Resident Evil: Origins Collection - Review

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Only shortly after Resident Evil Zero was announced with a full glossy HD makeover, Capcom put another announcement on top of it with the "Resident Evil: Origins Collection".
Including both Resident Evil Zero and the classic Resident Evil Remake in remastered HD, what more could you ask for?
While RE Zero still stands as one of the more overshadowed entries in the franchise, the Resident Evil Remake that originally debuted on the Gamecube, marks the strongest part of the package.
Since the RE Remake HD in some territories is hard to get as a physical release, and with RE Zero making its first ever appearance in HD, what new additions does the "Resident Evil: Origins Collection" hold?



Resident Evil Zero HD

The Original Game

Resident Evil Zero came out way back in 2002 on the Nintendo Gamecube.
Though the game never managed to break out from standing in the shadow of its much better received companion the Resident Evil Remake it still managed to stand strong as one of the more interesting albeit imperfect RE entries out there.

Looking at the story, RE Zero plays out simultaneously to the original RE's happenings. Focussing on medic Rebecca Chambers though, it tells a story from a different kind of perspective that leads to many revelations behind the scenes of the first RE game. On the way, she meets convict Billy Coen who works together with her in order to get free.
Though the pacing in RE Zero's story along with its two charismatic protagonists is very enjoyable and draws nice parallels between places like the mansion from the original RE game, a big gripe that is to be had with the game's story is that despite new villains and mysteries thrown in, the RE universe doesn't seem to be affected by RE Zero's events at all. Feeling very much like a spin-off sidestory to the main games, RE Zero should have hit much harder with its revelations and impacts.
Luckily though, RE Zero manages to still stand strong enough to feel like a solid standalone adventure, even without too many true highlights or shockers in it.

Tag Team Action!

Gameplaywise, RE Zero played pretty much like a co-op version of the original Resident Evil.
What sounds like a cool concept when playing the game with a friend via split-screen, can often become a cumbersome nightmare though when played solo.
Probably the epidemy of tedious item management, RE Zero's puzzles are almost entirely based on the player navigating to characters at different places in order to achieve a specific goal. Oftentimes this means that specific items have to be transfered from one character to another or that specific sections can only be reached with a certain character who has to find a way to open up another door for the other one.
While the co-op itself is a cool idea and the A.I. is capable enough not to bother you, it's the tedious inventory handling and constant item management that oftentimes makes puzzles feel like a drag. Especially considering that a very useful weapon like the shotgun can take up 6 slots in your tiny inventory system makes constant backtrackings to saferooms a necessity. Sure enough it all (to some extent) plays very well to the survival horror aspects of the game, but handling two characters at once just takes this annoyance to a new level.
Luckily though, puzzle solving and surviving the campaign's monster assaults, that can make for quite some tough moments in the game, do very well grant RE Zero the status of a good RE game regarding its difficulty.

Most monsters in RE Zero are a bit uninspired but get the job done.


The Collection's Updates

RE Zero's remaster treatment in the Resident Evil: Origins Collection is (as expected) first and foremost done on the graphical front.
With textures, models and resolution tuned to fit modern day HD remake standards, the game actually looks pretty impressive. Especially the video-rendered backgrounds look really good even today.Though there are some framerate issues in some rare instances, they don't hurt the overall experience notably much.
Another graphical enhancement is the new widescreen aspect ratio option of the game. With the game now having been adjusted to fit onto modern day widescreen TVs, the game is of course much more enjoyable to play. Environments and the atmosphere are more immersive, and you can even switch between the classic and new screen ratio as you like.
What's a big bummer though, is that even though the actual in-game presentation and graphics are spot-on, the cutscenes still appear quite low-res and don't fit the polished in-game visuals at all.
It's sad that Capcom decided to polish so much on the in-game visuals yet didn't go the whole ten yards to adjust the cutscenes accordingly as well.

The visual improvements are quite obvious to say the least.

Gameplaywise, there are basically no overly big changes made whatsoever.
While this means that the great survival-horror gameplay mechanics in the game are still fully intact, it unfortunately also means that the game's aforementioned shortcomings and annoyances, like most notably the way too small inventory and tedious item managing work, are also present - yet in a different way.
Item boxes have been removed from the game's mechanics in order to make a more fluid transfer of items possible. Yet sadly this completely backfires. Without any items boxes in your inventory, you are forced to constantly backtrack from one laction to another to dump all of your items either in storage containers (which have a limit) or dump them on the floor. However, the constant back and forth of item management (in addition to the backtracking to storage containers) is therefore even increased in RE Zero HD this time around.
Oftentimes this brings the entire pacing of an otherwise servicably enjoyable Resident Evil game to a big halt, making you oftentimes force yourself through cumbersome moments way more often than necessary.

RE Zero's item managing problems aren't solved but arguably even worse.

Though the HD Version throws a bonus into the game in form of playing the campaign as iconic villain Albert Wesker, it doesn't help too much.
Sure enough the entire game plays quite differently with Wesker being able to dash through locations at superhuman speed and kill enemies with his Oroboros powers, but it comes off as more of a nice gimmick than anything truely essential to improve the gameplay's still present nagging aspects themselves. Wesker's powers aside, the so called Wesker Mode in RE Zero HD is barely more than a skin for Billy Coen (Wesker even speaks in Billy's voice during Wesker Mode).

Wesker Mode is fun but nothing more than a gimmicky new skin for Billy.



Resident Evil Remake HD
 

The Original Game

The already released Resident Evil Remake in HD also finds its way onto the Resident Evil Origins Collection.
The Resident Evil Remake sure enough has made quite more of an impact than anybody would've expected. Even to this day and measured by today's game standards, the Resident Evil Remake stands strong as one of THE best horror game experiences and scariest games to date. While the very original Resident Evil back on the PS1 will always hold a soft spot in gamers' hearts, the Resident Evil Remake simply improves upon everything set-up by the original, adds new content and ideas to it while always still being respectful to the original's legacy. It's simply everything a remake should be.

One of the best and scariest horror games even by today's standards.

The RE Remake used the exact same engine and video-rendered background technique from RE Zero and entirely recreated the Umbrella Mansion from the original game to breathe new life into it. Now with near photorealistic recreations of all the creepy locations like abandoned labs, gardens, basements and other places, there's no denying that the RE Remake oozes perfect horror atmosphere.
On top of that, the gameplay also received a rehaul with some significant additions that changed up how you approached situations in the game.
While the story, the progression and most of the puzzles in the RE Remake of course oriented themselves primarily on the ones from the original, some additions like most notably the new Crimson Head enemies (downed zombies that resurrect as even deadlier versions if you don't burn their bodies within a certain amount of time) are definitely "game changing". Changes like this literally shape how you approach certain rooms and handle your inventory, making the entire survival horror aspect of the game even more intense.
Lastly, the RE Remake wasn't resting on the success and legacy of the Resident Evil name alone, but expanded its lore in great ways as well. Especially entirely new characters, locations and background-stories in the game have been added and surprisingly made for some of RE Remakes (and the entire franchise's) greatest moments. The best example for that: Lisa Trevor, the cabin in the woods and her tragic backstory.

The RE Remake was and still IS, even in 2016, one of the best survival horror games out there.
With great challenging puzzles, a large variety of locations, enemies and a fantastic pacing in a lengthy entertaining story, it can easily be considered the highlight of the entire franchise and a horror game masterpiece.

"Down, Fido!"


The Collection's Updates

Additions to the RE Remake are expectedly slim in the Origins Collection.
While the game once more received a nice increase of high resolution textures that make the entire package look a nice step sharper than the previously released PS3 version, there's not too much to talk about here.

Much like RE Zero HD, the RE Remake inside the Origins Collection looks beautiful. This is even more emphasized by the fact that RE features a much bigger palette of different enemies and locations to showcase those graphical improvements.
Just like with RE Zero HD, you are now also given the option to play the game in the new widescreen aspect ratio or the original one. While the widescreen cuts off the top and bottom and stretches the image, it's nothing too bad and a question of getting used to it or preference. But at least you are given the option here to decide between them.
Also, a new optional control scheme in the game is offered in order to avoid some gamers having to get used to the game's usual "tank controls" (which honestly aren't too bad).
Lastly, another change or addition comes in the form of a new easier difficulty. But unless you are absolutely struggling, you should avoid it.

While the overall additions or improvements of the RE Remake in the Origins Collection aren't all too many and barely noticable (except sharper visuals) this doesn't hurt an already fantastic game. The RE Remake still remains as timeless and near perfect as ever.

The Origins Collection makes a masterpiece only a very tiny bit better.



The Verdict

All in all, the Resident Evil Origins Collection combines a servicable yet flawed RE game with a true horror game masterpiece. This results in an overall collection that is dragged down by RE Zero yet held significantly up at the same time by the masterful RE Remake.
Both games benefited a lot though from the superb HD remastering work Capcom put into these games from 2002. RE Zero as well as the RE Remake look great. The sharper models, vastly more high-res textures and widescreen options bring these two titles in fittingly great fashion to 2016 (with only some minor visual shortcomings present in RE Zero).
Yet while the RE Remake's timeless game design shines and still makes it feel very modern even today, the same cannot completely be said for RE Zero. Back in 2002, RE Zero's two character gameplay design was indeed something new that still is quite well implemented into the game's puzzles and flow. Unfortunately though, Capcom's attempts at reworking the game's original item management annoyances completely backfired, making them even worse now. This results in RE Zero, a not-game changing but servicably solid entry in the franchise, being given numerous excrushiatingly frustrating occasions, in which trading items and mundane organizing drastically hurt the game's pacing.

While RE Zero's problems are still present and only highlighted by Capcom's failed attempts to iron them out, the Resident Evil Origins Collection is still a great excuse to revisit the okay to solid RE Zero and the masterful RE Remake from 2002. 
Sure enough, the entire package is mostly held up by the excellent Resident Evil Remake (which alone would be worth buying the collection for), yet with the addition of RE Zero, the Resident Evil Origins Collection is a steal at its low price tag at release.


          

 Final Verdict: 8 out of 10 

Status: Great!




Big thanks goes out to Capcom Germany for providing a review copy of the game.

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