Around this time last year, Resident Evil HD was released, reintroducing people to the story in the series that started it all… or so they thought.
Resident Evil 0 tells the story of S.T.A.R.S Bravo Team member Rebecca Chambers and the journey that ultimately leads her to the mansion where the first Resident Evil takes place. The game has received the HD treatment just as Resident Evil HD did, giving us a great reason to go back and re-play it or giving newcomers to the series a chance to experience the story for the first time.
Resident Evil 0 looks just as beautiful as it did when it first released in 2002, though this time around it’s been upgraded for newer displays. I would even go as far to say that Resident Evil 0 HD looks a bit better than Resident Evil HD, with the pre-rendered CG backgrounds looking a little more sharper. The videos that show up from time to time however, feel like they’re missing this polish and don’t look as good as the actual in-engine footage.
The game also offers two different display options, allowing you to use the original aspect ratio, or to have the game’s pre-rendered backgrounds zoomed in on a bit in order to fill a widescreen display.
The systems in place in Resident Evil 0 vary quite differently from other earlier titles in the series. Zero allows you to switch between both Rebecca and her fellow survivor Billy at almost any time during the game. Being able to control each character is essential to solving some of the puzzles in the game, which are designed to make you use both characters. There’s also an option to change how your partner acts when you’re not in direct control of them, though I have to question the AI behind some of this as Billy was nice enough to just stand there while Rebecca was swallowed up by a monstrous frog. Thanks Billy.
The other big change from the earlier RE titles is the way the item system works. In previous games, there would be chests scattered about that would allow you to grab or stow your items. In Resident Evil 0 however, those magic chests are nowhere to be found and instead you have to haul everything along with you. Rebecca and Billy can simply leave items in rooms as they explore which is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, if you need to pick up and important item but don’t have the inventory, you can drop that extra first-aid spray in your inventory and pick it up right on the spot. On the other hand however, you might put down an item somewhere only to moan and groan when you realize you’re quite far from the item and will have to backtrack to reclaim it. Luckily, the game allows you to see which items you’ve dropped where in case you need to go back and retrieve a specific item and forgot where you left it.
One of the things the earlier style Resident Evil games are notorious for are their tank controls. When you press “up” the character walks forward instead of up on the screen. That control system is still present here, however a newer control method, which moves the characters on the screen in the direction you press on your keyboard or controller, while automatically running, is also available, giving players a more modern style of play.
I’ve grown accustom to the tank style controls over the years and don’t mind the newer style. However, the new style presents issues that were present in the previous HD installment as well as a new issue. Resident Evil uses pre-rendered backgrounds for its locations and because of this there may be times where you’re running and suddenly, the screen changes and where you were originally running forward, now the camera angle has switched, causing you to run in the opposite direction you intended. In many spots I’ll be running only to switch screens and run right back to where I just was because of the camera angle change. Additionally, because of the way the item system works in Resident Evil 0, where you can leave items in a room, I often found myself irritated while trying to maneuver my character over a particular item in order to pick it up when in a room with several items placed on the floor. The new control style simply doesn’t have the precision as the tank controls.
After finishing the game once, players will have access to Wesker Mode. In this mode, that has you play through the game as Rebecca in a special costume reminiscent of Jill from Resident Evil 5, Billy is replaced by Albert Wesker- complete with special powers. Wesker has the ability to dash and shoot lasers out of his eyes which is great if you like to conserve ammo or feel like dropping your handgun to make more inventory room.
It should be noted that this isn’t some kind of weird alternate reality campaign- they literally just swap in Wesker for Billy and give the character powers. You’ll still hear Billy’s voice in the various cutscenes throughout the game, with Wesker’s voice only being heard when you decide to have both characters split up or stay together. Replaying the game and seeing Wesker but hearing Billy is… well, it’s weird.
Overall, Resident Evil 0 HD appears to be a cleaner remaster than its predecessor. However, the enjoyment of the actual gameplay is hurt by the inventory system which ultimately makes it one of the less enjoyable games in the series.
The game is available now on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC.
Capcom provided a copy of this title (PC) for review purposes.