By: Kyle Grubb
The title of this game is a bit of a mess. Reminds me of the first Resident Evil. Wow, already reminiscing about a game I played a week ago.
Yet again, this game had almost no bearing in my past. I never played it, never saw it being played, and all I knew about it was that Chris and Claire were in it. Going into this game, I had heard a variety of different opinions over the years. Some people loved it, some people hated it. I heard multiple people say that it was too hard. I tried to put that all out of my mind. What I can say is that, after Nemesis, I had no idea what to expect. I probably wouldn’t have expected this, though.
Resident Evil CODE: Veronica X is the enhanced port of 2000’s Resident Evil CODE: Veronica for the Sega Dreamcast. X contains new story details and cutscenes while the HD release on PS3 and XBOX 360 has enhanced graphics and leaderboard functionality. CODE: Veronica follows Claire Redfield, still searching for her brother Chris, after she is captured by Umbrella and taken to a remote island compound. When an old enemy from Chris’s past returns, Claire finds herself delving headfirst into the secret origins of both Umbrella and the T-Virus they created.
Released less than 4 months after Resident Evil 3, both games were being designed simultaneously by two different teams. Commonly viewed as the true sequel to RE2, Capcom avoided assigning the game a number so as to keep all of the numbered entries on the PlayStation. This idea is immediately abandoned going forward in the series, which makes this choice funny in hindsight.
Being developed simultaneously, many of the new additions that 3 introduced into the series, such as the dodge mechanic or the ability to craft your own ammunition, are not included in Veronica. In fact, much of the action-packed nature of 3 is tossed aside in favor of a more measured return to form for the series. While incorporating the additional sense of strength introduced in 2, Veronica finds itself harkening back, in many ways, to the original game. There are still plenty of enemies to take down, but limited ammunition makes running usually just as viable of an option. While the puzzle solving still suffers from its simplification that started in 2, the sense of exploration is the best it’s been since the first game. The locations that the player explores are varied and interesting, and you find yourself bouncing all over the place in search of the next item that will get you on your way. It gives you a familiarity with the area, and also gives an innate sense of reward as your accessible area keeps growing.
Just as the gameplay presented itself as a synergistic combination of the first two games, so too does the story continue plot lines introduced in both Resident Evil 1 and 2. In general, the story of CODE: Veronica is a huge step up from the three previous entries in the game. While voice acting still wavers, the characters themselves are given a bit more to do. Claire adds a few more little pockets of depth to her character throughout much of her interactions with the rest of the cast. Claire’s main partner, Steve, has a whole character arc he travels even if his voice actor delivers a pretty cringe-worthy performance much of the time. Antagonist Alfred Ashford (alliteration!) is definitely the most complex villain in the series so far. Even Chris is given a bit more to do than before, even if he still is a pretty cookie-cutter hero. The game actually manages to surprise a few times for those who aren’t familiar to it. Sadly, anyone familiar with later games in the series will have long been spoiled the reappearance of a character thought dead. The game, though, does pull off the most well-delivered story so far, and there’s a lot to like in it.
Similar to 3, Veronica only has a single campaign. Starting as Claire, players will bounce around between a couple different playable characters before the story is through. The length of the game, though, is definitely superior to 3. The campaign took me about as long as the original Resident Evil, though it is possible that my skill and experience at playing through these games may have had an impact on that.
The presentation has also improved greatly with the then-impressive technology of the Dreamcast. Not only have the graphical and sound quality gotten a boost, but the biggest change, that fundamentally improves the approach to every area in the game, is the camera. While there are still pre-set camera angles, the camera is now able to move and follow the player throughout an area. This allows the design of rooms to open up, and allows easier presentation of details without limiting field of view. On paper it sounds like a small change, but it becomes nearly impossible to go back to the older games after experiencing it firsthand.The sound design is as good as ever, and there really isn’t much to say that I haven’t said before in that regard.
An annoying note, for the HD version available on the PS3, is that the CG Cutscenes are incredibly pixellated. While it is possible to get past this, it is jarring that the gameplay graphics are superior to those of the pre-rendered cutscenes. While I’m not sure if this is true for the 360 release, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that it is.
I’ve heard people mention the difficulty of CODE: Veronica a few times. It was one of the few conceptions I had going into it. Maybe it was just because I pushed my way through 3, which I definitely struggled with, but I didn’t find the difficulty here too bad. In the American version you launch into the game without choosing a difficulty like the previous games, but I found that it was pretty perfectly adjusted for people whom had experienced the other games before. While there were a large amount of difficult foes, players were given both a fair amount of weaponry to defend themselves and plenty of space with which to maneuver their way past danger. A few of the boss fights were challenging, but at no point did the game feel to suffer from extreme difficulty spikes or unfair moments. While I did suffer a few deaths, the game also has a retry feature that prevents frustrating backtracking. Mind you, this does hurt your score at the end.
Resident Evil: CODE Veronica feels like the culmination of everything the series had built… in the first two games, at least. It incorporates some of the best gameplay elements from both of those entries, and also continues on some of their plot-lines. Veronica is the first game in the series that brings together characters from the first and second games, and as such feels like the true sequel to both of them. It’s forward momentum is matched by the technological improvements that push the game into new directions. Lastly, a greatly improved storyline and more interesting characters come together to deliver probably my favorite entry in the series so far. While the difficulty is high, it never goes so far as to feel like it is being cheap on the player. It manages to balance a fine line between challenge and fun, and fans of the series will feel rewarded for seeing their way through to the end.
Resident Evil CODE: Veronica X HD