(PS4 / PlayStation 4)

Resident Evil Zero (PS4 / PlayStation 4)

Game Review

Resident Evil Zero Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Marcello Apostolico

From zero to hero

Last year, Capcom delighted fans (and newcomers) with an HD remaster of its legendary GameCube exclusive remake, Resident Evil. A year later and the firm's other former Nintendo exclusive Resident Evil Zero has arrived on the PlayStation 4. But while last year's efforts were great, the ported package still had some areas of uneven graphical upgrades showing some washed out textures, which were otherwise concealed by the darker lighting in the original. So how does Zero pan out?

The game follows the events of medic S.T.A.R.S officer Rebecca Chambers and escaped convict Billy Coen, only 24 hours before the Spencer Mansion incident. The story starts with Rebecca and her S.T.A.R.S. team safely crash landing in the forest, where she happens upon an overturned military police vehicle, with the officers dead inside. Finding a transport document, it's revealed that Billy Coen is the escaped convict responsible for the deaths of 23 people. The team splits up – never a smart thing to do – and Rebecca comes across the Ecliptic Express train, shutdown and full of dead bodies.

Throughout the course of the game's seven to ten hour campaign, the engaging plot unveils the events that transpired before the Spencer Mansion, where the T-Virus originated from, and the involvement of key characters from the Resident Evil universe. It's honestly one of the series' better storylines to date, with interesting and well-developed characters – Billy being a particular highlight.

The gameplay is largely similar to a traditional survival horror game, with "tank" controls and all – though there is an alternative control scheme for more modern movement if you prefer. There are a few twists along the way, though. First off, this is technically the first Resident Evil game to feature a partner system called Partner-Zapping. Unlike newer instalments which force you to work with an accomplice (and ruin the tension), this entry lets you instantly swap between Rebecca and Billy with the press of a button – with no loading times. So while one character is in one area, the other can be in an entirely different location and instantly swap.

The partner AI is very good and still holds up very well to today's standards. You can command them to either follow you, stay back, and, of course, to attack. Should your partner block your path, you can easily move them with the right analogue stick as well, which is a solid implementation. It's amazing, though, that unlike newer instalments, this game actually maintains its tension even while having a partner present. It's still the best implementation of a partner system in the franchise's history.

Another tweak here is the manner in which it handles inventory management. Instead of going to an item box to store/retrieve your items, you'll now simply be able to drop them on the floor in any room. This provides some positives and negatives: it's nice that you can snatch up key items more easily when the situation arises, but it can result in a lot of back tracking if you drop key items early on. This system certainly adds to the game's overall challenge, but it can be a bit tedious at times.

Naturally, a Resident Evil game isn't complete without its share of puzzles, and Zero has a nice balance of head scratching, alongside action and exploration. Puzzles take advantage of the partner system, with some truly clever ones that will make you feel rewarded upon success. There's something about carefully analysing files and the environment to help solve a puzzle that results in immense gratification – it's honestly something that's severely lacking in gaming today. There are also several boss battles to tackle against some truly horrific abominations. Prepare for some intense encounters that will test how you've been managing your resources.

With the essentials out of the way, let's move on to the fresh stuff, exclusive to this remaster. One of the new modes in this version is Wesker Mode. Upon completing the game, you'll unlock this option where Wesker takes the place of Billy, and Rebecca is wearing an outfit that shows that she's under his control (glowing red eyes, attached chest plate). While Rebecca controls the same, Wesker can do his lightning-fast running through environments (which is cool, yet comical at the same time). There are no different cut scenes or dialogue, but it's a rather fun twist on the campaign. Other extras include a Gallery mode, enabling you to watch all of the game's cinematics again, which is certainly a nice addition. Additionally, Leech Hunter mode is also still intact and as challenging as ever, alongside New Game +.

Visually, Resident Evil Zero has received a dramatically better touch-up than last year's already decent Resident Evil remake. Indeed, every single environmental detail and character model has been meticulously upgraded. Animations are still incredibly well-done, with enemies moving as creepily yet believably as possible. Even the character models boast more dynamic lighting on them, adding to the detail.

Interestingly enough, the game's inventory menu has been tweaked a bit to support the full screen (versus last year's retained 4:3 ratio for menus), as well as different character images showcased compared to the original. The only odd thing that we encountered was that the inventory menu ran at 60 frames-per-second in the original, whereas this one sticks to 30 frames-per-second. While this may be nit-picky and only die-hard fans will notice it, it's worth mentioning. The game itself still runs superb at the locked 30 frames-per-second, though.

And in terms of audio, Resident Evil Zero is a strong package. Creepy, atmospheric music perfectly captures the setting in every area, whether it be walking through a desolate training facility or the loud orchestra that cues in when the leech zombie appears on-screen. The soundtrack is excellent and really elevates tension at the right moments. Voice acting is really solid for the most part, with just a few lines coming across campy. This is Resident Evil, though, so it's to be expected and that's not a bad thing.

The sound effects are also fantastic, with environmental ambience really upping the ante. Firearms all sound powerful and crisp, while enemy grunts are downright eerie. You'll even notice some areas will have sound effects playing from an adjacent room. All in all, the audio really provides a sense of place. Crank up the volume here, as it's an immense part of the experience.

Conclusion

Resident Evil Zero not only feels fresh 14 years after its original release, but it also showcases a superb remastering effort. A methodical game which truly rewards deep thought, this survival horror classic stands tall in genre that's been streamlined a little too much in recent times. If you've never played 'Becca and Billy's escapade, then there's never been a better opportunity. And for those who have survived the nightmare before, the new modes and graphical upgrades mean that there's plenty of reason to climb aboard.

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User Comments (38)

GlynCR

#1

GlynCR said:

Loved it on the GameCube at launch revisited it last year and it was as amazing as I remember still a great slice of classic resi action

Matroska

#3

Matroska said:

I remember at the time this game was criticised for having small areas and feeling cramped. It was because it was originally developed for the N64 and, if you remember, they had to horribly compress RE2 to fit on a cartridge so it ended up looking worse than the PS1 original.

I played it when it came out, I still have it on the shelf behind me with almost all the other REs. I wasn't a huge fan of it but enough time has passed so that I could play it again and it'd feel like a new game to me. Had to put this on the "probably later" list alongside Disgaea 5, though.

On a related note, it'd be good if Sony put out a headset profile for this and REmake.

JesWood13

#7

JesWood13 said:

I've never played the first set of games in the series. How difficult are they?

get2sammybAdmin

#8

get2sammyb said:

@JesWood13 They're not too difficult, but they do require you to think in a way that most modern games don't. There's no shame in looking at a guide if you get stuck, though, I don't think.

sinalefa

#9

sinalefa said:

Never played this one, probably the only main RE I haven't touched.

I would love a brief explanation of "Leech Hunter Mode" in the review, as I have no idea what that is.

Churchy

#10

Churchy said:

Great review, and nice to know of changes in detail.

I really enjoyed this when it was released and it is surprisingly overlooked. The one aspect that annoyed me was the aforementioned backtracking whenever you reached a new location in the game. I can't help but feel that if they'd allowed item droppage alongside item boxes, it would've helped matters. Still looking forward to giving this another whirl!

Glacier928Staff

#11

Glacier928 said:

@JesWood13 There are several difficulty settings, but if you're new to the series, Easy mode makes the game very welcoming, while still having some challenge to it.

Glacier928Staff

#12

Glacier928 said:

@sinalefa Leech Hunter mode is a mini-game where Rebecca and Billy must go around the entire Training Facility map finding all 100 leech items. There are Blue and Green Leeches to find, where Billy can only carry the Blue and Rebecca the Green. Naturally, there are a ton of enemies to encounter in the process, and to fully complete will take almost an hour. There's no saving, so you have to survive it and escape in one run. The more leeches you collect and escape by the end with, the better New Game+ reward you unlock. Collect them all and you unlock infinite ammo on all guns.

VanillaLake

#13

VanillaLake said:

As a Resident Evil fan, I have to say this is one of the best games in the series. It deserves a 9 or 10 score. Probably 9, and Resident Evil Remake 10.

Glacier928Staff

#15

Glacier928 said:

@Churchy Thanks for the kind words on the review!

Yeah, the item dropping feature was definitely a catch-22, but it still worked well for the most part in all honesty. I actually really admire the fact that the development team took a big risk with that design choice back in the game's original release, as it changed the dynamic and strategy within the gameplay mechanics.

VanillaLake

#16

VanillaLake said:

@Glacier928 I liked that you talked about the atmosphere, sound, "creepiness" and clever game design on the review. I loved those two games back in the day and I still have my GameCube there. I want to get the Origins Collection now, these two games well deserve being remastered and enjoyed again. I hope next Resident Evil games are survival horror like these two, and that Umbrella Corps becomes a separate shooter franchise.

Yeah, I'm a Remake/0 fan.

kyleforrester87

#17

kyleforrester87 said:

The RE I've never played! I should jump straight on this. But oddly I don't think I will. RE1 Remake went on sale so quickly I think I'll wait and see. Will get it for sure, though.

Churchy

#18

Churchy said:

@Glacier928 No worries! That's a fair point, and it doesn't stop the fact that Zero is still a great game. And it's amazing the character switching is as fluid as it is.

Back then, I thought the next Resi game would contain aspects of Zero and REmake's design. I'm still waiting for it!

kyleforrester87

#19

kyleforrester87 said:

Plus these originals are just bloody scary. I remember being excited about RE1 remake and as soon as I got into the mansion wondering why I was doing this to myself (again).

Matroska

#20

Matroska said:

@JesWood13 It's one of those things where it might be difficult if you play it like a lot of modern games. Of course, you have no auto-saves. If you die and haven't saved since you started playing, go back to the main menu, do not collect £200 etc. There's something horrible in RE4 where whatever goes wrong, no matter how bad it gets, you know you're only gonna lose a few minutes.

Having replayed REmake recently, you really do need to conserve ammo. You do need to have awareness of where the enemies are and be aware of what their various attacks are. So basically, it's not hard per se but you do need to be on your toes. You do need to think about the best way of going about whatever you're trying to do. I don't necessarily agree that all modern games are full of handholding and so on, but the earlier RE games are very much like "Here, you're stuck in a horrible place. Get through it."

Matroska

#21

Matroska said:

@kyleforrester87 Well don't forget you can get REmake and RE0 in a combined physical edition. I already got REmake digitally but when I get around to playing RE0, I'll get that physical edition and double dip on REmake.

AyeHaley

#22

AyeHaley said:

and 8 for this mess of a game? XD it has the worst backtracking, item management and bosses of all Resident Evil games. Only the first part on the train was fun.

THEONE19

#23

THEONE19 said:

i always wanted to play this gem but never had a GameCube:(
good moves Capcom first Dragon Dogma on PC (and hopefully a remaster for PS4) and now this cute little baby:))

get2sammybAdmin

#24

get2sammyb said:

@AyeHaley It's certainly dividing opinion all over again. Just like the GameCube version, the reviews for this one are all over the place.

Expa0

#25

Expa0 said:

I played the the GC version about 5 or so years back, I didn't really care for it tbqh, I'll take any other classic style RE before it.

VatoLoco47

#26

VatoLoco47 said:

Do these zombies get back up if you don't burn them like in Resident Evil HD? I found that annoying.

R17

#30

R17 said:

Great review! You touched on the important aspects of what made this entry great and a classic. Even without the HD touch up, it is amazing how well these games were made. Visually its standing shoulder to shoulder with games of today, and its 14 years later! This is when Capcom was good and took pride in what they put out. Resident Evil Zero is a classic and needs to be experienced by newcomers who are not used to this level of quality that harkens back to the golden age of games. Ill be enjoying this on my X1 tomorrow in pure bliss (wishing it was a Gamecube) Great review Glacier!!

carlos82

#31

carlos82 said:

I enjoyed this on the gamecube, there are some genuinely creepy moments and the train level has to be up there as one of the best parts of the series. The problem is the rest of the game isn't that great and is the origins of all the problems the series has today. I've been holding out for the physical release because I really want to play remake which is amazing and would still like to play this again, I think the 8 is a touch generous. Looking at these I'm curious what they are going to do with the greatest of them all Resident Evil 2. I'm torn between wanting it to be along the lines of remaking like these two or along the line of revelations. Speaking of which I still need to try Revelations 2

andreoni79

#32

andreoni79 said:

The nostalgia is strong in this one, but I'll wait for the physical version on sale. Thank god we got Alien: Isolation which is IMHO what RE was for the PS1 generation.

crazykcarter

#33

crazykcarter said:

This and REmake would have been fantastic vita games as well as ps4! It's a shame as I would have preferred this on my handheld.
oh well at least it's on ps4 I suppose 😊

PorllM

#35

PorllM said:

@GlynCR I remember that too, funny how the claustrophobic environments turned out to be one of the best things about it!

carlos82

#36

carlos82 said:

What is wrong with game developers today? Remember when you could just unlock things in the game? Just seen on the store that, what would normally be unlockable costumes, in fact cost £7.99? For some perspective the Hearts of Stone expansion costs the same amount of money. Can I just not buy a game and have all the content

Gamer83

#37

Gamer83 said:

Not even close to my favorite entry in the series but I do want to complete the collection on PlayStation and I like to get physical copies of games whenever possible so I'll be getting the origins collection.

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