things that Capcom fixed or changed in the GameCube remake. This was no mere visual paint job. The layout of the mansion had been tinkered with, expanded and in some cases completely transformed, confounding expectations almost entirely. New puzzles, entirely new elements and new scenarios meant that fans of the 1996 version found plenty of surprises, like the genuinely disturbing tale of Lisa Trevor. Parts of the game are indelibly etched into my brain.

In high-definition, Resident Evil also looks every bit as a good as it did back in 2002, although some of the pre-rendered backgrounds now seem murky and poorly defined. Character models benefit most from the visual enhancements, with zombies and the game's other T-Virus monstrosities alive with detail. It's the gameplay experience that remains the biggest joy, however, the fixed camera angles and sometimes impenetrably dark sections offering a reminder of how Resident Evil came to define survival horror in its heyday. It's just a shame that the majority of environmental artwork hasn't aged particularly well.

1996's Resident Evil was not only famed for its survival horror chops, but also fondly remembered for its hokey B-movie one-liners, some of which were glossed over, like the old 'master of unlocking' quip, for instance. In fact, all of Barry Burton's lines were rewritten for the 2002 version, and the live-action sequences were all replaced by less cringeworthy CG cut-scenes, though you'll be happy to know that plenty of cheese still remains.

Resident Evil also outshines its modern instalments in almost every regard, with no roundhouse melee attacks or silly action sequences to speak of. Just ladles of intrigue and mystery, as your protagonist has the odds stacked against them in an extraordinary, and claustrophobic situation. And it's from this situation that the constant sense of dread and creeping tension arises. Every small noise is something to cautiously investigate or evade, the fixed camera angles leaving certain things unseen around each corner. Resident Evil is still scary. It's also worthy of note that the audio remains brilliantly nuanced, perfectly complementing the gloomy hallways and decrepit rooms.

While the alternate controls are something of a mixed blessing – the increased mobility means you're forced to run everywhere and the tank controls do feel much weightier – and the HD visuals are somewhat patchy, as a chance to revisit a great, seminal video game, this remastered Resident Evil is about as good as it gets.

"Put some pants on, man!"

There are achievements too, and as you'd expect, they encourage numerous playthroughs. Perhaps a few too many, in fact. If you're looking to wring everything out of Resident Evil's achievement list, you're going to have to race through it all in under three hours, get through the various difficulty levels and unlockable modes, earn all of the bonus odds and ends and more besides. It's an achievement list with a good spread, but there are a lot of variables to take into account. Clearly, it's been created with longevity in mind.

With Resident Evil 6 jumping the shark in a big way, Resident Evil HD is a welcome reminder of how great the series once was, and moreover a clear sign that Capcom really ought to return to its roots. The definition of survival horror at its rawest, Resident Evil stands up even today, with wonderfully orchestrated puzzles, atmospheric design and audio, memorable enemies, a number of unforgettable sequences. Whether you're revisiting a much-loved classic or you've never played it before, buying this is a no-brainer. This version of Resident Evil is quite simply an HD remaster that's utterly essential in every sense.

Now if we could just have Resident Evil Zero HD, please, we'll be happy zombie bunnies.

Resident Evil

Resident Evil still holds up after 13 years as a masterclass in survival horror, this HD remaster making it utterly essential once more.

Form widget

Resident Evil's audio still efficiently conveys a sense of unease, with the score ramping up or slipping into the background at all the right moments. Voice acting is a little cheesy by today's standards, but it's still good.


The game's character models benefit most from the HD upgrade, while backdrops suffer somewhat. Most have been softened, and look rather murky as a result. The lighting looks fantastic.


Still great. Try playing with the original tank controls and you might struggle at first, but you'll soon get used to it. Resident Evil is far less clunky when played with the new alternate controls system, however. Perfect for newbies.


A huge game that demands to be replayed. Yes, you can tear through it in three hours, but most will soak up everything and get a good 10-12 hours out of the story.


An incredibly tough and time-consuming list that will take several playthroughs to complete. Dig in for the long haul and you'll bag the 1000G after a few dozen hours.

Game navigation