Resident Evil 0 (GameCube) Review

By Eggbert Manning 21.02.2003

Review for Resident Evil 0 on GameCube

When Capcom committed the Resident Evil series exclusively to the GameCube, the hot announcement was the remake of the original Resident Evil, complete with jaw-dropping pre-rendered graphics that put a whole new spin on the series. Lost in the jumble was Resident Evil Zero, a prologue of sorts originally intended for the Nintendo 64 but quietly brought to the GameCube with the same graphical prowess of the remake.

Now RE0 has been released, caught in limbo between the remake RE and Capcom's stunning screens of the upcoming Resident Evil 4. Not surprisingly, the game is cut from the same survival/horror mold as the rest of the series, with a heavy emphasis on puzzle-solving and item-placing in addition to battling its ghoulish inhabitants. Yet the pleasing additions to the series (partner-based gameplay and the ability to drop items anywhere) are off-set by some head-scratching omissions (no analog or type-C control and the lack of defensive items found in the RE remake). The final result is that while Resident Evil Zero does not blaze a revolutionary path in the series, it still offers the classic gameplay both fans and adventure junkies can't help falling in love with.

RE0 follows the travails of Rebecca Chambers, an 18-year-old rookie medic on the STARS special forces team, and escaped ex-military convict Billy Coen. The team join forces early on, after a train overrun by zombies crashes in a forest, revealing them to be about the only survivors. This leads to the game's central gameplay mechanic, "partner zapping," whereby, instead of choosing one character to play as throughout the game, the player handles both Rebecca and Billy at the same time. As you move your main character, the other follows behind, although you can tell him/her to wait or control them freely. The result is that unique puzzles are introduced that require the pair to split up and search different areas to activate switches or push blocks so the other can progress. It is a pretty neat idea that works well for the game.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 0 on GameCube

Admittedly RE0 is a side-story of sorts, one not necessary to understand the key story arc of the RE series. Yet the game fills in tons of key points about Umbrella's creation and development, as well as casting light on much of the in-fighting that took place within the company. If you think the story is simply a tacked-on addition made for a quick buck, think again.

The game is classically reminiscent of traditional RE gameplay. Soon enough, Billy and Rebecca will be cast off the train and stuck exploring an archaic Umbrella mansion as well as a variety of laboratories and factories. Keys must be found to open new doors in the mansion and items must be examined and placed in puzzles to open up hidden passageways. The duo will fight against the usual parade of sluggish zombies and genetically enhanced animals and bugs while clutching to a limited-ammo supply of handguns, rifles, grenade launchers, Molotov cocktails and more. This is nothing new for series veterans; in fact, there isn't much wrong with this classical setup.

The biggest innovation is the addition of partner-based gameplay. Throughout most of the game, Billy and Rebecca can travel together as a team, though you only have full control over one character at a time. The computer AI of your teammate is competent; they will fire when you shoot (and even hold their fire if you stand right in front of them), but they will not avoid enemies or bosses on their own. You can control their movements with the C-stick and move them out of harm's way, but it is very hard to do in the middle of battle.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 0 on GameCube

Capcom has done an excellent job crafting puzzles around this gameplay dynamic. Each character has specific abilities: Billy is stronger and can push heavy objects, while Rebecca, while smaller and weaker, can mix herbs and chemicals. Some sequences will force you to split up the characters (switching with the simple touch of the X button). This really heightens the tension, because you will miss the extra protection in a firefight as well as the ability to readily exchange items in each inventory. This is a fascinating addition and we can only hope Capcom finds ways to squeeze it into other RE games.

The other big change is the ability to drop items wherever you want, instead of being forced to leave them in specifically designed "item chests." On one hand, it works beautifully, but on the other, you may often times find yourself travelling quite a ways back to look for a specific item you had to leave behind earlier.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 0 on GameCube

It certainly is no small feat to improve upon the graphics of the RE remake, but RE0 has seemingly done it. The pre-rendered textures are still as crisp as ever, the baroque art direction adds tons of atmosphere and the incredibly-smooth characters are rendered in insane detail (Billy's character design is easily the best of the series, especially with the way the dangling handcuffs float and weave with his every movement). And yet there are improvements. Water and glass reflections sport improved clarity, so you can see both the character's reflection as well as the landscape in the distance and light-sourcing has also improved. There is no doubt that RE0 is one of the best-looking realistic games on the GameCube.

All in all, Resident Evil Zero is one of the top games on the system and an entry worthy of the Resident Evil name that fans will most definitely appreciate. If you haven't played a Resident Evil game before, Zero would be a perfect place to start, and you can then move on to the next game in the series chronologically, the remake of Resident Evil, also on GameCube.

Screenshot for Resident Evil 0 on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Resident Evil Zero stays vested in the tradition of the series, exchanging fascinating additions with maddening inconsistencies that take it right back to where it started on the RE evolutionary chain. Series fans will most definitely want to be getting hold of this, and, being a prequel to the entire series, it is a great starting point for anyone that hasn't dabbed their hands into this brilliant survival horror franchise yet. Since it is only around the £10 mark nowadays, this is worth every single penny.

Also known as

Resident Evil Zero

Developer

Capcom

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (13 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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