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Resident Evil 0

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror

Graphics & Sound:

Resident Evil 0 is an HD remake, but given that the original game came out in 2002, itís not as much of a dramatic update as we saw with the 1996 Resident Evil and its HD remake. The graphics did, however, receive a nice overhaul, with better textures and lighting and, of course, HD resolution.

Since the difference is subtle, there might not be much to rave about in the looks department. Hey, itís still super spooky, and the leech enemies are still super disgusting, and that guy in the white dress frockÖ thing still creeps everyone out. Itís just that we have seen it before.

Resident Evil 0 has that traditional horror movie style soundtrack that the classic RE games all had. There are ominous strings, fingers walking across piano keys, the standard stuff. It does the job of being creepy pretty well. The voice acting is not phenomenal, but it sounds like it has remained unchanged from the original as well, so you are at least getting the authentic experience.


Gameplay:

Resident Evil 0 is a prequel to Resident Evil, putting you in the time before the Alpha team of S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) found themselves in the infamous mansion. You start out as Rebecca Chambers, a rookie member of the S.T.A.R.S. team. She teams up with Billy Coen, a criminal with a violent past. But is he everything heís been painted to be? They meet up on a train, which eventually becomes a runaway train, and eventually ends up next to a very familiar mansion. Exploring the mansion gradually reveals the history of the T-Virus and its creator, Dr. James Marcus. So if George R. R. Martin were writing the script, this dude Marcus would be the mother of leeches. I mean youíve even got to solve leech puzzles at one point. Heís super into leeches, you guys. Unfortunately for everyone, there's someone else who's just as into leeches and weird white dress robes. He's also pretty angry and looking for vengeance against Umbrella Corp.

I know some people are Team Rebecca, but she really didnít do much for me in this game. I mean, she canít even push some of the objects required to solve some of the puzzles. Even as she interacts with Billy and reveals more of his past, the two characters as a whole didnít do much for me. Billy seems a little obsessed with himself, while Rebecca just seems embarrassingly green. They are, at least, fun to mock.

As for changes from the other games: wow, wow! You get to leave items on the floor! But sorry if you were expecting the magic item boxes that transport your items to all the other magic item boxes. So thatís good and bad. The good thing is you can load up on items you need in your immediate future. The bad thing is, you have to run all over the place if you want to retrieve something important. Because of this and the new partner system, the game seems to be designed to remind you to keep important items on you. For example, there is one particular room you have to drop into. Because you were dropped in, you cannot backtrack, and youíll have to fight your way out. If you were silly enough to walk in without a weapon and enough ammo, thereís a knife waiting there for you, so you are not completely stuck having to backtrack to the last save. But donít expect the game to continue being so gracious.

More changes: you get a partner to help you! There are advantages and disadvantages having a partner tag along (if we can really call it that when itís a CPU-controlled partner). This partner system is simply layered on top of the classic Resident Evil system, so you get some advantages right away. Enemies like dogs can be kept at bay when your partner is firing at the same time you are. The partner gives you more stopping power. The disadvantage is that you have to keep your partner alive, and your partner is an ammo hog.

I take that back, itís mostly to your disadvantage to have a partner when they are so incredibly dumb. I found myself either leaving one person in a safe room or micromanaging them so they stay out of the way of zombies. And wow, Rebecca cannot take a hit, so you have to take that into account when youíre considering which person to control. On the one hand, you could choose Billy, who can take a hit, and then you can confidently take on a few enemies. But then youíre stuck with an A.I. partner who pretty much starts bleeding out when a zombie so much as brushes against her. Reverse control if you like, itís just a new set of problems to manage. For purists, this is fine. As a person who has no experience with the game, however, youíll probably just wish you could put a human duo in control of both partners.

Eh, it is kind of fun to set up a good fight between you and your partner. Planning ahead can help you effectively take out a room and manage inventory. When you set things up well, it can feel quite satisfying. Some of this setup requires prior knowledge of the room, however, so itís not entirely based on skillful gameplay. For example, if you know a certain corpse is going to wake up after you walk past it, you can leave one partner behind while you walk past and trigger it. You can avoid being boxed in and take out the surprise enemy with ease. Then again, if you donít know the zombie will wake up, this doesnít work as well. You could potentially be setting up for lots of scenarios that never happen.

The game is also really unforgiving if you happen to get into a boss fight without the right weapons. Considering there are several bosses that split your characters up when the fight starts (Rebecca even gets grabbed by one), this is really unfair.


Difficulty:

In Resident Evil 0, easy is notably, well, easy. For one, you donít have to "double tap" the regular zombies. Thatís right, when they go down, they go down for good. And everyone takes a lot more hits. And ammo is given away like itís a throw at a Mardi Gras parade (hey, sorry, itís almost Fat Tuesday and Iím a Louisiana expat). So this is a good mode to use if you would like to just see the story and get some of the thrills of the gameís harder modes later.

Normal and Hard Modes turn things way up. Normal is tough enough, with limited ammo and real danger from every encounter, even with the gameís lower tier enemies. Youíll have to carefully manage ammo for both partners, and youíll have to make smart (or psychic) decisions about which enemies to use that precious ammo on.

Also, some of the puzzles in this game are stupid hard. STUPID HARD. Thereís one puzzle that requires you to use 10 numbers to add up to a pre-determined total such as 67. Itís a puzzle that might be a fun brainteaser if you werenít, oh say, under a timer countdown at the time. It might be a little more fun if the rules were actually explained before you got to the console. Oh and it might be more fun if one of the consoles werenít broken so youíre unable to see the totals being added up. Wait, it actually isnít any fun at all. Did I mention this is part of the braking system for a train? Just imagine, the conductor tells the crew they need to get ready to brake the train and everyone grabs a calculator and figures out math problems before everyone is killed in a fiery crash.

Umbrella Corporation must have some amazing health insurance benefits. Why else would you work for a company that wants you to solve a puzzle before you can apply the brakes on a train? I canít imagine the hoops they have to jump through to clock in for work in the morning. Itís probably something like, "Notice to staff: Please rotate the demonís head to the right and input this code to receive your timecard. Also, get better at math or we will kill you."


Game Mechanics:

As was the case with the Resident Evil HD remake, Resident Evil 0 has made some improvements to the controls. You no longer have to turn your character and then move, you can simply press a direction and go. I may love the franchise, but I really donít miss those tank controls. The classic controls are, however, there if youíd like to use them. You masochist.

Not that this is anything new, but camera angles can be a problem in Resident Evil 0. The game uses a unique fixed camera angle system. It allows the game to do some cool things that emulate the horror movies that Resident Evil pays so much homage to, but it can be a pain to deal with when enemies arenít cooperating. It can be bad enough when youíre in a relatively open space and you canít see the enemy youíre fighting because theyíre in one camera and youíre in another, but in a train made up of long corridors and nothing but long corridors, this is pretty unbearable. Itís to the point where you can stand in one spot, ready your knife, then slash, and that will cause the camera to momentarily go from the next scene and back.

So you can technically control your partner on the fly, but it would be nice if they were a little less dumb. Itís not as bad as say, RE4ís most shameful and dirty secret called the "escort mission," but itís still tedious. The presets for your partnerís behavior arenít very granular either, so you canít really set them up for a particular room or type of enemy. And although you can use a single button to tell your partner to follow you or go solo, you still have to go into the menu if you want them to stop using their weapon. Thereís no way to tell them to be completely defensive and say, just dodge enemies while you conserve ammo. No, I guess that would be too easy.

I am torn on whether the partner system is good or bad for this game, but either way, this is a solid HD remake. For the most part, the rest of it is traditional Resident Evil: zombies, mutated monsters, herbs, chemicals, grenade launchers, the usual. It follows in the footsteps of the first game pretty closely. So if you enjoyed RE, youíll probably enjoy RE 0. With so many great remakes, nowís a great time to catch up with the beginnings of the Resident Evil franchise.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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