There's a good reason why the Resident Evil series changed with the release of Resident Evil 4: the games prior to that were hugely atmospheric, featured some incredible moments and will go down in video game history, but my god, were they clunky. The term "tank controls" is a bit of a relic these days, with the advent of dual analogue sticks and more complex control setups, but back in the early days of 3D gaming, characters moved about with all the grace of a Sherman trying to squeeze between a Nissan Micra and a Fiat Punto down at the local Tesco. Resident Evil Zero, now on the Wii as part of the Archives series, originally hit the GameCube back in 2002, and for all its survival horror charm, its age is most definitely a problem.
As the slightly odd name suggests, Zero is the prequel to original survival horror classic Resident Evil, so takes place before events at the infamous mansion. It begins as STARS Bravo team finds a train, mysteriously stationary in the middle of the forest outside Racoon City. Fresh-faced biochemistry expert Rebecca Chambers becomes separated from the other Bravo squad members, and she begins to investigate the train on her own. From here on it's traditional Resident Evil fare, with Rebecca taking out zombies (yes, back then they were still zombies and not "infected") with a range of guns and other weapons, solving puzzles and moving back and forth between the same locations.
All very unoriginal then, but Capcom did introduce a brand-new mechanic that it returned to with Resident Evil 5. Zero features two playable characters that work through the game together, with the player able to switch between them at will, and issue basic commands to whoever is computer controlled. This second character is ex-con Billy Coen, who just so happens to have been a Marine in a former life. It's quite basic co-op gameplay, but Zero uses it in the majority of its puzzles. The fiddling around between characters and making sure you're getting the right items to the person who needs them can be annoying, but it's good old-fashioned gameplay.
As Resident Evil 5 proved last year, AI buddies aren't always as helpful as you'd like them to be, and Zero is a few steps behind that of occasionally annoying female compatriot Sheva Alomar. You'll need to switch between the two here fairly regularly in order to make the most of their respective talents (Rebecca can combine herbs while Billy is stronger and can take more damage), but whoever you don't have control of will cause problems, especially during combat. Your partner will frequently waste the good ammo when it really isn't necessary - perhaps done in protest of the tiny inventory system you have, offering a measly six slots that simply isn't enough - or eat up herbs in an attempt to stay alive.
There were moans and groans when Resident Evil 5 didn't let you move and shoot, but compared to Zero's archaic control scheme 5's might as well be science fiction, it's that far ahead of its predecessor. Even the simple task of positioning yourself in front of a door or object is a potentially stressful exercise, and at times you'll walk through a door when you intended to inspect a glistening object sat on a table. Not a problem you might think, but this is old-school Resi, so opening doors initiates a painfully slow loading screen that you have to sit through.