Resident Evil Zero – Expanalysis

This article gives our impressions on the Playstation 4 version of Resident Evil Zero. Review Code was supplied by Capcom. 

Capcom could have cashed in on this long ago. Resident Evil Zero released to almost unanimous acclaim back in 2002 and has remained a Gamecube exclusive in the West ever since, though it did appear on the Wii in other territories. However, Capcom have sat on this classic all this time, keeping us waiting and hoping.

Now Resident Evil 0 has a full HD overhaul on current-gen systems off the back of the success of the remade original, and we’re reminded of a time when the series was truly in its prime.

You can’t have 0 as a numbered installment, surely?

Apparently you can! To be fair, this sort of makes sense as it’s set before the Mansion incident in Resident Evil 1. The game is set in Arklay Forest in 1998, and looks at the origins of the T-Virus, as well as the growth and expansion of Umbrella, who actually established them, and why?

It all starts on a train – like most things, really. Except, rather than go to a mystical high school, the passengers have been afflicted by these odd, gooey organisms, which miraculously seem to transform them into mindless, groaning zombies with an insatiable appetite. The organisms also appear to be under the control of a man dressed all in white, commanding them to his will with harmonious, yet sinister tones.

Meanwhile, Officer Rebecca Chambers and her team – better known to some of you as S.T.A.R.S – are rounding on this train in an effort to capture escaped fugitive, Billy Coen, and bring him to custody. Of course, S.T.A.R.S get caught up in the terrifying sequence of events, and surprisingly, Rebecca finds herself trusting in the enemy as they both struggle to survive.

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Through the fire and the flames

This harkens back to the good old days?

Sure does. Though some people may not see them as quite so good. For instance, the tank controls here won’t be for everyone. If you tried out last year’s Resident Evil remaster, you’ll know exactly what to expect, holding down R1 to aim, then a separate button to fire, remaining in a static, unmovable position the whole time. Because of that, you’ll need to choose your shots wisely, keeping an eye on reloading, and stay on the move.

You’ll also need to turn your characters around in a circle with the right analog and then push forward with the left. Fortunately, there is an alternative, more modern-styled control scheme as you found in the REmake that will be a lot more familiar to the modern day gamer.

Here’s where RE0 really separates itself from the rest, though. You’ll remember in RE6 that the game was told from multiple perspectives at different periods in the game’s timeline. RE0 however, lets you control both Billy and Rebecca at the same point in the story, but exploring different areas of the map with the zap-mechanic. Both are needed to work together to solve certain puzzles, so sometimes they’ll need to be together. You can also control both characters when they’re on the screen at the same time – using left to control the main character and right to control the partner character, or you can leave the AI to handle things.

Each character also has unique strengths and weaknesses, with Rebecca only being able to combine herb-related items but poor defense, and Billy has better health and accuracy with certain weapons.

This adds a whole other level of tension to the game, as you’ll always need to be mindful of what a character can and can’t do, and where they are in relation to the other. It all still feels incredibly fresh despite the game being 13 years old.

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We need to stop meeting like this.

What’s different on Playstation 4?

The core game remains the same, but there have been some huge improvements to the games’ lighting effects, as well as improved model details and full 1080p widescreen output. As with the tank-controls however, real purists can still have the original 4:3 Aspect Ratio that was part of the Gamecube original.

Everything feels so seamless, nothing has been sacrificed or cropped. It’s all been ported extremely well, and the weather effects and background details appear better than ever. The models also react wonderfully to the reinvigorated environment and don’t seem out of place or jarring in any way. The facial expressions, in particular, appear so much better.

Once you beat the game, there’s also a Wesker mode within RE0 which allows you to play the entire campaign through with the series leading antagonist, using all of his abilities as you go.

Every update to the game works brilliantly and truly enhances the experience, making the entire transition to current-gen very positive and authentic. The frame rate does run at 30FPS on Playstation 4, however, but this suits the very slowed-down tone of the game, compared to speed at which more recent Resident Evil titles run.

Future Expansion/Development for Resident Evil 0

There are lots of costume changes available on the store for RE0 and we expect plenty to be added over time. While these changes appear to be mostly cosmetic, it’s a cool way to encourage some form of replayability. Though wearing a cheerleader costume while fighting zombies does make us slightly more concerned about getting bite-marks on our poor Rebecca.

Capcom have made it clear that HD Remasters will be a priority for them going forward, and we already know a Resident Evil 2 remake is being worked on. It will be interesting to see if any kind of cross-save functionality will be done with the remakes of RE0/RE1 to link into the events of RE2, or indeed, any kind of unlockable bonuses for having completed, or played the original games.

Also, Billy is a relative unknown in the REverse, so it’s possible some DLC for him could be produced, or his story here could link into future games. We’ll have to wait and see…

The Good Stuff

  • The Zap-Mechanic still feels incredibly well-suited and fresh in a survival horror game.
  • Despite being an origin story, there feels like there is a purpose and place for RE0
  • Well developed remake that has adjusted well to current-gen platforms.
  • The original, authentic Resident Evil experience that we know and love.

The Bad Stuff

  • Tank controls not for everyone, though alternate control-set is available.
  • Narrative sometimes feel very ham-fisted
  • The lower Frame Rate does sometimes look a bit out of place on newer, full HD TVs

Final Analysis

Happy-Face

Joy Award

 It’s not the best Resident Evil game, but it is certainly among them. Whether you’re experiencing this for the first time, or the fourth, Zero is a thoroughly entertaining adventure that remains enjoyable throughout.  

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,