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.

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

Tagged with Capcom, PC, Reviews, Survival Horror.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Read this next

Resident Evil 4 Runs Better in Handheld Mode Than Docked, Digital Foundry Reports

And the first Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0 don't fare too well in the performance department, either.

Man vs. Mario Maker 2: The Superball, Arby's, and World 1-1 is Burning

On this week's Man vs. Mario Maker, we bring you eight new courses full of delight and despair.

Apex Legends Is Matching Cheaters and Spammers With Each Other

Giving them what they deserve: each other.

It Took Several "Crappy Prototypes" For Furi Developer To Get To Haven

A change in pace was not easy, but it was much needed.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 Room Recipes

Recipes for building every room in Dragon Quest Builders 2

Popular Super Mario Maker Creator Says Inexplicable Removal Of His Level Feels Like A Gut Punch

He believes it's due to mass reporting, though he's been given little to go on from Nintendo.

More Reviews

Dragon Quest Builders 2 Review

With these hands we will destroy, and with these hands we will rebuild.

Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers Review

Now, this is a story all about how, our life got flipped—turned upside down.

Sea of Solitude Review

I'll send an SOS to the world.

Outer Wilds Review

And tomorrow comes. It’s a world, it’s a way.

More on PC

Apex Legends Is Matching Cheaters and Spammers With Each Other

Giving them what they deserve: each other.

The Division 2 Episode 1 Release Date - Expeditions, National Zoo

There’s brand new DLC coming for The Division 2. Here’s what you need to know about The Division 2: Episode 1.

All the Gears 5 Release Date and Beta Info We Know

Here's our guide to the Gears 5 release date, upcoming beta, new multiplayer modes, and more.

More Survival Horror Games

The Best Games of 2019 After Six Months

Our ongoing list of what we believe are the best video games of 2019.

Some Of The Best Runs From SGDQ's Record-Breaking 2019 Marathon

A few personal picks from a phenomenal week of charity fundraising.

Alan Wake On PlayStation Could Happen, As Rights Revert Back To Remedy

The developer teased the multiplatform potential, though they're focused on another game for now.

Capcom Still Wants to Make New IP, Even as Established Franchises Find New Life

Capcom hasn't given up on new franchises, but older ones are doing better than ever.