For a series that has been going for almost 20 years, there are very few people that have played the prequel story, mostly in part to it being released for the Gamecube, while I am not one of them, sinking my teeth into the Remaster has proven to be a trip down memory lane, if memory lane was paved with cobblestone.
The story of RE0 tells of the events that happened, why the second team was called in at the start of the original game and how the T-Virus was leaked, but in amongst that overarching story is more or less moved to the side in favour of that of Rebecca and Billy, the two playable characters you must control in order to survive. Rebecca is a newly appointed member of the STARS team and Billy is a criminal who was convicted of the murder of over 23 people, but with the events unfolding around them, crazier than either could imagine they are left with no choice but to team up. Of course, as they progress from one crazy event to the next they draw closer to each other and build a repour that has them risking their own lives for the other.
Of course, while we spend a lot of time with these two characters, there are others that are moving about in the shadows, initially with their own agendas, but when things pick up, they come into the light. One of the characters is Albert Wesker, the long running antagonist of the series and this time around, once you complete the game, you can actually take control of him and learn more about his character and motivations. The story does not really expand on the Resident Evil lore to much, but it does provide some clarification on the events that started everything, which is what a good prequel should do.
The gameplay is perhaps where things have stayed the same more than anything else, when the game originally released, it surprised people with the two playable characters, but more than that, it was so different to the games that had come before it, that people were confused. There were no item storage boxes and you had to keep track of two different characters and their inventories as well as their health, all the while moving ahead. Here those systems are still in place, with the added benefit of being able to control the second character while you are moving the first, using the right stick will allow you to move them around, which is helpful when they get stuck in your way.
The core gameplay is still intact, there are still insanely designed puzzles and sequences to understand and solve in order to progress and many monsters to defeat along the way. What makes these harder though is the new control system, with last year’s Resident Evil HD Remaster, Capcom had implemented a system that modernized the controls, but at the same time let your character perform circles without any resistance, leaving you to wonder how the game would function down the line. Here the system actually works well, sort of, with the players no longer feeling like they have butter applied to their shoes. For those that remember the old tank controls, they are also back and you can use them if you wish, but the modern controls do work really well, for the most part.
Moving around the world is a lot more fun than last year’s effort, but when you get into scene swapping areas, the controls can become a little confusing. Pushing the stick to the left, only to have the scene swap to a new camera angle and then your moving to the right. Though if you continue to hold the stick in the same direction, then you will keep moving left, but your brain will always tell you that your moving wrong. The movement also plays up when you are attempting to pick items up, should you be against the item, but not quite looking at it, which can be hard to notice with the set camera angles, then the game won’t let you interact with it. One area I hoped would have received a little more attention was the shooting mechanics, once again you are left with the three positions of shooting, straight ahead, down or up, bringing the controls into the modern day, this should have been something that was fixed as well.
Perhaps the area that will impress people the most is in the presentation of the game as a whole, each of the areas were wonderfully remastered, with a lot of attention paid to subtle details like crackles in the marble or torchlight bouncing off shattered windows. The character models are also nice and detailed, with very little to detract from them and the same can be said for the creature design, with the leech monsters really looking great, thanks to some great lighting. There is a downside to the visuals and that comes with the load screens, the first few screens you will see are train doors and carpeted stairs and later on with steel doors and such, each of these are low res textures at best and when you come from the stunning environments that exist around them, the jump between them is really noticeable. The audio is another treat to behold as the sound effects and music both sound great in true 5.1, something the Gamecube was not really capable of and the voice acting also is on par with last year’s RE Remaster, but don’t hedge your bets on award winning voice acting.
Resident Evil fans, who never had the joy of experiencing this game when it released on Gamecube or the 2008 Wii release, will really love the game. The team behind it have learnt from their mistakes from the remaster of the first game, with tighter controls and significantly enhanced visuals, the few visual oddities will not stop people from coming, though some issues with interacting once in game, might.