Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster  Review

Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster Review

Resident Evil is back, again, but sadly the returning title this time around is by far the weakest of the 'classic' Resi games. In fairness to Capcom, it has done a great job in updating the original version: the backgrounds here look even better than the ones found in Resi Remake Remaster Reloaded, and it also contains the same 'advanced' control scheme and widescreen options. There's no doubting the level of effort that's gone into getting it looking like it does, and if that's all you wanted to know, then buy away. For everyone else, however, a loving update sadly doesn't stop the experience itself from being barely worth your time.

Originally released in 2002 on the heels of the masterful remake of the original game, Zero is like a shambling Baldwin brother not named Alec, existing only in the shadow of something far greater, its few original ideas fleeting or flawed. It was the last of the old style Resident Evils, and for good reason: the series, at that point, looked totally knackered, reduced to repeating itself with diminishing returns.

Not that Resi Zero didn't at least try and shake things up – it did, creating its own set of problems in the process. Its biggest deviation from series norms (at that point) was the introduction of two controllable characters interacting in real-time: players can choose to control either STARS rookie Rebecca Chambers or escaped boy band member Billy Coen, flitting between them at will (with the AI controlling the other). Rudimentary commands – stop, go – can also be issued, and a good deal of puzzles revolve around splitting the team up and asking one to rescue or otherwise assist the other.

It was an interesting idea, but it was fiddly and laborious then and still is now. Two characters means two different, limited inventory slots which have to be managed, constantly asking players to swap over items, weapons, ammo, and whatever else in order to carry the optimum amount of stuff. If Resi 4's celebrated inventory screen resembled a sort of briefcase Tetris, seeing players rotate and organise items to maximise carrying potential, then Resi Zero's is akin to constantly packing and repacking a suitcase for two people about to go on the shittest holiday of their lives. It is as much fun as that sounds.

Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster screenshot

Other changes to the established formula have unwanted side effects. Concessions were made to old Resi rules to make Zero – and its constant inventory management – slightly more user-friendly: you could now drop items anywhere rather than lugging them back and forward to a storage chest. Players had clamoured for this addition since the first game, and while fine in theory, it actually means that instead of having one location where all your gear is stored, it's now likely be strewn across the map as you continuously try and reorganise your tiny inventory to house key items. Mikami's Resi is as much about forward planning as it is zombie shooting: the whole house is a puzzle with an optimum solution. But because you can now drop items anywhere, the game throws stuff at you with abandon, giving it a messy, inelegant feel, with the player never quite sure what they'll need at any moment.

With its key gameplay innovation falling flat then, Zero also has the misfortune of running out of ideas roughly an hour in, once the players violently alight the Ecliptic Express. In 2016 it may seem silly to think how much fuss was made over the fact Resi Zero began on a train, buy you consider that one of Resi's core appeals was that gorgeous, pre-rendered art style, then taking that much-loved aesthetic and applying it to a whole new setting was a cause for excitement. Sadly, this particular train ride lasts about the same amount of time as it takes to cross London on the tube, and soon you're back in another mansion, another drawing room, another corridor.

At times, Zero is almost a parody of what came before: its giant chess board puzzle (players move lifesize pieces around a board to unlock a drawer) seems like a deliberate nod to the ridiculous locks and mechanisms of entries past. If it is a playful nod then it's a good one, undermined by the fact Zero uses those very same puzzles and solutions as a crutch throughout most of its running time.

The penalty for moving the wrong piece in that puzzle – poison gas – is near identical to the punishment for moving the wrong suit of armour in the original's Spencer Mansion, and there are echoes of echoes everywhere. Crows crash through windows; Resi 2 and 3's sewers make a reappearance. A puzzle with a clock recalls a similar quest in Resi 2, so too an important corridor which recalls that game's morgue and armoury. Perhaps the most blatant lift is found in turning a light on and off before moving furniture to collect an item off of a stuffed and mounted animal head, taken directly from Resident Evil.

There are tenuous narrative reasons for why Zero's environment so closely mirrors that of the other games, but it's homage with no guile, empty pastiche, an appreciation of the original's style but not quite how it works. Resident Evil built beautifully, changing environments at just the right time to further a feeling of discovery. There was joy in finding new areas, and relief that you were on the right track. Zero's slavish appropriation of previous instalments' identities robs it of that joy, and so all you're left with is the relief that it might soon be over. There are no real highs in Zero, no big beats to mark your journey, with enemy and boss design being as tired as everything else. Giant bats! Big monkeys! Huge, erm, centipedes?

Resident Evil Zero isn't the worst game ever made, but it is an uninspired one, the last throw of the dice of an old style wherein everything relies on the skill of the director and the semi-static world they can conjure, and – to a lesser degree – the unique gameplay elements they can offer. Zero comes up short in all regards.

Version Tested: PS4

5 / 10

  • Backgrounds look superb
  • Weak puzzles
  • Poor enemy design
  • Rehashes many scares and environments

Click above for enlarged Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster Screenshots

4 Comments

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

OliverJones

I have a soft spot for Resi Zero. Probably because it was my first RE. If you've never played one I think it's a good starting point.
Posted 13:17 on 19 January 2016

Paul136

You're dead to me, Steve! :P It's hard to argue against your key points, but i suppose they don't bother me quite as much. I respect your opinion though, and the review was a good read, thanks.
Posted 23:43 on 18 January 2016
Ephidel's Avatar

Ephidel

Right, so I'll preface this by saying I really like RE0, and I believe RE2 is the worst of the classic Resi games. And I'm very pleased that you said Nemesis was better than RE2 on that livestream, because it is arguably the best RE game imo.

There are a few things to say about RE0. Firstly, the game is a direct and concerted effort to make a move towards being more action-orientated. You see this slowly happen throughout the RE series, and then people were all "How did this happen?!" when RE4 was released. RE3 introduced The Mercenaries, RE2 had the EX Modes, RE0 has Leech Hunter mode and CVX has another EX mode. Now, I totally disagree with the way Capcom went with RE6, but Revelations was good, Rev 2 was ok (but man, Moira should totally be dead and that plot point made no sense whatsoever) and RE5 wasted the story potential that they'd been building up in previous games.

So, what about RE0's repetition? Let me draw a parallel here directly to a widely praised and lauded game called Bioshock Infinite; particularly the bit near the end that went quite meta. That game essentially stated in-game facets and tropes as part of the universe and that they are an integral part of the experience. One could argue the same for classic Resident Evil games. There is always a mansion (RE2 Police Station counts), there is always a lab, there is always a monster. It works to identify the world as something distinctly Resident Evil and provides a familiar and oddly charming aesthetic backdrop.

Remember the Queen Zenobia, Steve? Remember how even though is was a cruise ship, the decor was like a classic Resi Mansion? Remember the Ashford's place in CVX? See the common thread? It's like so many other successful franchises that are built on being the same as prior titles, but also different. Zelda, GTA, Gears of War... Repetition is part of the experience, and though you didn't enjoy this incarnation as much as the others (which is fair enough), it is designed to be, and to feel like, a classic RE title, tropes and all.

Just felt like I should share my thoughts on it. Haven't played the game in over 10 years, but I remember why I got into RE in the first place, and it only makes me more angry that they offed Wesker in RE5 out of sheer laziness.
Posted 19:24 on 18 January 2016

datastatic

You need to have a quiet word with Simon Parkin over at Eurogamer, just to let him know where he is going wrong.
Posted 18:28 on 18 January 2016

Game Stats

Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster
5
Out of 10
Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster
  • Backgrounds look superb
  • Weak puzzles
  • Poor enemy design
  • Rehashes many scares and environments
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 19/01/2016
Platforms: PS4 , Xbox One , Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Survival Horror
No. Players: One
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 2,265 496
View Full Site
X