A year after releasing the remastered version of “Resident Evil” Capcom has polished up another classic “Resident Evil” title for modern devices. “Resident Evil 0” is a touched up version of the Gamecube game of the same name, but is this game just a pretty picture or is their more substance to it than that?
“Resident Evil 0” is a prequel to the original “Resident Evil” and fills in some of the gaps that exist between “Resident Evil” and “Resident Evil 2.” In RE0 you play as Lieutenant Billy Coen and S.T.A.R.S. recruit Rebecca Chambers. You might recall that Rebecca appears in “Resident Evil” as the lone survivor of her S.T.A.R.S. team, so straight away you know things are going to go bad for Rebecca. Things aren’t going so well for Billy either as he was on his way to face execution for a war crime until his prison transport was attacked and he escaped. Our two unlikely heroes form a tenuous alliance and attempt to survive the horrors waiting for them in a new mansion.
If you somehow skipped RE0, but still played the other classic RE games then you’ll know what you’re in for gameplay wise. However, there are a couple of major changes that you’ll need to be aware of as they make this game drastically different than other sequels. In many RE games you find yourself with two characters to choose from. In those games you typically play as one character and then are incentivized to play through the game again with the other character. In RE0 you control both characters at the same time and use them to solve puzzles and kill monsters.
It’s a simple mechanic and switching between characters is as simple as a button press, but there’s a slight delay that’s just long enough to be aggravating when you accidentally switch to the wrong person. Each person also has their own inventory and items can easily be exchanged between the two. The characters also have a unique perk that makes them invaluable in order to progress through the game. Billy possesses a lighter that’ll… light things up and Rebecca has a chemical kit that allows her to mix chemicals. Billy and Rebecca also bring different aspects to combat. Billy can take more damage and move heavy objects while Rebecca is quicker and can be shoved into small holes.
The other major change in RE0, that’ll especially throw veteran players for a loop, is the lack of an inventory box. In other RE games you always had access to a magical container that would hold all of your stuff and be accessible throughout the game. In RE0 the box is gone and instead you have to throw your stuff on the ground when you need space in your inventory.
Your items permanently stay wherever you place them, so if you find yourself in need of a key you dropped a hour ago you’ll be backtracking to wherever you left it. To further complicate the issue you can only leave a certain number of items in a room at a time. To say this process is tedious is an understatement. The game softens the blow by marking the items you’ve dropped on your map, so you won’t be left wondering where you dropped your shotgun. You’ll get used to it the more you play, but it’s incredibly frustrating when you’re accustomed to a certain mechanic that is typically standard in RE.
Story wise the game is your typical Resident Evil fare. Monsters are running amok, evil men are scheming in the background, and you’re just trying to survive. Billy Coen adds a bit of complexity to the game by being a protagonist with an atypical past. Unlike other RE characters, Billy has a past and history that’s a bit mysterious and adds a small emotional layer to his character arc. It’s not a whole lot, but when the characters in RE tend to be cardboard cut outs, any sort of characterization is a revelation.
However, RE0 does do some interesting stuff for fans of the Resident Evil lore. The game sets up a lot of what goes down in the first Resident Evil and helps to bridge the gap between RE and RE 2 by introducing characters featured in the later game and showing the evolution of their relationships with other characters.
If you’ve already played RE0 then you know all of this, so let’s get into what’s different about this new remastered version. First of all, the game features a beautiful up-rezzed look that makes the characters pop and the environments look richly detailed. Unfortunately the cutscenes look like they did on the Gamecube version so it leads to this awkward situation where in game cutscenes look amazing, but CGI cutscenes feel incredibly dated. The game also utilizes some nice comfort features like modernized controls. Don’t worry purists, you can still use the old controls if you want.
However, the biggest addition is one that lets you destress and just play the game for fun. It’s like a comforting dessert after chewing through an exhaustive steak. I’m talking about “Wesker Mode”, a new mode in which you can play as series baddie Albert Wesker. And this isn’t regular Wesker, this is powered up Wesker. So you can dash across the screen at break neck speed and knock enemies down. You can also release an attack that decapitates foes. He’s overpowered and it’s absolutely delightful. It’s an extremely cathartic experience and one that “Resident Evil” fans will appreciate.
Other than that there really isn’t a whole lot of new content to draw people back in if they’ve already played “Resident Evil 0.” If you missed out on the game during it’s original release, than this is certainly the best way to experience it. However, unless you have a real strong desire to play through this game again on a modern console, it’s still the same game they put out on the Gamecube. And that’s not a knock against it, just don’t expect it to be packing a lot of bells and whistles because it’s a “remastered” edition.
Overall this is a nice little package for a game that is mostly an excellent addition to the “Resident Evil” mythos. Unfortunately the bizarre change to the inventory system proves to be a hinderance, but I can’t hold that against this remastered version since that’s just the way the game was. There’s no way they’d go back and change that now, but if it’s something you’ve never encountered you should be warned it’s going to be frustrating. If you’re willing to adjust to it, though, you’ll be enjoying a classic “Resident Evil” title wrapped in a beautiful package.
“Resident Evil 0” is currently available on PS4, XBox One, and PC for $19.99