Anyone who loves zombies, odd mutations, corporate conspiracies, and the survival horror genre latches onto every drop of Resident Evil
goodness that Capcom lets ooze out its doors. Because of this sheer fanatical devotion to the series, Resident Evil
on GameCube is a big deal. The remake of the original Resident Evil
was simply stunning -- Capcom superbly updated the game so that it was scarier and more serious (by today's standards) than the original. Then came Resident Evil Zero
, a great looking game that managed to push traditional RE
puzzle solving boundaries with the inclusion of two simultaneously-controlled characters. In the future, we've got the beautiful, highly anticipated Resident Evil 4
to look forward to.
However, while we've seen plenty gorgeous Resident Evil games make their way onto GameCube there's also that matter of the ports. Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 were directly ported from their PlayStation counterparts. Not only did they suffer from dated visuals and clunky cameras and controls, but they were also marketed at the unreasonable price of $39.99. As direct ports, there's really no reason to buy them unless you never played the originals and don't own a PSX because they can be found used for a fraction of the price.
Unfortunately for us, Resident Evil: Code Veronica X takes the later route. When Resident Evil: Code Veronica was released, fans were ecstatic to continue the Redfield saga. Code Veronica even managed to refine some of Resident Evil's nagging flaws -- mainly better CG scenes and better camera angles. But, that was three years ago...
Debuting in 2000 on the Dreamcast, Code Veronica was ported to the PlayStation 2 a year and a half later. Other than the X affixed to the name, which represented extra storyline elements, nothing was changed for the port. CVX was already showing its age on the PS2. Now, Code Veronica X has made its way to GameCube, unaltered. What does this mean? Unlike the Resident Evil remake, you'll experience dated graphics and control mechanics. It means this is the same game it was two years ago. Unless you have to own the entire series on one console or only own a GameCube, you're best off passing up the $39.99 price tag in favor of buying the Playstation 2 version for half the price. For those that haven't experienced Code Veronica X and have no other option....
- All new storyline that takes you deeper into the Resident Evil mythos.
- Play as both Chris and Claire Redfield (not simultaneously)
- Find cool weapons to fight all sorts of bio-hazard freaks
- Travel to new locations (military base, mansion, palace, Antarctica, etc.) and solve puzzles
Fans of the series don't really need a CVX briefing. But, if you're playing through the franchise for the first time, then it's important to get reconnoitered. Three months after Claire Redfield escapes the blast that decimated Raccoon City and begins her search for her brother Chris (end of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis), she still can't find her missing sibling. While looking for him in Europe (he was on a mission to uncover the truth about Umbrella), she's captured and stranded in an isolated military complex on a remote island.
Unfortunately, this island suffers from a rare case of zombie-itis, which Claire will have to contend with as she fights her way back to civilization. Along the way, she'll run into a fellow prisoner, Steve Burnside, and her brother Chris (both playable) as she hunts down every last mutated menace in her path and discovers the origin of the Veronica virus.
The core gameplay revolves around the traditional RE sluggish slog through levels. It's essentially an adventure game with a good mix of scare tactics. Between sporadic dealings with flesh-eating zombies, crows, or rabid dogs, you'll be searching for some intricate trinket to unlock a door that'll let you progress to the next fetch quest. These hunts for bizarre items (who locks doors with crests, multiple crests?) aren't new to the series and aren't too annoying if you can get past the obsceneness of it all. What is troublesome is that there are certain puzzles that can't be completed with Claire, and you won't realize that they're meant to be completed with Steve or Chris until after you've wasted a ton of ammo or lives.
If you have played Resident Evil games before, the clunky, abominable controls won't come as any surprise. At least you're able to use the coveted C-style setup, which lets you walk and run with the right trigger and makes navigation a bit more bearable. The biggest problem is that the aiming seems almost worse that previous versions -- especially because there are so many more flying creatures (curse the bats!) and all too little ammo.
On the good side, CVX has fixed some of the camera problems found in previous games. You'll still experience many moments where you'll be shooting or attacked by enemies you can't see. But, the environments are better designed. They're bigger and more friendly to sporadic gunfire. Also, the fixed cameras follow your character a bit more logically, eliminating the abrupt cuts from one area to another.
From a gameplay standpoint, Code Veronica is mostly more of the same. There have been a few small tweaks to the gameplay, but that's about it. The main draw, as always, is the storyline and few occasional scares (although fewer than previous RE games.
When it launched on the Dreamcast, Code Veronica was the pinnacle of Resident Evil graphics. For the first time, Capcom used real-time instead of pre-rendered graphics and incorporated detailed textures into environments. Capcom also produced some beautiful CG cut-scenes that were actually capable of portraying a character's emotion. While the difference between the CG and game graphics were still noticeable, they were much closer in quality than other RE games.
However, now the graphics look dated. The animation is awkward -- just watch Claire run around, it's almost laughable. There aren't real-time shadows, textures now seem fairly bland, and the architecture and the zombie character models are noticeably lacking detail. Sadly, the graphics really take you out of the game. You can still be scared by encounters, especially if you haven't played the game before, but the experience isn't the same as if you were playing CVX in 2000.
Resident Evil is a game that relies heavily on ambiance, and CVX doesn't disappoint -- although you won't encounter Dolby Pro Logic II. The orchestral score is perfectly cast. The music, as always, is an eerie backdrop of strings and piano that is just loud enough to be noticeable, but in just the right places it evolves into a spooky, panic-inducing cacophony (generally around bosses).
The sound effects are still good, especially for the time period of the game, and usually override the score. You'll hear the distant moanings of zombies, creaks of doors, odd scratches, the echoing of your feet on steps, and other spine tingling noises. Most sounds are recycled and have a slightly canned edge, but they do a fine job of setting the mood. Even the voice acting, which is traditionally awful, has been spruced up to the status of "over-the-top, but a lot better than previous RE games" level.
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