Capcom released an ‘HD’ remaster of Resident Evil 4 in 2014, but their official makeover is nothing compared to the work by a small team of modders across almost eight years. Their mod, the Resident Evil 4 HD Project, is out now, and I think it’s the most impressive remaster mod ever made. In replacing the game’s textures and models with high-def versions, they’ve tried hard to replicate both the form and the style, and even tracked down locations and objects Capcom had photographed to work into textures. Dead impressive.
Along with new high-res textures, the mod tweaks many 3D models for more detail, remakes the UI in high-res form, redoes pre-rendered cutscenes, fixes some visual glitches Capcom had left in, improves lighting and shadows in places, and does more work to make it look better. The mod brings technical improvements too, such as better widescreen support. It even (optionally) restores visual effects like the depth-of-field blur present in the original release but absent in later versions.
Along with the main story campaign, it’s retouched the Assignment: Ada and Separate Ways bonus campaigns, and the arcade-y Mercenaries mode.
What’s most impressive is that through all this, the creators are guided by how the original game looked. Too many ‘HD’ mods make not only individual textures look quite different, but their whole style and balance is off. They see remastering as a technical process to be solved with brute force application of pixels, without a shred of artistry. The RE4 HD Project follows the same sharp, striking style of the original, it still looks like RE4. And many textures still look like themselves, the same bricks and scratches in the same places, rather than just any old brick. I might grumble that some of the gun textures have gritty detail for detail’s sake but that’s about it. The mod really is impressive.
That’s partially because the team have tracked down many of the locations and objects which Capcom used as the foundation for some of the game’s textures. They’ve often returned to the source material to use as foundations for their own work. An amazing effort.
I did enjoy re-reading the mod’s initial announcement from back in February 2014, where project founder Cris offered disclaimers including “I’ve never really done this before” and “I don’t have a lot of free time, so this will be a project that will likely take 1-2 years to finish”.