Friday, February 12, 2016

Resident Evil 0

Played on: Playstation 4
Release Date: January 19, 2016 (November 12, 2002 original)

Resident Evil 0 was always this weird outlyer for me. Resident Evil games sold me on gaming platforms, but as someone going off to college in 2003, I couldn't really afford to have both a Playstation 2 and Gamecube. I chose Playstation.

Much like Code Veronica, I stared at the box art and thumbed through the strategy guides, trying to complete the Resident Evil story in my mind. It wasn't until 2006 when a used game store started selling Gamecubes for $35 a piece that I finally got to play Resident Evil 0.

Most times when I booted up RE 0, I would inevitably stop after 30 minutes and go back to RE-make.

It's been exciting playing, almost like getting a throwback Resident Evil game in 2014.

What I didn't like

Capcom became obsessed with leeches around this time. It worked as one of the hardest and most terrifying enemies in Resident Evil Outbreak, but comes off as incredibly cheesy in Resident Evil 0. Not only are there leeches (which make sense in the canon of the T-virus) used in the lamest of ways, but they are controlled by an Opera singing former scientist.

The story gets in the way of what could be a very unsettling game. Every time you start to feel on edge, you're reminded that Billy is a military felon or that the opera singing scientist really wants revenge on umbrella.

Many people love the new controls and say it makes the game more playable. I do think the new controls are better if you aren't trained on the old controls.

So I switched my controls back to the original tank controls where you have to hold a run button.

The problem I have is I am so trained on old controls that the original Resident Evil 0 controls don't work for me. I want to hold square to run where it's circle in the remake. I want to press Options or triangle to open the inventory. I'm constantly opening the inventory when I want to run, I'm reloading when I want to open the inventory, and of the 12 or so controller mappings they offer, none of them are the Resident Evil 1-3 version.

I haven't felt this frustrated with controls since switching from Call of Duty to Destiny.

And I can't really think of a good reason why that option isn't there. It's not like RE0 added a bunch of new moves or systems where you need to use the entire controller. If you're going to offer 12 controller mappings, give us an extreme throwback option.

Capcom also had issues writing male characters around this time. Carlos in Resident Evil 3 hit on Jill and talked about how all the ladies loved him. Steve in Code Veronica whined a lot for no real reason and had a choker necklace. And then you have Billy, the tribal tattooed, convict who can't resist making sexual comments to Rebecca.

And surprisingly enough, you have to give Capcom credit for writing strong female leads dressed appropriately. Even my wife was surprised when she walked in and saw that Rebecca was wearing combat gear.

And there's not much more to say on this topic, but the boss battles are terrible. They always have been bullet sponge, 3-5 attack monsters. This is much the same and usually you're fighting them in small quarters which means there's a dance that goes something like fire, fire, get hit, fire fire, get hit.

What was OK

Even though I was really into the old creepy buildings and the train, Capcom did tread on familiar waters. There is one section of the game that is essentially the original Resident Evil mansion. I remember freaking out about this the first time I played the game seeing the mansion in amazing graphics, but when you have both games side-by-side you realize that Capcom did a little bit of a copy-paste job to pad thing out, or at the very least check a "fan service" box. 

I'm also not a fan of the inventory system. Instead of having the magical boxes that would transport your items from place to place, you have to either drop the item or use your partner as a backpack. 

In theory, this is great, but you often end up leaving ammo and herbs in far away rooms because you had to pick up a key. It leads to a lot of frustrating situations where you back track five rooms to get an herb and get bit on the way back, nullifying your trip.

What I liked

There is still this great feeling of a corporation so large that there are checks and balances that were out of whack and these secret training facilities for black labs and mad scientists could exist.

You believe that Umbrella has train tracks that go directly to a secret facility. You believe they spent money on R&D to make these monsters. And you believe their arrogance, their belief at how bulletproof they were, would allow a small group of people to infiltrate those black labs, survive, and take them down.

And this probably comes from how little I've played this game, but every room still feels new and unexpected. I find myself sometimes just standing in a room, soaking in the surroundings.

But even with as new as it feels, the soundtrack still hits this part of my soul that is comforting and familiar. The music is one of the main things I feel is missing from newer entries. Instead of the soundtrack being featured in sparsely populated halls, it's merely background noise in between machine gun blasts.

It taps into the part of me that knows using a First Aid Spray drops you a letter ranking and learn how to run through the zombie infected halls instead of wasting ammo.

Final Thoughts

If you weren't really into tank controlled Resident Evil or feel you only have time for one old style Resident Evil, go with RE-make. All around it is the far superior game. But if you want a glimpse into a Capcom that was changing. A Capcom that was testing out over the shoulder aiming, online games on the PS2, the flashy quickness of Devil May Cry, and the true adventure horror of Onimusha, take a look at Resident Evil 0.

It's a weird type of game that probably will never exist again.

Rating: Buy it only if you have RE-make already.

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