01 (stylized as ZERΩ ƱNE, read ZERO ONE) is a biopunk-themed open world action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft. It is released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The game is set in the city of San Diego, California, where a gene-altering mutagen which is also known as nil, is let loose by accident due to careless safety procedures in an underground California state laboratory. When it breaks free from its underground prison, onto the surface of San Diego, the city is heavily fortified and isolated from the rest of the state of California. Everyone is instructed not to leave the city until the 'infection' has been contained. Anyone attempting to flee the city or enter it by going through the SD Buffer Zone unauthorized is executed by the now more heavily armored San Diego Police Department or the most heavily armored federal agents.
At the center of it rises the main protagonist Zacharie 'Zak' Randolph, whose father is kidnapped and mother and sister are slaughtered by Nihils henchmen. Nihil, the main antagonist of 01, impersonates a genetic engineer who created him by accident as he was ordered by the United States government to find a cytotoxin for cancer cells, an assignment which he chose to drop after he had discovered nil. Zak encounters a mysterious private investigator Li Singh, who tells Zak that he pursues Nihil too for his own reasons and will offer any help that is needed in finding him. He promises Zak to help him find Nihil and his father and then takes Zak into a dark alley where he injects him with nil, giving him superhuman strength, defense and agility.
Through the course of the game, Zak will encounter masses of nil-infected people who have turned into different kinds of monsters with various abilities known as 'nihils'. As Zak defeats them and collects their nil, he will eventually level up and use the gained nil to purchase new abilities that affect his combat skills, supportive attributes such as health, defense and energy and maneuverability. Over time, Zak will face even stronger nihils and even artificial people who have nil flowing through their veins but have still retained their human form. They are known as 'archetypes' and there are 25 in total of them. They were created by Zilch partly to ensure Zak wouldn't reach his father, to search for a cure for nil and to serve their creator as his own private army of superhuman soldiers.
01 features a rather large open world environment of the fortified San Diego and quite flexible and non-linear gameplay in the form of side quests and harvesting nil from enemies to gain a numerous amount of new abilities, let alone upgrades for previous ones. Side quests produce a reward in a big or large sum of nil depending on the nature, difficulty and length of the mission. Stronger nihils and archetypes yield more nil when defeated (with archetypes usually yielding also new genetic weapons to use by Zak), while killing uninfected civilians, SDPD officers, military personnel and federal agents and destroying machines other than nil-powered one's yields no nil to harvest at all.
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“How many nil-infected genitalia do I have to castrate until your precious sexually transmitted disease dies out?”
- –Zak berating nil and Zilch
Zacharie Manfredo Nicholas 'Zak' Randolph is an African American post-pubescent college sophomore, whose father, Manfredo Randolph, is kidnapped and mother and sister are brutally murdered by Nigel Zilch's archetypes. He is the main protagonist and a controllable character in 01. He seeks revenge first on the archetypes and most notably Type Omega until he realizes who their creator, Nigel Zilch, is. After that he strives to annihilate Zilch completely with the help of Li Singh and a syringeful of nil.
Zak's powers are the superhuman strength, defense and agility which every archetype obtains after he had his nil injected to himself. Zak has also the ability to harvest nil from most of his enemies along with their weapons and abilities. Zak is the only nil-infected person who is able to shift his own shape to resemble civilians, SDPD officers, federal agents and scientists he murders after consuming their own DNA.
Father Manfredo 'Man' Randolph is an African American pastor and Zak Randolph's father. Nigel Zilch's archetypes kidnap him for his DNA strain, which could be a potent source for new strain nil. He is known for answering every other question with a passage from the Holy Bible. Due to the new strain resting in his genetic code, he is immune to the effects of nil, be it of the old or new strain. He is shot reluctantly by his own son Zak so that Zilch would lose his new strain of nil.
Nigel Zilch/Ross Russell
“I am Alpha. The beginning. Not the hellish creation you just fought known as Type Alpha. I am the true Nigel Zilch before the infection, and as it turns out, I am immune to nil.”
- –Ross Russell confessing his true identity to Zak
Nigel Zilch is a kiwi genetic engineer, who discovered nil, a substance that seemed to raise corpses from the dead and enhance them with genetic deformations and heightened survival instinct through boosted physical strength, defense and agility. He is immune to the mutating effects of nil and various other mutagens, and even natural mutations. His creations are Type Digamma and Nihil, with the latter being created unintentionally due to an accidental mixing of old and new strains of nil at the underground lab.
After seeing the various incidents caused by the nil outbreak and having learnt about Nihil taking his name, Nigel Zilch chose to change his name into Erasmus 'Ross' Russell and stay in hiding for some time. Eventually he encounters Zak Randolph and aids him in his quest to find his father and destroy Nihil.
“I am alpha and omega, Zak! This world was born by my hand, so it shall die by my hand!”
- –Nihil to Zak
Nihil is the main antagonist of 01 and fully responsible for the nil outbreak. He created all of the archetypes excluding Type Digamma after the outbreak. He is cruel, sadistic and selfish megalomaniac who likes to watch people other than himself to suffer. Nihil was born by accident when Nigel Zilch accidentally mixed together the old and new strains of nil at the underground lab. After gaining consciousness, he picks up Nigel Zilch's name tag next to him, thinking it is his and takes his creators name. He created the 24 archetypes with Type Omega being his latest and most loyal creation.
After creating the archetypes from his own strain of nil, he built the completely mechanized bionic district of San Diego, which is the final level of the game. He then divided himself to create a powerful unit that would keep the district mechanically 'alive'. After separating the powerful unit which is also his heart from his body, Nihil placed the heart to the same laboratory he was born in and injected it with huge doses of nil. The whole lab became corrupted with nil so much it became alive in a way that the heart would defend itself if provoked. Nihil built the mechanized district around the underground lab.
Nihils powers are his superhuman strength, defense and agility which every archetype obtains after the accident back at the underground lab. His survival instinct has been heightened to a point where one loses the ability to feel any compassion and empathy towards other people. Nihils signature weapon is his left hand's X-Scissor Blade, which he uses to stab people and tear their bodies apart in direct melee combat. Nihil has also numerous mechanical claw tentacles emerged from his torso. The mechanized district of the city of San Diego consists of structures made from his tentacles.
“Such strength is unlike our own... Just... Who are you...!”
- –Type Gamma to Singh after being defeated by him.
Type Gamma is Nihil's third archetype.
“I am the tenth archetype with ten times the lethality than the last one you fought.”
- –Type Kappa describing himself to Zak and Singh.
Type Kappa is Nihil's tenth archetype. He is known to execute his master's orders with needless cruelty, torturing his targets for a long time before tearing their bodies apart with his blade wings, which are his signature weapon. They are able to turn from his backside to front for him to use them as his hands. Five sword-like forearms extend from each of his two upper arms, which are able to bend and fold freely from the wrists, making them look like over-sized, flat but sharp metal fingers.
“There are three R:s that I seem to lack completely: regret, remorse and reason. There are also three R:s that you seem to hold dearly: resistance, revolution and rebellion. There are also three R:s that I have been told to dispose of, and the third 'R' is still on the run!”
- –Type Omega referring to Zak being 'still on the run'
Type Omega is Nihil's most recently created and trusted archetype. He is responsible for the deaths of Zak's mother and sister, so he battles Zak the most of all archetypes. His body is torn into pieces by Li Singh near the end of the game. Type Omega's signature weapons are his rather long scythe arms which resemble the forelegs of a mantis with the palms of his hands missing.
Type Digamma/Li Singh
“I am you... times two.”
- –Singh after defeating Type Gamma
Li Singh is an Asian private investigator who was Nigel Zilch's very first archetype. He chose to leave behind his past as Nigel Zilch's creation and lab assistant alongside his name 'Type Digamma' after escaping the underground lab during the nil breakout. He still holds deep loyalty towards Zilch even after abandoning him, which is manifested through the offer in helping Zak to find Zilch. He injects Zak with nil to help him fight back his enemies, especially stronger nihils and the archetypes. He has the archetype of a servant and wields two Colt Anaconda revolvers.
There are a variety of different items available for Zak to use. This section doesn't include the genetic modifications which are based on nil and used as weapons by him.
- Weapons - widespread among SDPD officers, military personnel and federal agents as pistols, sub machine guns, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles and light machine guns. These weapons prove to be quite useless to Zak with the exceptions being the two last, sniper rifle and LMG. They are dropped by aforementioned armed enemies when killed.
- Blood Packs - dropped by stronger enemies and scientists, these packs of blood stockpile to your inventory ready to use whenever. Consuming one restores health by half of the non-upgraded health bar or 50 hit points. The effect can be strengthened with the abilities bloodthirst and vampirism which slow down your regeneration but doubles (bloodthirst) or triples (vampirism) the effect of the blood packs.
- N-Gins - dropped rarely by scientists and found in hidden places, these gene-splicing cocktails boosts the reach, speed and physical power of your attacks, makes your combos endless and releases a devastating blast of life-sapping tendrils when it ends. It lowers your defense and makes precision attacks difficult due to excess shaking.
- Heavy Weapons - in contrast to just weapons, these weapons may prove themselves useful to Zak by their rate of fire or power. They are rarely even carried by enemies and are usually found in hidden places. They consist of M134 Miniguns, flamethrowers, FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank and FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missile launchers.