Blood, guts, zombie brains and more... Who could honestly resist?
Originally planned for the Nintendo 64, Resident Evil 0 has finally seen the light of day on the Nintendo GameCube. After many delays, players can finally experience the disaster that began the T-Virus Saga. Starring Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen, two unlikely partners battle against the machinations of Umbrella and their army of undead.
If you thought the original Resident Evil for GameCube was pretty, you haven’t seen anything yet. Better character models and improved special effects and lighting show that Capcom knows just how to tweak an existing engine. It’s quite spectacular when you’ve got an enemy or character cornered in a camera angle and can see all the detail that was put into them. In terms of presentation, Capcom has gotten the mood thing down. Backgrounds are dark and moody, and the train speeding through the rain just gets you ready for what’s to come.
As for all things aural, Capcom obviously knows how to create a great ambient atmosphere using sounds, and light melodic tunes. Creatures all have their signature cry, while background setups have their own unique theme. From the grinding of a clock to the requisite “safe room” music, it’s all there. It sounds quite nice, but there’s unfortunately no surround sound option available. Stereo is all you’re going to get.
Resident Evil 0’s most touted features are its renovated item system and the all-new partner aspect. Fortunately, both of these additions are not only welcome, but extremely well done. Players only have twelve item spots between both characters and are able to drop items at will—be they “Key Items” (meant for solving puzzles) or healing herbs or ammo and weapons. Some large weapons such as the Hunting Rifle and the Grenade Launcher take up two slots of a character’s inventory, balancing the large firepower with the drawback of losing one more spot to hold something. The game remembers where you left an item, so it isn’t a huge problem to go back to pick something up you missed or had to leave. It’s quite nice to have an item system that no longer revolves around running to the nearest Item Box and dumping a bunch of things players will ‘need later’ and forcing one to choose what comes and what is left behind.
The game forces you to split up with your partner frequently in order to solve puzzles or retrieve items necessary to move into the next area. Quite often you’ll find yourself sending Billy instead of Rebecca, only because he has such a huge health bar. Rebecca takes two or three hits maximum before hitting Caution, while Billy the Bull seems to never leave the “Fine” status. However, RE0 will use this knowledge against you and will force you to use Rebecca, adding tension to the situation. The CPU follows orders well, and fires all out if you choose for your partner to attack, or will just stand there if you choose to “Idle”. This is both good and bad. It might have been nice if a middle ground had been included—such as having the partner only attack if the main character was being harmed by an enemy. That said, there’s nothing to complain about.
If there’s one thing that Capcom has fumbled, it would be the controls. We’re still stuck with the horrible digital monstrosity that has ‘graced’ each Resident Evil edition. Capcom really needs to revamp this horrid scheme. There isn’t even the slightly less nauseating “Control Type C” that was included with Resident Evil. After Angel Studios successfully added true analog to Resident Evil 2 for the Nintendo 64, there has been no excuse not to continue offering such an alternative. Let’s just hope that Leon’s adventure in RE4 finally corrects this.
As a Resident Evil fanatic, this is probably the best game in the series. Personally, it’s battling RE2 to become my favourite RE game of all time. If you even like the series, you’ll love the additions and fans will enjoy the story explanations and plot-hole fillers it provides.