Resident Evil Zero
It's perhaps the most anticipated prequel in gaming history. Resident Evil Zero is set before the events of Resident Evil, whose remake appeared on the GameCube last year. It finally gives us the background to those terrifying events that occurred in the mansion in the original game. RE Zero is a scary and dramatic as they come but unfortunately in its provision for deaf gamers the game is about as good as it was in last years Resident Evil game.
There are two controllable characters is RE Zero. The main character that you control is Rebecca Chambers, a recent addition to the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) Bravo team. As the game begins you're looking for mass murderer Billy Coen who in a strange twist of fate is the second character that you'll control. This isn't a game where you control each character at different points though. For most of the game you'll be controlling both. The characters can be controlled separately or combined as a team. Before you think this might sound difficult though let me assure you that it's actually very easy to control both. At times you'll need to split them up in order to solve puzzles. You switch between them either from the in-game menu, or rather more simplistically, by pressing the X button.
In many ways RE Zero is an improvement over RE. The inventories are now far easier to use and understand. You can drop and go back for items that you left behind and the map will also show you such things as well. You can even locate locations where you can save by looking at the map. Some things though remain the same. Gamers might be dismayed to learn that the usual, character related control system (where you push forward with the analogue stick and your character moves forward) still doesn't have a less confusing option but with extended play you get used to it. Save games still require a ink ribbon and a typewriter which adds to the tension greatly.
The atmosphere in the game is amazing and of course the first class graphics make this feel more like a film than a game. The whole look of the game is simply designed to chill your blood and after a session on the game I found I needed a play on something more light hearted to relieve the tension. The game begins with Rebecca on board a train that is filled with zombies and the suspense is brilliant. Really tense moments occur in the cutscenes which seamlessly fit into the gameplay and will often leave your character in a bad situation. Like the first Resident Evil game, moving from one room to another will trigger the door opening cutscene which simply shows the door opening on a background of blackness. A similar thing happens when you climb or descend stairs. This may seem like a graphical shortcut but it is also another effective tool in increasing the tension.
When we reviewed Resident Evil back in September we gave it 6/10. The reason for this mark was simply because it was not the same experience for deaf gamers as it was for hearing gamers. The cutscenes were not subtitled and the hair raising ambient sounds that added so much to the atmosphere were not captioned and what would have almost been a 10/10 game had to have it's rating drastically reduced to reflect these problems. Unfortunately Resident Evil Zero is exactly the same and again the rating will reflect this. Why couldn't subtitles have been included? It's not an impossible task. There are numerous cutscenes with important conversations and deaf gamers are missing vital parts of the game without the subtitles. Questions and object descriptions etc. are often given in text but these are parts of the game where there is no speech. Hearing gamers will be notified of a pending zombie attack by the low groans that they emit but deaf gamers will have no such warning. The game is playable but without any description of the plot it all becomes a much shallower affair.
Game Rating: 6.0/10