Wine and cheese are two of the rare commodities that get better with age, an attribute than cannot be applied to gaming in the conventional sense. I played Resident Evil: Code Veronica recently on Dreamcast and enjoyed the game even more so than I did back in 2000, but the HD remake now available on Xbox 360 and PS3 offers a weaker experience than the original game I loved so much. Code Veronica X has been brought kicking and screaming into the next generation and, whilst it’s still a great game that offers a real blast from the past for Resident Evil fans, these HD versions are the worst way to experience Code Veronica.
For those who aren’t familiar with the game, it follows Resi 2 protagonist Claire Redfield as she continues to search for her brother Chris. Having been arrested whilst raiding an Umbrella HQ, Claire is sent to a mysterious prison on Rockfort island. In typical Resident Evil fashion though, a T-virus outbreak sees our protagonist breaking free and seeking an escape from the contaminated island. It’s classic Resident Evil through and through, with a predictable but engaging gothic story and characters that, while clichéd and whiny, exude a certain B-movie charm.
Gameplay is in the classic Resident Evil mode, with fixed camera angles, a whole tonne of zombies and no ability to move while shooting. I’m sure there are a tonne of whipper-snappers out there who are complaining that the game doesn’t play like Resident Evil 4 or 5, but Code Veronica has a major edge in actually being a part of the Resident Evil franchise back when it was genuinely scary. The claustrophobia generated by the bleak island setting and the clever camera angles set up an adventure that, whilst showing some signs of age, is still as eerie today as it was eleven years ago. Code Veronica was always the most underrated of the original RE titles, with some of the best puzzles the series had to offer. There are a few elements that stick out nowadays like the limited inventory slots and mild backtracking, but Code Veronica remains a classic through and through.
The problem with Code Veronica X HD then is the “HD” part. The remastering of the game is appalling, with it all generally looking shabby. The biggest crime is how fuzzy the pre-rendered footage looks. This is a plague that infests all HD remakes, but it is especially prominent in Code Veronica. You remember those classic loading screens where you walk through the door in first person? Well they look like they’ve just come out of a blender and, considering the frequency with which they occur, it really robs the game of its continuity from a visual standpoint.
The game retails at a price point of £14.99. It is worth every penny in terms of a great slice of gaming history, but the price doesn’t sit well as an RRP in some respects. The game is long enough to justify the price point, and the battle mode and other extras will keep you coming back after the credits roll. Despite this though, there are elements that could’ve improved the game further. The achievements for a start are a poor effort, with little ingenuity applied whatsoever. The best achievements are the kind that make you get the most from your games, and this can’t be said of the achievements in Code Veronica which reward little more than story progression.
For the cost of this supposedly updated HD remake, you could pick up a copy of the original Code Veronica X on Gamecube or PS2. Hell, if you were willing to add a tiny bit more dosh, you could probably pick up a Dreamcast with a copy of the original. Either way your money would be better spent, as this HD remake is the worst way to enjoy an otherwise fun game. There are some jagged elements that have arisen from the game after 11 long years, but these seem so much less noticeable when you appreciate the game in its original context on a retro format. Playing it on 360 made the experience more grating than it needed to be, and the “HD” elements sure as hell didn’t help matters. If you have no other means of playing it and never got a copy a decade ago, it’s definitely worth picking up as a great survival horror romp. If you have a copy on DC/PS2 then don’t bother. Just dust your old consoles off instead and give them a spin.
This game was reviewed on the PS3.
Classic Resident Evil gameplay, It's one of the most refined Resi games, Offers a long campaign, A great feeling of nostalgia for series fans
HD remastering is a botch job, Many inconsistent visual elements, Feels more grating than the original versions, Feels out of place in today's market, A boring achievement list
Code Veronica X returns in HD to attempt to frighten gamers once more but, despite offering a great sense of nostalgia to back when Resident Evil was actually scary, this lacklustre port is a poor depiction of an otherwise incredible game