The older Resident Evil games have such a huge place in my heart. Resident Evil 2 is one of my all-time favourite games, especially in terms of the Survival Horror genre. However, as the series moved away from horror and put more focus on action, I lost touch with the games. Resident Evil 4 was amazing, but the first and sixth games just felt like they weren’t Resident Evil games.
With the seventh game being a huge step back in the right direction, I thought it would be a great time to look back at one of the PlayStation 2 released in the series… And since the reaction to Resident Evil 7 (and its DLC) was somewhat mixed, I decided to look at one game in the older series that split the fan base considerably as well. So, today, we’re going to be reviewing Resident Evil: Code Veronica X; the PS2 remake of the Dreamcast original.
Released in 2001, RE: CVX was an extended cut of the original game, created and released due to Capcom’s realisation that Resident Evil could not survive on the Dreamcast due to the lower fanbase of the console compared to the PlayStation 2. It added extra scenes revolving around Wesker’s involvement in the plot, giving more depth to the storyline. Apart from these scenes, the only real addition was slightly improved graphics.
So, with that bit of comparison and information out of the way, let’s take a look at the game itself!
Did you know that Resident Evil: Code Veronica X’s storyline was actually the original direct sequel to Resident Evil 2? What became known as Resident Evil 3 was originally planned to be a spin-off game, but Capcom was contracted to three main numbered games being released on the PSX. Therefore, the spin-off was renamed to Resident Evil 3, and Code Veronica lost the number in its name. This made a lot of people assume it was a spin-off, rather than the true sequel.
The storyline itself shows just how closely RE: CVX was tied to the plot of Resident Evil 2. As the second game ended with Claire determined to both find her brother and take down Umbrella, Resident Evil: Code Venorica X starts off with her being captured by Umbrella after infiltrating one of their research facilities.
This is a direct continuation of her character, making far more sense as a sequel to RE2 than the tale of Jill escaping Raccoon City at the same time as RE2’s event.
Anyway, I digress. The basic storyline of Resident Evil: Code Veronica X follows Claire Redfield as she tries to escape the clutches of Umbrella and their latest bio-organic weapons (BOWs) that have taken over Rockfort Island. She is joined by another fellow Umbrella inmate named Steve Burnside (who is one of the aspects of RE: CVX that splits the fans), and hunted by twins Alfred and Alexia Ashford.
The story is full of twists and turns, including some very surprising reveals and rather depressing events. The characters, especially the antagonists, have some great backstory and history, giving them depth and realism.
However, as mentioned earlier, Steve Burnside’s character has a very dividing effect on players. Some people think he’s a great addition to the story with just enough characterisation… Others feel like the game would be far better without him in it, as his dialogue and mannerisms can be really annoying.
All in all, I think the plot of Resident Evil: Code Veronica X is a rather good storyline for a survival horror game.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica X’s gameplay is basically that of a typical survival horror game of the late 90s and early 2000s. The controls are based on the “tank control” system, meaning that no matter where the camera is facing, pressing Up will always make the player character move forward in the direction they are facing. Then, you use Left and Right to turn the character in their respective direction.
This can take some getting used to if you’ve never played the older Resident Evil games or other survival horror games from the time. However, I have a special love for this style of control setup. It adds to the tension of the game, as you can’t just dodge around all of the enemies like a gazelle. Instead, you have to find safe paths to manoeuvre through the various monsters. In a game that is designed to scare you and make you feel on edge or uneasy, tank controls just seem to make sense.
On top of the controls, the other aspect of classic survival horror game design that continues with Resident Evil: Code Veronica X is the use of notepads and other such items to tell the story.
If you’re interested in learning about the Ashford family, then you’ll find yourself hunting through almost every room in the game, trying desperately to find another notebook or diary. There’s also a huge amount of puzzles to figure out, much like the previous Resident Evil games. The gameplay of Resident Evil: Code Venorica X still seems great today, especially for a Survival Horror game, even if it doesn’t really add anything new to the standard formula (bar the first person aiming with certain weapons).
Considering when the game was released, personally, I think that graphics are pretty good. Sure, they’re not at the standard of Resident Evil 4, or even Silent Hill 2, but they aren’t horrendous. The areas feel a little boxy at times, the fire sometimes looks like an animated GIF, and the character animations during cutscenes feel a bit robotic every now and then, but it could be a lot worse.
The interface feels very much like the original PSX Resident Evil games, which means that it is easy to navigate and get your head around, but doesn’t feel like the PS2 is really being used to any advantage or improvement. The zombies feel repetitive as well, but what do you expect when the developers have to populate an entire island with the creatures? They can’t really be expected to create thousands of different variations of zombies, can they? Even more modern games like Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead don’t do that.
The removal of entirely static cameras in exchange for semi-static camera angles that will follow Claire’s movement was a nice improvement, as it feels like advancement in game design, without going so far as to remove the sense of fear about what was just off camera.
In the end, the graphics are actually really hard to judge. There are some nice improvements on the pre-existing formula set by the likes of Resident Evil 2 on the original PlayStation, but it still seems outdated, even considering the fact that Resident Evil: Code Veronica X was released 17 years ago.
And That’s All Folks
In the end, the gameplay and storyline of Resident Evil: Code Veronica X are its saving graces, as the overall visual design of the game feels very outdated, even by the standard of games when it first came out. Part of this might be because it is a port of the Dreamcast game, but even with the “improved graphics”, it doesn’t really cut it against other games of the same time, such as Metal Gear Solid 2 or Final Fantasy X. On top of this, the game relies on the formula of the previous Resident Evil games, not really adding much to make it stand out, despite being the first game in the series on the PS2.
The game, itself, is a nice addition to the Resident Evil story, but it doesn’t quite capture the magic of the first 3 games in “main” storyline. Have you played Resident Evil: Code Veronica X? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below.