Following 2015's HD spruce-up of the original Resident Evil, and preceding the upcoming Resident Evil 2 remake, Capcom continue to aknowledge criticism and offer more for the alienated Resi fan of yore with the release of Resident Evil Zer0 HD.
Aiming anchors you to the ground where you can awkwardly shimmy side to side in an attempt to aim, but the fixed camera perspective can make things hard to judge. Aiming up or downwards moves a set value, making headshots more about spacing and random chance than a true test of your aim, whilst leg shots are easier to hit and leave zombies begging to be stomped. Combat’s passable, but you’ll likely avoid it where possible to avoid frustration, which incidentally leaves you more ammo for unskippable boss encounters - win-win.
Zer0 introduced some interesting ideas for its time, some of which were tweaked to become series mainstays. You control both Rebecca Chambers, a rookie S.T.A.R.S. member, and Billy Coen, an escaped death-row inmate throughout the game. When the odd couple occupy the same room, each one corresponds to an analogue stick, massively pre-dating the likes of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons for an added element of control and reliability. If you can’t pat your head and rub your stomach simultaneously and you’d rather give commands à la Resi 4, 5, 6, Revelations 1 & 2 - you get the picture by now - then you can do that as well.
... activating a train’s brakes requires a person in both the front and back car to solve maths problems (because that’s totally how it works).
Hit Y and you’ll switch control between the two; in some instances this is necessary for progression as respective personal skills are required for puzzle solving. In other instances it’s purely a tactical choice, like taking Billy into battle for his increased survivability, or gathering herbs with Rebecca in order to combine them and either change their properties or increase potency. It’s an interesting dynamic that throws up a dilemma: do you bring the vulnerable Rebecca to a fight as added firepower and risk her injury, or have her wait in safety and Billy face worse odds?
Puzzles are typically obtuse and nonsensical, but in much the same way as the dialogue it’s an easily forgiven issue when they’re plain fun to solve. As an illustration, in the game’s first area alone a knife doesn’t qualify as “something sharp” and activating a train’s brakes requires a person in both the front and back car to solve maths problems (because that’s totally how it works).
Whilst not offering any settings quite as iconic as the Spencer Mansion or Raccoon City Police Department, Zer0’s level design is undoubtedly strong. From the decedent and aforementioned Ecliptic Express, to the Arclay Mountains, an Umbrella facility and beyond, each location is memorable. You’ll know them like the back of your hand before long, scouring rooms to scavenge every last bullet, ink ribbon and herb to ensure your continued survival. Exploring these rich environments is a highlight.
Unfortunately, copious backtracking largely brought about by the inventory management system also plays a part in ensuring a firm lay of the land. With very limited inventory space, juggling items is inevitable, be it between characters or simply dropping stuff on the floor to return to when required. The system’s both cumbersome and tedious for obvious reasons, whilst tactical and rewarding thanks to constant consideration poured into your loadout and approach.
There’s something about classic Resident Evil that makes it timeless despite numerous issues and compels you to plough on. It’s clunky, cheesy and naff, yes, but it’s bloody enjoyable!