Capcom goes to the remaster way yet again. Does it pay off?
Capcom’s Resident Evil HD Remaster was an…odd phenomenon and yes, we know we’ve said that enough times. But how do you explain a game that was a remake of a 1989 title which came out in 1996 then re-built from the ground up for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002 before eventually arriving on current and previous gen platforms in 2015? And yet, despite its archaic nuances and mechanics, it was fun. More importantly, different sections of the game were handled in their own special way. Resident Evil HD Remaster is important because not only was it the highest selling digital game in history up till that point (Destiny: The Taken King would usurp it later) but its remastering approach is also used for Resident Evil Zero HD.
How do we even begin to explain Resident Evil Zero? During the time when Capcom was in love with the GameCube, it brought a number of exclusives to the platform. Resident Evil HD was one but Resident Evil Zero was even more important. It was a prequel to the first game but carried over many of the same production values, incorporating a scary atmosphere but making things more difficult by removing item boxes. Unsurprisingly, it was critically acclaimed even if sales were somewhat lower than expected from Resident Evil titles at the time. It eventually made its way to the Wii and was quickly forgotten before Capcom decided to resurrect it for an HD remaster.
Head to head comparison between PS4, Xbox One and PC versions of Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster. Select 1080p and 60fps option for best possibly playback quality.
Resident Evil Zero HD uses a three pronged approach to the remastering process. This consists of (a) coating some 2D objects with post processing effects, (b) polygonal objects used in place of 2D rendering and video for some objects and (c) updating complete sections with features like dynamic lighting effects. Similarly, effects like water reflections and smoke had been improved. In general features, there are options for 5.1 channel audio and either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio. You can even choose to roll with the old control scheme if you so desire.
The addition of post processing, enhanced shadow and texture quality, high quality FXAA and bloom filters help to bring the game closer to a 2016 title rather than something that was released in 2002. Again, the remastering doesn’t make it look better than the best third person survival horrors to release in recent times but it still lends a visually appealing look to the proceedings.
It should also be noted that the PC version shares the exact same graphics settings as RE HD Remaster. That means options for frame rate, refresh rate, anti-aliasing (up to FXAA3HQ), shadow quality and texture quality. V-Sync can also be enabled and thus you can choose whether to lock the frame at 60 FPS. Upon playing the game on PC, you’ll see pretty much no performance issues even when all settings are maxed out at 1080p resolution and 60 FPS. A frame drop does occur when the camera shifts angles but it’s normalized fairly quickly. While testing the game on a SAPPHIRE TRI-X OC Radeon R9 290 4GB and AMD FX 8350 along with 16GB memory, we found the experience to be great.
This was also true with Resident Evil HD Remaster. However, the bigger issue with that game was that it ran in 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second. A remaster of a 2002 game running at 30 FPS on the current generation of consoles, that too when said game is two generations removed? It was all well and good last year but now that Capcom has had more time with the hardware, we’re not sure what the reason could be for the lack of a 60 FPS frame rate on Xbox One and PS4.
Frame rate performance is still decent though again, there were drops when the camera angle suddenly changed. When comparing it to the GameCube release, we noticed better lighting, volumetric effects, anti-aliasing and texture work. Of course, all this is a given since – again – the GameCube version came in 2002.
In terms of aesthetics, it’s amazing to see how Resident Evil Zero HD – much like last year’s RE HD Remaster – is capable of maintaining the tone and atmosphere of its original release while still presenting an exceptional graphical standard. The texture work is impeccably handled without giving the game a total overhaul. It’s like Capcom is aware that one of the aspects of remastering a game is keeping the graphical nuances and art style that defined the original. In that respect, even if it’s an old game with “old” mechanics, Resident Evil Zero HD looks good. In terms of remastering work, is it of a higher standard than, say, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition? That’s a question for another day but seeing such different approaches to remastering is interesting in this day and age.
If you never played Resident Evil Zero HD, then you’ll probably find this to be a lost gem of sorts. Like Resident Evil HD Remaster, it delivers a style of survival horror gameplay that you just don’t see any more, warts and all. Its horror and overall gameplay could actually be considered a step above the original game in some ways but that’s up to the player to decide.
The PC version is recommended above all thanks to higher quality shadows and anti-aliasing along with strong 60 FPS performance. The PS4 and Xbox One versions are still very much worth checking out and won’t overtly disappoint in terms of visual quality. It’s just a shame that a 60 FPS frame rate for both platform versions is missing for the second year running. For that reason alone, the current gen versions come in at a distant second place.