Review: The game that gets even George Romero's heart pumping!
Wow...it's certainly been a long time since I've played a Resident Evil title. Never having owned a Dreamcast personally, or even playing the title (Resident Evil Code: Veronica) on a Dreamcast console, I was one of the lucky few (or many, though I'm not sure HOW many) who was able to play this Resident Evil title. And, happily enjoy its benefits while experiencing the fright, fight, and delight for a first time.
Though, those of you who have already played the Dreamcast version shouldn't have to worry too much. The reason is simple: Resident Evil Code: Veronica X comes packaged with one of the best video game demos I've ever played. Coming in October, Capcom intends to present the world with yet another game, where one person, pitted against gruesome creatures, will be born. The title, Devil May Cry, is exciting by all means. The demo can even be compared to the quality found in the Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty demo that came packaged with Zone of the Enders. The Veronica port includes (and just as well it should) enhanced graphics, not to mention 10 minutes of new movie footage in the game. Are you not impressed? It just so happens that Capcom has released an extra bonus disc titled the Wesker Report. This DVD consists of Albert Wesker's (the bad guy from the first game) point of view on the whole Resident Evil matter. Only those people who were smart enough to pre-order the game received these discs, however.
X's story on the other hand, is just the next chapter in the Resident Evil series. Claire Redfield, the young, sexy broad from Resident Evil 2, is on the hunt in Europe to find her brother, Chris Redfield. Remember that guy from the first Resident Evil? In Claire's search, she's captured by Umbrella (the evil corporation responsible for the virus that turns humans into zombies), and is now sent off to Rockfort Island as a prisoner. The game begins when a soldier in an attack on the island releases Claire. But once she's loose, staying in the prison cell might've been a better idea after all. Of course, zombies overrun the island somehow. Claire will meet a new friend, Steve; young man who seems to be another of the escaped prisoners on the island, and a new enemy, Alfred Ashford, who seems to think Claire's the one responsible for the attack on the island. Following her story, Claire will find the usual horror and plot twists. Her only goal, though, is to survive while trying to escape the island. Will you take the dare to get a scare?
I find the graphics absolutely some of the best that have ever been seen on Sony's PlayStation 2 thus far. If you were to play one of the original Resident Evil titles on a PlayStation console, those graphics were pretty good. But seriously, Claire and the supporting cast actually came out to be detailed really well. Even when an in-game movie appears, I sometimes mistake them for one of the CG cut scenes.
Capcom still installed their trademark into the new game as well...that being pre-rendered backgrounds, only this time they're on a fully 3D plane, instead of the usual 2D. Most of the scenery is virtually amazing. But what the backgrounds are entirely made up of are not all entirely compatible with what can move in the game (Claire). This means that Claire can only, yet again, pick up only few objects scattered throughout a level. Though, you won't actually see her picking up the object. And even though the backgrounds are all pre-rendered, and are not interactive with your character, I feel it doesn't matter much. Why would you want a zombie tearing through the environment at the same pace that you are?
Both the FMVs (Full Motion Videos) and the in-game movies tell the story. Even though I wish that there were more of the FMVs spread throughout the game, and even though they're packed with thrilling action and animation, I found the in-game movies to be a nice touch. These in-game films really show off the capabilities of what the PlayStation 2 can do. In the 32-bit days, hands didn't have fingers. Today, games do. This game in particular does, anyway.
Other notable features about the games look focuses on individual animations. For an example, Claire can now blink. Her head also turns towards everything in the area that's ugly or suspicious. Other features, like when emptying your pistol into the zombie's chest could have a reaction that lets the creature fall back against a wall. The zombie will slide down the wall, and get right back up from its hunched down position -- Impressive.
While the graphics are really a treasure, I quote that the game's gameplay is too short of a lamb's leg. Or, uh...something like that. The same gameplay found in other Resident Evil titles has returned. Your character moves just like a remote controlled car. Up goes up, down goes down, and by pressing a right or left direction makes them turn either which way, further to move in a jagged motion. However, I thought I detected a bit of improvement -- lest it be a very slight one -- in controlling the character. Just like Jill was able to use a 180? twist in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Claire too can now use the same method to escape a horde of predators.
Another part of the gameplay allows the character do things like shoot a gun, or kicking a zombie when they're down -- literally. Shooting your equipped weapon is just like how one would handle it in real life. Basically, all you've got to do is point Claire in one direction, press the aim button, and then click on the shoot button. A sound that a gun would make comes out. If anything dead, such as...I don't know maybe zombies, are in the way of the gun, then I guess its just tough luck for them, isn't it? Claire will automatically point a weapon in an enemy's direction after pressing the aim trigger, though, you've still got to keep pressing the aim button every time you select a new enemy to fire at. Some of the enemy AI (Artificial Intelligence) crawls on the ground or hovers in the air. She can point down or upwards for these types of nasty characters.
Playing the game doesn't cut it that short, though. The premise of playing a Resident Evil always gives you two methods: Kill monsters and solve puzzles. So, for the second half of playing the game, you're going to have to run circles in scary as hell areas to also think with your head, and not just with your gun. A lot of the puzzles can be confusing at times. Luckily, Claire is able to pick up notes from deceased people in the game, and read instruction manuals for some puzzles. Certain objectives don't usually require reading a set of instructions, however. You'll find yourself a lot of the time just looking for objects to place on a door so that it will open up a new area. The other portion of puzzles requires passwords or other methods of using your brain. These puzzles can at times be entirely difficult. But, at least they're not that bad as some of the other titles in this particular video game genre.
The sound has immensely changed for the good of all that's holy. Zombies are the main target practice. They'll moan, they'll chew, and they'll even bang on walls in their craving for your mortal flesh. Every bit of the game's environments makes up for a heart pounding thrill ride. Footsteps, in areas like outside, sound true to their roots. And inside as well. When walking across boxes, you can notice how true to life walking across a box can really be (Even though that's not the reason to buy this game...or is it?). Other sounds like explosions and gunfire are also very well done. When playing the game, the sound never fails to give you a heart attack (kidding) as when you're all alone in a hallway, and you just get that feeling that something's around the next corner. You might hear moans of a zombie, or worse, nothing. I should also add that some of the game's original music is included. These tunes are remixed a bit, and sound reminiscent of creepy trance noises.
And as for the scare factor, Capcom's port goes through the roof in that area. Your location is now on an isolated island inside of a prison sector. Through playing the game, you'll eventually cross a palace, an airport, and even an underwater facility. The newest in the series adds some of the same old zombies and mutated dogs (with the exceptional boss or newly added creature from time to time). But what Capcom strives for in their most popular horror series is to make you panic. Resident Evil Code: Veronica X definitely WILL MAKE YOU PANIC. I had to wait at least half an hour just before I worked up the courage to go around one corner, only to find that the zombie moan didn't mean anything when it couldn't even get to me in the first place. The game is filled with dynamic camera angles that will only point to you and you alone. And to top it off, there are noises in the distance most of the time, that usually will leave you curious, or questioning what the sound could be. You might ask yourself if you really want to find out. The sound could be a scratching, or dripping noise. Sometimes it could even sound like rocks piling on top of each other, for all you know. But when you take look, a surprise is always waiting.
Luckily, some people were never able to play the scariest in the series. Me, being one of them, am having a blast. This game's out there for those of you who have never played the Dreamcast version, or for those of you looking to play the new Devil May Cry demo; which happens to be quite a fun time. Either way, survival/horror fans of the RE series should definitely give this title a try. And if you really are intending on giving the game a try, be sure to stock up on a couple packages of light bulbs while you're at it. Frankly, I have never been as scared from a Resident Evil title before.