Monday, February 29, 2016

Review #302 - Resident Evil - Code Veronica X

 You are still alive!?
 Did you know? Resident Evil Code Veronica was supposed to be the third entry, but, supposedly, due to some contract thingie with Sony, Nemesis went to become the third game. But Code Veronica holds the distinction of being the first one to hit then-next-gen, so good bye pre-rendered backgrounds, and hello beautiful 3D. Fixed camera angles are back though.

 The story follows Claire, who is still looking for her brother Chris. She ends up a prisoner on an Island that holds deep ties with Umbrella Corporation, those that started the T-Virus outbreak that turned people into zombies. And then midway through the game, you end up as Chris, who has to finish what Claire started. Y'know the deal, cheesy dialogue, simple but serviceable premise. Alfred is one of the new main villains, and he is a rather interesting homage to certain horror movie icon, and then there's Steve. Steve is the worst thing to ever happen to the Resident Evil series. THE WORST THING. Sure, his voice and the delivery is terrible, but that's not even half of the problem, the problem lies in how he is portrayed. His lines are HORRIBLE, and his actions are cringe-worthy. And you can tell how hard Capcom tried to make him look cool, and to force this sad excuse of a character to become Claire's love interest. But he sucks, he is terrible and he is unbearable. Every scene he is in, he ruins it completely.
 This is pure Resident Evil, but times 10. The puzzles are more complex, the environments are larger, enemies deadlier and the game itself is longer. And the game is plays just like the others, run around a maze-like environment searching for items to use elsewhere and advance, while avoiding or shooting your way through hordes of zombies and other nasties. All that while managing your very limited inventory space, so you better think carefully about which weapons, or ammo, to bring. Personally I felt like level design was very lackluster. Environments are huge, and there's a ton of necessary key items as well as weapon and healing items that you will need to survive, but you simply can't carry enough, and the chests in which you can store items are very rare this time around. This makes the beginning of the game an absolute nightmare, particularly if you choose the 'wrong' fork of the road, which could have you going a loooooooong time, coming around enemies and items that you just can't carry. Locations are also far larger than previous games, which means that backtracking is particularly nasty this time around, and you'll be doing a lot of it. Oh, and there's plenty of rooms upon which enemies will be replaced after certain plot points. It's not a stretch to say that this is probably the hardest Resident Evil game, at least on default difficulty settings. And I kinda have mixed feelings about it, on one hand I liked how hard it was when compared to previous games, but on the other hand, having so few save points and store rooms feels rather cheap.

 Did I say hardest game? I think that it could also be the easiest. Y'see, I tried to play this game as if it was like previous games, and the game will punish you for it. Remember that useless knife from REvil 1-3? It's REALLY good against zombies and dog zombies. As in REALLY good. And if you mash buttons fast enough, you just might push a zombie before it lands a bite on you. And did you know? I finished the game without touching the Magnum, The Grenade Launcher(Or any of its various ammo types) and the Submachine guns. I didn't even touch them. And I had over 150 bullets and 40 shotgun shells to spare. You see, ammo is very plentiful on this game, and I might even say that there's enough ammo to kill everything you see, judging from how much left overs I had. I struggled so hard on Claire's chapter, but when I got to Chris I started unloading all my ammo(Since I had 300 handgun bullets) and regularly alternated with the shotgun(Non-zombie enemies this time around are very dangerous), so I had a much easier time with Chris. Heck even item management is more lenient when you begin Chris' chapter, since his environments are smaller. So you see, I'm pretty sure that if you don't hog ammo, you will have a much, much easier time with the game than I did.
 That said, there're a few things that I just can't forgive. For instance, there's a ton of ways in which you can screw yourself over. Early in the game there's a special... container on which you can deposit items. Since inventory space is so valuable, and you'll be coming across so much stuff, it might be tempting to leave stuff in there. Anything that you left in there, you won't be able to retrieve when you play as Chris. So hopefully you kept that seemingly useless 'empty fire extinguisher', otherwise you won't get the Magnum(Not that I actually used it anyways). And where you worried about a boss battle coming up, so you equipped Claire with your best weapons and all your ammo before leaving the Antartic base? Well, you are screwed, as Chris won't be seeing those items until much, much later onto his chapter. At least I remembered the 'cut-off' point from when I first played the game, but guess what, and I don't care that this is a slight spoiler as it's better to be warned, when you free Claire with a knife, you go back to playing as her. Well, hopefully Chris was carrying some kind of powerful weapon and had healing items, because you only play as Claire a little while before Chris is thrust onto a boss battle. A BOSS BATTLE. Thank god by that time I was carrying the Shotgun and its ammo with me. Oh, and remember not to equip anything on Claire, as that's the last time you'll be playing as her, and she took out my goddamn Bowgun, since I thought she might need it. And hopefully you'll have spare healing items, as Claire will need them to survive her event. Basically, there's a ton of ways you can screw yourself over. My advice: Keep many savefiles. I had up to four(Although by the time I was playing as Chris, I only kept two).

 There's a few other gripes I had, like the ones I had with previous games about fixed camera angles. It's not 'scary' not to be able to see in front of my character, I should be able to see what him/her is seeing. And this time around enemies can climb stairs, but guess what, if an enemy is climbing one, you can't use it. Picture my surprise when I was trying to evade some zombies(I hadn't figured that the game actually expected me to use my guns by this time), and I couldn't descend a flight of stairs! Turns out the fixed camera angle wouldn't let me see that a Zombie was slowly going up the stairs. And I tried to use them immediately after it climbed, but I couldn't... a second zombie was climbing them. Fun times, fun, fun times. Thanks, fixed camera angles! The auto-aim can be a pain in the butt as well, the game prioritizes enemies standing close to you, so even if a zombie just started dashing, it will aim towards the one that is closer, even though its not an immediate threat. Sometimes it will even aim 'through a corner' of a wall, so that your shots actually hit the wall, while another zombie rushes from behind. And you let go of 'aim mode', rotate towards the incoming enemy, tap aim again and.... again it turns you onto the enemy that posses no threat at the moment. It can be pretty annoying sometimes.
 Finishing the game unlocks 'Battle Mode' a score-based survival kind of mode. It's kinda fun since you get infinite ammo and can unlock a few extra characters, that translate into different weapon loadouts. It's a rather fun extra, but nothing to write home about.

 When it comes down to it, I liked Resident Evil Code Veronica, it's pretty fun... despite some of its most glaring flaws which makes it rather hard to recommend to people dabbling onto Survival Horror for the first time. My advice is not to be ashamed to find some kind of guide or something and make note of the 'character-switch' sections, you really don't want to screw yourself over. Also, keep multiple save files!
 7.5 out of 10

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