When Resident Evil Code: Veronica was released for the Sega Dreamcast in 2000, it was clear that the Resident Evil series was starting to get a little stale. At this point, Capcom really didn’t do much to progress the franchise in a meaningful way. Code: Veronica is as classic as it gets. And that’s exactly why I like it. It doesn’t try to be something that it’s not.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X HD is based on the PS2 port released in 2001. It’s essentially a director’s cut with a few new scenes thrown into the mix. Wesker, who hasn’t been seen since RE1, now has a more prominent role in the story. That’s pretty much it. The HD version includes dynamic lighting, full widescreen support, and all the menus have been updated. It looks great, especially for a game that is eleven years old. FMVs, unfortunately, were not redone. Cutscenes look horrible as a result, unless they were rendered in real time.[drop2]When it comes to the story, this was easily the most ambitious game in the series so far. Code: Veronica takes place after the events of Resident Evil 2 and follows Claire Redfield as she searches for her brother, Chris (pre-roids). She gets caught by Umbrella during a failed infiltration attempt and is soon after imprisoned. Although the scope of the game is impressive, the execution is quite flawed due to poor voice acting and low production values. Still, we get to see why Chris went on ‘roids in the first place, so that’s a plus.
If you are playing Code: Veronica for the first time, the controls might be your biggest obstacle. Basically, your character moves around like a tank. You literally have to steer them in the direction you want to go in. Although it is similar to RE4 in that regard, in this game your movement is completely independent of your perspective. For example, even if Claire is facing towards the screen, you still have to press the “up” direction to move forward. It’s not exactly intuitive but it gets the job done. Honestly, it wouldn’t be Resident Evil if it played any other way.
This is one of the last games in the series to feature fixed camera angles. It’s an archaic design that fans can appreciate but it does have its flaws. Your viewpoint is often obscured and you’ll find yourself running into zombies that you can’t see. Sometimes this is done on purpose and it can be very frustrating. The camera in Code: Veronica does have a more cinematic look and feel to it though, especially when it occasionally shifts around. It definitely adds to the atmosphere.
Inventory management is more important in this game than any other Resident Evil. You have to constantly remind yourself to take the bare minimum just so you have enough room for key items. If you become careless, you’ll have to make continuous trips to the magic box to store your equipment. Code: Veronica never lets you feel comfortable while playing. There’s always a feeling of anxiety because you can’t carry everything you need. This can be more or less frustrating depending on your play style and experience with the franchise.[drop]Unlike Resident Evil 3, there’s more emphasis on exploration and puzzle solving than mindless action. This is a true survival horror game until the very end. The slow, methodical pacing reflects this all throughout. You can’t just go around shooting everything you see. Running away is almost always the better solution anyway, although it’s not always the easiest. If you don’t choose your battles wisely you might have to start the game over again. It’s that serious. In fact, always make sure you have at least two full healing items in your inventory at all times. You’ll thank me later.
The biggest problem with Code: Veronica is that you never know when you’re going to get screwed over. For instance, you might have to restart your game if you don’t manage your inventory properly during two key moments. However, there is no way to know this during your first playthrough. Fearing the unknown is something the series has always thrived on but they really got carried away this time. Creating multiple save points is the only way to prevent yourself from going insane.
There’s also a ridiculous amount of backtracking. It makes sense during the second half of the game due to the different perspective but by that point you never want to see the military facility ever again. The enemies are also incredibly cheap. Bosses can trap you in the corner, kill you instantly, and some enemies can even hit you from full screen. The game was designed to infuriate players during their first playthrough. It becomes insanely easy once you know what to expect though.
After completing the game you’ll unlock Battle mode. It’s not exactly as interesting as Mercenaries but it does provide a nice distraction from the rest of the game. There are five characters to choose from and you have to kill every enemy on screen as fast as you can before you can progress to the next room. The mini-game also has a first person viewpoint mode which is kind of neat.
- Improved character models.
- Dynamic lighting.
- Emphasis on survival.
- Fantastic soundtrack.
- Game breaking design.
- No new content.
- FMVs remain untouched.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X HD is a difficult game to recommend unless you are a hardcore fan of the series. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it. That’s not to say that this is a bad port, because that’s simply not true. The visual upgrade is very noticeable, especially when it comes to the lighting. Characters actually have shadows now and it makes all the difference. This is easily the best looking version of the game by far.
However, part of the experience is being able to tell your own story of how you survived the zombie outbreak. Whether it’s almost becoming a Jill Sandwich, running through a zombie infested city, or seeing Nemesis busting through a wall like the Kool-Aid Man, the Resident Evil series is full of unforgettable surprises. Code: Veronica doesn’t have a single moment that stands out in comparison. Instead, you’ll just remember about the time you had to restart the game because you didn’t have two first aid sprays. That said, it’s still enjoyable once you get over all the frustrations.