Resident Evil Code: Veronica X

Gamestyle Archive intro: a newly packaged Code: Veronica for the PlayStation 2 market went down a treat for the PS crowd who made the series the popular franchise it is today. Published March 2001, writer JJ.

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The Resident Evil series and Playstation went together like fish & chips – it is therefore no surprise that Code Veronica has appeared on the PS2. The Dreamcast version was released to positive reviews but as with many titles on the system met with poor sales. Capcom have added new sequences for the PS2 version making it a Directors Cut of the original but instead adding an X. Bundled with the game should be a playable demo of Devil May Cry which unfortunately is not available for review at the time of writing. Konami used this tactic with Zone Of Enders and it certainly helped sales and improved the value of the package. Whatever we may think of this tactic the main meat in the sandwich is Code Veronica X and we’ll begin there and score accordingly.

Unlike most Dreamcast owners the majority of their PS2 counterparts will be well versed in the Resident Evil series. This game takes place after the Raccoon city nightmare and sees Claire Redfield in Europe. Redfield along with her brother Chris, were trying to infiltrate the Umbrella headquarters in Paris. Claire unfortunately was captured during the attempt. Of course such behaviour is not tolerated by Umbrella and she is sent to a secret facility where she is imprisoned. This is no tropical paradise, the exact opposite to be precise, as a testing facility the abundance of prisoners is gladly welcome but no one ever leaves regardless of good behaviour or parole.

An attack on the facility by forces unknown results in Claire being freed but also the T-virus as well. The secret base has lost all communication with the outside world and apparently there is no escape. Claire however never takes no for an answer and sets out to escape and discover the true purpose of the facility. I won’t reveal anymore of the plot to avoid spoiling the surprises but it certainly is worth discovering and the stunning FMV introduction will have you gasping for more. As with all Resident Evil games you expect new monsters and characters (mostly bad) to cross your path during the proceedings.

Code Veronica X is different as it perhaps introduces more than ever before plus a few old favourites including Albert Wesker. No doubt Chris Redfield would like to discuss old times with Albert! Resident Evil has set the standard when it comes to monsters and bosses in the survival horror genre and again it sets the trend. Fans of survival horror will know what to expect when it comes to the gameplay involved, yes puzzles, icons and herbs all feature once again. At times playing the game was like meeting an old friend, you know what to expect but at the same time it’s a good thing. Those who did not enjoy the previous releases won’t find anything here to change their opinion. I just wish some inventive puzzles or problems could be introduced rather than running back and forth between points A & C via B. The recent Zelda games have more on their first level than in the whole of this game.

A change that may put many off it that Code Veronica X is that it is without a doubt the hardest game in the series. More enemies appear on screen at the same time and everything moves at a faster pace, adding to the horror experience. The game certainly is the biggest Resident Evil so far and a welcome relief after the repetitive Resident Evil 2. Claire certainly keeps herself trim and no wonder, with all the running around she has to do. The most important thing to remember when playing Code Veronica (apart from staying alive) is conserving your ammunition. Everything is in short supply throughout and against zombies it is always worth using the knife in a low slashing movement. Every arrow or bullet you save will prove useful for the harder challenges that lie ahead. There is no option to change the difficulty level to easy or anything else for that matter as only the toughest will survive.

As I was in the position of having played the Dreamcast version I did look for any graphical enhancements or problems. The fact of the matter is that the game is an exact port of the original (you can use a Dreamcast guide) with perhaps the loading times slightly longer and the odd jagged edge but apart from that the PS2 shows the game off very well indeed. A positive change is the control method which feels more at home on the Dual Shock Controller than the Dreamcast pad. At times I found the analogue stick to be a touch too sensitive but that is very much a minor quibble. Fans of the series will be more than happy with the backdrops and lighting effects employed by Capcom. With it being a straight conversion the problems that plagued the original unfortunately appear here also. While they have no doubt contributed to the success of the series I do feel that it is time to move on from pre-rendered backgrounds, loading times, fixed camera angles and limited character control. The higher resolution and detail on offer results in some exceptional backdrops but glowing objects or random searching by pressing X limits the adventure.

Fixed camera angles do help create the wonderful atmosphere that we associate with the Resident Evil series but they also limit your view and can prove frustrating during encounters with the undead. I do find it ironic at times that in a gaming environment with adaptable and easily controllable characters such as Mario that the Resident Evil characters handle like zombies. While this is the best game yet in the series it is time to move things forward and a bit more could have been done for the PS2 version.

What the game does well, it does exceptionally well. The sense of atmosphere is heightened thanks to the improved graphics and lighting on the PS2. The situations you find yourself in are perfectly staged and hopefully the forthcoming film will feature this. A special mention must go to the soundtrack and effects – perhaps the best yet alongside Silent Hill in this genre. The voice acting is an improvement on the original Resident Evil but lets be honest, could it get any worse? Some of the characters have voices and dialogue that belong in a comedy festival but it does not detract from the overall experience, one day perhaps they’ll get it right.

Overall Code Veronica X is as before an excellent game and is sure to please fans of the series. It does have its drawbacks as previously mentioned but on a system that is crying out for quality games it is very much welcome. For all those who played the Dreamcast version I would suggest that you wait till the release of Devil May Cry or Silent Hill 2. The extras bundled with the game will make for many hours of enjoyment and there are plenty of bonuses to unlock if you are good enough.

Gamestyle Score: 7/10

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