Claire’s Really Starting To Show Her Age
Code Veronica is widely considered one of the best games in the Resident Evil franchise. That’s definitely saying something for a series that’s brought us one incredible game after another (along with a few misses) since the original made its debut in 1996. Code Veronica isn’t just exciting because it’s an updated look at one of the better games in the series—it’s also the last game in the main series to pit you against hordes of actual zombies. So how has the last decade treated the game?
Not well, I’m afraid. It didn’t bring to the surface fond memories of all the late nights I spent playing this with my friends, passing the controller back and forth when one of us got too afraid to keep going. Instead, Code Veronica reminded me of all the times I had to check the guide to figure out how I was supposed to solve the oddly placed puzzles, or the times I was frustrated by the clumsy controls and awful static camera. It doesn’t help that very little time or effort was invested in updating the game’s visuals, because nothing has changed other than the fact that everything looks a little clearer now. Unfortunately for Code Veronica, getting a clearer look at just how old this game looks isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The controls are one the more difficult things to return to, especially after playing Resident Evil 4 and 5, which had replaced the tank-like movement with easier-to-handle controls. If you’re one of the fans who’ve been clamoring for the series to return to its survival horror roots, an hour with this game might change your mind. Sure, it has the item conservation, creepy effects, tense atmosphere, zombies, and insanely difficult puzzles, but most of the time these things end up making the game more frustrating.
The beauty of the gaming industry is that it’s constantly changing, adapting, and evolving. The Resident Evil series has done a pretty good job of keeping up with the times, giving us more action as the series has progressed, adding a new camera and controls with Resident Evil 4 and co-op with Resident Evil 5. There’s no denying that Capcom is trying their best to keep Resident Evil relevant, and that’s undoubtedly one of the reasons that Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica are being brought back in HD. This makes the lack of changes in both games all the more annoying, because while Resident Evil 4 hasn’t aged too much since it released in 2005, Code Veronica has aged a lot.
It’s not all bad. The game does look crisper; all the fuzziness that enshrouded the original version is now gone. And leaderboards have been added so you can boast to your friends how much better you are then them. Just like RE4 HD, Code Veronica’s leaderboards are limited to showing you how long it took you to beat the game, so that was definitely a missed opportunity there. I would’ve loved to not only see how long it took my friends to beat the game, but also how many times they died, their number of saves, how many healing items they used, etc. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a bit of a letdown for what could’ve been an exciting new addition to the game.
The presentation isn’t too bad, and one element that hasn’t aged much is the sound design. CVX had a fantastic score over a decade ago, and I’m happy to say that it still holds up today. It sounds like a Resident Evil game; everything from the guns to the items to the dialogue and monster sounds are great. I remember watching the cinematics over and over again because they were just so cool, and while I’ve certainly seen a fair share of far more spectacular cutscenes since I last played it, they still hold up pretty well.
Like I said before, this really isn’t a great-looking game. Now, you could say that about any eleven-year-old game, but if this is to be the definitive version of Code Veronica, with clearer HD visuals, I definitely expected more of a jump. To see exactly how different the game looked since it had been a while since I last played this game, I booted up my PS2 copy and played them back to back. The result was what I expected: everything is easier to make out, objects and characters are more defined, and the sound is even a little better. The textures, models, and special effects—like blood, fire, and rain—all looked exactly the same. I might be tempted to say that the visuals are likely to turn off newcomers to the game, but I think that’ll be up to the static camera placement.
That’s right, the awkwardly placed cameras feel like they were thrown in just to make the game more challenging. In a select few cases, they can assist toward building the tension—they can hide an enemy from view so you have to rely on the sounds they make in order to know where they are. A vast majority of the time, though, they make this a painful experience. Getting Claire around the environment while dodging enemies is hard enough, but add a few inappropriately placed cameras and this becomes a nearly impossible task. This factor alone manages to suck much of the joy right out of the game.
Also returning—and also not all that welcome—are the puzzles, which are some of the more challenging and oddly placed ones in the series. Even though I’ve played through the game a couple times across a few different versions, I still had to look up the solutions to a few of the harder ones. Something Resident Evil 4 and 5 managed to do successfully was taking their puzzles and integrating them into the game more seamlessly rather than violently throwing players into puzzles that make no real sense. I’m all for puzzles—they’re one of the things Resident Evil is known for—but most of the time the ones in Code Veronica make it feel more like an endurance test than a game.
Code Veronica was an incredible game with stellar visuals, a tense atmosphere, and meaty campaign to keep you busy for a very long time. But now that it’s been reanimated for the Xbox 360 and PS3, it’s obvious how poorly the last eleven years have treated it. Resident Evil 4 HD, which came out last week, didn’t need much tweaking in the gameplay and visuals departments, but with its tank-like controls and an only slightly updated look, Code Veronica feels like a relic from the past. For fans who remember the shambling undead enemies from Resident Evil’s past, this might be worth checking out for nostalgia’s sake. For everyone else, this probably isn’t enough of an improvement to make it worth even the budget price.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.2 Graphics
The game looks noticeably clearer than it did a decade ago, but the years definitely haven’t treated it well. 3.0 Control
It didn’t control terribly well when it first released, but compared to newer games it just feels like a relic from the past. 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The dialogue is cheesy and the sound effects won’t impress, but the music is fantastic and it all comes together to give the game a nostalgic feel to it. 4.0 Play Value
The campaign is meaty and offers some incentive to return to it for the hidden items and achievements, and the leaderboards are also a welcome addition. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|