Hands-onResident Evil 0

We try out the recently released Japanese demo of Resident Evil 0 for the GameCube.

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We just received the demo of Resident Evil 0 that Capcom has released in Japan, and while it gives only a brief look at the game, it gives a really good idea of what you can expect from some of the new gameplay elements that Capcom has integrated into the series. The game begins with S.T.A.R.S. member Rebecca Chambers entering a train known as the Ecliptic Express. In the very first room, she encounters a group of zombies sitting in the chairs and lying on the ground. As the train speeds past a forest, brief flashes of light come streaming through the window and bounce off small metallic objects in the environment. After taking care of business, you can either continue to explore the train as Rebecca, or you can switch over to the other character in the game, Billy Cohen, who happens to be a few rooms down from Rebecca, near the rear of the train.

Switching characters can be accomplished one of two ways--you can either press the X button on the GameCube controller (which creates a cool transitional blurring effect) or you can go into the inventory screen and switch between characters there. When you take control of Billy, you'll be placed in what appears to be a kitchen area, where an overflowed sink gently laps water onto the floor, and plates, wine bottles, saltshakers, and other small items gently sway with the momentum of the train. In the rear of this particular room, there's an automated dumbwaiter that Rebecca and Billy can use to exchange items with each other before teaming up, and in fact, you'll also have to use the device to solve one of the game's first puzzles. Continuing to explore the train as Billy, you'll find a small carrying case in a room with two infamous zombie-dogs that have apparently become even more vicious. Once you grab the carrying case and examine it through the inventory screen, you'll notice that it has two locks on it that require two different circular items--one is located in the area around Billy, but the other has to be found by Rebecca.

Once you've found these items, you can open the case, grab the key inside, and open a previously locked door, which leads to the area Rebecca is located in. When the two characters are together, there are a few different strategies you can use. First, in the inventory screen, you can tell the computer-controlled character to follow you around and even shoot at enemies, or you can tell the character to stay put and not attack at all. In addition, when both characters are in the same room at the same time, you can control the primary character using the left analog stick on the GameCube controller and the second character with the C stick. Needless to say, it's pretty cool to have an extra character onscreen helping you shoot zombies, especially when you're being attacked--when a zombie is chewing on one character's neck, the other can knock it back with a well-placed shot. The only problem at this point is that the computer-controlled character tends to shoot pretty slow.

Other additions that are featured in the demo include the ability to drop items. Unfortunately, there really aren't all that many items in the demo to begin with, save for healing plants, a shotgun, ammunition, and a knife. But if you ever feel like your inventory is becoming too cluttered, you can simply drop an item on the floor and go pick it up later. There are still save areas in the game, but the one featured in the demo doesn't have a storage chest in it, so it's not currently known whether or not Capcom has entirely ditched that particular feature.

Visually, the game shares much in common with the original Resident Evil remake for the GameCube. Both character models are incredibly detailed, though Billy seems to look a little more generic than Rebecca. In addition, the lighting and other special effects, such as water, are equally well done. You'll also notice some nice, if unrealistic, fire effects in one of the first rooms. The zombies are about as equally detailed as those in the remake, but there really isn't much variety in the demo, so it's hard to say how detailed the enemies are going to get.

Otherwise, Resident Evil 0 is shaping up quite nicely, and since the control scheme is nearly identical to earlier games in the series, fans of previous Resident Evil games should have no problem jumping right in. Resident Evil 0 is scheduled for release at the end of October. We'll have more on the game soon.

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