Resident Evil: Code Veronica X HD Review
Available on: Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Resident Evil is fifteen years old this year. It is unbelievable to think that the first time I crapped my pants through Capcom’s survival horror franchise was half of my entire life ago, it makes me feel old. Thankfully this glorious anniversary is being celebrated with the high definition re-release of two of the series’ most important instalments. We have already taken a look at Resident Evil 4 HD, and come to the conclusion that it is an excellent update well worth your time if you have no means of playing the Wii or PS2 versions. Next for our perusal is Resident Evil: Code Veronica X HD.
What Capcom have promised here is essentially the ultimate version of Resident Evil: Code Veronica to date. Gathering all of the best additional content that made up the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube port of the original, and assuring us a smoothing down of the edges with HD support – it should be a treat for fans of the series. The question is, does the game itself stand the test of time and warrant this download?
Originally intended to be known as Resident Evil 3, Code Veronica was a joint venture between Capcom and SEGA that originally came out in the year 2000 on the ill-fated Dreamcast console. Sony got the hump that their once-exclusive franchise was being released on a rival machine, so kicked up a fuss. As a result, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was given the canonical number in its title, even though it does bugger-all to moving along the overall storyline thread. I still wonder what an exclusive, actual proper Resident Evil sequel would have done to help shift more units of Dreamcast. Alas, it was not to be and it pretty much slipped out with a whimper, going on to receive the aforementioned ports for additional consoles.
The plot follows sibling duo Claire and Chris Redfield, the latter the protagonist of the first and fifth instalments in the series, the former returning from Resident Evil 2. Both are controllable during different sections of the game, with a third character (Steve Burnside) also used for a brief period. Basically, Claire has been banished to a prison island after attempting to escape the clutches of an Umbrella facility. As is par for the Biohazard course, the plot is full of twists and turns, has the return of a much loved baddie, and even has a bit of romance folks – and we are pleased to mention that this version retains the craptacular ham-flavoured acting we have come to know and love.
This purported HD makeover job has some new, smoother textures and some natty new water and shadow effects, but in all honesty there is nothing here to get excited about. The CGI sequences are upscaled pretty poorly, and are a relic from a bygone age. Thankfully the sound effects and excellent creepy score are as decent as ever.
Other than the fact that there were some new camera tricks, the option to dual wield (and dual target) two shooters at once, and that the backdrops were rendered in real-time, as opposed to the pre-rendered environments from the other three games that preceded it, there isn’t much new going on here. Veronica was and still is a resolutely old fashioned, curmudgeonly Resident Evil experience and did not really evolve the series at all.
Nostalgia can be a very dangerous thing where games are concerned. You take a title which played (and looked) the dog’s bollocks when you were a youngster, or indeed a younger version of your now grizzled gaming self. Things have moved on so rapidly in the space of the last decade, that the Dreamcast game you may have spent hours foaming at the slack-jawed mouth over way back when has been completely eclipsed. I’m not saying that playing old games is a waste of time, only that sometimes returning to an old friend can be something of a disappointment given how we are so spoiled with technology in this day and age.
The early Resident Evil games fall into this category. Whilst at the time it may have just been the best of the four Resi titles to have been released, the fourth canonical game in the series so revolutionised the franchise that for most of us, returning to the tank rotation style movement and fixed camera angles can seem cumbersome. Don’t get me started on the door-opening sequences – which were originally intended to ramp up the tension, and disguise loading times between rooms.
There are those that still stand by the older Resi games, eschewing the over the shoulder evolution, and preferring the claustrophobia of the enclosed spaces, awkward camera placing and slower pace. Those guys are going to see this for what it is: Veronica X HD is still a superb survival horror game with some excellent puzzling gameplay, and a labyrinthine plot. It is also genuinely scary at times – big, O.G Resident Evil scares, like the first time you got spooked in the Spencer Mansion when you were a kiddy.
All of the extras from the original enhanced “X” game are present and correct – additional CGI sequences, unlockable costumes, the proto-mercenaries Battle mini-game. Of course there are a set of achievements for you to unlock, some of which are pretty tough ones, and online leaderboards so you can show the world how badly you suck at Resident Evil.
What we can’t see the point of however, is the “HD” tag. There doesn’t seem to be a tremendous amount of difference on offer, other than those I have mentioned, and a sharper display on the menu screens. Oh, and I suppose the fact that the display has been optimised, rather than having to stretch it out when using a retro console on your telly, is a boon.
VERDICT: There is not really much reason to recommend paying out the quite hefty fee for this game, when you could nab the PS2 or Gamecube versions for chump change and take it back to the old-school. You would hope now that Capcom have gotten this HD re-imagining lark out of their system, and set about constructing another new game in the series, that maintains the excellent arc of quality that came when they dropped 4. I can’t wait.