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Resident Evil Code: Veronica X HD review

Solid
AT A GLANCE
  • Updated lighting, water effects
  • Lengthy campaign
  • Tough puzzles and combat
  • Ghastly controls
  • Poor script and voice acting
  • Hunting down rare items

The recent release of Resident Evil 4 HD reminded us that some great games remain as inviting and playable as they ever were, even after the passage of several years and countless innovations within the same genre. If only the same could be said about tomorrow's release of Resident Evil: Code: Veronica X HD. Almost twelve years after its first appearance on the Sega Dreamcast, playing Code: Veronica X feels more like fumbling through an interactive museum exhibit demonstrating some of 3D gaming's first wobbly steps into modernity. It's still a solid game, but you should leave behind most modern conceptions of what makes a good game if you want to get the most out of this outing.

Despite its ambitious HD moniker, Code: Veronica X is little more than a glorified port of the 2001 "director's cut" of sorts for the PlayStation 2, which added around ten minutes of new cutscenes, some minor graphical updates and plot options, and a snazzy "X" for the title. But don't expect that level of improvement here. This is still classic RE in all of its puzzle-laden, fixed-camera goodness, which means that you're ultimately dealing with the finest incarnation of the framework that Capcom felt compelled to toss out for Resident Evil 4.

Above: Claire takes time out to look for some true high-definition textures

The addition of dynamic shadows, admirable water effects, and clearly updated menu options indicates that Capcom took the game's "HD" moniker a little more seriously for this entry, but the standard visuals usually follow RE4's lead in simply sharpening existing textures for high-definition screens. For the most part, it works well enough. The only glaring exceptions, the cutscenes, are so jarringly pixelated that it's worth wondering if they gave them any attention at all.  The ramped-up visuals are enough to label this outing the best looking version of the title to date, yet the razor-sharp edges make it hard to shake the realization that games from this period embraced softer textures in an effort to mask the limitations of the contemporary three-dimensional technology.

The story is still as engaging as ever, even with the cornball dialogue and voice acting. Three months have passed since the little mishap at Raccoon City in Resident Evil 2, and the spunky Claire Redfield kicks off the action while she tries to escape an island prison operated by the dastardly Umbrella Corporation. Once you've seen Claire pump a few hundred rounds into zombies, worms, and other assorted freaks, you'll then spend time as Claire's brother Chris as he revisits much of the same scenery in an attempt to save his sister. Keeping up with the Redfields still feels suspenseful owing to the fantastic sense of foreboding that attends the opening of every door. If for no other reason, you should play Code Veronica X to experience the atmosphere 3D games can achieve when graphical prowess takes a back seat to tension.

Above: Even moving along curves is a chore, thanks to the game's clunky controls

Part of that tension arises from the awkwardness of simply moving Claire and Chris around the landscape. The controls were clunky even by the standards of the year 2000, but they feel downright maddening now. You'll likely spend the first thirty minutes or so bobbing and bumping around like a zombie yourself before you figure out how to perform simple tasks such as walking up four steps. It's worse when you enter combat. Claire and Chris can only fire up, down, and straight ahead, and the wonky camera and imprecise auto-aim ensure that you'll sometimes struggle to unload buckshot into a zombie only five feet in front of you. If that's not enough to fray your nerves, you might grow weary of the endless backtracking in the first few hours, the overly long stair and door sequences that signal the entry into a new zone, and the game's insistence on forcing you to hunt down ink ribbons before you can save your game.

But these are mainly modern concerns. Accept Code: Veronica X on its own terms, and it's still easy to see why so many of us spent hours fumbling with its many puzzles and hogging the console because we couldn’t find an ink ribbon. If you're new to the title, you might even enjoy hunting down the handful of achievements/trophies or unlocking the two additional playable characters. Just don't expect to slip into the gameplay as easily as you might have done with Resident Evil 4 HD. Code: Veronica X may provide many hours of zombie-killing fun, but they're difficult hours, and playing it requires accustoming yourself to the gameplay norms of an increasingly distant era. Indeed, it's probably best to think of playing Code: Veronica X as an experience akin to jumping in a cold swimming pool. Once you get used to it, it's not so bad. The only question, then, is whether such an experience is worth $20.

More Info

Available Platforms: PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, GameCube
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Animated Blood, Animated Violence

20 comments

  • scott-voovervonder - October 19, 2013 10:36 p.m.

    You mention the games clunky controls being a chore, sounding like you wanted it to be "fixed" in this HD release. Lets look back, and oh look, every RE game before this had the same tanks controls and as well as the one game you mentioned quite a bit in this review, "Resident Evil 4." Don't deny it, RE4 had the exact same tank controls, but from a first person perspective. And then you're complaining about the 3-point aiming mechanic. Oh lets look at every other game in the classic series; 1, check; 2, check; 3, check, yup all there. You can't really take a game that's been given a bit of an HD update and call out everything that looks bad by today's game standards. You called out its voice acting, controls, bit of choppy graphics, but, it's still Code Veronica. It's still one of the finest Resident Evil titles out there, heck one of the finest of the classic series. While you do note your review that "These are mainly modern concerns," you then say "is it really worth $20?". Really? A game released in ~1999 is re-released for 2 current-gen systems and given a bit of an HD touch-up, and you contradict its worth by stating modern game style flaws? This review is out of whack!
  • azureguy - September 27, 2011 10:35 a.m.

    Since I never played this game before, the re-release has a purpose for me. Unfortunately, I got into the franchise with the Wii Edition of Resident Evil 4, meaning the controls will KILL me XD. But I've heard lots of good things from it, so I'll cope with it. Still, it's amazing how players tolerated this control scheme back in the day.
  • Vulneratus - September 27, 2011 2:58 a.m.

    Hmm Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho wasn't in colour (I don't care, I'm spelling it properly damn it!:)), it's still scary as hell, and arguably the movie that defined the slasher genre of horror films and it can still definitely be appreciated and enjoyed for what it is today. Sure the controls are clunky on the vintage Resi games but it still hasn't stopped me from going back and playing through them again. I just love them, so I guess that plumps me slap bang in the target nostalgia audience! I don't think the controls detract any more from the experience than does lack of colour in Psycho or even the crappy bird special effects in The Birds. Before anyone tries to correct me I'm aware that was a design decision on the part of Hitchcock for making Psycho in B&W and not colour but you could argue that by the time of Resi CV the tank controls were a design decision on the part of Capcom, to increase suspense (regardless of personal opinion on the merits of the decision). Anyway my point would be to appreciate it for what it is, an awesome game and another stage in the continuing evolution of survival horror games. Better than Resi 5 in my book.
  • ahadian - September 27, 2011 1:25 a.m.

    It would be cooler if they just at least export the whole Code Veronica character models from the Darkside Chronicles.
  • DukeNukeThem - September 27, 2011 1:03 a.m.

    Didn't the dreamcast only have Code:Veronica? It was the PS2 that got Code:Veronica X?
  • DISCOSTICKJ81 - September 26, 2011 10:58 p.m.

    I'm glad and disappointed I wont be buying this game. I purchased RE4 hoping it would look nice. And although, the 3D objects in RE4 look sharper, the textures look muddy and awful. Why does Capcom think hi-resing a game will qualify it to be labeled HD? The only proper remake (even though it's 480p) that Capcom has made is RE1 remake for the Gamecube. At least with that game they took the time to reconstruct it with new graphics. And sure some games look nice when they get up-scaled to HD quality -- 'Beyond Good and Evil' the only one -- but some triple A titles that get the "HD" label are just another way of milking they're franchises. Al; those Konami and Capcoms games that are coming out with HD releases -- look plain awful. Every company who is releasing HD remakes/releases needs to take a hint from 343's on how to execute a proper HD re-release since the original Halo: Combat Evovle will get an impressive HD release, and they've have done justice to labeling it an "HD" release.
  • quincytheodore - September 26, 2011 9:06 p.m.

    Ah, this is really a throwback to last gen. Again, I think nostalgic value is its biggest selling point. I don't think it'd sell much to the audience who already accustomed to post-RE4 gameplay. It's admittedly odd for me to play the old perspective again after such a long time, but for those who never or rarely played this kind of gameplay, it might alienate them completely.
  • MyCoolWhiteLies - September 26, 2011 5:25 p.m.

    Man, I can't play RE1-CV if only for the Ink Ribbons. I have no tolerance for that.
  • jeff-montgomery - September 27, 2011 3:38 a.m.

    Honestly... i think you along with most people these days are spoiled with the whole checkpoint/autosaving thing....and fyi there were typewriters in re4 also.. not requiring ink ribbons, but still u had to get to a typewriter to save.. most of people that i see on here only want to go the short route because it is simplified, but you weren't bitching and moaning about stuff like this 10 years ago, so why make a fuss over a throwback game?
  • d0x - September 26, 2011 5:02 p.m.

    I was kinda pissed after I bought RE4 HD only to find nothing HD about it. Code Veronica on the other hand...I dont care if it looks exactly the same as it did the day I bought it on Dreamcast! This game was amazing when it came out. It was one of the first Dreamcast showcase titles. You would tell your friends to look at that light swaying back and forth and the shadows it cast, something totally new for Resident Evil and you would be in AWE! The only thing I wish they would change is the tank like controls but I will suffer through them. Its odd. I bought this game day 1 on Dreamcast and loved it to death. I also bought it a few years later used on Gamecube AND PS2 but I never played those versions more than a few min each. I think I just wanted them in my collection. This version though I will be playing start to finish.
  • DISCOSTICKJ81 - September 26, 2011 11:03 p.m.

    I agree that RE4 has nothing HD about it. I'm so tired of all these so called "HD" remakes/re-releases that to justify the word. The ONLY impressive HD re-release so far is 'Halo: Combat Evolve.' And sure, 343 is using Reach's graphics, but at least they are going back and molding the old game with new tech.
  • codystovall - September 26, 2011 4:24 p.m.

    Horrible controls + ugly old graphics Theres nothing for me here. Is there a way to get the re4 one without live, which I dont have.
  • lilspooky - September 26, 2011 4:11 p.m.

    Tank controls didn't age well. I can't recount the time i spent playing the old RE games. I could never go back now, not with these controls. Nostalgia only goes so far.
  • jeff-montgomery - September 27, 2011 3:39 a.m.

    only because you have been spoiled with online multiplayer and co-op... plain and simple...
  • CombatWombat101 - September 27, 2011 12:58 p.m.

    You're totally right. Obviously online multiplayer and co-op are the reasons why people can't tolerate a horrid control scheme.
  • soranamineforever - September 26, 2011 4:01 p.m.

    I was hoping they'd release both games on one disc, like they've been doing for everything else. I'm still not one for downloading games, and I doubt I'll ever be.
  • shawksta - September 26, 2011 3:11 p.m.

    Same thing with RE4, an HD port of the same game. I didnt play Code veronica yet, ill try this one.
  • jeff-montgomery - September 27, 2011 3:43 a.m.

    you will really like it especially if you played 1-3 basically the cycle of games is like this: Res. 1: the mansion incident: Remaining Stars members Chris, Jill, and Barry prepare to go to europe RES 3: B4 Resident evil 2 after Resident evil 1 brad, and Jill are haunted down by nemesis, and Barry saves Jill in the end, brad wasn't so lucky.. Resident evil 2: Clair/leon adventures, claire discovers her brother chris went to europe Code Veronica X, Claire goes to Europe to find chris, gets captured Resident evil 4: 10 years after umbrella went under, leon is a Federal Agent Resident evil 5: we all know where this went i don't even need to explain it... basically resident evil code: veronica x explained the origin of umbrella and the viruses and alot of the info you get on umbrella in 5 is revealed in cvx
  • shawksta - September 27, 2011 1:43 p.m.

    You didnt have to write all that but thanks, What about revelations? We dont know when that happens but you use jill and chris, perhaps before 5?
  • tareq - September 26, 2011 3:09 p.m.

    I actually want this more than 4HD , cause this is one of the few Resident Evil games I`ve never played

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