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VIDEO GAME REVIEW

Resident Evil

Code: Veronica

By Jumaane Jeffries

Staff Writer

Capcom, for Sega Dreamcast

Action/strategy

1 player

The fourth of the long-running Resident Evil series, Code: Veronica, is the first RE release made exclusively for the Sega Dreamcast. Two discs of terror and suspense await as you play either of the beleaguered Redfield siblings, Chris or Claire (though when the game begins, you must play Claire). Code: Veronica stays true to the familiar RE formula, and preserves the aspects of gameplay, with, of course, a few graphical touch-ups. However, graphics aren’t the only thing being enhanced here, which is a testament to the progress of the series.

The story takes place shortly after RE2, and almost all of the obvious secrets have been revealed, which takes away from the impact of the plot, unless of course you are new to the series. Thus, we know that the true enemies, those from the Umbrella Corporation, are indeed all too human. While Claire searches Umbrella’s secret island to find her missing brother, agents from the heinous pharmaceutical company kidnap and imprison her on the island laboratory complex. As she attempts to escape, many of Umbrella’s mysteries surrounding its lethal biological experiments will unravel.

Of course, this game should be the most graphically impressive of the series, and it is. The 10-minute opening sequence only demonstrates the improvements made in the movements of the characters as they talk (which was an obvious problem in the original). The look of the people, while not exactly true-to-life, is much improved as they move vividly throughout the cinema and the game. Not only is the detail in the backgrounds appropriately dark, terror-filled, and remarkable, but the various touches, like the fire and water effects, are commendable. In addition, Code: Veronica is the first of this series in which the camera actually follows the character as she walks (but I can’t say for sure, as I haven’t played RE3: Nemesis for PlayStation). The reduction of static gameplay scenes makes the game seem more like a movie.

However, the graphics take a back seat to how remarkably sound is integrated in the game. Unlike most games, the RE series does not overwhelm with persistent background music; instead it punctuates the mood with the right sound effects. There is appropriately creepy, orchestrated music in some areas, but the game keeps you hooked with its sound effects.

You can almost feel the shell hit the ground after each gunshot; you can almost hear the shriek of each rusty doorknob, the creak of doors opening, the hum of sirens, the crackle of fire. But I must say that some of them are just evil, vicious lies. How do sound effects lie, you ask? Try walking into a research facility and hearing the gooey sounds of what must be a zombie dragging its guts as it walks. But where is this zombie? Is it outside? Under the table? Beneath the ground? You never know. Which is why you should never stand still.

Control-wise, the basic interface still remains. That is a refreshing change -- the scheme is based on the direction you currently face, as opposed to the direction relative to the camera. That is, the D-Pad works the same as in 3rd-person Quake style. Aiming a weapon is rarely a problem; you can usually see where you’re facing, and the computer compensates for small degrees of inaccuracy. One small change, which actually annoyed the hell out of me, is that the inventory button is not the Start button anymore. Having played two previous RE’s in which it was, I found that the new system took some getting used to.

You can’t extend a series without new challenges, and Resident Evil is no exception. The rule still applies: be sure to conserve your ammo until you really need it. The puzzles are not only a bit harder, but solving them is inherently dangerous and frightening. (and I haven’t even gotten very far!)

Also, your enemies’ abilities have been slightly improved. For example, don’t be so hasty in running past zombies anymore, because they’re on steroids, and with a burst of energy, they can latch themselves onto you like Velcro. And, yes, they can even walk up and down stairs! But they still can’t open doors. And the mutant dogs still can’t manage the stairs. The “reward” for your progress is increasingly stronger enemies that require sparse ultra-weapons to destroy them.

Code: Veronica is an excellent cinematic game that stays true to the series. Just don’t approach this game with a trigger-happy attitude or you’ll be destined to become zombie fodder. Check out House of the Dead or Zombie Revenge for such chaos; Code: Veronica, on the other hand, is the thinking man’s horror fantasy.