-Aaron "Aeecee" Clark
The original trilogy of the Resident Evil series began and ended the first saga of events for the series that coined the term survival horror. The first game started the viral outbreak at the Spencer Mansion while the second and third games showed the virus consuming the mountain town of Raccoon City which in the end had led to the city being wiped off the face of the earth. Of course there are still some important questions to ask such as what exactly happened that lead to the first outbreak at the mansion and how was the virus that was the cause of it even created in the first place? Resident Evil 0 is here to answer those questions as this prequel that takes place right before the infamous mansion incident will take you deeper into the secrets and working of Umbrella and some of its founders. There is much to learn for those seeking more answers into the series of events that began the survival horror experience and with that only one question remains should love live out this nightmare that took place before the nightmare?
As previously mentioned in the first game just in case you forgot the town of Raccoon City has been experiencing an unusual series of cannibalistic murders. The special forces of the Raccoon City Police known as STARS were sent into the forest region of the city outskirts to investigate. The first group sent in was the STARS Bravo Team who while searching the forest experienced helicopter trouble and made an emergency landing. And then the next night the STARS Alpha team was sent in to find the Bravo Team when they lost contact with them after they crashed.
While the first game focused on the Alpha Team and they search for the Bravo Team this game covers the events of the only member of the Bravo Team to survival the ordeal and that person was Rebecca Chambers. Before she made it to the Spencer Mansion where the others would end up she found and boarded an occupational train called The Ecliptic Express. It did not take her long to find out that train was infested with zombies as well as some other very deadly creatures. She then comes across an escaped convict named Billy Coen who was able to flee his prisoner transport when it was attack by Cerberuses. Despite his status as an adjudicated killer Rebecca teamed up with Billy in order to try and survival this nightmare and uncover the secrets of the Umbrella Corporation and one of its former founders and most brilliant scientists.
The story not only shows the event that took place before the Mansion Incident but also tells us how the virus that started it all was created and how it was leaked as well. Of course like with the previous installments you need find and read some of the documents laying around in you want to know it all. But despite still having to read some stuff here and there the plot is pretty good and there are lots to learn for those interested in knowing the precursor to the Mansion Incident.
While the core gameplay is same as with all the previous games there is one new major difference and that is the partner system. Throughout the majority of the game Rebecca and Billy are both playable as you control one while the computer controls the other. You can switch which character you want to control at almost any time and even swap items between the two. Your computerized partner can be told to either follow you or stay put and you can even tell it whether or not it can attack enemies with whatever weapon it has equipped.
While this system does bring in some new gameplay elements overall it does not increase the survival horror experience of previous games. Although it does add some minor advantages such being able to carry more items and having help taking take down enemies. Or course you can as mentioned before you can leave your partner behind and go around on your own if you wish. And there are moments when you can even go and explore one area and then have your partner explore another area afterwards which can cut down on backtracking if are good enough.
Although some of the downsides are you can only use your herbs to heal either only you or your partner which could complicate you in an upheaval. There are also random times when the two will be randomly separated which depended on which items you and partner have can put you in an even more convoluted situation. Like with the first game both characters have slight differences from one another Rebecca is the only one who mix herbs and can fit into smaller spaces while Billy can carry heavier items and take more damage. Other than the partner system just like prior installments you will need to conserve weapons ammo and healing material and you need to find certain item and solve puzzles.
Many of the weapons you are familiar with from previous games return with the only new addition to the arsenal being Molotov cocktails. Most of the monsters you have come to know and love are back with new nasties like zombie monkeys and humanoid creatures composed of large leeches. Some of the bosses you will come across are monstrous beasts such as an incredibly giant scorpion and giant centipede and even an overgrown bat that will have asking who is the real goddamn Batman.
You will spend most of the game exploring the Umbrella Training Facility which does not look that different from the Spencer Mansion so you will get the feeling of being in familiar territory. Although Veteran fans of the series will also notice that an insignificant area that you explore are minor areas from the second game. Despite somewhat familiar settings the overall game at times just does not have that same quality level of survival horror as you got with its predecessors.
Of course the biggest flop in design is the absence of the universal storage containers instead you can your items and come back for them later. On the face of it the ability to drop item is nice when you run of space at an inconvenient time and you need to quickly exchange something. Unfortunately this can create unnecessary backtracking especially when moving to the next area and you need to bring extra herbs and ammo with you.
Graphically the game looks amazing and is an outstanding example of the graphical capabilities of the Gamecube in its early years. The voice acting is pretty good especially if you like the British accent of Wesker that he had going on at that time. And of course there are some memorable beats found within the music that fit the atmosphere of the game incredibly well. This is one of the first Resident Evil games that is overall presented pretty well when compaired to previous installments.
Resident Evil 0 is in someway considered to be both one of the weakest games in the main series and the weakest game of the retro series before the major changes brought by Resident Evil 4. But the overall game is still pretty good despite not performing as well as some of its critical acclaimed predecessors. And if you are looking for some more Resident Evil or survival horror goodness there is an earnest change you will find it here.