Resident Evil Zero takes place just moments before the opening scene of the original Resident Evil game. Whereas the original game had players entering a mansion to investigate the disappearance of a team of agents – Resident Evil Zero aims to tell the story of those agents and how they came to be missing. Similarly, it was to tell the story of the viral outbreak that would eventually shape the entire series and just what went down at Umbrella for such a catastrophic event to transpire.
The story follows Rebecca Chambers, a medic and the younger member of special task force S.T.A.R.S. who have been sent to investigate a series of cannibalistic murders on the outskirts of Raccoon City. When her and her team arrive they discover an overturned military police transporter and the corpses of two officers. Eventually she meets up with Billy Coen, a death row escapee aboard the Ecliptic Express, an Umbrella owned train which has been overrun by zombies following a bizarre attack by leeches. Despite their differences, they must work together to escape the train and uncover the mystery behind the attacks.Where I previously criticised the original Resident Evil’s story for its rather typical approach to its storyline, Resident Evil Zero goes off the deep end in how ridiculous and over the top it is. Fans of the franchise will be no stranger to the bizarre storylines – think the Psycho homage in CODE: Veronica – but Zero really is something else. It’s a haphazard mix of reasonable explanation for events with quite bluntly unbelievable circumstances too – even within the realm of Resident Evil. Resident Evil Zero is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous story out of the mainline games.
Which is quite worrying since, as it’s a prequel, Resident Evil Zero is designed to fill in the gaps between itself and the original game. On the whole, it barely manages to do so. Sure, it develops the story behind the “masterminds” who are more or less responsible for the outbreak – but it barely touches upon much beyond showing how each member of Bravo Team would eventually perish. The biggest offender here (and most controversial amongst fans) is that Rebecca, who goes through all of this, says nothing of this game’s events in the original Resident Evil making this prequel feel tacked on.Similar to the game that came before it, Resident Evil Zero was one of the best looking games of its time owing to its ingenious mix of pre-rendered backgrounds and highly detailed character models. Much like the original Resident Evil remake before it, Resident Evil Zero still looks fantastic to this day – thanks in part to the atmosphere it evokes.