Resident Evil 0
Release date: November 12, 2002
The first time I finished REo it took me two tries and the word I remembered for it was: Hard. In my memories RE0 stood out as one of the hardest of the series and I have to say that ten years later it did not disappoint. While it may not have been the grueling ordeal I remembered it for, it’s still definitively on the hard side of the gaming spectrum. Limited ammo, limited continues, brutal and quick deaths… it’s survival horror at it’s best.
Before delving into the game itself I want to take a moment to talk about survival horror games. Survival horror games are simply games where the goal is the survive an horror movie situation using whatever limited resources you have and outwitting the various puzzles and situations ahead of you. Clever use of weapons, knowing when to fight and when to run and the ability to think on your feet are all part of surviving these games. Resident Evil 1 defined survival horror all by itself and spawned an entire genre including series like Silent Hill and Fatal Frame.
As a genre, survival horror has more or less gone underground with very few titles coming out in the past years but its influence are still felt in many games who pick up some of its elements.
It all started with a mad scientist
It’s hard to talk about RE0 without talking a bit about RE1 because the two are linked closely with RE0 setting up the events of the RE1 but if we ignore the Mansion incident there’s still a lot to be found in RE0.
People are disappearing in the Arklay mountains close to Raccoon city and mangled bodies are found so it’s up to Stars(Special tactics and rescue service) Bravo team to head out into the mountains and investigate. Of course, everything goes to hell when their helicopter suffers a mysterious malfunction and they are dropped into the forest full of zombies and other nasty monsters.
Our hero, rookie Rebecca Chambers meet up with death row escapee Billy Coen (wrongly accused of course) and together they’ll end up investigating Umbrella corporation secret training facility where they’ll meet an interesting cast of character led by none other than James Marcus, the resident mad scientist obsessed with messing around with leeches and zombie creating viruses.
After running all over the place and fighting various monsters our heroes finally defeat doctor Marcus and each go their own way, Billy never to be seen again in the Resident evil universe and Rebecca to right into another nightmare (RE1). Seriously, as bad first days on the job goes, Rebecca gets the gold medal.
What Resident Evil 0 brought to the series
RE0 is a bit of and odd duck in the entire series. It was released solely for the Gamecube at around the same time as re-releases and remakes of the other Resident Evil titles on the Gamecube and I think the whole history surrounding Resident Evil on the Gamecube worth taking a moment to talk about.
Back in the early 2000 the future of the Resident Evil series was uncertain. The latest installments (Re3 and Veronica) were doing well enough but critics felt the series was becoming stale and antiquated. The item management, the forced perspective backgrounds and the slower gameplay were pointed as relics of ages past. While Capcom was aware that it needed to revitalize and reinvent the series to attract new audiences, it was also aware of a very die-hard community who loved the games just the way they were. This lead to a series of decisions.
First, Capcom decided to move the series to the Gamecube exclusively as they felt it was the better console for their games. Then, they decided that Resident Evil 4 would be a reboot of sorts with new gameplay elements and new enemies. But first, they had to tie up all the lose ends that the previous games failed to answer, namely, how did the various viruses came to be and how exactly did it all start out? The previous games did drop hints about a lot of things but it was never all tied together.
This is what Resident Evil 0 really brought to the series, a way to close the books on the first series of game in preparation for Re4, an explanation as to how exactly the Raccoon city mess happened, a link between the various viruses and how they tied together and finally, an explanation for some of Umbrella odder actions that couldn’t be explained before. As a bonus Capcom even gave to the fans a true survival horror game.
It turns out that it was all mad scientist James Marcus fault. Not only being content with being a mad scientist working for an evil corporation bent on world domination, Marcus wanted to take things one step further and unleash his beasties on the world. Umbrella caught wind of this and decided to deal with the good doctor before he made things difficult. Being a true mad scientist, Marcus didn’t let dying stop him and came back with a vengeance against the company that betrayed him and decided to throw a wrench into Umbrella plans at exactly the wrong time. This in turn led to what was supposed to be a controlled situation go out of control and ultimately set into motion the events of the entire Resident Evil series.
Onward to Re1
I’ll leave the story telling at that for now since I want to keep some for the other games. Right now I’ve begun the next step of my marathon with RE1 which I’ll be playing twice since there’s two characters. Overall RE0 was a fun game even if it did made me rage a few times.