Title :Resident Evil Code: Veronica
Platforms :Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation 2
Publisher :Capcom
ESRB Rating :Mature
Game Rating :7.0
Review by :Richard Rae

Claire Redfield, seeking her brother, has been captured by an organization called "Umbrella." Freed after an attack on the prison facility she has been sent to, she runs around trying to uncover the mystery of Umbrella while facing hordes of bloody, disfigured zombies and hideous mutated creatures created by Umbrella's "T-Virus." 

If this kind of thing is your bag, then you'll probably enjoy Resident Evil Code: Veronica, a Dreamcast sequel/side story to the previous Resident Evil games, which are basically classic-style adventure games set against a bloody, gross horror theme. The game is quite large and comes on two GD-ROMs. (This game is also available as Resident Evil Code: Veronica X for Sony PlayStation 2) 

Code: Veronica has a well-developed "boo" factor. The game pacing is very cleverly designed to build suspense about what may be lurking behind the door you're about to open (right down to thumping heartbeats accompanied by Jump Pack throbs). And when you least expect it, something undead may come leaping out at you (all accompanied by dramatic horror-film chords). 

You'll change characters periodically, playing Claire at first, then her brother Chris, and a fellow prisoner on the Umbrella island, Steve. Player motion is accomplished by using the analog thumb stick or the D-pad. The action button enables the character to fire weapons, pick up items, activate switches, etc. depending on the situation requirements. 

For the most part, the controls are awkward and non-intuitive, with the default button arrangements completely skewed from where you think they should be. (Fortunately, you can configure the keypad yourself.) Most frustrating of all is the need to press the right trigger to draw or raise your weapon before pressing the action button to fire. At that point, your character becomes "stuck" and can no longer run or move except to pivot in place or aim high, mid, or low. Shooting while running is an impossibility here. Aside from the frustrating controls, the pre-determined and changing camera angles seem designed as yet another obstacle for the player to overcome. 

On the bright side, reloading of weapons occurs automatically (provided you have appropriate ammo, which is not unlimited) and some weapons enable Claire or Chris to target and shoot two targets simultaneously with a gun in both hands, John Woo-style. Sometimes, though, your only recourse in a conflict will be to just run away- especially if you have no weapons or have run out of ammo. 

A nice feature for VMU users (besides being able to save the game) is that the LCD screen presents the player with an instant "status check" on the health of their character. When Claire or others have received significant damage, they will appear injured, and their reflexes will slow down considerably. 

There is an extensive management function that lets you use, equip, examine, or analyze objects you have in your inventory. You also can combine some items you find to make even more powerful weapons or healing materials. You can view maps (the game self-maps) and file and review text documents you pick up. Drop boxes and save points are hidden in various locations throughout the game, and provide the player with places to cache items and save game positions. 

The graphics are extremely impressive with stunning little meticulous details that catch your eye constantly- from tiny scurrying cockroaches to sparking wires and leaking oil. On the other hand, the graphics also are frequently nausea-inducing, with blood-spattered walls, maimed corpses and gory implements abounding. The blood and gore factor is extremely high in this game — you wouldn't think a rotting corpse would have so much blood in it, but apparently it does — and the graphic zombie attacks on your character are accompanied by yelps of pain, munching sounds, and spurts of blood. 

If shooting zombies and other horrific creatures doesn't necessarily appeal to you, the game's saving grace and best feature is in its well-designed puzzles and frequently intricate solutions, some of which require several hours of exploration and deep thought before the answer will present itself. 

Resident Evil Code: Veronica is the kind of RPG game you'll either love or hate. It's a very impressive, well-designed, and well-plotted adventure, though the horror theme didn't do anything for me. However, the story does develop in an interesting fashion and the overall challenge as well as the progressive difficulty level should keep "die"-hard fans of the Resident Evil universe entertained for hours on end. 

This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 15-May-00