Also On: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC
If you've read some of my other reviews, you know that I have a touchy relationship with the survival horror genre. In my opinion the best survival horror game of 2015 was Capcom’s re-release of the Resident Evil remake in HD. Based on a pretty good critical response and some great sales numbers, Capcom decided to take another stab at another HD remaster. This year’s rerelease is Resident Evil 0, which was formally only available on Nintendo consoles (Gamecube and Wii). I hadn’t played Resident Evil 0 to completion since it’s original release on the Gamecube and was pretty eager to check out how Capcom did with it’s remastering. Especially after how much I appreciated and enjoyed the remaster of the Resident Evil Remake from last year.
For those that couldn’t tell Resident Evil 0 takes place before the original game, hence the zero in the title. In it you play as Rebecca Chambers (one of the S.T.A.R.S. members that goes to the mansion in the original Resident Evil) and convict Billy Coen. When Rebecca’s team discovers an overturned police transport vehicle, they begin to look for the convict that the police were transferring (Billy). Rebecca stumbles onto the Ecliptic Express train, things get weird, and so goes our adventure. At the time this was the first Resident Evil title to attempt to have a partner swapping system, where you control both characters. The inclusion of this feature into the Resident Evil franchise is one that I really don’t care for. Again, going back to the term “survival horror”, I don’t want someone else tagging along with me, I want to brave it alone and survive the odds. Ultimately it doesn’t annoy me to level it did while playing Resident Evil 5, but that rant is for another time and place.
Having to control two characters makes for some unique puzzles and I think that was Capcom’s original intention. Having to split up at certain points and maneuver switches or send objects through different methods feels rewarding for some puzzles, while others just feel lazy and pointless. But also having two characters to control means two inventories to maintain. Each character has six item slots and when they are near each other you can swap items between one other. I should just come out and say it. . . The item management in Resident Evil 0 is my biggest problem with the title. Not having enough slots to hold onto items gets extremely annoying, but there is something they could have done to help alleviate the headache. Previous Resident Evil titles featured a storage chest in most of the save rooms. In these chests you could keep excess items and things you might not need for the time being, and any of your items are accessible from any chest in the game. So why did they decide not to have any of these in Resident Evil 0? Instead I had to just leave items all over the floor in save rooms and use the map to see where I left certain items. Resident Evil has always been about item management, but this in my eyes took it to another level of annoyance.
Resident Evil 0 was originally released after the Resident Evil remake but before Resident Evil 4. In hindsight you can see that 0 was still clinging onto what the franchise used as crutches for so many titles prior and it didn’t take many chances to be different. Once Resident Evil 4 was released and changed the franchise on so many levels, it just makes you wonder what if 0 was developed after Resident Evil 4, what game we might have gotten. This shouldn’t deter first time players, because Resident Evil 0 definitely isn’t a bad game by any stretch. But it does happen to be more of the same old, same old that we were used to from the franchise at the time it was released. To most, this remaster is a welcome return to that style of gameplay and puzzles of years past since almost all of the new Resident Evil titles from 5 on, have been more action adventure than survival horror.
From fighting massive creatures and mutations, to exploring all different environments, Resident Evil 0 gives you some of your favorite bits and pieces from Resident Evil 1 through 3. While some boss fights feel somewhat similar, I was still overjoyed to play a Resident Evil title that didn’t involve me mowing down hordes of zombies with a machine gun or battling zombies that knew how to use automatic weapons. I would have liked to spend a bit more time on the train but that’s more of a personal preference than a issue with the game. The pacing of introducing new areas and the amount of backtracking necessary is really perfect for me. Dare I say that Resident Evil 0 features some of the best pacing in the franchise. I quickly would like to mention how laughably bad the voice overs are; I don’t know if they were trying to pay homage to the original Resident Evil but they are really terrible and I laughed at them more frequently than not.
Moving on. . . lets look at some of the changes with this HD remaster. First the game is presented in widescreen for the first time, but you also have the option to play it in the original 4:3 aspect ratio. The game looks pretty good at its remastered 1080p resolution but for some reason I don’t think it looks as good as last years Resident Evil remake remaster. Carried over from that same Resident Evil remake remaster is the option to use an alternate control style that is more inline to modern games. Playing the Resident Evil titles without the outdated tank controls really help the controls from being too frustrating. While I consider myself a Resident Evil veteran and can handle the tank controls pretty well, I still prefer to control my characters’ movement with a more simpler “I push left and the character goes left”, but maybe I’m just a simple man.
Lastly there is one brand new mode included, entitled Wesker Mode. Once you complete the game you unlock the ability to use series regular and big baddie, (spoilers if you live under a rock) Albert Wesker. He has the powers he gained from the Uroboros virus during Resident Evil 5, which makes it a much more over the top experience. Wesker replaces Billy and makes the game a real fun and different experience on second play through.
While Capcom seems to make some questionable calls when it comes to which franchises get new titles, remasters or nothing at all, I’m glad they touched up Resident Evil 0 and brought it to the current gen consoles. Being confined to the Wii and Gamecube all but guaranteed that I wouldn’t go back to play through Resident Evil 0. It isn’t one of my favorite Resident Evil titles, but it’s definitely better than any Resident Evil title to come out since 4 (Sorry Revelations fanboys) and is one of the last true survival horror games that we’ve got from Capcom. Now let the waiting game begin on the promised Resident Evil 2 remake.