Capcom – Eidos – Dreamcast – PS2/Gamecube (as Code Veronica X)
Continuing HCF’s look back at the Resident Evil series, commemorating 15 years, we take a look at the game that was almost Resident Evil 3. Code: Veronica, was the first Resident Evil game not to be launched on Sony’s PSOne. Released in 2000 on the superb Sega Dreamcast, the game followed on from Resident Evil 2 (apparently the developer only wanted to number the titles on the Playstation and other console exclusives would have a sub-title. I guess that fell by the wayside with the exclusive Gamecube deal a couple of years later), with Claire Redfield as the main protagonist. No Leon, this time, however Claire’s brother, Chris, who saved the day (depending on who you started with) in the original Resident Evil, makes an overdue appearance. Although both are playable characters, you do not get the choice of which of the Redfield siblings you can start the game with.
The intro video shows Claire, infiltrating an Umbrella facility, taking on several of their mercenaries, in a scene later riffed on the second RE movie. Eventually getting caught, Claire wakes up in a prison cell on a mysterious island. Just as she wakes up, the whole island is going to hell. An accident in a lab nearby has caused a zombie outbreak. With the prison guard seeing no point in keeping Claire captive, he sets her free, leaving her to try and escape the island. As well as Claire and Chris, another character makes an occasional appearance. Steve is a young prisoner on the island, also trying desperately to escape. He shows up here and there, conveniently, to progress the next section of the game or to help out Claire at certain points. He’s also got bit of a thing for her.
The gameplay is exactly the same as the previous instalments, although the dodge feature seen in the previous game has been removed, making things a little more difficult. As for difficulty, it’s certainly spiked somewhat since Resident Evil 3, which was difficult enough at times. This time round, the difficulty lies in the ammo and health pick-ups, or lack of. The amount of time spent running around looking for a green herb or health spray, as well as wasting ammo on enemies that seem to absorb it, was ridiculous at times, particularly when the story picks up with Chris. The ammo is scarce and the enemies are tough, so you need to be tight with your bullets, as well as keeping your distance. Which given the monsters you face, can prove quite the challenge.
The monsters range from the usual zombie, which this time is more detailed and gory, given the more powerful graphics, and the Cerberus dogs, which seem more intent on spoiling your day than usual. The Hunters make an unwelcome return as the super fast amphibians really make things difficult! A new breed of monster is also added to the mix. The Bandersnatch is a cross between a hairless Sasquatch and Mr. Fantastic. It has a stretchy arm that can hit you from a distance and deals quite some damage. There are also some new Tyrants to deal with and a familiar face returns, with some business of their own to take care of. The games main antagonist is Alfred. He lives in a secluded mansion hidden away from the rest of the island. He tries his best (which frankly isn’t very good at all) to stop you from progressing at certain points, but generally fails at each turn.
With this game being a step up from the PSOne generation, the graphical improvements are obvious. The detail to the character models is a lot smoother than seen in RE3, and this time, rather than having pre-rendered scenery, everything was built in 3D. This also allowed for much more impressive (for its time) FMV. The FMV cut scenes looked amazing in contrast to the games predecessor. Unfortunately, the improved quality of the visuals didn’t herald in an improvement in the voice acting. Terrifically wooden and at times, just woeful, the voiceovers dampened some of the cut scenes, particularly with the antagonist, Alfred, who in general was an awful character and a lot of the time, damn annoying!
As with Resident Evil 3, completing the game will unlock a mini game. Battle Game, requires you to get through different rooms by taking out all the enemies and getting to each stages boss in as quick a time as possible. You have the choice of a few characters to run through with, including Chris and Claire.
Overall, Resident Evil Code: Veronica, brings absolutely nothing new to the table. There may be a visual improvement and a different plot to the previous games, but gameplay wise, well if it aint broke… CV is an adventure that will have you taking in the sights of a decimated island, the antartic and a very familiar house, but all in all, it doesn’t feel as good an experience as the series’ prior instalments. While the tense atmosphere is still present, the characters are charmless and bland and the adventure does seem to drag in some places with the usual to-ing and fro-ing. The awfully clunky (by today’s standards) Dreamcast controller seems like something of a hindrance at times too. All in all a decent addition to the series but breaks no new ground.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica gets Rating: