March 13th, 2010
There are a couple of odd inconsistencies in Resident Evil 0. It’s a given in this series to expect a crummy plot and wooden characters, but defeating Marcus and the leech queen at the end of the game was disappointing in how irrelevant it was to what I consider to be Resident Evil 0‘s core asset, the empathetic relationship between Billy and Rebecca. Resident Evil 0 defeated my expectations by delivering a un-bombastic narrative, a good story. I found myself deeply engrossed in these two characters and their journey as two strangers. They didn’t speak much and nor did they need to as their relationship developed through the pragmatic functions of the game. Including Marcus as a villain feels contrived, as though the series is carrying out it’s duty of upholding the mannequin heroes and villains trope. Continuity-wise he was already accounted for by the in-game journals and notes, there was no need to resurrect him. And overall I feel disappointed that Resident Evil 0‘s great narrative was squandered by series ritual.
Marcus, as the deliverer of forced narrative, also detracts from the relationship that I feel the player makes with the environment. This association with ‘place’ is perhaps what people might call the player narrative, it’s difficult to classify since the aforementioned Rebecca-Billy relationship is also probably part of the player narrative too, although it also has fixed narrative from the director. In any case, Resident Evil 0 is a beautiful game. Sure, it may be a little monotone in comparison to Resident Evil Remake, however, I think it’s easy for the player to grow an attachment because it’s so convincing. Admittedly, I am a patch disappointed at the lack of animation gone into the stills (what is there is phenomenal), originally hearing that the stills were much more animated than RE Remake, but what is there pulls the player in with great ease. Marcus, just as before, breaks the relationship a little, we don’t care about him, we care about his estate and the activity that happened around it.
The final, and I guess most obvious, disparity regarding the plot is just the difference between the professional rendering of the environment and the vintage of the gameplay compared to the dialogue. Again, improbable video game nonsense that has the quality of a teenage fan fic, set at ends with the high quality presentation. Similarly, the tank controls and the presentation don’t match either.
Other inconsistencies are well established, like how Resident Evil 0 was marketed as Resident Evil on a train (the Under Siege 2 to accompany my Syphon Filter analogy ^_^), when in fact it’s just the B-sides of Resident Evil Remake. Seriously, the train sequences composes the game’s intro and everything after that is Resident Evil redux, mansions, laboratories and the like.
To conclude my extended commentaries of Resident Evil 0, I figure that it’s worth mentioning the forced sexism imposed by the game since it is a disparity of sorts. This sexism is the justification for the partner zapping system. That is, each protagonist is assigned traits which differentiate them from their partner and therefore forces the player to utilise each characters strengths. These traits can be inferred as sexist, on two levels. The first being that Billy is stronger than Rebecca, both in health and the ability to push large crates, while Rebecca can mix herbs and chemicals. Yeah, that’s pretty blatant in assigning gender stereotypes. The second point is a direct consequence of the first in that since Billy can take more hits, it’s best to use him most of the time since after all this is a game of survival and using the character with the most HP is the the wiser decision. Unfortunately, the unintended—second!—consequence, on top of the first, is that since Billy becomes the default character for tackling enemies he needs to store all the important items, and Rebecca is thereby relegated holding duties. So what is Resident Evil asserting? That women are only good for holding things?
I don’t honestly believe that Resident Evil 0 is sexist, it’s just an interesting observation to make. Theorising for a minute though, I reckon Capcom probably wanted to remedy this issue (not just for sexism’s sake but to keep a balance between the usage of each character) by prescribing Rebecca with her own solo sections without Billy. There’s the first part of the train sequence before they team up, the entire factory area and it’s extremely useful (although not mandatory) to use her for the first floor of the laboratory. Overall, these constitute maybe a quarter of the game, which is pretty significant.
This posts marks the end of my Resident Evil 0 coverage, I also wrote a post 2 years ago on Resident Evil Remake and although it’s shit, maybe you wanna check it out. You know, despite some pretty significant flaws, I really enjoyed Resident Evil 0 as it partly mirrors the atmospheric game of solace I mentioned in The Ideal Prince of Persia. Try it out, I think you’ll dig it.