Overall though, Capcom have done a decent job in giving Resident Evil a facelift. The more important question is, is the game underneath still worth playing? The answer to that is yes, with a few caveats.
In terms of atmosphere, Resident Evil is a macabre delight. The static cameras may be an irritation when it comes to navigation, but they contribute so much more in style and tone. The strange angles and slow pans help convey the oppressive mood of the mansion, lending a sense that, even when there aren't zombies shambling in your direction, something is always watching you. And of course, they add to the tension during combat, as you can't always see what it is you're shooting at until its almost right on top of you.
Gaming has since found better ways to make combat more dramatic, but I actually enjoyed returning to Resi's alamo-esque confrontations. The weapons are all weighty and satisfying, especially the shotgun, which is like a bottled punch from God. The defensive items introduced in the 2002 remake are still present and still welcome, single-use daggers and flashbang grenades that enable you to break the grasp of any zombie that attempts to nibble on your nose.
Most of the time you're completely alone as you tentatively explore the mansion's sprawl, accompanied only by the click and thud of your own footsteps and the shadows cast by the flickering candlelight. This is probably what I enjoyed most about returning to Resident Evil, wandering through the many halls and rooms, searching amid the sumptuous decorations and cosy furnishings for notes, keys and the innumerable other objects that Resident Evil integrates into its puzzles.
Speaking of which, I found the more enigmatic side of Resident Evil considerably less entertaining, mainly because the game is so darned obscure. No direction is given to the player whatsoever. Instead you bounce between locked and unlocked doors, picking up items which won't reveal their purpose for hours to come. The game doesn't give you clues, instead it hints at allusions to clues in the letters and diary entries scattered about the various studies and drawing rooms. Inventory space is minimal, especially if you play as Chris, resulting in much shuttling between save rooms in order to store objects. I do like how you have to "examine" many items in your inventory to reveal their true function, but this is so easy to overlook when you don't know what your goal is in the first place.
The reluctance to alter the core game in any way also means that the game's script remains abysmally-written schlock. If ever there was evidence that games understand places far better than they do people, Resident Evil is it. The brief descriptions of objects in the environment are immeasurably more evocative than any of the dialogue that stumbles from the character's mouths. I've heard many people fob it off as being wilfully corny, but I've always struggled to see any charm in Resi's weakest written moments.
Anyway, despite its rather obtuse attitude toward the player and a few grating dialogue exchanges. I largely enjoyed my return to Resident Evil. It still shows its age, but thanks to the efforts of Capcom it's much more vintage wine than rusty bike. If you want to see the best of Resident Evil, seek out either the sequel or the masterful fourth game
. But if you want to experience how it all began, this HD remaster is a fine way to satisfy your curiosity.