Capcom is continuing the trend of re-releasing games with updated graphics and this time it’s the underappreciated Resident Evil Code: Veronica that is receiving the polished treatment on current generation systems. Code Veronica was a mixed bag when it originally debuted on the Sega Dreamcast back in 2000. The powerful console was already struggling to get exclusives one year after its release, so Sega fans gobbled the title up. The Resident Evil franchise had become a little stale however, so outside of the Dreamcast diehards, Code Veronica was considered another “ho-hum” release.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X HD, the newest version of the title, is actually based on another re-release which hit the Sony PS2 only one year after debuting on the Dreamcast which was repackaged with an “X”. Nothing major came with the PS2 release. It could best be described as a Director’s Cut edition of the original on Sega’s console. So ten years later we now have an HD version of the Director’s Cut version of a Sega Dreamcast title. There’s a catch to the HD label on this game though and it should be brought up right away. The HD graphics are only for real-time gameplay and not the cut-scenes. For some reason Capcom decided it would be better to break up the new, more polished visuals with the original cut-scenes from the PS2. Brilliant!
Basically, Code Veronica X HD looks nice enough on HD TV screens now. The character models are much improved and the game’s environments look much better overall. The lighting really shines (get it?) in this updated edition by providing some very creepy situations in tighter spaces and hallways containing windows. The problem is that beyond the updated visuals (those that were actually updated), this game feels clunky as all heck. It won’t take long for fans of the series and even those who loved the originals on Dreamcast and PS2 to get annoyed with the cumbersome controls. It’s almost like washing, waxing and polishing up a wrecked 1979 AMC Gremlin. No matter how shiny you make it, it’s still a clunker.
The story isn’t all bad and is possibly one of the most ambitious stories in the entire series. There is a lot happening in this release, which was one of the reasons it was such a big deal to be a Sega Dreamcast (timed) exclusive back in the day. Things in Code Veronica take place after the events of Resident Evil 2 and focus on Claire and Chris. Younger gamers might be surprised to see that Chris can’t bench press Volkswagens yet since his upper-body looks like that of a normal human being. There really is a lot happening in the storyline, but despite zombies and corporations trying to kill you, the real horror is the controls.
You hope that whenever a game gets updated, the major flaws are addressed. The biggest issue with Code Veronica was never the graphics, at least not when it was pumping out the best visuals of the day on Dreamcast and PS2. The biggest complaints revolved around the controls and for some reason those complaints still remain. Like the cut-scenes, nothing has changed with the clunky and dated controls of the original. Navigating empty corridors is bad enough, but you can adapt to the direct, then move configuration over time. However if you’re stuck in the middle of a zombie munch-fest, just call it a day. The controls really show their weakness when you have to engage multiple enemies in different directions. Not even the auto-aim feature is able to compensate for the difficulties associated with movement.
The dated controls are accompanied by dated audio. Even though the music seems like a nice fit for a survival horror game thanks to an ability to set the right tone and mood, the sound effects are almost amateurish. Guns sound more like pop caps than actual weapons. The moans from zombies are there, but the voice acting is so bad you’ll almost think it was intended to be humorous rather than serious. The laughs that come from the poor dialog are unintentional and result in breaking the scary mood that Code Veronica X HD intends to deliver.
For $20 USD, you’d expect more than this. The diehard Resident Evil fans will find something to like because they’ll be looking harder than anyone else. Casual survival horror fans will be shocked that this is actually a Resident Evil title from Capcom if they’ve never played either of the previous two Code Veronica releases. Which brings up the biggest flaw in this game; a title seeing its third release should be extremely polished. The HD graphics are nice, but inconsistent since the cut-scenes got zero attention in this update. It’s always nice to get a new RE games, but this neither feels new or even like an RE title despite the familiar faces.