REVIEW: Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster

As part of the Resident Evil Origins Collection comes Resident Evil Zero HD, playing its part as the prequel to the “Mansion Incident”. It’s been remastered beautifully, and is a must-play all these years after its initial release.

Note: This game is also available as a standalone game outside of the Origins Collection, however this review is entirely based on the Origins Collection release.

When Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) Bravo team is sent to investigate a series of murders taken place within the Arklay Mountains, their helicopter unexpectedly malfunctions and crashes deep within the forest below. Here, Bravo team member Rebecca Chambers finds the Ecliptic Express, a train stopped dead in its tracks full of zombies and one Billy Coen, an ex-marine with a mysterious past. The two must work together to figure out what’s going on, even if Rebecca has her initial doubts.

Originally released in 2002 on the GameCube, Resident Evil Zero answered a few questions leading upto Resident Evil, making it an instant must-play for Resi fans all over. Fourteen years later, it got the HD treatment, and it literally looks both bloody and brilliant.

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You’ll quickly find out telling a zombie to “stop!” won’t get you very far. A shot to the head is a lot more effective.

Pre-rendered backgrounds in this game are superb, truly bringing to life the miserable and horrifying world of Zero. You’ll see blood soaked environments, shattered glass, broken furniture, dimly lit candles, grimey walls, all of which combined with impressive lighting makes for a truly immersive experience. Both tank or “smooth” controls are made available, welcoming newcomers as well as giving those who played the game originally a nostalgic feel of those mighty tank controls once again.

With two main characters comes a requirement to utilize both to get through certain obstacles and puzzles, making for varied gameplay and a genuine sense of “I definitely need the other person to continue with the game”. I think at the time, this was a dangerous move on Capcoms part, but it turned out very well, and teamwork is now very much a staple within the franchise.

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The strangest tea party ever.

You can switch between Billy and Rebecca at the hit of a button, making it a seamless transition between the two. Each do have their strengths and weaknesses, for example Rebecca can mix herbs to create stronger healing items, however she can’t withstand as much damage as Billy, who is capable of moving heavy objects, but has no idea when it comes to herbs and such.

What I found the most unique about Resident Evil Zero is the inability to use item boxes, instead you are forced to simply leave items on the floor if you’ve ran out of inventory space. This is both a blessing and a curse as you no longer have to seek out a safe room to leave any unwanted items, however you may have to drop an important item, only to realise you actually need it but have left said item far away. Yay for backtracking.

If Billy and Rebecca are within the same distance as one another, they can trade items, which is always useful. Let’s say you found some shotgun ammo as Billy but Rebecca is using the shotgun – you can simply give the ammo via item management, giving Rebecca that much needed ammo and Billy precious item space. I found myself almost constantly swapping items as the game progressed due to conditions changing for each character.

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Sharing is caring.

Weapons include the handgun, grenade launcher, knife, magnum, the previously mentioned shotgun, and a molotov cocktail. Other powerful weapons such as the rocket launcher and sub-machinegun can be unlocked when fulfilling certain conditions once the game has been beaten, although I can’t see myself ever getting an S-rank for that beastly rocket launcher.

The molotov cocktail is especially useful against a small group of enemies, although a few well-placed shotgun blasts can be just as effective. Rotating between weapons as the game progresses is highly advised as certain weapons will be better for certain enemies, for example the handgun is fine against a standard zombie, but against a hunter; not so good.

Most enemies within Zero have an animal/bug theme going on, whether it’s the Giant Spiders, Eliminators (which look like mutated Monkeys), or Lurkers (Giant Frogs capable of killing you in one go if you’re not careful). Each enemy is unique, and makes for often challenging gameplay, especially when you only have limited ammo and must resort to that trusty knife.

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Whilst Eliminators are fast and aggressive, they can be taken down fairly easy.

As strange as this may sound, the blood looks great in this game, especially when it spills from a zombie’s neck after you just shot its head clean off. Weapons such as the magnum and shotgun are capable of blasting off the limbs of your enemies, making for some very visually satisfying moments. A game such as this needs this kind of gore to keep you in this world of survival horror – a reminder that you’re in a very messed up situation.

Like most enemies in the game, bosses also come in the form of mutated insects or something along those lines; they’re basically animals but way bigger and a lot more deadly, including a giant scorpion, giant bat, and giant centipede. I won’t go into detail on the boss battles later on in the game as I may spoil things a bit, but things certainly get interesting.

There’s a brand new mode made available upon completing the game; Wesker Mode. This allows you to play as Albert Wesker in the main game, replacing Billy completely. Wesker can mix herbs, is able of quickly dashing through the environment, and can make use of his “Death Stare”; an attack capable of literally staring enemies to death. He could be considered overpowered, but it’s a fun little extra that’s worth exploring.

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Zombie or seriously hung over?

Another additional mode is Leech Hunter, which was made available within the initial release of Zero. In this mode, Billy and Rebecca must find Leech charms dotted around an Umbrella research center, filled with the usual nasties to get in your way. There isn’t a time limit or anything, but the more charms you find within a respectable time will earn you better ranks and rewards.

With challenging puzzles, an impressive range of enemies, and tons of unlockables, Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster is well worth your time, especially if you never got around to it on the GameCube back in the day. As with most Resident Evil games, Zero has a high replay value and a truly immersive world that puts you into the heart of survival horror.

Rating: 9/10

Available On: Windows PC / Xbox 360 / PS3 / Xbox One / PS4

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