By Matthew Scott Hunter
‘Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil Zero’ (M)
Stick to the basics
By the time “Resident Evil Zero” came out seven years ago, the series itself had become a zombie — a rotting corpse of its former being that refused to remain dead. Mercifully, “Resident Evil 4” put a bullet in its brain, reinventing the survival horror format altogether. Yet here it is again — “Resident Evil Zero” — complete with its static, pre-rendered backgrounds, unintuitive, tank-like control scheme and inventory system that somehow manages to be more cumbersome than it already was, thanks to the addition of a second playable character and the ability to drop items. Unlike the recent re-releases of other GameCube classics, “RE0” doesn’t bother to incorporate the console’s motion controls. So it’s just the same old shambling corpse.
However, it is a pretty corpse. The backdrops are atmospheric and nearly photorealistic. The downside is any change in the background requires a brief load time, which means that every potential jump scare is preceded by a frame-rate hiccup that effectively gives it away. This is also the only game in the series to give you two playable characters at once. Unfortunately, Billy Coen and Rebecca Chambers have the combined abilities of one Chris Redfield, and it’s really frustrating when Billy has two healing herbs, and Rebecca is the only one who can mix them. The most significant thing this game does is make you appreciate “Resident Evil 4,” and you’d be better off doing that by playing “Resident Evil 4.”
“Reflex’s” new control scheme only takes an hour to master, but it takes a lifetime to list all of the complaints you’ll have about it. To the developer’s credit, it’s a cool idea. One analog stick represents the vehicle, and the other represents the rider/driver. This adds an extra degree of realism when it comes to the dirt bikes, since a careful shift of the rider’s weight can mean the difference between a well-executed sharp turn and a face-plant. However, the physics don’t always feel right, so it’s a good thing that right analog stick wears a helmet.
When it comes to console-to-handheld ports, “Tekken 6” easily K.O.’s the competition. The fight and combo mechanics are intact, the load times are actually shorter, and the only thing lost in the transition is the story mode (and believe me — you ain’t missing anything). This is pure “Tekken,” but “on the go.” Novices can button-mash their way to victory, but longtime series fans will find the most subtly technical fighting game on the market — guaranteed to wear out your thumbs. And now the whole thing fits in the palms of your aching hands.
People are fond of the expression “less is more,” but in this case, more is less. More workouts, less gut. EA’s follow up to last May’s “Active” is a definite improvement. It relies less on the fickle balance board than on the position of the Wii remote (and the resistance strap you’ll have to purchase for $20). And the new workouts (from Oprah trainer Bob Greene) will help rid you of the calories you didn’t burn while playing “Modern Warfare 2.”