When I first heard about the Resident Evil 0 remaster, I wasn’t really that excited. I remember playing the game when it originally came out sure, but it was hardly my favorite and it certainly wasn’t in the same league as the Resident Evil 1 remake. It would be fair to say Resident Evil 0 was a harder sell for me, even with the touched-up graphics and new costumes. When Wesker mode was announced, though, things changed. If there’s one thing I’ll always unconditionally love no matter how ridiculous it gets, it’s Wesker, and so even if Resident Evil 0 wasn’t my favorite, I was more than happy to give the new Wesker mode a go.
At first glance, Wesker plays like Billy but without the disadvantage of not being able to combine herbs. In other words, he’s built for combat and takes zombie bites like a champ. The primary difference is that Billy wasn’t able to shoot lasers out of his eyes. Resident Evil 0 has a lot of enemies to fight, normally meant for Rebecca and Billy to work together to defeat, but Wesker is basically a one-man army. Wesker’s eye beams can be used in lieu of a more traditional gun, and when you unleash it front of enemies their heads explode with a very satisfying pop. The best part is that his eyes don’t run out of ammo, so you can explode enemies to your heart’s content.
However, my favorite thing about Wesker is the dash. It feels surprisingly close to his dash in The Mercenaries mode of Resident Evil 5, except you can get a lot better use out of it in Resident Evil 0’s myriad of narrow hallways. Before I played the remaster, I remembered Resident Evil 0 mostly for its item management blunders and copious amounts of backtracking. Playing the remaster, those impressions still hold true, but it’s not as bad when you dash across every room in seconds.
Playing as Wesker feels a lot like activating a cheat device. He can still use guns if you feel like it, but there’s little point when you have unlimited access to instant-death laser beams. The end section of the train section in particular sticks out to me as becoming totally trivial. What was once a race to the back end of the train full of a million ammo-consuming enemies can be now be completed twice as fast thanks to the dash and screen-clearing laser attack. It’s kind of ridiculous that on a train about to crash and filled with zombies, the scariest part has become having to do the basic math required for the puzzle at the end.
Despite the mode starring Wesker with near god-like power, he still remains very stuck within the main game’s constraints. It was shortly after the train section, inside the mansion training facility that I really felt the contrast in powers. While enemies were no longer a problem, I still had to make sure Rebecca had weapons and ammo, I still needed to juggle all my key items and make sure the right characters had the right equipment before I split them up, and the main hall of the mansion was still completely filled with items I was dropping on the ground. When the game wouldn’t let me drop my last green herb on the ground so I could go pick up an item about six rooms away, I began to realize that things weren’t really that different.
The issue is that you still need to go through the motions of finding keys to open doors, solving puzzles, and leave items all over the floor. In other words, you’re still playing Resident Evil 0. The game even plays out the exact same way, requiring you to progress the game with Rebecca up to the point where she would normally team up with Billy before letting you play as Wesker. I know it’s just a bonus mode, but the whole time I was playing Wesker mode I kept thinking about the source material for it. This is the same Wesker who kicks Chris Redfield straight through previously-locked doors while making door puns and casually throws rockets at people, now apparently stopped by flimsy wooden doors and math puzzles.
I had a good time playing around with Wesker mode, but it feels like a great idea put into the wrong game. On one hand it’s hilarious and awesome to see this modern action-movie Wesker fight monsters in the old tank-control setup. However, I found that experience being constantly interrupted by the game itself, which is easily the most tedious experience in the Resident Evil series when it comes to item management, puzzles, and backtracking. Wesker mode is probably one of my favorite bonus modes in any Resident Evil game (which is saying a lot since its competition involves playing as a giant tofu block and The Mercenaries), it’s just too bad that Resident Evil 0 isn’t one of my favorite Resident Evil games to play.
Food for Thought:
1. You need to unlock Wesker mode by completing the game, which disappointed me when I first booted it up. That might be for the best, though, because I found that the Resident Evil 0 experience is a lot smoother when you have an idea of what items you need and when, so Wesker mode ended up being a more enjoyable play through of the game thanks to my prior knowledge.
2. It’s been a while since I’ve played Resident Evil 5, but I’m pretty sure Wesker never actually had laser eye beams.