- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Players take a nostalgic trip back to the birth of the survival horror video game with the remastered third-person adventure Resident Evil (Capcom, Rated Mature, reviewed with PlayStation 4, $19.99).

Originally released in 1996, the Shinji Mikami masterpiece planted the seeds for a frightening franchise still blossoming today.

This version of the game takes its cue from a spiffed-up, faithful remake of the original offered for Nintendo’s GameCube back in 2002.

Nonetheless, the result of this remastered remake finds a player in a mansion with enough diabolical secrets to make Dr. Phibes giggle and enough door-creaking to scare the pants off of Don Knotts.

After a team of special ops warriors from S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Services) investigates an incident on the outskirts of Raccoon City, members scatter when some vicious canines attack and end up in that mysterious estate.

Choosing to control either the iconic, doe-eyed Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield (unbuffed at this point in his life), a player roams through the environment to find missing team members.

The search quickly devolves into a gantlet of horror where traps, puzzles and mutated creatures impede survival and escape.

As always, a limited amount of saves and inventory slots to carry stuff, along with a scarce supply of near everything from bullets to healing herbs, complicate decision-making. It does not help that flesh-eating monsters pop out at the most inopportune times to put an uncomfortable amount of stress on any given situation. Suffice to report, survival is a gift rather than expectation during every encounter.

The new widescreen aspect ratio under this high-definition makeover (yes, purists can still access the 4x3 ratio) allows for the ingestion of the fresh, eye-popping graphics offering refined background textures, 3-D character models and bursting lighting effects to counter the creepy shadows and highlight ornate statuary.

Reflections in mirrors or marble floors, wavering candle flames and lightning flashes are eerily stunning, while detail such as scratched wallpaper and bloodstained flooring increase the tension and anticipation.

The macabre moments remain potent and can cause a serious fright for those playing the game in the dark, be it zombified dogs leaping though a window, a moaning mutant munching on a human before attacking or any number of unexpected monsters waiting to attack behind the dozens of ornate doors.

Even better, aural effects are remastered in 5.1 surround sound. Noises extensively add to the visual terror. The steady supply of growling, footsteps on various surfaces, creaking, thunderclaps, ticking clocks and moans greatly enhance the unsettling nature of the game as Jill looks around every dimly lit corner.

Now toss in some simplified control schemes, and this dusted-off and polished version of “Resident Evil” remains a fine, mutated wine and more than worth the bargain price.

Although the newer survival horror game fan has seen much more realism, scares and brutality in the genre as recently as Mr. Mikami’s “The Evil Within,” not taking time to appreciate this classic would be a missed opportunity.

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