Resident Evil Code: Veronica X for the GameCube raises a question of relevance. The game's original incarnation appeared on the Dreamcast in early 2000, and it was a great game then. Code Veronica's first port, the original X version released for the PlayStation 2 a year and a half later, added a lengthy video called "Wesker's Report" that fleshed out some elements of the series' storyline. It too was a great game, though by that time it was a little dated. Now, more than three and a half years since the release of the original game, we've got Code: Veronica again on the GameCube. It's still technically a solid game, but at this point it almost feels totally obsolete.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2003/reviews/535839_20031217_embed002.jpgClaire and Chris Redfield are back for one more go on the GameCube in Code: Veronica X.
Though Code: Veronica was released after Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, the story is actually a continuation of the second game. You begin as Claire Redfield, the sister of the first game's hero Chris. Claire's search for her brother's whereabouts leads her to become imprisoned in an island compound controlled by the Umbrella Corporation, who's been responsible for all those shambling zombies and ghastly monsters you've been fighting throughout the series. You'll play the first half of the game as Claire and the second as Chris, who ends up coming to Claire's aid and, in the process, revisits a lot of locations from the first half. There's a lot of meat in the storyline for fans of the Resident Evil mythos, such as it is, but if you played Code: Veronica on the Dreamcast or PlayStation 2 already, you know exactly what happens.
Code: Veronica X plays strictly by the survival horror rules. In other words, it plays exactly like every other Resident Evil game ever released. You control either Claire or Chris while fighting off monsters, exploring creepy environs, and picking up inventory items--adventure game-style--to solve all manner of convoluted puzzles. Playing REC:V-X now makes you realize just how antiquated some of the series' mechanics have gotten these days. The series' much-reviled control scheme was forgivable, but these days it's just plain annoying. You're effectively driving your character around like a car, rotating on an axis and hitting up to move forward regardless of your positioning or camera angle. Now that games like Capcom's own Devil May Cry have rewritten the rules for moving around in a 3D world, the control scheme here feels positively ancient. The ink ribbon save system, which requires you to actually find an item in order to save your game, is also still in effect. Of course, since Code: Veronica X is a straight port of the original game, all of the deeply buried flaws have been ported too. Unfortunately, the ever-increasing standards of game design just make them all the more glaring.
Code: Veronica X looks fine compared to the original game--visually, it's almost identical--but compared to modern GameCube games, you'll find it pretty lacking. The cutscene character models are fairly detailed, but the in-game graphics are pretty bland by today's standards. The aesthetic is consistently dark and creepy, as per the Resident Evil milieu, but the technical execution that was so impressive on the Dreamcast falls flat more than three years later on a much more capable system. At least the frame rate is consistently smooth.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2003/reviews/535839_20031217_embed003.jpgThe GameCube version of Code: Veronica X is a good port, but the game isn't aging particularly well.
The sound is also identical to the original game, with the extremely campy B movie-style voice acting intact. Alas, the sound design isn't so hot. Games like Rainbow Six are using actual gun sounds these days while Code: Veronica's firearms and other sound effects often come off as cheap and fake. At least the music is pretty good, adding a moody ambience to the already suspenseful game.
If you love Resident Evil and, for some reason, have no other access to Code: Veronica, then here's a perfectly functional, if somewhat overpriced, version of it. Considering nothing has been added or upgraded in this extremely plain conversion, the game's $40 price tag is quite hard to justify. Yeah, Code: Veronica was pretty amazing at the beginning of 2000, but times have changed and this game hasn't. It's a good enough port, which is to say that it's no worse than the Dreamcast version, but after all this time, that really isn't enough to warrant a purchase.