Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil Zero

Flogging a dead house?

Version tested Wii

Just like the recently released Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil, this reissue of Resident Evil Zero is a direct port of the GameCube version. Apart from offering support for various Wii control configurations, it's unaltered in any way, and comes presented in its original 4:3 form and all its gameplay quirks. Take it or leave it.

Even when it first emerged in late 2002, Resident Evil Zero was something of an anachronism for the survival-horror genre. Although unquestionably one of the best-looking games in the series (alongside the excellent remake of the original Resident Evil, released earlier that year), even loyal fans of the series were fully aware that the game's design was stuck in the previous generation - hardly surprising once you realise it was originally designed for the Nintendo 64 a few years prior.

Saddled with a woefully unhelpful fixed camera perspective, tank-like controls, and all the usual limited inventory nonsense that came with the territory, Zero was typical example of Capcom's tough love on its loyal fanbase. It had been easier to forgive the remake of Resi 1 for its creaky design, perhaps because of the nostalgia factor and the need to retain the core gameplay, zombie warts and all.

With Zero, though, things were different. This was the first all-new Resident Evil since 2000's Code Veronica, and five iterations on it was harder to forgive the same old issues. The treacle-slow door-opening and stair-climbing animations. The insistence on making you carry around ribbon so you could manually save via typewriter. The ridiculous combat system that had you firing haplessly at enemies you couldn't even see half the time. Actually being able to drop items felt like progress.

1

Where's your ticket?

Playing it through again all these years later, most of these daft quirks hit you like zombie morning breath. Even as a fully schooled-up veteran, you'll howl in righteous indignation at your baffling inability to carry more than six items at once, however small and insignificant they may be. You'll want to rip the Wii remote in half when an unexpected death necessitates reloading a save that happened 20 minutes ago.

The blind exasperation the early Resident Evil games provoke from their bloody-minded design is enough to bring on an existential crisis. What would a psychiatrist make of all this blind loyalty to a game series that is basically an exercise in self flagellation? Do you have to be just a tiny bit broken in the head to enjoy a Resident Evil game? Answers on a postcard. Or perhaps series of different-coloured emblems, strategically located around the house, which open the seal on a door to a postcard.

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He's behind you.

Whatever initial hatred you might be spewing forth at the TV screen though, before long the hammy B-movie plot and cheap scares get their hooks into you. The next thing you know, hours have passed and you're sat, saucer-eyed, splitting undead skulls and doing the tango with yet another giant mutant menace. Take a bite of peach indeed.

For all its stuck-in-the-past design, Resident Evil Zero does boast some noteworthy innovations - chiefly the 'partner zapping' system, whereby the game allows you to swap between the two main characters on the fly. STARS Bravo Team medic Rebecca Chambers and escaped convict Billy Coen each have their own characteristics: Billy can take more damage and handle heavy objects, while Rebecca can mix herbs and chemicals and crawl into narrow spaces.

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