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Forgotten Classics: Resident Evil Code: Veronica

Posted by Kerry Brunskill

Itchy. Tasty.

Resident Evil, Capcom’s iconic and much lauded multi-million unit selling series needed to change. By 1999 the PlayStation was beginning to feel a little long in the tooth and just about every developer around had had a go at creating their own form of adventure-ish horror game, with Konami arguably putting up the best opposition with Silent Hill and even Squaresoft getting in on the act with Parasite Eve. So how do you solve a problem like Raccoon City?

The benefit of hindsight means we all know where the series ultimately went – modern Resident Evil has firmly planted its bloodstained boots in the over-the-shoulder action genre, almost entirely ditching the plethora of keys, jewels, plugs, passwords and MO disks needed to navigate apparently every building in and around the Arklay Mountains area.

But there was a stepping stone between the original trilogy and the modern era marked by Leon’s Ganado-killing adventures in Resident Evil 4, and that was Resident Evil Code: Veronica on the Dreamcast, later ported to GameCube as Resident Evil Code: Veronica X.

Code: Veronica had the unenviable task of proving that Resident Evil could survive outside the now well-worn trappings gamers expected from the series, and Capcom in collaboration with Nextech somehow managed to create a game that took the series into the 21st century without completely abandoning everything that had gone before.

Perhaps the most obvious change was the removal of the flat pre-rendered images that had always made up the locations seen in previous games, replaced in Code: Veronica with true 3D environments that somehow didn’t feel any less detailed. The team were smart enough to take full advantage of this – what could have been nothing more than a quick visual upgrade was instead used effectively to give players a much better sense of space; rather than flipping between static images the camera now moved smoothly between positions as the player explored, resulting in the same dramatic camera angles of the old games while also giving users a better “flow” and a more cohesive experience. First-person aiming also had its first mainline outing in Code: Veronica, and again the developers seized the chance to use the new graphical overhaul to enhance the gameplay to great effect in the chilling (quite literally, considering the Antarctic location) rifle battle against Nosferatu.

Some other gameplay changes were more subtle, but no less welcome. Dual wielding weapons not only allowed us to live out our John Woo fantasies but also came with the more practical application of a choice between targeting two enemies at once or concentrating fire on a single foe. Zombie-hunters weighed down with items and low on health could use herbs found lying around without having to make inventory space for them first. Checkpoints meant that unexpected deaths didn’t necessarily send players all the way back to wherever they were when they last remembered to save. These additions didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they all helped go towards refining a good game into a great one.

The story was another key factor not only in Code: Veronica’s success but in the establishment of potential plot threads and ideas that could keep the series going in the long term, and just as with the gameplay it was important to steer the series in a new direction without completely letting go of everything and everyone fans had grown to know and love. This led to some interesting and unexpected character appearances – the most notable one being the return of everyone’s favourite evil eyewear fan Albert Wesker, who appears to have spent most of the time since his apparent demise at the end of the original Resident Evil watching The Matrix on loop. The all-new Ashford twins served as both bonkers bioweapon-hoarding antagonists as well as giving the writers the chance to expand upon existing series lore, cementing Umbrella’s place as not only an international organisation but also as one containing many splintered groups, each with their own past, loyalties, and specialist virus strains to contend with.

But while Code: Veronica certainly was a useful bridge between the older Raccoon trilogy and the newer boulder-punching games, it’s also important to remember that it was an excellent game in its own right and a arguably a success at everything it set out to do – an enjoyable last hurrah to the old tank-control style of survival horror as well as proof positive that this wasn’t a series in decline, grabbing that last bit of fan goodwill before finally withering away; Resident Evil was just getting warmed up!

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User Comments (57)

supremii

#1

supremii said:

Great game, own it for Dreamcast but I've never finished it, was just too scared ;-)

MJKOP

#2

MJKOP said:

I remember going to visit my Dad in Dublin and coming home with this for Dreamcast. Love it

DESS-M-8

#3

DESS-M-8 said:

How is this a forgotten classic? It was on Dreamcast, re-released on gamecube and ps2 with an "X" at the end. Then it was re-released again on PSN and I'm guessing the god awful XBLA aswell along with resident Evil 4.

It's been on every format basically except Wii/Wii U.

Re-releasing Zero, REmake, 2, 3, Veronica X and 4 for virtual Console on Wii U would be amazing.

Along with Ikaruga, Paper Mario and Metal Gear Solid TTS.

It's just due a re-release and is as popular as it ever was. Hardly forgotten

Cyberbotv2

#4

Cyberbotv2 said:

Oh NintendoLife! You torture me again. How I wish this game was on the Wii U eshop. :(

DamoAdmin

#5

Damo said:

@DESS-M-8 It terms of chatter these days, this gets a lot less attention than other entries in the series.

WaveBoy

#6

WaveBoy said:

I'd say Code Veronica was even weaker than Zero. Even back then, the shift to non-prerendered polygonal environments sucked the atmosphere almost completely dry. It had it's advantages like camera panning(ect) but it just didn't hold a candle to the super detailed prerendered back drops of RE1-3.

Not only that, but the characters movements were rather wooden, zombie dismemberment was gone, the gore was tame this time out, there was too much of an emphasis on action with Almost matrix-like fight choreography eating up the cut scenes, STEVE(need i say more?), Alfred?(WTF?), the plot was bordering into hokey scfi territory vs the grounded almost George A romero-esque stuff found in the previous 3 and by this point after playing the first 3 on the PS1,

RE was finally getting stale. Scratch that, it was even starting to during RE3:Nemesis. :PCode Veronica and Zero will always be the two low points in the traditional RE series imo. With the original RE taking the crown. Remake was good and all,

but none of the other RE games had the same impact on me that the original had. it was the first of it's kind, it was creepy as hell and it was TRUE survival horror, unlike the sequels that were riddled with too much ammunition. in the original, you made every bullet count, they were the equivalent to diamonds.

TheAdza

#7

TheAdza said:

Had it on Dreamcast. Was fantastic. Although I did like RE4, I really adored the old way if controlling the characters. Sure it was clunky at times, but it made the game that much more intense.

WaveBoy

#8

WaveBoy said:

@TheAdza
Plus the older traditional RE games almost felt like you were participating in a movie, thanks to the static prerendered cinematic back drops. Once RE4 plunked the camera over your characters shoulder in 3rd person the 'art' and cinematic flare was completely gone. The advantage? The gun play was light years better giving you realistic aiming(Wii version especially) rather than jerking your weapon around in 4 directions. :P

RedDevilAde

#9

RedDevilAde said:

This series is why I'd like GCN on the virtual console. Great versions of RE 0, 1, 2, 3 & Veronica got released there. I'd love to have those on the Wii U

Peach64

#10

Peach64 said:

The opening with Clare in the cell was one of those 'wow, I can't believe how good this looks!' Moments.

MeddlingIdiotStaff

#11

MeddlingIdiot said:

I never played this one, as soon as RE4 came out I couldn't go back to the tank controls. I might give it a go if I find a cheap enough GC copy though.

fluggy

#12

fluggy said:

Cracker... Oh .. . that pesky Tyrant on the plane!!! Almost gave up. I'd love an original, old style, traditional Resi on current or last gen console. . . complete with pre rendered graphics and tank controls (which were never all that bad after the quick turn was introduced and made the game more tense.) GC remake still my fave in the series. A boy can dream.

Spoony_Tech

#13

Spoony_Tech said:

@WaveBoy You crazy as usual. Great story and atmosphere! Great graphics that still hold up to today. I would say this might be my second favorite right behind RE4 although RE2 was great as well!

WaveBoy

#14

WaveBoy said:

@fluggy
I wish we could of gotten a demo of the real RE4. That looked WAYYY more interesting than RE4! :P

@SpoonyTech
I'm not the one who hates retro video games, you crazy man you. :P

m0i

#15

m0i said:

Really need to play this one again, Claire is one of my favorites in the RE universe

Warruz

#16

Warruz said:

I wish they would make the HD version available on more platforms then just playstation.

Doma

#18

Doma said:

It's on the 360 as well, people. What other platforms was there to port it, at the time?

MAB

#20

MAB said:

All we can really say is... It was alot better than RE4: Leon's Wacky Parasite Adventure, RE5: Chris's Crazy Monotonous Borefest & RE6: Gears of Halo Duty ;)

BakaKnight

#26

BakaKnight said:

Kinda funny that is the least mentioned game of the series...
I once heard Code Veronica is the real RE3, forced to give up the number cause back there Sony had the exclusive on main entries in the franchise.

Anyway it's always nice to read about videogame's history, even if in this case it's the kind of game I found unplayable, my body is never ready for survival horror >.>;;;

Shy_Guy

#27

Shy_Guy said:

Code Veronica is my favorite RE game. Still own my ps2 copy and have the HD version on ps3. I hope Capcom will release this game on eshop in the future.

CharlieLoneWolf

#29

CharlieLoneWolf said:

I originally had this for the Dreamcast and then sold it. Now I own the GameCube version. I like the game, bit I have to agree with some people; the plot is a bit too wacky, and the lack of pre-rendered backgrounds does suck a bit of the atmosphere away. But all in all, it's enjoyable and it serves as a better sequel to Resident Evil 2 than Nemesis does. Even Capcom have admitted that this was the true succesor to RE2.

Ryno

#30

Ryno said:

Yuck, I did not like this game. I last left my playthrough in Antarctica.
@WaveBoy: That original RE4 demo had the potential to be the best RE game ever! To bad we wont get a chance to play "The Evil Within" on our Wii U's so I may have to bust out the PS3 for that one.

WaveBoy

#31

WaveBoy said:

@Ryno
Yeah, same here. I just might get a copy of the Evil Within on the Ps3, but i'm worried by the total lack of gameplay footage. Destructoid and IGN's recent hands on with the game weren't exactly glowing. The latest trailer felt like yet 'another' video game trying to be sold as a movie with cutscene after cutscene. It's like....How does the game 'play' ya know? :P

But yup, this is one game i'd like to see on Wii U, i also would of gotten the new Killer Instinct as well, but it's not worth buying a One just for one game. There's honestly nothing else on either console that has been released that has caught my eye. 90% of them are more 'dudes walking around and shooting sh**"

Xilef

#32

Xilef said:

Keep seeing the game for cheap. Never pkayed a RE game before, might be worth checking out.

Ryno

#33

Ryno said:

@WaveBoy: Just watched the "gameplay" trailer from PAX and you are right. Not much gameplay to speak of, just more Hollywood style cut-scenes polluting video games these days. Thank goodness for the Wii U and the majority of the games being "playable" instead of mainly "watchable." And since we are talking about Resident Evil here, I am currently playing Revelations and I think it is pretty decent. Better then 5 and whatever that latest thing they released was.

OorWullie

#34

OorWullie said:

The Dreamcast original was the 1st RE I played so i couldn't compare it to the earlier releases but I remember thoroughly enjoying it at the time.I got stuck on a fight with this big long armed thingy on a plane with not enough ammo and only 1 save point so.I gave up after that.

hcfwesker

#35

hcfwesker said:

RE:CV-X My favorite game in the RE series (which USED to be my favorite game series and favorite genre). But then along came Re4 and the series took a downward spiral from horror to dudebro action that it will probably never get back from. Reason my Miiverse profile says "old school RE" as being one of my fave series. Revelations tried, I'll give it credit.

Aaronzord

#36

Aaronzord said:

I got stuck right near the start. There was an alarm going on and on and on...it annoyed me so much, I gave up and never went back to it. Maybe one day, when I've got nothing else to play.

Cyberbotv2

#37

Cyberbotv2 said:

@audiobrainiac : yes, very true. I'm just surprised Capcom hasn't dropped the series on the Wii U. Look at what Ubisoft did with ZombiU! How could Capcom not want to take advantage by utilizing the gamepad for all the series entries? I miss the GameCube. That was my horror console.

JebbyDeringer

#38

JebbyDeringer said:

Capcom should make the next RE game a little more like Dead Rising. Remove the comedy from it, remove the timer, make it less about sheer number of Zombies and more creepy/scary. Keep a similar game engine & control scheme but put the focus more on guns than melee.

gatorboi352

#40

gatorboi352 said:

@MAB "All we can really say is... It was alot better than RE4: Leon's Wacky Parasite Adventure"

No. That's not even an opinion. That's just a blatantly false statement.

gatorboi352

#41

gatorboi352 said:

@Cyberbotv2 " yes, very true. I'm just surprised Capcom hasn't dropped the series on the Wii U."

Revelations is on Wii U, and it makes use of the Gamepad.

ReigningSemtex

#42

ReigningSemtex said:

@WaveBoy cool video hadn't seen that before it looked like it had some really cool ideas but I was really happy with how resi 4 turned out. Resi 5 and 6 are pretty crappy

whodatninja

#43

whodatninja said:

I bought Resi 1-3+Veronica X on PS3 and i own Resi 4, Zero and Remake for the Wii (U). I'm just fine with my mini-Resi collection and i dont need any of the overblown sequels! (Although i hear Revelations was decent)

Superryanworld

#44

Superryanworld said:

This was a fun read for me.I played through this on my 360 a year back,and forgot how much I enjoyed Code Veronica.I lost some faith in the re brand after capcom introduced a abomination called RE 6 that was far worse than any virus umbrella could create.RE Revelations was a great game though,so I hope capcom gets the next one right.

Razzle

#46

Razzle said:

I finished this on the Dreamcast and looking back it was one of the best games I played on the system. It was genuinely scary as well, definitely a Resident Evil classic worth playing.

MAB

#48

MAB said:

@WaveBoy Yeah, when people actually go back and play those games I mentioned they will say 'you know, MAB's statement is like totally spot on dudes' ;)

JaredJ

#49

JaredJ said:

had this on Gamecube but never finished it. Someday I will download it on PS3.

WaveBoy

#51

WaveBoy said:

@MAB

I hate how these RE noobs that have no history with the traditional franchise jump into RE4, praising the hell out of it, and then sh** all over the older games.. RE4 is a great game but I hate the fact that it's been slapped with the name 'RE4'. RE5 was an inferior cut and paste larger scaled' Blackhawk down fest with a stupid sidekick that constantly stole your shots, and RE6? WTF is that?.....RE for casuals & Jar-head gamers. I can't believe with the simple click of a button that it tells you where to go....that goes against everything that RE used to be.lol

Capcom is going to make RE7 like revelations. they just can't go full on survivor horror. They'lll throw in a bit(Tame survival horror to be exact) and pollute half of the game with mindless shoot out filler to please add gamers across the globey' And it better star barry burton! :P

MAB

#52

MAB said:

@WaveBoy Capcom might aswell just slap this subtitle on it now... RE7: Barry's Bearded Boomstick Bonanza ;)

WaveBoy

#53

WaveBoy said:

@MAB
Barry & Jill are secret lovers. When jill isn't off fighting zombies & the umbrella corporation, she's raising a family inside his beard.

BTW, whatever happened to Rebecca? Even Steve's whereabouts are a little whack. Apparently, in the umbrella files, it says that wesker has steve's body with the virus contained. Yeesh, Chris(Zero personality), Jill(Lifeless) and Leon(pretty boy on a mission) need to a break and let some other character from the series shine.

CharlieLoneWolf

#57

CharlieLoneWolf said:

@Sleepy_JL

Buy it for the XBLA. The GameCube version is somewhat rare, and it typically sells for around $40 used. If you have a PS2, you can get that version too. The PS2 version is dirt cheap. I bought the GC version so I could complete my Resident Evil collection for the GameCube, otherwise I would have gotten one of those other cheaper ones.

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