Saturday 24 September 2016

Resident Evil Zero HD review: Zero's number is up

Resident Evil Zero (XOne/PS4/X360/PS3/PC); rating: 6.5/10 Age: 18+

Published 11/02/2016 | 15:42

Resident Evil Zero HD: The two characters are hot-swappable
Resident Evil Zero HD: The two characters are hot-swappable

SHAMBLING zombies, exquisitely detailed Victorian scenery, wonky camera angles, near-predictable jump scares – it can only be Resident Evil. But not quite.

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This little-known prequel to the survival-horror pioneer gets an HD makeover to add spiffier graphics and modernised controls.

Published on GameCube eight years after RE made its stunning debut in 1996, Zero failed to capture gamers’ imagination to the same degree. Despite a Wii port in 2008, it has almost passed into obscurity.

Like the original classic, its constricting tropes - tiny inventory space, endless backtracking - do less to generate tension and more to engender frustration. Capcom compounded the pain of inventory juggling by dispensing with item boxes, where you could store vital objects, to be fetched at multiple locations later in the game.

Resident Evil Zero HD: Look out - zombies!
Resident Evil Zero HD: Look out - zombies!

And the plot? Well, it doesn’t matter much except to note it teams timid policewoman Rebecca with escaped convict Billy. The pair must work together to fend off the undead hordes and uncover the viral outrage perpetrated by the Umbrella Corporation.

The designers throw a multitude of complex, even illogical puzzles (including one involving a leech) at the odd couple. The duo are hot-swappable, can exchange items and sport differing abilities. Rebecca can mix powerful drugs while Billy is the stronger of the two.

But even the doubling of inventory space – split between the two characters, obviously –introduces its own problems. The game delights in demanding contrived ways for you to pass items between Billy and Rebecca, with the dumb waiter in the opening scenes one of the easiest to understand.

There's a solidly entertaining chiller here, lifted by the relationship of Rebecca and Billy. But by modern standards Zero's number is up.

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