Resident Evil: Code Veronica
By: Tristan Jones on October 10, 2005.  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
Also available on: PlayStation 2, Sega Dreamcast
Developer: Capcom
Players: 1
Year: 2000
OFLC Rating: MA15+
Games are a lot like films. Particularly survival horror games. Most survival horrors follow the cinematic moulds made famous by the original Alone in the Dark; the camera angles, the moody score, the jump-scares and the plotting in general. Unfortunately, some game franchises, like some film franchises become stagnant once they get past the third installment (if they're lucky enough to make it past the second) and Resident Evil: Code Veronica is about as stagnant as they come.

Up until Code Veronica, the Resident Evil series had done an excellent job of'one-upping' the last. Resident Evil 2 is still one of the best video game sequels to date, Resident Evil 3 had a very cool Dawn of the Dead thing going on, actually taking the action out to the streets and introducing the now iconic Nemesis monster, and Resident Evil 0 was in production (but we'll talk about that another time…). Code Veronica however took on far too many ideas and while some were interesting, the rest dragged this game into mediocrity and pushed the stretched Resident Evil's already worn suspension of disbelief to the point of no return.

Code Veronica finds us taking control once again of Claire Redfield, the female protagonist of Resident Evil 2, continuing her search for her missing brother Chris, the male protagonist of the first. She manages to get herself locked up on Rockfort Island, a military prison and training facility in the Pacific Ocean. Okay, it's going alright so far…

Very quickly you discover that the island is owned and run by the Umbrella Corporation (no big surprise really) and that the shit has hit the fan in a major way. I'm sure you all know what that means. What follows is a tailspin of craptacular proportions.

Code Veronica attempted to swing the series into new directions, after the backlash the previous titles had received about their gameplay and frustrating camera angles. Code Veronica's big new innovation was simply that the whole game was now completely 3D, as opposed to the pre-rendered backdrops of the previous titles. There are a few moments here and there where this is good, but the camera angles still feel exactly the same as the prior titles. The new 3D engine also means Code Veronica's backgrounds are nowhere near as intricately detailed as the others, and good God, the draw distance… if the fog in Silent Hill annoyed you, be warned!

My biggest beef with this game is that two glaring problems collide head-on. It is really poorly written and incredibly slow. The dialogue is worse than all of the poor dialogue in the previous games combined and the characters are all carbon copies of the ones we've come up against before, and if they aren't they're the most irritating the series has seen. The writers have tried to deepen the conspiracy surrounding the Umbrella Corp. but wind up creating a monster far worse than any that appear in the game. The documents found throughout the game are barely relevant to what's going on and the logic behind their placement and what's written on them is equally baffling. You know something's amiss when clearly unintentional spelling mistakes appear. It's the little things like this that kept me from connecting and being absorbed in the world of Code Veronica, which is a real shame because I was completely swallowed by the others.

The story meanders for far too long, throwing only vague hints to extend gameplay needlessly. What should be Resident Evil's standard "A-to-B-to-C-and-back-to-A" becomes something more like "A-to-B-to-X-to-P-to-B-all-the-way-to-Z-then-back-to-A", and what makes it worse is the between room screens of either doors, ladders or stairs. I swear to God they're ludicrously slow. The pacing of the game is completely off in comparison to the others, everything in the other games felt necessary in terms of story. Not here my friends.

Another problem is that though the horror elements remain, it feels as though they only exist to have the absolute shit shot out of them, or to be sidestepped and never worried about again instead of scaring you. For example, in the latter half of the game, you come up against a giant spider in a huge room. Because the room is so damn big, the spider might as well be regular sized, as you can walk past it to get the item you need and leave the room. That was supposed to be a boss fight. I even managed to knife the second last boss to death! No shit! Think back and remember how scary the others were (if you've played them of course) and then think about the movies. That slight feeling of discomfort… That's what Code Veronica's like.

It could have been an awesome addition to the Resident Evil saga, but there are too many problems with this game to make it a truly worthy addition. The score is awful. There are no two ways about it. The moments between Claire and newcomer Steve are enough to force a sudden reversal of the digestive process, and the 'action' theme towards the end is comparable to a loud, fat kid bashing a synthesizer. And the voice acting is beyond poor (laugh out loud at the 'scary' laughing of the villains!). I guarantee you won't find a single person who's played this game that didn't hate Alfred Ashford's voice. Truly cringe worthy.

I've read a lot of reviews on Resident Evil websites praising this title, and I can't for the life of me see why. It had so much potential and just failed to step up. It rehashes every step the other games take, and fails to push any truly innovative ground. It's dated awfully, probably even more so than the titles before. It's blindingly obvious that a different crew took the reigns of this one, and they really did miss the mark. If you're a diehard fan of the series (did you even vaguely enjoy the gun games?), then you may get more out of this than I did, but I doubt this game stands up even for the casual fans. In the end, it's just not an enjoyable game. Thank God for Resident Evil 4.
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