I present, another review by: Moz
Resident Evil is back and it's exclusive to Nintendo. This is the first of two brand new Resident Evil titles to be released on the GameCube and what an entrance Resident Evil Zero makes!
The previous Resident Evil title released on the GameCube was a reworking of the original Resident Evil released on PS2. But for those of you who aren't familiar with this survival horror series (well, there might be someone out there) lets bring you up to speed. Resident Evil originated on the PSone in the mid 90's and was probably one of the biggest and best titles around at that time. Capcom released two sequels on the PSone, Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3 - Nemesis and then in 2001, Resident Evil Code Veronica X on the PS2. Then for reasons best known to themselves, Capcom abandoned Sony and signed a deal with Nintendo guaranteeing a brand new Resident Evil title for the Nintendo 64. This was to be a prequel to the original Resident Evil, hence the title Resident Evil Zero. However, the old Nintendo 64 console wasn't powerful enough to do the game justice, so Capcom held out and eventually released the game on the much more powerful gaming system, the Nintendo GameCube. And it's well worth the wait.
Resident Evil Zero is set in July 1998, the day before the deadly T-virus is released (As told in the original Resident Evil game on the PSone.) from a remote biotech lab. Police in Racoon City, a suburb in Midwest America, have reported a number of strange and gruesome murders. "Man eating" zombies have been attacking residents in their own homes. Bravo Team of the elite force S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) are being flown in to investigate. However, engine trouble on the way forces them into an emergency landing in an eerie, mysterious forest. The Team splits up to investigate. Rebecca Chambers, the newest and youngest member of S.T.A.R.S, at the age of 18, comes across an overturned army vehicle. She finds documents inside that relating to ex-marine Billy Coen. Billy was sentenced to death for the alleged murder of 23 people and was being transported to his execution. However he has escaped and is now on the run. After further investigation of the area Rebecca finds what appears to be an abandoned railway car, and the renegade Billy.... She soon realises that the two of them will have to work together if they are to survive.
The objectives and locations in the game will be very familiar to anyone who has played any of the previous Resident Evil series. What makes this game more innovative is the way you can interact between the two main characters Rebecca and Billy. In previous outings gamers have only been given the option of playing the game as either one or other of the leading characters, with perhaps a little basic interaction between the two along the way. In Resident Evil Zero however, you play as both Rebecca and Billy right from the start, alternating at will between the two characters to solve puzzles, defeat enemies and by working with the two characters together you can gain access to previous inaccessible areas.
You decide which character is best to perform a certain task or action, this will be your main character and you have full control of their movements and actions as you would expect. However your partner becomes the secondary character and this is where the unique gameplay of Resident Evil Zero becomes evident. As the main character you now have the option of working alone or with your partner. By pressing the X button on the control pad you get to issue instructions to your partner. By working as a "Team" your partner will shadow you wherever you go, and by highlighting "Attack" they will fire at enemies during combat, which can be useful if you are being attacked by a hoard of blood sucking zombies. However this may not always be practicable, as you will also be using twice as much ammunition. So therefore you can decide to allocate your partner to "Idle", which means that they will still shadow you around but they will not join in the affray therefore conserving ammo. Some tasks/puzzles require you to work alone so you assign "Solo" to your partner. However if when left behind your partner is attacked, they will contact you by radio and asked for help, but if you can't get back to them quick enough to save them, then I'm afraid it's Game Over!!
Objects and weaponry can also be transferred between the inventories of both characters as long as they are in the same vicinity. This interaction between the characters I believe, gives the game a completely different feel to other survival horror games that I've played. You feel that you have more control over the way that the game is played because although you can choose the level of difficulty from the title screen, you can also decide whether you want help from your partner during combat situation during the game.
Each character also has a unique ability that the other doesn't have. Billy is the stronger of the two and has the ability to push objects, use heavy winches, chains etc., and he also has a cigarette lighter as a standard part of his kit. Rebecca on the other hand carries a chemistry box that allows her to mix certain herbs. Anyone that has played Resident Evil previously will know that this is a very handy ability indeed, because by mixing together the red, green and blue herbs in various combinations cures for all sorts of ailments can be concocted. Rebecca is also smaller and lighter than her partner allowing her to gain access to areas that the larger heavier Billy is unable to.
Another difference between Resident Evil Zero and the other Resident Evil titles is that there aren't any storage chests in the game. Billy and Rebecca can only carry six items each in their inventory. However, any additional items can now be left anywhere in the game, this means that if you have an item which is relevant to solve part of a puzzle, you can leave the item in the relevant room to be picked up later when the whole puzzle can be solved. Any item that has been discarded will then show their location on your map, which means that you never have to search every room trying to remember where you have left a crucial object or additional ammo.
The puzzles in the game are intriguing and thought provoking but you don't need to be a member of MENSA to solve them, just have a bit of patience. There are fewer hints and tips in this game than its predecessors but for me this made the game more of a challenge.
The graphics of the game are fantastic. Resident Evil Zero definitely benefits from the more powerful Nintendo gaming system. The locations and backdrops are exceptionally detailed, giving the game a more atmospheric and realistic feel. Walk past a mirror or window and your characters reflection is shown with perfect clarity. The most important thing about any Resident Evil title are its monsters and zombies, well you won't be disappointed you can almost smell the rotting flesh. Sound and lighting effects have also been enhanced from previous games. Footsteps sound more realistic and differ as you characters walk across floorboards, grass, concrete, etc. Dim lighting creates shadows, making you more apprehensive about entering a new unexplored room or area, as you don't know what new horror may be awaiting you. Even when entering what appears to be a large relatively well lit and practical empty, you find yourself anticipating that something awful will happen and find yourself heading for the exit at speed.
All of the above improvements to the aesthetics plus the new interactive gameplay make Resident Evil Zero one of the best games out on the market at the moment of this genre. There is even a sub game that is unlocked after the game is completed. What more do you want? If you are a survival horror fan and don't yet own a GameCube it's worth buying one just to experience this innovative gameplay. What's more we can expect even greater things to come, as not only are Capcom revamping the other previous Resident Evil titles in the series for the GameCube as well as releasing another brand new addition, but we also have Resident Evil on-line to look forward to. Life doesn't get much better!