The Resident Evil series is an interesting one. It has seen multiple entries over the years, as well as multiple remakes and even remakes of remakes (which is the case here.) When it comes to re-releasing a game regarded as “classic” the burning question is: Does it live up to today’s standards? If a remastered game doesn’t feel right when playing it today, is nostalgia alone enough to warrant a purchase? In the case of Resident Evil: Code Veronica X HD the answer is an emphatic “no.” Read on to find out why.
The game begins with Claire Redfield infiltrating a super secret Umbrella Corporation base in search of her brother, Chris Redfield. While doing so, she ends up getting captured. However, while captured, there is a T-virus outbreak and zombies begin to run loose. Thus, she is released by a guy that doesn’t really care about life anymore since he is probably going to die, and the hunt for your brother continues.
The story of the game is fine for the most part, you definitely meet some interesting (and also some very annoying) characters along the way. The cutscenes are done relatively well given it is an update of a remake of a Dreamcast game. The voice acting is decent, but not exactly impressive and can definitely get on your nerves at times. Overall, however, I would have to say the story is probably the one undeniably strong part of this otherwise dated game. I also really dig the atmosphere that Capcom puts you in: you really feel like you are fighting for your life. Encounters are rough, and a lot of the time it might actually be worth it to just run away and live to fight another day. Get used to that, this game is no walk in the park.
The next topic of discussion is the graphical quality of the game. I never played this back on the Dreamcast, or even on the PS2 when they re-released it the first time, but I know how to work Youtube and was able to do a bit of comparison. To my eye, most of the visuals in this version have not seen much of a facelift. The background environments look great, but the character models are still pretty bad and it seems like it is missing a few animations for every action.
Another point of contention is the menu/inventory system. I understand keeping things old-school for the die hard fans, and I am sure they truly enjoy the same menus, but they really do look like they are pulled straight from a Genesis game. It is also pretty difficult to navigate, given the sparse directions and explanation of controls and game mechanics.
Which goes directly into my next point, attempting to play the game. I have decided not to use the term “gameplay” as that implies a concrete idea of navigating the game like a normal person. I do not think this game has that feature. Granted: I have only played Resident Evil 4 & 5, but I think that makes this review all the more honest. I have no nostalgic link to this or any other game in this series before the GameCube classic (RE: 4) so I will be honest: I found this game very difficult to play and enjoy.
For me, the notion of pressing forward on the stick to walk, and then having to stop and press either left or right to pivot your character is horrendous. Especially in a survival horror game where running and self-preservation are your primary strategies. There is a nifty 180-turn feature which is nice, but that is about it in means of navigation. The shooting controls also take quite a while to get used to. One button readies your weapon for aiming, another button can lock onto targets, another can switch between targets, and another shoots. You very well could end up cycling through four buttons rapidly just to shoot a gun. This is not even considering if you are not locking onto a target and are trying to “aim” which then includes the analog stick. Awesome.
Also, this bears repeating: the game is hard. Most of the difficulty is due to legitimately challenging design choices (limited ammo, tough situations, tricky puzzles, etc) but sometimes it is simply due to the fact that the game is, and definitely feels, dated. For example: saving at a typewriter is a trademark of the series, this is fine. But when a game of this difficulty has them spread out so sparingly and then limits you with the amount of ink you can use to save, it seems like the difficulty is artificially increased. This game is definitely not for the faint of heart, and you really have to be in the mood for a challenge in order to try and enjoy it. Also: the camera is not very good. You do not really have any control over it, as the angle will change simply based on your location in the room. This presents several situations where you may not be able to see your enemies, which can be very frustrating.
As far as sound is concerned, I have already expressed my opinions on the spotty voice acting. Zombies make the expected groans and guns make the expected bangs. The sound really does excel in the one truly strong point I mentioned before: atmosphere. In fact, the selective absence of sound is used to great effect. Zombies will definitely surprise you at times, and it makes for some exciting gameplay moments.
Overall, the value of this game should have been determined prior to you reading this review. If you loved the game back in the day and really want to play it again with some spruced up visuals, you probably have already downloaded it. If you never played it and/or never really liked old-school Resident Evil, then I highly doubt this game will make you a believer. The game is available for PSN and XBLA for $20 and 1600 MS Points, respectively. If you have your own opinions on the game, let us know in the comments below!
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the PlayStation 3 provided by Capcom.