Resident Evil 4 was first unleashed unto the gaming masses way back in 2005 on Nintendo's adorable little GameCube console, before later being ported to a multitude of additional gaming systems. It made waves back in its hay day, shunning its tired heritage of clumsy 'tank controls' and fixed isometric camera angles in favor of a far more modern and improved control scheme and over-the-shoulder third-person viewpoint that would ensure you remain tethered within fart-sniffing distance of our hero, Leon S. Kennedy, for the duration of his adventure throughout zombified Spain.
There's no denying that Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition is technically the greatest iteration of the game thus far, until the Hyper Champion Turbo Edition rolls around, but is it worthy of a purchase if you have already sampled the original release and soiled every last pair of clean knickers available? Read on for 8 reasons (because to pick only 4 would be impossible) why Capcom's unaging classic deserves to be brought back to life once more.
Pictured: cool people tokens.
Who doesn't love achievements? How can one not love achievements? Achievements have become a mainstay of modern gaming. But once upon a time, when consoles weren't primarily used to watch T.V. or harass friends on Facebook, such a guilty pleasure was realised only by our own imaginations. Imaginations be damned now that Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition features a healthy dose of challenging achievements into the mix. There's enough achievements to feed an undead Adam Richmond for an entire after-lifetime.
We won't spoil the best achievements, but suffice it to say there will be many that you will pick up naturally as you go about your business quashing zombie farmers and quelling mutated housewives. There will also be a few achievements to conquer by trying your hand at less obvious tasks, such as fishing, bottle cap collecting, and acquiring sweet new garb for your in-game avatar.
The brains of the operation.
The plot is as brilliantly nonsensical and over the top as one could hope of a follow-up entry in the Resident Evil series. To say that, at its core, Resident Evil 4 is a tale about rescuing a kidnapped damsel in distress from the clutches of a monologue-spewing misanthrope would be a disservice to its multi-layered, unwavering approach to the magnificent pantomime-quality absurdity. This game is literally the best example of ironic science fiction writing ever. And Leon serves as the linchpin to all the glorious madness at the heart of it all. And while we're on the subject of our knight in shining armor...
Real men sport fanny packs.
Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition features Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie cop turned presidential errand boy, who happens to be handsome, daring, selfless and a hit with the ladies. He's also the embodiment of every single Hollywood action movie trope from the '80s onwards being unapologetically smashed together into a single, foppy-haired package - and we love him for it. To elaborate: Whereas the sight of a 20-foot-tall blood-thirsty ogre would rightfully cause a normal, sane person to decorate their underwear with last night's dinner, Leon sees only an opportunity to rattle off a vapid one-liner. He's one cool cat; he's the Steven Seagal of survival horror — sans pony tail.
It's just as well then that he'll be the puppet to your strings during this exercise in liberating the Spaniards of their peaceful undead existence. He'll be accompanying you almost exclusively from the instant you step into pandemonium to the moment you're struck with the lengthy credit roll. And what a journey it is. But where exactly will your journey take you? Well, funny you should ask...
And what a gorgeous, urine-drenched world it is.
You'll be whisked away to sunny Spain, of course! It's a beautiful part of the world: famous for its lovely retirement villas and sun-scorched golden beaches. Not so much in Resident Evil 4, however, as it wouldn't be in keeping with the game's doom and gloom aesthetic. Still, the unique and sombre rural setting invokes an unfamiliar feeling of intrigue-cum-dread as you traverse the many striking and diverse locales that the game has to offer. To reveal all of the chilling tourist hotspots that you'll be passing through would ruin the surprise and be an unforgivable crime, as much of the enjoyment stems from sampling the variety of locations with unprepared eyes. However, it should come as no surprise that it won't be only farmyards and countrysides that you'll be visiting. Hint: For one of the more interesting venues, think Area 51 with zombies.
Now, if only there were a cute yet insufferable sidekick to join us on this little escapade...
"Leon, are you going to introduce me to your cute friend or what?"
Cue Ashley Graham, the President's missing daughter and mouthpiece of unrelenting banality. She means well, bless her, despite pulling the short straw on whom scores the hero role for this story. And thankfully she begins to grow on you over time, as her piercing howls become second nature during the extraordinarily lengthy campaign mode. When Ashley's not bleeting in your ear, the much more capable Agent Ingrid Hunnigan will be your supplier of valuable intel, feeding you juicy undead-flavoured gossip from back in the States.
There's also a handful of familiar faces from Leon's past that make an appearance and serve as a welcome nod to long-time fans of the series. Their differing but equally contrived reasons for being in the picture serve only to highlight the magic, and we're glad they decided to stop by and in some cases attempt to snuff out Leon's life.
The biggest twist comes from learning where Leon stores his equipment...
Leon might not float like a butterfly or sting like a bee, but those military-grade boots sure do pack a wallop. While Leon is fortunate to no longer handle like a M4 Sherman tank, as was the way in older Resident Evil titles, the guy is still lacking the ability to move and shoot simultaneously. Leon will, for whatever reason, assume an immobile statue-like stance whenever required to defend himself. Irrespective, the shambling nature of most enemies means that Leon's run 'n' gun intolerance isn't nearly as damning as it might first sound. And the responsive gun play and shooting gallery orientated-approach does miraculously translate into an exceptionally pleasurable action experience, with combat serving as a constant delight rather than a chore.
A gaggle of loitering monsters in the distance will typically spell imminent battle, and that recurring sense of impending danger becomes a thrilling challenge to overcome every time.
Despite working directly under the President of the United States, boasting a high-paid government salary, and presumably enjoying unlimited access to funding courtesy of the American taxpayers, Senior Leon apparently thought it rude to remind anybody to actually finance the operation. You once again enter the world of survival horror with only a handful of pesetas in your pocket, and your meagre purse will afford you precisely diddly squat in terms of reliable, zombie-swatting firepower.
In the market to purchase a rocket launcher? The friendly gun-peddling lunatic whom stalks your every step and solicits his wares in nothing but a bath robe and sandals will happily oblige if you have the cash handy, but you'll be needing to search only the most dank and dark recesses of your imagination to discover where the depraved townsfolk hide their hard-earned. Here's a clue: they hide a concerning amount of gold bars inside their wildlife. Including live crows. The zombies' resourcefulness is nothing if not impressive.
Next generation fence rendering.
Back in 2005, Resident Evil 4 was a gorgeously disgusting experience from beginning to end; for every surprised 'ooh!' that you'd let out, a satisfying 'urgh!' would be sure to follow. Almost 10 years on from the original release and the game's grim, macabre veneer hasn't lost its charm. The new HD makeover treatment also means that each wonderfully visceral detail is even more high-resolution and in-your-face than ever.
The much-needed inclusion of a 60 FPS cap over 30 also means that the game runs less like a slideshow and features fewer iris-crippling side effects, too. Hurrah!
In a nutshell: Resident Evil 4: Ultimate HD Edition features equal measures of prettiness and ugliness at the same time. And that's a good thing. If you haven't yet sampled what is perhaps Capcom's survival horror magnum opus, now would be a great time to sink your teeth into what this updated classic has to offer.