Released: February 2019
Originally Released: February 2000
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
Also Available For: Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PlayStation 3, and Xbox One
After redefining the survival/horror genre with Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996), Capcom were under pressure to release ports of their popular franchise onto consoles other than Sony’s PlayStation.
Unable to get a port of Resident Evil 2 (ibid, 1998) for SEGA’s ill-fated Dreamcast off the ground, and with Sony claiming first-dibs on Resident Evil’s next numbered sequel, producer Shinji Mikami opted to develop two concurrent Resident Evil sequels.
While Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (ibid, 1999) continued the story of Jill Valentine and was, largely, simply a side-story to Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil – Code: Veronica reunited Claire Redfield with her brother, Chris, and utilised the superior processing power of the Dreamcast to diverge what was quickly become a stale narrative formula into a more global story.
Three months after escaping the destruction of Raccoon City, Claire Redfield is captured and imprisoned on Rockfort Island while attempting to reunite with her brother, Chris. After an outbreak of the Tyrant-Virus (T-Virus), Claire soon finds herself teaming up with a fellow inmate, Steve Burnside, and once again battling through hoards of zombies and the malevolent Umbrella Corporation’s Bio-Organic Weapons (BOWs) in a desperate attempt to survive.
Code: Veronica features exactly the same survival/horror gameplay as its predecessors; players once again utilise “tank controls” to navigate Claire, Steve, and Chris through a number of environments but, like in Nemesis, players can now pull back on the analogue stick while pressing A to perform a quick 180-degree turn, which makes dodging BOWs and attacks far easier.
As is the tried-and-true Resident Evil formula, players must pick up files and notes to flesh out the game’s story and earn hints as well as collect and combine weapons, ammunition, key items, and healing times (herbs and first-aid sprays) in order to progress. It is crucial to your survival to be constantly aware of your environment and your resources as running out of ammo or herbs can be the difference between life and death.
Players can store their items in Item Boxes, which are generally located in safe areas where players can restock and save their progress using an Ink Ribbon and a typewriter. You’ll need to make frequent use of these rooms in order to tackle the game’s puzzles, which can be as simple as moving crates and as complex as risking your life to crush a glass sphere under a massive weighted block.
Unlike the first two Resident Evil’s, but almost exactly as in Nemesis, Code: Veronica sees players jump between different playable characters as they progress through the story. You begin as Claire trying to escape the zombie outbreak on Rockfort Island but also take control of the irritating Steve at one point, before switching to Chris about halfway through the game. Like in previous games, each have different skills that help them progress (Claire has a lock pick, for example) and players can choose to help out their sibling by clearing areas of enemies or leaving weapons or items behind for them to acquire.
Graphics and Sound:
Unlike its predecessors, Code: Veronica ditches the classic pre-rendered backgrounds for three-dimensional environments that are rendered in real-time; this means that, while there are still some examples of fixed-camera angles, Code: Veronica features the most dynamic and cinematic camera the series had ever seen at that point.
This works fantastically with the game’s incorporation of new, foreign locations for its story; while many of the game’s environments will be familiar to Resident Evil veterans (mansions, underground facilities, sewers and the like), you’ll also travel to the frozen wastelands of Antarctica and visit some gothic-inspired locales, though the “HD” makeover isn’t anywhere near as extensive as it has been in recent Resident Evil renovations.
Thanks to the power of the Dreamcast, Code: Veronica not only features a much higher level of detail in character models, faces, and zombie details but also steps up the game’s use of CG cutscenes, which specifically portray Claire in a far more capable and tougher light than she appeared in Resident Evil 2. Just as Leon S. Kennedy jumped from a relatively competent rookie street cop in Resident Evil 2 to a martial arts superspy in Resident Evil 4 (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2005) with little in-game explanation, Claire is suddenly dodging bullets (from a helicopter, no less!) and performing grandiose, bullet-time actions.
The game also features a foreboding soundtrack that echoes those of its predecessors; a lot of the time, areas are devoid of music, meaning all you can hear is the shuffle of rotting feet, the moaning of zombies, or the ominous growling of some unspeakable mutation. Subtle, soothing tunes let you know when you’re in a safe area and the dramatic score kicks in as monsters attack and dies down once they’re defeated, which is all standard fair for these early Resident Evil titles.
Enemies and Bosses:
Code: Veronica features a lot of the standard enemies you’ve come to expect from a Resident Evil title; you’ll mainly encounter rotting, bloody zombies who shuffle about, claw along the floor, or burst through windows in their droves. There’s possibly the most variety in the zombies’ appearance here, though, as there’s reanimated corpses from a cemetery, naked zombies in a sauna, zombies with little worker hats, vomiting zombies, frozen zombies, and even zombies with glowing eyes like Albert Wesker.
Speaking of which, Code: Veronica inexplicably returned Wesker to the series after he was skewered into ribbons of bloody flesh in the first Resident Evil; while you don’t get to fight Wesker here, he is heavily involved in the game’s plot, which revolves around Alfred and Alexia Ashford developing a new T-Virus strain.
The T-Veronica Virus offers a variety of additional BOWs for players to contend with; some will be familiar, like the deadly Hunters and giant spiders, and others are new, like the Tremors (Underwood, 1990) inspired Gulp Worm and Code: Veronica’s most persistent new enemy, the Bandersnatch, which can grab you from afar with its stretchy, clawed arms and will leap and haul tiself around the environment to get at you.
You’ll also battle some messed up, multi-formed bosses that owe more than a small debt to John Carpenter’s The Thing (Carpenter, 1982); there’s a particularly gruelling close-quarters fight with a Tyrant in a plane, the blind, spider-limbed Nosferatu (who can swipe you right off a helipad and must be awkwardly shot at with a sniper rifle during a blizzard), Steve’s transformation into a hulking, axe-wielding frog-like creature that can only be ran from, and Alexia’s mutation from an insectile creature that flings flaming blood at you, bulges out into a grotesque, bug-spewing monstrosity, and finally ends up as a dragonfly-like annoyance that will take not only your best weapons (usually the Magnum) but also the unwieldy Linear Launcher to defeat.
Power-Ups and Bonuses:
In true Resident Evil fashion, you can find additional and more powerful weapons as you play and explore your environments; both Chris and Claire can obtain an assault rifle, dual-wield submachine guns, the go-to fan favourite shotgun, and a grenade launcher with four different types of ammo while also being able to upgrade their base pistol to a burst fire mode or improve its power, respectively.
Players can unlock a couple of bonuses through gameplay. Completing the game unlocks “Battle Mode”, a time attack survival mode where you must battle hordes of enemies with infinite ammo and lets you pick between third- and first-person perspectives. You can unlock not only Steve but also Wesker for use in this mode and, as you might expect, finishing the game with an S-rank unlocks an infinite rocket launcher for your use.
There’s also a handful of Achievements you can attain but, as this was originally an Xbox 360 title, they’re mostly tied to gameplay progression rather than Easter eggs or obscure actions on the player’s part.
Resident Evil – Code: Veronica X is about as classic a Resident Evil title as you can get; it hits all of the beats you would expect from Capcom’s survival/horror franchise while also expanding its scope beyond the confines of Raccoon City for the first time.
Narratively, this is also where the series begins to kind of fall of a cliff as the plot suddenly becomes far more dense, layered, and convoluted and shifts towards a focus on Wesker’s evil ambitions and away from a faceless corporation’s machinations.
Yet, for as good as it is, Code: Veronica doesn’t really offer anything new; despite the benefits offered by the Dreamcast, the game is firmly entrapped in the gameplay mechanics and restrictions of the series, meaning that it’s more a case of the same-old, same-old rather than offering the fresh take on the series we’d see in Resident Evil 4. However, for those (like me) who were disappointed with the brevity of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and like jumping back into a traditional survival/horror title, there’s enough here to sustain your interest and engagement, though you’ll most likely soon forget the experience once you jump to one of its successor titles.
What are your thoughts on Resident Evil – Code: Veronica X? Did you play the original Dreamcast title or, like me, discover it through one of its many ports? Would you like to see an HD remaster of this title as well or do you think that it’s best left as it is? Sound off in the comments and come back for more Resident Evil content coming soon.