The black sheep of the family.
The Resident Evil franchise has seen everything outside of a brand new title in the series as of late. Last year we finally got the HD remake of a remake we had all been clamoring for. Capcom has announced plans to give the same treatment to Resident Evil 2, and now we have the most obscure title, Resident Evil Zero in full HD treatment as well. This chapter is the only one to never stray from its original release; for those that never owned a GameCube (or Wii) this title has never been available outside the confines of a Nintendo console, until now, which is ironic as it is available for everything BUT a Nintendo console.
Resident Evil Zero is probably the most hated in the series. The change in inventory management (no more item boxes), the lame enemy designs, and the infamous singing enemy are some of the issues. This game gets a lot of unwarranted hate, mainly because the other titles it was being compared to are considered gaming royalty. I liked RE0 when it launched, so when I got a chance to revisit it with a fresh coat of paint, I was certainly anxious.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC, PS3, 360
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
This remaster doesn’t disappoint, at least in the technical sense. The console versions look great. As before, players can opt to play in the new 16×9 format or the original 4×3 ratio. The new visual touches are actually more impressive than REmake. Character models have seen significant improvement, and the team has added a bunch of cosmetic options, such as costumes for completing the game. There are also DLC costumes, which is both good and bad; bad for me because I am a sucker and will likely spend the money. I am so weak.
There is also a new mode that opens up upon completion allowing players to venture through the game as Albert Wesker. Somehow he has his super abilities before the incident…you know what I am just going to ignore that. It is fun, and a nice reward in addition to the costumes that unlock.
One of the most impressive things about these remakes is how good the original assets were. While they may have received a resolution bump, these are still the original visuals from these games. It goes to show how impressive the GameCube hardware truly was. Subtle details are littered throughout the game, and now shine even more in glorious HD. This is one sharp-looking game.
The control scheme has also been updated to allow for modern controls if players want that. The original tank controls are still here, but what kind of monster wants to use those? The biggest change to the formula for Zero was the ability to swap characters on-the-fly in the game. This was used to solve puzzles, and when left alone, players had to monitor their partner at all times to make sure they weren’t being attacked. It added to the tension, as well as the frustration of micro-managing each character.
As I mentioned earlier, the inventory system also took a weird turn. Item boxes were removed, and instead replaced with the drop mechanic. Players can drop items anywhere, anytime in the world. The catch is they have to remember what they dropped where. For example, leaving ink ribbons in rooms with typewriters and so on. It was a divisive mechanic, and frankly not one I am a fan of. Inventory management is considered a relic in game design, and Resident Evil is the king of making it more frustrating than it needed to ever be.
Probably the biggest crime of Zero though is its place in the timeline. While it is certainly cool to see the events leading up to Raccoon City, the context here is confusing at best. It feels like the developers were trying to create a prequel to the series while also having no clue how to do that. What we end up with is confusing plotlines and a plodding pace that feels a lot longer than the 6-8 hour campaign suggests. It really is a forgettable experience in the grand scheme of the series.
Resident Evil Zero Remaster is exactly what the name implies. I had a blast returning to this entry, which is easily my least played in the series. It does enough different to help it stand on its own, even if some of those mechanics are archaic by today’s standards. I am done with the teasing though. Announce Resident Evil 7. I am ready, the world is ready. Let’s move this franchise forward and get back to what made it a classic in the first place.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.