Resident Evil Code: Veronica was released to rave reviews on the Dreamcast and now, almost a year and a half later, Capcom has ported the latest instalment of the surival-horror series to the PlayStation 2. In a curious move, Capcom also included a demo for their upcoming gothic action game, Devil May Cry, in the package. When the two are viewed back-to-back, Devil May Cry makes Resident Evil Code: Veronica X look like child’s play. None the less, Veronica X manages to uphold the Resident Evil legacy thanks in large part to its time tested formula of zombies, zombies and more zombies.
Although Resident Evil Code: Veronica X is the fourth instalment in the long-running series, story wise it picks up after Resident Evil 2. Claire Redfield continues to search for her missing brother, Chris, leading her to the Paris Umbrella Facility. Umbrella agents capture and transfer Claire to the Umbrella Rockfort Island Prison Facility, where she is held in captivity until a rival company attacks the Umbrella stronghold. During the ensuing battle, Clair is released from her cell by a empathetic Umbrella agent and must now escape the suddenly zombie-infested island, locate her brother and bring down the Umbrella organization. All in a days work for our STARS heroine. The storyline is depicted in a fantastic opening sequence that demonstrates the improved cinematics found within Veronica X, some of the best seen on the PlayStation 2 to date.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X, like its predecessors, is viewed from a third-person perspective. Unfortunately, that means the problematic camera angles make a return appearance, impeding progress at times by creating blind spots. If you had difficulty controlling characters in previous Resident Evil titles, you’ll likely experience the same control issues in Veronica X, such as the inability to turn around efficiently. Gone are the pre-rendered backgrounds, replaced with 3D environments that breath much needed life into the franchise. Capcom has also created a “Real World System”, a sort of persistent world. If when controlling Claire, you happen to manipulate certain items or doors, they will remain that way if and when you return to the same area as a different character.
The formula that has made the Resident Evil series so successful remains unchanged in Resident Evil Code: Veronica X. As you roam through the island compound and later, progress to a secret Arctic hideout, you’ll come across the usual assortment of creepy crawlies. Zombies come at you from every conceivable angle and an assortment of boss enemies and mutated creatures round up the usual suspects. The puzzle elements have been slightly improved in this latest instalment. While many of the conundrums require locating key cards or manipulating objects, they make a little more sense in the grand scheme of things.
Graphically, Resident Evil Code: Veronica X isn’t all that more impressive than its Dreamcast counterpart. The character and creature models, while distinct, aren’t all that more detailed. The same can be said about the environments as well. The highlight of the visual department is easily the top-notch cinematics, with weather effects a close second. The audio portion of the game is a bit of a mixed bag as well. The music is both eerie and timely, helping to create a creepy atmosphere, but the zombie and weapon effects are generic. The voice talent has certainly come a long way since the original episode, but there’s still room for improvement there as well.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X probably should have been ported much sooner that it was, especially after catching a glimpse of the Devil May Cry demo. It looks a bit dated in comparison with recent PlayStation 2 titles, but this latest instalment is still the best in the series to date. It’s not flawless by any stretch of the imagination, with camera, audio and control issues that need to be addressed, but Capcom’s proven survival-horror formula is used effectively, delivering chills and thrills that are well worth experiencing.