Resident Evil 4, inarguably one of the greatest games of all time, is now playable with full high-definition textures, enhanced 3D models, and revamped lighting courtesy of the Resident Evil 4 HD Project.
Almost eight years in the making, Resident Evil 4 HD Project was a massive undertaking that saw its developers scour texture libraries and stock photo galleries for the original materials Capcom used to make the game’s textures in the early 2000s. When that failed, they traveled to locations in Spain and Wales where Capcom itself sourced textures to take photographs of their own. The result is an extensive mod that carefully retains the aesthetics and atmosphere of the original Resident Evil 4 while dramatically upscaling its visuals in just about every way possible.
Here’s a breakdown of everything Resident Evil 4 HD Project has to offer from the creators themselves:
Restoring the visuals using the original real-world sources: In preparation for the original game, Capcom gathered texture assets by photographing a variety of real-world locations, primarily throughout Spain and Wales. For this project, Albert has gone to these same locations to gather higher-resolution assets. The result is a visual experience that is as true to the original game as possible, presented in resolutions up to 16 times that of the original game.
Correcting texture mapping and 3D modeling issues: Texture mapping and 3D modeling errors that weren’t noticeable in the original game being played on a CRT television become more apparent when playing in HD resolutions. Examples include objects floating above the surface they should rest on, improperly placed shadow layers, seams appearing where textures are supposed to flow continuously. We are correcting these issues throughout the game.
Enhancing flat objects to true 3D models: Due to limitations of the original hardware, objects like lamps, candle-holders, doors, decorative emblems, etc. were originally created as flat objects. In many instances we are able to revise these objects to be true 3D models, observable from any angle.
Remaining committed to the original visuals: Our intent throughout the project is to remain true to the original visuals and artistic intent. The best kind of feedback we receive is when people say that the game looks like what they imagined it to look like when they first played it 10 years ago. While we are not perfect, we continually refer back to the original texture assets to ensure we do not deviate in a significant manner.
Improving lighting, visual effects, collision inaccuracies, and prerendered cutscenes: Thanks to Son of Persia and the tools he developed, we’ve been able to edit all this kind of stuff and raise this project to a new level of perfectionism. Also, Separate Ways’ prerendered videos and the very few videos in the main campaign have been remastered using all kinds of methods: from automated AI upscaling to complete re-creation.
Since 2014, the two main developers spent a combined 12,810 hours and over $15,000 (all of which was recouped, and then some, from community donations) getting Resident Evil 4 HD Project ready for release. Fortunately, Capcom never sent a cease-and-desist letter, and even promoted HD Project through the Resident Evil 4 forum on Steam.
Resident Evil 4 HD Project is currently available for download through its official website. As of now, the mod only works with the Steam version of the game. The devs recommend a GPU with at least 2GB of VRAM to handle the much larger textures and generally upgraded visuals, so it should run fine on almost any modern PC.
We’ve seen about a million Resident Evil 4 ports over the last two decades, but never an upgrade on par with this, so I’m excited to jump back in for one last playthrough or two (or three, or four, or…well, you get the point).