Resident Evil is one of the few gaming series that I claim loyalty to, and with RE4 recently released, this particular installment in the saga really could use a (re)review. While Capcom may not have planned on this initially, Code: Veronica X functions well as a bridge between RE0-3 and RE4, and allows the gamer access to information on some of the more questionable events evident in RE4 (particularly why Wesker is still alive). Code: Veronica X also has the mysterious atmosphere, scary moments, and perplexing puzzles found in the numbered RE titles, and, unlike some of the other side-games (Survivor PS2 and Gaiden GBC), this game is exceptional in the hallowed company.
Three months after the destruction of Raccoon City, Claire Redfield (the female lead of RE2) happens upon an Umbrella Inc. research laboratory while searching for her missing brother, Chris. After infiltrating the lab, she is captured and imprisoned on a remote island used as a detention center by Umbrella. Soon after she is locked away, a massive T-Virus outbreak occurs, turning almost everyone in the facility into the series’ prerequisite zombies. Claire swiftly escapes from her cell and teams up with Steven Burnside, a seventeen year-old kid who’s grown up while imprisoned on the island. Together, they set out to stop the outbreak of the T-Virus and deliver yet another crippling blow to the evil Umbrella Corporation. Along the way, they meet up with a large crew of villains, particularly the Dr. Evil rip off, Alfred Ashford, and series stalwart, Albert Wesker. I don’t want to say anymore, though, it’d end up being a spoiler for this one, and probably one for RE4, too.
Code: Veronica X handles like all the original RE games; it’s a fond revisiting of the tank-style controls and the stand-in-place shooting. It also uses the classic item arrangement, where your character has eight item slots, restricting their carrying abilities. That aside, Resident Evil Code: Veronica X does offer some welcome innovation over previous RE games. There are new dual weapons – pairs of guns occupying two item spaces – which, when equipped, allow dual targeting and vastly increased firepower. The story also plays out differently from other series’ incarnations (particularly RE1 and 2), where our hero’s and heroine’s stories aren’t separate entities, or complimentary viewpoints. Here, their transition is an important factor to the plot. To summarize, you play as Claire – creepy stuff happens – you play as Steven – more creepy stuff happens – and you play as Chris (unlike in RE2, where you beat the game as Claire, then as Leon). Another thing that sets Code Veronica X apart from other REs is its surprising level of difficulty. The constant hordes of zombies, the numerous T-Virus mutations, the barrages of hunters all just keep coming, but the game is still conquerable with focused and dedicated persistence. You’ll want to keep playing until you finish this particular Resident Evil, but it’s going to take you a while – it’s not a short haul title.
The graphics are fairly mediocre by today’s standards, but they’re pretty damn good for a 2001 title. More importantly, they showed that Resident Evil could effectively cross the console divide by leaving the old PS1 graphics engine behind. Although few gamers acknowledge or appreciate them, the sound effects and music evident in the RE series are critical to achieving the (now) standard issue scary mood and atmosphere so popular in the Survival Horror genre. The eerie echo of distant footsteps, the chilling moans from unknown locations, the mysterious structural groans, the menacing growls from dogs, and a plethora of other sound effects necessary for a ?scary’ gaming experience – Code: Veronica X has them all. Perhaps surprisingly, the game’s voice acting is also improved, especially in comparison to the catastrophic offering from the original RE (Jill sandwich?laugh it up) and the largely mediocre acting on show ever since.
Truly, Resident Evil Code: Veronica X is a must-have installment in the RE series – perhaps now more than ever. The game’s important story is now critical to the evolving RE plot thanks to Resident Evil 4. So, if you want to knowingly absorb all that RE4’s story presents, you should definitely take a creepy walk down memory lane. Code: Veronica X also thoroughly trumps all the others series titles in terms of difficulty, which – though highly annoying at times – will keep gamers coming back for more regardless of the much-repeated and much-hated “You Are Dead” screen. The tried-and-true controls of the Resident Evil series also work well in this game, and though it offers the normal item system, the new weapons are all satisfying and incorporated easily into the structure of the game. The graphics and sound are also well executed, and certainly help to create the famously gory and suspenseful RE atmosphere. One final note: Resident Evil Code: Veronica X is available for around $10USD on PS2, and well worth the money on GC, so buy it and polish up your RE narrative knowledge before you embark on Resident Evil 4.