Capcom’s Resident Evil series on the PlayStation is one series I could do without. To me, it was just one long tedious trek through flat, boring backdrops, while waiting forever for each stage to load in during that boring "opening door" sequence. And if that isn’t enough, I was not a fan of that God-awful voice acting that many other players would consider fitting for the series. To me it was just cannon fodder for a computer game of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Resident Evil 2 was the only game in the series that I actually sat through in its entirety, and even that game, despite having somewhat better voice acting, still couldn’t attract me into the franchise.
Still, even with me not being a big fan of the series, I had to take a look at Code Veronica, the latest release for the Sega Dreamcast. Maybe after seeing this, I might end up changing my mind about the series, because what I saw was nothing like anything the PlayStation titles has done before.
Code Veronica takes place 3 months after Resident Evil 2 takes place. Claire Redfield escaped from the remains of Raccoon City, an American mid-western town that was infected by the T-Virus, created by the Umbrella Corporation. Still searching for her missing brother, Chris, she tracks him to an Umbrella facility in Paris. Unfortunately, as shown in a cutscene reminiscent of great action films such as the Matrix, she is captured, and transported to a remote island prison. Just her luck, the prison island is also ripe with Umbrella activity, and zombies once again run amok. With the help of an injured prison guard, Claire escapes the prison. Upon hearing from another prisoner, Steve Burnside, that an airplane is available to help them escape from the island, Claire seeks out her escape attempt.
Little does she know, that the island is also the home of the very eccentric Ashford twins, Alferd and Alexia. Claiming to be descendent of the original founders of Umbrella, they are enraged about an outside presence and vow to stop Claire and Steve. It also seems that, based on some of the stranger cutscenes in the game, that these mysterious twins have quite a hidden agenda.
I have not even gone into the finer details of the game, but there is way too much to go over in a review like this (plus I need to leave at least a few good surprises). Code Veronica definitely pleases the Resident Evil fan (and even non-fans) with its impressive storyline, as shown in the opening sequence. Even though the game follows the same formula that was used in previous games, the overall look is greatly improved. First of all, no longer are we stuck with dull, static, flat backdrops. With the power of Dreamcast, each and every stage is rendered in real time, thus allowing for more believable camera angles, free-moving cameras, and dynamic lighting. Think of the graphics engine as a horror version of Metal Gear Solid, only with a cleaner image.
Control still follows that weird scheme that was used on the PlayStation, and even with the analog control, it still feels the same. However, now with the VMU being used, you don’t have to check your inventory to see what condition Claire or Steve is in. It is now displayed on the VMU for quick reference.
As for sound, once again it’s a mixed bag. As mentioned before, Resident Evil has been known (and loved by same, hated by others) for it’s B-quality voice acting, and to an extent, Code Veronica is no exception. It is a surprise though, that the voice acting for Claire is actually of high quality, and for a short time, I thought that RE would finally achieve the excellent voice quality achieved by Metal Gear Solid. But once I came across Steve, that opinion took a nosedive. But believe me, it gets worse. Alford Ashford definitely has the most annoying, almost girl-like, laugh I have ever heard. You might want to consider turning your TV, stereo, computer speakers, or whatever you’re using, down the moment you hear it.
Am I going too far with the bad voices, or is it enough to ruin a darn good game? Personally I don’t think it does, because the atmosphere of Code Veronica, as well as the gorgeous engine, and its long quest, make Resident Evil: Code Veronica the worthy successor to a series that I used to hate. Now any game that can do that automatically qualifies for a perfect 5 GiN Gems.