Three Out of Five Stars
Summary : Even with a significant visual upgrade and a modern control scheme option, Resident Evil Zero is still one of the weakest entries in the Resident Evil series.
With Resident Evil Zero, Capcom has finally released the final part of what is now offered as the Resident Evil: Origins Collections. Despite serving as a Resident Evil origins story, Resident Evil Zero was actually the last of the “original” games. Originally released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002, the game followed the original trilogy and Code Veronica. Despite, its significant additions, Resident Evil Zero was the final entry of the main series to use the classic Resident Evil gameplay formula, including the infamous tank controls.
That somewhat awkward, retro control scheme is still present in the Capcom’s new HD version of Resident Evil Zero, though an updated one is also available. Of course there are benefits to those original “tank” controls, like the ability to back away from onscreen enemies. Also included in those pregame options is the ability to change the aspect ratio from the original 4:3 to a 16:9 widescreen format, though the new display also has its drawbacks. In widescreen mode, the camera is zoomed in and cropped, which makes it a little more difficult to effectively search the environments.
Speaking of environments, that’s where this HD remake of Resident Evil Zero really shines. The new environments are breathtakingly beautiful, and really go a long way to making this release look like a new game. The character models have also been updated, though they’re still fairly low polygon assets, compared to modern games. Unfortunately, the cutscenes haven’t been redone. Instead, Capcom has added a blur to the original full motion video sequences, to mask the relatively rudimentary presentation. Sadly, these dated clips, in the HD version are what really betrays the game’s age.
As a matter of fact, the cutscenes also highlight what was wrong with Resident Evil Zero in the first place. While there were significant changes to the gameplay, everything around that seems to be cobbled together, with arbitrary new material which only has the requirement of not straying too far from existing Resident Evil canon. This leads to a narrative that induces head shaking, and is thankfully mostly forgettable. The series has never been known for the quality of its writing, but Resident Evil Zero’s story of Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen is an undisputed low point.
Resident Evil Zero changes up the original Resident Evil formula by forcing players to control both main characters, and Albert Wesker in the unlockable “Wesker Mode.” By the way, those characters also have slightly different abilities. This allowed the developers to design new, more complex types of puzzles without relying on creating random, obscure solutions. Tied into the dual character system, the way inventory is handled was also changed by Capcom, adding another aspect to the puzzle solving. While it sounds dynamic, the actual application of it all results in quite a bit of backtracking and overall frustration.
It’s always tough to score a videogame remake or remaster, and Resident Evil Zero is no exception. On one hand, the Resident Evil franchise is a video game icon, and those that love the games, particularly the originals, will find Resident Evil Zero an essential chapter. With significantly updated visuals, longtime fans will probably appreciate Capcom’s effort immensely. Unfortunately, everyone else will compare the title poorly to similarly priced new releases. I find myself somewhere in the middle. While I am a longtime Resident Evil, and survival-horror, fan and even appreciate the title’s overall significance, Resident Evil Zero certainly isn’t the first chapter that I’d recommend.
Resident Evil Zero is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Intense Violence, and Blood and Gore. This game can also be found on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
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