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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Survival Horror

 

Publisher

Capcom

 

Developer

Capcom

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- An all-new Resident Evil adventure

- Character teamwork adds a whole other dimension

- Excellent production values

- Some good scares

- Drop anything, anywhere (except your pants)

 

 

- Sometimes feels like an inventory management simulator

 

 

Review: Resident Evil (Gamecube)

Review: Eternal Darkness (Gamecube)

 

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Resident Evil Æ

Score: 8.6 / 10

 

As an all-new Resident Evil game, Resident Evil Ø (REØ) is pretty darn good.  It’s got zombies, undead dogs, some good puzzles and more than a few “Uh oh” moments; plus, it features some wicked built-in challenge with the much ballyhooed character switching.  In fact, if you’re an RE fan, you owe it to yourself to play REØ.  And if you’ve never played an RE title or have drifted from survival horror as a genre, REØ is worth your time – at the very least a rental.

 

resident-evil-zero-1.jpg (31446 bytes)          resident-evil-zero-2.jpg (29901 bytes)

 

Almost like some unspoken rule, REØ begins with S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) Bravo Team investigating Raccoon Forest for a possible cult that has been killing (and partially eating) the good folk of Raccoon City.  Events, predictably, spiral out of control from there when Bravo Team’s helicopter is shot down and rookie Rebecca Chambers gets separated from the rest of the team as she investigates a mysterious train.  More complications arise when Billy Coen – found guilty by a military tribunal of murdering 23 people and on his way to the gallows at the time he escapes – appears on the train.  The two quickly pair up and it’s a good thing too since there’s no way Rebecca would be able to finish the game without Billy.

 

Something Capcom paid close attention to is the uniqueness of each character.  Toned but waif-like Rebecca just can’t match Billy’s stretch.  Equally, Rebecca’s ability to easily mix up health potions comes in extremely handy during boss encounters.  In short, they have a ying-yang relationship and this creates most of REØ’s challenge.

 

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There are some brutally violent boss encounters and some great integrated puzzles (including one that uses a giant chessboard) but the ability to switch between characters (and even take control of both) builds in a host of considerations and challenges.  At it’s most basic this can mean using one character to boost the other through a small access vent so that character can unlock a door from the other side.  At it’s most complex this means taking on boss characters together in what can be described as some kind of horrific ballet.

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Managing control over both characters actually seems more difficult on paper than in practice.  When Bill and Rebecca are paired, the main character (whomever was in use when they teamed up) is controlled in the regular manner but the other is manipulated using only the C-stick and setting their behavior to passive (won’t shoot zombies) or aggressive (shoots enemies on sight – very good when a zombie is latched onto you).  The main concern besides avoiding the viral zombies and other monsters is managing inventory items.  Distributing ammo properly gave me the heebie-jeebies more than a few times.  Nothing’s worse than having your partner’s shotgun go “click” when you’ve got a zombie going for your throat.

 

In fact, inventory management is sure to occupy a lot of your time.  There are only so many inventory slots between the two that you constantly have to reassess what’s useful and what’s dead weight.  Lessening this to an extent is the ability to drop items anywhere you want.  This finally means you don’t have to carry around ink ribbons to save your game – just leave them by the typewriters for when you need them.  This also allows you to create caches of weapons, ammos, and health items.

 

As with the re-release of the original Resident Evil on GameCube not long ago, REØ looks outstanding – better really, thanks to a number of small touches and ultra-creepy lighting.  Capcom obviously learned something from their previous effort.  As usual the sound design is spot on with lots of ambient noises and music-filled boss encounters.

 

resident-evil-zero-3.jpg (34952 bytes)          resident-evil-zero-4.jpg (27230 bytes)

 

The control scheme hasn’t changed much aside from the elements needed for the two-character control.  Meaning, you’ll be right at home if you’ve played the other RE games to death.  But I still found it distracting that I wasn’t able to target specific body parts – something I reveled while playing Eternal Darkness.  Oh sure, when an enemy gets close enough you can take its head off with a lucky shot but c’mon, both Rebecca and Billy are highly trained personnel – besides knowing which end of a gun the bullet comes out of, they should know how to aim.  Considering the mythology and history surrounding the evil experiments of the Umbrella Corp. it’s almost a given we’ll see more original RE titles (Resident Evil 3 and Nemesis are coming in 2003) so this feature could be added to new games.

 

There are some extras offered too.  Once the first game is completed a couple of extras become unlocked – more if you finish the game in less than 3 ½ hours (which is hard to do even if you manage to score a weapon with unlimited ammo through the Leech Hunter game unlocked when you finish the first time).  These are really for the expert player as most players will be satisfied with hacking through the story once, which will take at least 5 – 7 hours for experienced players (that’s without redoing areas, dying, or screwing up).

 

resident-evil-zero-5.jpg (22155 bytes)          resident-evil-zero-6.jpg (23193 bytes)

 

As I said from the outset, if you’re a Resident Evil fan grab a copy of Resident Evil Ø.  It’s got everything you want and demand from the series, while throwing in the freshness that two-character control offers.  A worthy addition to the series and a good game.

 

- Omni

(November 30, 2002)

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