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Survival horror at its best
Resident Evil - Code Veronica (DC)
Member Name: Johndonut
Resident Evil - Code Veronica (DC)
Date: 04/09/00, updated on 04/09/00 (77 review reads)
Advantages: An epic and lengthy adventure
Disadvantages: Same dated control scheme
It's difficult to know where to start with a game as important as this, so a bit of a of background story never fails. Forget about the pixelated Resident Evil 3 for the PlayStation (which was more of a side-story), 'Code Veronica' is the true sequel to RE2, set just 3 months after the escape from the horrors of Racoon City. Female heroine Claire Redfield takes centre stage once again, as she continues the search for her brother Chris (one of the original S.T.A.R.S. members from the first game), while trying to further uncover the mysteries surrounding the infamous Umbrella Corporation. Without wishing to give too much away (the beginning sequence is absolutely breathtaking), Claire discovers a memo about Umbrella operating in Paris, so she flies over to the prestigious city to investigate, believing that this is where her brother is being held hostage. Unfortunately, she is captured and taken to a secret island prison, inhabited by countless blood-thirsty zombies, where she is banished to a cold, dark cell. Naturally, this is where her adventure begins, as you must guide Claire to escape from the prison, f
end off hoards of undead mutations, solve puzzles, uncover clues and come away with her and her brother in one piece... it's not going to be easy folks!
If you thought the intense horror movie atmosphere created in previous Resident Evil games was impressive, RE:CV uses the Dreamcast's substantial power to immerse the player deeper into the storyline than ever before. From the moment the game begins, the presentation is almost unmatched. The seamless flow between action and cinematic scenes is so beautifully done that you feel part of the adventure all the time, not just when you are in control. RE:CV's plot is more thorough and captivating than in any of the previous titles in the series, and without spoiling it for you, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you transfixed and always wanting more. This is helped by the more 'real' nature of the characters, whose personalities are explored fully as the events unfold, displayed by the amazing CG sequences. The story will engross you, it will disturb you, it will probably surprise you, and it will definitely scare you. The Resident Evil games have never been for the young or faint hearted, and RE:CV is certainly no exception.
Code Veronica features more of the same classic gameplay we have come to know and love from previous titles, plus some notable enhancements. If you're new to the series, I'll explain what I mean by classic Resident Evil. Firstly, it's not just about killing zombies. In fact, for the most part, you're better just escaping the clutches of the monstrosities as you won't have ammo to waste. That said, there is a more generous quantity of ammo available in this game as opposed to the others, but it's not one of those games where you can leave the room and go back to find the handy supplies have respawned. Another key aspect of the RE gameplay is the 'love them or hate them' Item Boxes. Unlike other adventure games, there'
s a limit to how many items you can carry at once, the rest have to be stored in Item Boxes which are scattered throughout the game. If you come across an important item and your inventory is full, then you can't simply replace it with something else, you're have to find yourself an Item Box to put the unnecessary one in first. This will come as quite a shock and a frustration to new players, but I feel it adds an extra element of thought into the proceedings, as you must be efficient and conservative with what you pick up.
Resident Evil games (with the exception of the awful 'Gun Survivor' on the PlayStation) have always had their fair share of puzzles to deal with, the criticism being that they felt out of place eg. pushing statues around in Police stations to uncover secret gems. For the most part, RE:CV doesn't suffer from this problem as the puzzles are far more logical and realistic within the surroundings. Some are simple, but some will take a good deal of time to work out, giving a great feeling of satisfaction upon solving them. One of the small but noticeable improvements in RE:CV is that when you're going about your business, the important goodies will glisten and your character will briefly alert your attention to them, meaning that there is less annoying backtracking involved than in previous titles.
The biggest complaint will probably come as no surprise to RE veterans, because it regards the familiar outdated control interface. RE:CV uses the same system which was designed for the digital-only PlayStation controllers all those years ago. Surely Capcom could have changed it by now to accommodate for the Dreamcast advanced analogue control. In Resident Evil 2 for the N64 there was the option of using a 'point in the direction you want to go' control scheme which worked quite well, so I was disappointed to see that the 'pivot on the spot and push up to always go forward' method has remained in RE:
CV. Maybe next time eh? For those who have played RE games before, the control will at least feel familiar, but for 'newbies', it will take a bit of time before you become accustomed to the layout, and sadly it is always a bit of a hindrance in those crucial situations. Thankfully, there are a couple of control plus points which go towards making up for the annoyances. Firstly, when drawing your guns, your character will quickly spin round to face the direction of an oncoming enemy if it's behind you, thus saving you from manually 'rotating round'. Another important factor is the ability to hold a gun in each hand, allowing you to pack extra bullets into a persistent mutant, or aim at two of the critters simultaneously. This is made simple by the clever auto-targeting system.
Speaking of firepower, there's a nice selection of pistols and uzis at your disposal which are upgraded as you advance through the adventure. Also handy is the meaty rocket-launcher which can send a pack of blood-sucking zombies back to their grave, but strangely can't be used to open any of the locked doors! All these will be necessary as you come across the usual assortment of virus-infected delights, from the standard zombies, to huge poison-filled spiders, demonic dogs and terrifying boss characters. One addition is a nasty stretchy-armed monstrosity which quickly swings ape-like into your path and also has the ability to grab you from a considerable distance.
Did someone say graphics? Yes, that reminds me... Code Veronica's visuals are absolutely awesome! As you probably know, Capcom have taken away the old pre-rendered backgrounds from previous RE titles, and replaced them with a stunning 3D real-time horror infested world. The gorgeous fully-polygonal environments are beautifully crisp and realistic, ensuring that the disturbing action is even more believable. The new 3D engine allows the camera to be much more dynamic than in previous RE
games, where fixed positions had to be used. Now the camera pans the action very smoothly as it zooms in and out, creating the perfect angles for events to suddenly shock you. Gone also are the blocky, unshaded characters, and in their place are wonderfully smooth and seamless models. If it wasn't for the slightly robotic way they walk, the detail on the characters would have you believe that they are living, breathing humans trapped inside the videogame. The same can be said for the zombies and other enemies, displaying all sorts of twisted mannerisms which will give you nightmares for weeks after you've finished playing. Perhaps most impressive are the amazing lighting effects, which are some of the best ever seen. When you witness the effects of Claire's lighter or see the light beaming through the windows of the abandoned palace, you can't help but sit back in awe.
Any horror movie worth its salt isn't complete without the clever use of sound, and RE:CV is no different. It's the subtle details which really stand out, from the sound of a nearby zombie feasting on a corpse to a moth buzzing around a lamppost, Capcom have applied an amazing amount of audio detail. You will experience every creak of a floorboard, every splash of rainfall, and every crackling of fire. If you have the benefit of stereo or surround sound, this adds a whole new dimension to the action, putting you in the shoes of the character, as noises seemingly come from all directions. The soundtracks are typical of all RE games that have gone before, with creepy, atmospheric music that suddenly increases in tension as you are attacked out of nowhere. If you don't jump out of your seat or drop the controller in such instances, then you're obviously playing in a room with the lights on too high. With the lights switched off, playing on a big TV with an expensive sound system, it simply doesn't come much scarier. Overall, this is Oscar quality stuff.
Code Veronica comes packed into 2 GD ROMs, with at least 20 hours worth of intense gameplay. There is a good balance of difficulty settings to help cater for novices and veterans alike. Early in the adventure, you will meet up with Steve, a boyish fellow inmate who you get to control for a short while. In keeping with the previous RE games, there is also another important controllable character in the shape of Claire's brother, Chris. While the story remains fairly linear, the game is filled with so much suspense and dramatic atmosphere, with plenty of unexpected twists, the experience is always fresh, riveting and challenging. As with any adventure of this sort though, once you've played it through once and seen all there is to see, there's little point in going through the proceedings again, even if they are as brilliant as in this game. To counter this, there are some nice extras and rewards for completing the game. One is an amusing battle mode, where you have to complete different missions and objectives from a first-person viewpoint, which in turn opens up more goodies. Also, to emphasise the awesome presentation of RE:CV, the VMU is put to excellent use, as it displays your important statistics for you to see while playing, thus avoiding the need to bring up the menu screen all the time.
If you've skipped straight to the bottom of this review in the hope of reading a detailed summary of the game, then I'm afraid you're out of luck. You see, this is easily the best version in the series so far, and unless you particularly despise the survival horror genre, the bottom line regarding Resident Evil: Code Veronica is simple... buy it now!
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