Resident Evil 0 is considered the black sheep amongst classic RE titles. It originally began development on Nintendo 64, but after the team encountered memory storage issues on the old system, the development came to a sudden halt and was later picked up again after the Gamecube was announced. Without RE creator Shinji Mikami helming the prequel, the team took some bold chances that resulted in some unique concepts, but the game received neither critical acclaim nor commercial success. While praised for its moody visuals and atmosphere, the new characters were quickly forgotten and RE0 was soon overshadowed by its more successful sequels.
It’s a little strange then that Capcom decided to give this particular title the HD treatment. However, despite its issues and despite RE0 being the weakest of all the classic RE entries, it still serves as a reminder of how much the series has changed since Resident Evil 4. Especially when placed next to Resident Evil 6, the prequel is above and beyond in terms of level design, gameplay and, most importantly, puzzles.
"The dual-play idea works well at times, but more often than not, it’s a nuisance as your partner character always stands in the way when you’re trying to move object or navigate narrow corridors."
Resident Evil 0 takes place in 1998. Raccoon City’s Special Forces division sends out a team of S.T.A.R.S. cops, including protagonist Rebecca Chambers, to the city’s outskirts to investigate the rise in unusual murders in the area. After discovering a train that stopped dead in its tracks, Rebecca meets wanted criminal and ex-lieutenant Billy Cohen, with whom she teams up with to figure out what happened and to escape in one piece.
Resident Evil 0 is the first in the series to include dual-play. This allows players to move both characters simultaneously with the analog sticks, and it allows Rebecca and Billy to split up and explore different parts of the map in order to solve puzzles. This idea works well at times, but more often than not, it’s a nuisance as your partner character always stands in the way when you’re trying to move object or navigate narrow corridors.
"Resident Evil 0 looks absolutely stunning, even surpassing Capcom’s gorgeous Resident Evil remake of last year."
The first 1-2 hours on the train are the highlights of Resident Evil 0. The setting serves as a stark contrast to the original’s mansion and gives 0 a unique tone earlier on. But, once the train ride comes to an end and you find yourself back in a giant castle, Resident Evil 0 soon transforms into a modified version of Mikami’s original work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s certainly a refreshing deviation from all the action-heavy settings in recent RE titles, but it makes RE0 feel like an experimental side-project instead of a fully fleshed out, canonical entry.
Gameplay has remained largely the same. You can now switch between classic and modern controls, adjust the ratio for more screen real estate and you can drop unwanted objects anywhere on the map instead of dedicated chests. The inventory changes are somewhat of a double-edged sword. Being able to drop items anywhere is a welcome addition, but since your inventory slots are smaller than a box of tic-tacs (and you never know what items you’ll need next), you find yourself dropping important items in random places just to find out that they’re needed for an upcoming puzzle. If you’re not careful about where you drop things, you can find yourself running in circles just to find that one items needed for the current puzzle.
"Resident Evil 0 may not be the best of classic RE entries, but it’s still a damn fine game and it’s certainly more enjoyable than the recent action-oriented sequels."
The limited inventory also takes all the fun out of the dual-play. The majority of gameplay consists of swapping items between Rebecca and Billy. Considering that certain areas can only be accessed by a specific character, it can be especially annoying when the other character is carrying all the necessary items, and they’re on the other side of the map. Inventory frustrations aside, Resident Evil 0 still delivers some great level designs and intelligent puzzles. There’s a great sense of accomplishment when all pieces finally fit into place, and I really wish Capcom would revert to this type of gameplay over the Michael Bay-esque Resident Evil 6.
As expected, the biggest changes are found in the visuals. Resident Evil 0 looks absolutely stunning, even surpassing Capcom’s gorgeous Resident Evil remake of last year. High resolution textures have been created from scratch while still maintaining the integrity of the original release. Backgrounds are rendered with stupendous detail, and the new character models are a vast improvement over the old Gamecube and Wii releases. Despite its gameplay shortcomings, Resient Evil 0 is unquestionably one of the prettiest entries in the series.
Other extras include various costumes for both Rebecca and Billy, and a New Wesker Mode. Wesker Mode unlocks once you complete the main campaign, and it lets your play through the story as Albert Wesker who has gained special powers from the the Uroboros virus in Resident Evil 5, as well as a dark version of Rebecca.
Resident Evil 0 may not be the best of classic RE entries, but it’s still a damn fine game and it’s certainly more enjoyable than the recent action-oriented sequels. The HD upgrade is absolutely superb, although some of the archaic gameplay elements still plague the experience. Resident Evil 0: HD Remaster is a must for any Resident Evil fun, and it’s even being released as a physical copy alongside the original Resident Evil remake for only $39.99.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC