Resident Evil 4 HD Project releases next week after 8 years of work

Leon's result screen in Resi 4.
(Image credit: Capcom)

The Resident Evil 4 HD project began in 2014 and, eight years or so down the line, is finally complete and will release February 2nd. You may well be wondering why this project exists at all, given that developer Capcom has re-released Resident Evil 4 itself in several HD versions, and the answer is: They weren't so good.

The version of Resident Evil 4 that arrived on Steam in 2014 was technically high-definition, but lacked basic customisation options and the textures had merely been made a little sharper. It just didn't look the part, or do justice to one of the best games ever made. So the Resident Evil HD project decided that if Capcom wasn't going to do it properly, they would: This is a a huge texture and asset overhaul for the PC version of Resident Evil 4, which recreates the textures for every background, item and character in the game.

To give an idea of the dedication here, one of the two main creators Albert Marin actually retraced Capcom's footsteps to locations like Raglan Castle in Wales and the Palau Güell in Barcelona to photograph many of the same textures used in the original game, but at much higher resolutions.

"I collected a great number of locations the game’s developers use as source material," Marin told The Verge last year. "Most textures are re-created from scratch using some texture library images as a base. The original textures need to be analyzed several times in order to make sure the new source images match in terms of color, lighting, and even the material.

"For example, a rock texture: It may sound like an easy challenge, and it is, if you don’t have an original texture you need to be faithful to. You can’t imagine how complicated it can be to find a rock surface that matches with the original among the hundreds of different kinds of rocks nature has to offer!"

Part of the appeal of this project is that Resident Evil 4 is one of those titles that came at the tail-end of SD home displays, and this was incorporated into the visual design: Essentially, there's a good case that this looks better in SD, where the textures are a little blurrier and blend together, than in an HD version that merely upscales what's already there. The goal of this project from the start has been fidelity to the original game's visuals which, as the video above shows, seems to have been achieved. The ground-up recreation of textures, unsurprisingly, achieves much better results than a simple resolution increase.

The Resident Evil 4 HD Project will release February 2.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."