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Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition PC Review: Loss of Control

Resident Evil 4 gets the ultimate graphical upgrade, but the controls are a half-step back.

Review by Mike Williams, .

What's the point of an HD remake? Is it just a spit-and-polish job, moving the graphics into high-definition for classic fans and a new audience? Or perhaps it's a chance for a developer to improve on what came before in slight ways without destroying the core that fans love? Maybe it's full retune, with every aspect of the old title getting a new look and an overhaul if need be.

At their core, HD remakes are a chance for publishers and developers to repackage what worked before for more sales. We've seen a number of different versions of HD remakes; some are drastic, while others are simple repackagings of old concepts. Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, and Assassin's Creed Liberation HD are recent entries in the form, with games like Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster coming soon. At the high-end, you get works of art like Bionic Commando: Rearmed, while the bottom is owned by travesties like Silent Hill HD Collection.

Which brings us to Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition on PC. This is actually the latest in a long line of Resident Evil 4 re-releases and ports. Resident Evil 4 was originally a GameCube exclusive, but a PlayStation 2 port came out later in the same year. Then there was the first PC port, the motion-controlled Wii Edition, Mobile Edition for iOS, the iPad Edition, and the first HD digital release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Capcom doesn't want to let RE4 sleep because it was one of the franchises' critical high points.

Tweak the mouse sensitivity and you'll be putting headshots in Los Ganados.

Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition still puts you in control of Resident Evil 2 survivor Leon Kennedy, sent to a quiet Spanish town to rescue the U.S. President's daughter. The game drops the previous Resident Evil fixed viewpoint for an over-the-shoulder camera that's locked behind Leon, and ups the action with new context-sensitive controls and quick-time events. Leon isn't up against zombies this time; instead, he has to dispatch a village controlled by the Las Plagas parasite.

So what do you get for your $20 this time around? Well, you get Resident Evil 4 in 1080p or above, with anti-aliasing and locked at either 60FPS or 30FPS depending on the strength of your rig. Capcom's also gone back and remastered the game's textures for the new resolutions. All the previous bonus content, like Ada's bonus chapter, Separate Ways, is included in this version. Since it's on Steam now, you can also look forward to Steam Achievements, cloud saves, and Steam Trading Cards.

The UI and text have been resized, but some of the cutscenes are still pre-rendered (the 'What happened before now' opener and the Separate Ways scenes), meaning they're not up to HD standard. Most of the game is fine, but when those non-HD cutscenes hit you, they hit hard.

One addition that will excite owners of the previous Resident Evil 4 PC release is native mouse and keyboard support. The 2007 release required a PC gamepad of some sort, but this version works like the glorious PC gaming master race requires.

I was excited for the new keyboard and mouse controls, until I got to use them for an extended period of time. They're not horrible and I want to thank Capcom for finally including full keyboard and mouse support, but I feel like controls for games in the same genre have moved on and Resident Evil 4 hasn't changed. That feeling is what prompted the opening paragraph. Small things add up to make keyboard and mouse control unsatisfying.

Anti-aliasing means those spines are all razor sharp.

The mouse controls your camera in RE 4 HD, but it's not tied to Leon's movement at all. So, if you look to the right of Leon and then hit W, Leon will walk in the direction he's currently facing. A and D make Leon turn left and right respectively, meaning you're still dealing with a version of RE's tank controls. On his right side via mouselook, he can see around 30 degrees behind himself, while on his left side it's around 80 degrees. This allows you to do things like run in a direction while checking either side of you, but I'm not sure it's as useful as other control options would be. Be prepared to use the quick-180 key (Q) to face what's directly behind you.

Hit the right mouse button and Leon will aim in the direction the camera is facing, but only at his eyeline. If you were looking at a target above you, you'll need to pan back towards it once you're in aiming mode. And while you're in aiming mode, you're rooted at a single spot.

It felt odd to me, so I loaded up Dead Space 2 to see how a newer game in a similar genre handled its controls. In DS2, you can look in a complete circle around Issac. Where you point the mouse is very important, as it's the direction Issac moves towards when you press W and it's the direction your weapon will face when you switch to aiming mode. If you're looking at the ceiling in Dead Space 2 and you bring up your weapon, it'll be aimed at the ceiling. It's a small change, but it keeps you firmly rooted in Issac's viewpoint. Look and run, look and shoot. It's simply more efficient and less annoying. Between the aiming mode implementation and the lack of strafing, Resident Evil 4's mouse and keyboard control is kind of disappointing. What felt fine on the GameCube and PlayStation 2 back in the day feels rough when played on a modern PC.

But is that Capcom's problem? I've moved beyond the style of control found in Resident Evil 4, but should the HD remake follow the player or stay in the past? It's worth mentioning that switching to my wired 360 controller was fine, but using the mouse and keyboard controls felt like a downgrade from Dead Space 2 on PC. Both the controller and mouse/keyboard options are downgrades from Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition, which remains my definitive RE4 as far as controls go. Not everyone banged with the Wii Edition controls - Eurogamer's review was quite unkind - but many reviewers seemed to agree they were an improvement.

Divorced from my personal control preferences, Capcom has done a great job here. Overall, Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition should hold the crown for the best port of Resident Evil 4 until Capcom decides to release Resident Evil 4 HD Ultimate Ultra HD Edition. If you're playing with a controller, it feels the same as previous versions and the new mouse/keyboard controls are workable. For me it feels like step back when compared to the control found in the Wii version and when I'm playing a game, that matters more than graphical upgrades. If you've never played the Wii Edition or you didn't enjoy those controls, you can expect a great experience here. Otherwise, I'd only revisit this version if you absolutely have a hankering for more Resident Evil 4. Bright side? It's only $20, so this isn't a very expensive choice.

Graphically, Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition stands as the best port of Capcom's 2005 hit. It brings together all of the content found in earlier versions with new textures, all presented in 1080p (or above) and 60 FPS if your PC is strong enough. Unfortunately, Resident Evil 4's controller or mouse/keyboard options are a step back from the superior Wii Edition controls.

3.5 /5

Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition PC Review: Loss of Control Mike Williams Resident Evil 4 gets the ultimate graphical upgrade, but the controls are a half-step back. 2014-02-28T15:01:00-05:00 3.5 5

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Comments 14

  • Avatar for Springchicken #1 Springchicken 2 years ago
    I think I can live with RE4 playing like RE4. It's a port after all, not a remake.

    Gonna have to septuple dip. What is wrong with me?
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  • Avatar for BusyZombieLord #2 BusyZombieLord 2 years ago
    I am sad to say I already own 2 or 3 versions of this game but the PC one is still tempting me. It is one of my favorite games.
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  • Avatar for jeremycarrier12 #3 jeremycarrier12 2 years ago
    There's nothing "superior" about the Wii controls. The entire game system was designed with the controller in mind. The recoil, the reason zombies run at you then stop to slowly walk, the red laser sight. The Wii aiming throws all that out the window for piss easy light gun action. Even Professional Mode is a joke with Wii.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #4 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @Springchicken It's RE4. One of the best.
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  • Avatar for RedSwirl #5 RedSwirl 2 years ago
    Thing is, in RE4 you're really not supposed to use freelook at all. I'm still not even sure why they put it in the game. The whole game was perfectly balanced around its tank controls and they really shouldn't be altered, even with the move to a mouse. That extreme level of polish is what I think makes RE4 still one of the best third person shooters ever despite other games having more advanced controls.

    Dead Space 2 is kind of an ironic game to bring up, because its developers even strongly suggested PC users play with a 360 pad. But more importantly, its control system (or something similar) would likely break RE4, even if it's just the ability to use freelook to aim.Edited February 2014 by RedSwirl
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #6 Funny_Colour_Blue 2 years ago
    @Springchicken Nothing is wrong, we just all love, great games.

    I think on the subconscious level, if we buy the same game enough times, we're hoping developers will take a hint, but it's never actually clicked.

    ...RIP Final Fantasy 7 PS3 Tech Demo :'(
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  • Avatar for EuroDarlan #7 EuroDarlan 2 years ago
    Shame about the KBAM controls not being all there, but it's not the least bit suprising. I'm playing with the 360 controller and that way it is a fantastic way to play the game. Hopefully I'll be able to resist future versions of the game since I'll hopefully always have a PC for this, unlike the console versions.
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  • Avatar for derryck #8 derryck 2 years ago
    @jeremycarrier12 yep. doesn't the wii version make buying the stocks for guns pointless too?
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  • Avatar for Sturat #9 Sturat 2 years ago
    If we can get this ported to Wii U, and if they could actually make a Wii U game run in 1080p instead of 720p loaded with aliasing, then it would be the Ultimate Edition.
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  • Avatar for TheColorUrple #10 TheColorUrple 2 years ago
    I've bought RE4 more times than I've played it.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #11 brionfoulke91 2 years ago
    The Keyboard/Mouse controls are just completely irrelevant. It's nice that it's there as an option, but this game was not meant to be played that way and it should absolutely be played with a controller. Any any gamer worth their salt should own a controller, period.
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  • Avatar for eodx9000 #12 eodx9000 2 years ago
    So long as RE4 in HD plays like RE4, there's nothing to dislike compared to its previous incarnations.

    I mean, I don't even like the classic control system, but at the end of the day unless it's a reboot I would never expect any sort of new control scheme for a remake.
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  • Avatar for miaclockman #13 miaclockman 2 years ago
    I am disappointed with the PC version. The Wii controllers allow for precise aiming and shooting. What I didn't like about the PC version was the pinpoint laser for weapons rather than the familiar circle on the Wii version.
    I loved the graphics, but as my laptop has an Intel based graphics card, it couldn't handle some of the special effects without crashing the system (HP Envy, i7 quad core processor, 32 GB RAM, windows 8.1).
    I went ahead and bought a wired game controller, but even with adjusting sensitivity of the joystick, I missed many targets because of control issues as well as that annoying pinpoint laser.
    Keyboard playing was no fun at all. However, I'm not a hard core gamer which may factor into the equation.
    IMHO, I'll stick to the Wii version and trade the PC version for something else.
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  • Avatar for Celso-Souza #14 Celso-Souza 5 months ago
    Deleted August 2016 by Celso-Souza
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  • Avatar for Deus-Ex #15 Deus-Ex 4 months ago
    Thing is, in RE4 you're really not supposed to use freelook at all. I'm still not even sure why they put it times mais ricos do brasil in the game. The whole game was perfectly balanced around its tank controls and they time mais rico do brasil really shouldn't be altered, even with the move to a mouse. That extreme level of polish is what I think makes RE4 still one of the best third person shooters ever despite times mais ricos do mundo other games having more advanced controls. Dead Space 2 is kind of an ironic game to bring up, because its developers even strongly time mais rico do mundo suggested PC users play with a 360 pad. But more importantly, its control system or somethi. I am sad to say I already own 2 or 3 versions of this game but the PC one is still tempting me. It is one of my favorite games.
    Sign in to Reply

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