I like Zero, but playing through it a couple of times again recently a few of the flaws really stood out to me that I feel I missed.
Zero is a traditional Resident Evil, that means it is tank controlled and a slightly clunky Survival Horror. I don’t say any of that as a negative though, as I enjoy the claustrophobia and difficulty that tank controls add to a game, it simply works in Survival Horror. The twist in Zero is that you control two characters at the same time; Rebecca Chambers the meek medic Chris Redfield rescues in Resident Evil and Billy Coen, a convicted criminal that has been framed… Was that a spoiler? Maybe, but this is a Capcom game. Don’t expect Shakespeare just expect borderline competent storytelling and characters that lack depth.
Each character controls the same, but they do come with their differences to make for different puzzle scenarios. This ultimately comes down to man big and strong, woman weak and small. This is obviously patriarchy at it’s worse and I expect an Anita Saarkesiopscdjsh editorial about it, but Rebecca can’t move heavy objects (push the box puzzles) and has lower health. While Billy is strong and manly, so can’t fit through small holes and has more health.
Due to controlling two characters the game limits you to 6 items per person, this is both a blessing and a curse! There are no item chests, and instead you leave items on the floor (this is good). This means, that you need to constantly backtrack to gather items/ammo/health you have stored in a central location (this is bad!) when doing anything the first few playthroughs. Because a really fun feature of a game is spending 10 minutes navigating back through 9 levels to go pick up the grenade launcher. SAID NO ONE EVER!
Zero is also a return to the Original Resident Evil style in that ammo and health is scarce. Take a few hits from zombies and you won’t have an excess of Health Potions on the boss, ammo too is limited. It is entirely possible to have to fight a boss with a knife if you get too eager fighting the chaff. Health also doesn’t appear in the room *BEFORE* a boss, there is no signposting that you’re about to fight a boss meaning newbies will still playing the game until you learn the game inside out. It took me 15 attempts to kill the Bat Boss because I was on Danger health and only 15 shotgun shells, I was only able to beat the boss because Ol’Batty glitched and faced the wrong direction allowing me to shove the shotgun up his botty trouble free.
Zero takes place in the hours/day before the events of the first game and the story is a little flimsy adding more plot holes than anything, but:
An Umbrella Train is attacked by LEECHES, and hilarity ensues as the “original odd couple” (Rookie recruit with heart of gold and a convicted murderer) try to escape the nightmare. There is a bit of nonsense about conspiracy theories and deals with the development of the T-Virus, and the Progenitor Virus under Professor James Marcus, and involves a lot of LEECHES, seriously, I hate the leeches.
I’ll be honest here, I do not like the story. There are plot-holes aplenty, but at least they attempt to tie up loose ends.
One example of awesome loose-end tying… is Billy just straight up Incredible Hulks it, and walks off into the distance at the end. Never to be mentioned again in the series. Other less loose-end tying-ey is the big fuck off explosion that would be visible from 3 states over.
The controls are a little fiddly to get used to especially if you are playing this off the back of a different Resident Evil. For starters Run and Inventory buttons have been swapped, so expect to open your inventory instead of running the first 7 hours of gameplay. The right analogue stick controls your partner, and is necessary to navigate them onto switches, or LIFTS!
Triangle swaps who you control.
R1 readies the gun, but is usually L1, so will take a little getting used to (Or did I imagine this?).
The rest are standard Resi layout, but you will press the wrong buttons a lot early on by mistake which can be deadly in a boss fight. And controlling the second character is often required, as sometimes, when you get in a lift and press the button, your partner will inexplicably miss the lift. This is annoying, as you will have to ride the elevator down and then move them onto the lift. It can be a faff and is fucking annoying especially in the Water Treatment Plant where there are several one-way lists with only just enough space to two characters.
Zero looks good, and with side by side comparisons you’ll see a difference. Nothing major as I am a firm believer in your own imagination, and my imagination is good enough to fill in the blanks. But Zero does look good, their is enough polish between here and Zero to get away with calling the game HD.
I still like Zero, but I feel some of the features have aged poorly. The constant backtracking is a pain in the arse, the story doesn’t make sense on any level and the game can be needlessly punishing if you’re playing the game first time or not memorised some of the faff. Like Code: Veronica you can completely bork your game if you equip the wrong person with the wrong items at a moment the story Ape-Ex-Machinas you.
That said, it still looks good, it is a nice spin on the old formula and while I hate the leech bastard monsters they are hard as fuck making them a terrifying experience.
Pros: Some interesting puzzles, genuinely scary monsters, pretty hard
Cons: Backtracking, overly punishing at times if you don’t know the game. The story
If you object to remakes adding nothing except higher res textures than 75%.
Back in the Day:
Zero holds an 83% on Metacritic but the HD version was criticised for not address any of the flaws of the original.
Also avaliable on: XBONE, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.