This review is on Resident Evil: Code Veronica, the first post-Playstation Resident Evil release and specifically developed for the next-generation console, the Sega Dreamcast. Released in February 2000 after being delayed from a Dec 1999 release, this game was the reason I purchased a Dreamcast. Given how little time had passed since the release of Nemesis, could Code Veronica match up to 3's quality? Let's find out!
Resident Evil: Code Veronica's story had been apparently retconned to be a sidestory to the main RE plot, but don't believe it. Until I heard personally from Takeuchi or Mikami, I will consider Code (and its many significant events) canon. Anyway, Code Veronica finds Claire Redfield being transported to the prison island of Rockfort following her capture at Umbrella's Paris France research facility. Shortly after her capture, explosions are heard and a guard comes by to release her. The guard, one Juan Rodrigo Raval, tell her that the T-Virus was spilled during the attack and that she has no chance of escaping alive, hence the reason for letting her out of her cell. The player takes control of Claire and the game begins.
Graphics in Veronica really took advantage of the Dreamcast's hardware, producing noticeably sharper character models with less pixelation and distortion. I'm really not good at describing how graphics are, so I will just say that they look great. Oh and magazines sure gushed about how the lighter illuminates your immediate surrounding area in a bright display of ambient lighting. I guess it is pretty cool...
Claire Redfield received a bit of a DOA girl type boost in her backside in this game, which is definitely a graphical improvement worth mentioning. She can't compare to Rebecca from RE Zero, but it still a nice sight for the eyes. Combined with her cute face (mostly only in the FMV's) and her "Let me Live" shirt jacket, she is a bona fide video game babe!
I guess it is important to note that the prerendered backgrounds are ditched for fully 3D backgrounds, much like Capcom did for Dino Crisis. While the backgrounds are noticeably less pixelated than in the Playstation games, I still am pretty indifferent to them overall. They look nice, complement the environment, and most importantly of all, make each room look distinctive, which is vital in a game where backtracking is a frequent part of the gameplay.
Code Veronica's music is handled by series' neophytes Takeshi Miura, Hijiru Anze, and Sanae Kasahara. It is too bad that these three did not continue on further games, as their work here is very good. Highlights include Cliffhanger (whose name was changed for the PS2 port and became a spoiler!) and the Code is Veronica. There are also more somber pieces like Rasen or Blanc, that are quite ominous and go well with the environment. Lastly, the song Berceuse deserves special mention because there are instrumental and vocal versions of it throughout the game. It is pleasant sounding to the ears, but when you hear the actual lyrics, you smile at their unexpected nature. A definitely neat track!
Code Veronica's gameplay incorporates the standard tank controls of Resident Evil's past while adding the 180 turn from Nemesis. Ammo creation and dodging did not make it in, much to veterans' chagrin. Luckily, some new innovations prevent Veronica from feeling too stale. Dual Wield Weapons like the Submachine gun are introduced. I also like the new retry system, which allows you to continue from certain instant death situations, there are quite a few of them, including one of the most nonsensical ways of dealing with a crystal ball that I've ever seen.
The zapping system of Resident Evil 2 also returns but it a different way, I will not discuss how it works to avoid spoilers but I think most could figure it out from the box art.
Challenge in Veronica is definitely up there. This is the hardest traditional Resident Evil due to the many death traps, lack of ammo, and bosses that require you to use certain kinds of ammo if you hope to have a chance. Better save the powerful stuff, because it sure ain't plentiful in Code Veronica! Some of the game's puzzles are very challenging as well, like the picture room on the first floor of the residence (the file helps, but certainly doesn't make it self-evident). I also dislike the aforementioned crystal ball section. Lastly, to unlock some bonus items, you must beat the game without saving ONCE, this is definitely an endurance test due to the above. Good luck should you try it! I think it took me like 5 tries before I finally succeeded, back in 2000.
Replay value is greatly diminished from Nemesis. There is a scarcity of unlockables and the mini game is limited in appeal. I would say it is worth it to unlock the bonus weapon due to the catharsis one gets by using it on the toughest bosses, but don't kill yourself trying to get it. Also because this game is probably the longest in Resident Evil (outside of RE4 for now) it is not something you may be able to finish in one afternoon.
On to the ports of Veronica. The one most worth talking about for a bit is Code Veronica X, which arrived on the PS2 in September of 2001. This version has added scenes with one of the game's antagonists and they are all very cool, especially their encounter with Claire and their utter lack of empathy for women. A latter confrontation between villains has been changed to make one of them look better, and it is an improvement, and not just because I like the character!
Some minor changes for X are darker graphics; anti-aliasing was elusive on early PS2 games, and the lighting and other effects of X suffer as a result when compared to the Dreamcast release. Lastly, this game is now on one DVD disc, always appreciated, but be prepared for longer load times. Also the FMV's are higher resolution, if that matters to you.
This game took several years to reach the Gamecube and it was identical to Code Veronica X. Ho hum, but good if the Wii is the only console you currently own, I guess.
Code Veronica is a very good game and definitely worth the playthrough for RE fans. For me, it is the story that always draws me back, just not nearly as often as other Resident Evil games. Check this out and see what you think!
- Ugly Bob