Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Release Date: February, 2000
Genre: Survival Horror
“Said the spider to the fly. How do you wish to die?”
The survival horror genre has been around for about 20 years now, and 3D gaming really opened up the possibilities for creating environments that are desolate, creepy and downright frightening, and in 2000, the Sega Dreamcast benefited from the increased interest in this style of gameplay with the release of Capcom‘s Resident Evil: Code Veronica.
The Resident Evil series more or less invented the genre with its 1996 release Resident Evil, and ‘Code Veronica’, the fourth instalment in the franchise, was a Dreamcast exclusive. The thing with the Resident Evil games prior to Code Veronica is that they were primarily Sony PlayStation titles, but subsequent games were ported for just about every major console available at the time. Resident Evil: Code Veronica was also the first to feature 3D environments instead of pre-rendered backgrounds, and was kind of the turning point for the franchise as a whole.
The game’s lead character, Claire Redfield, is stranded on a prison island while looking for her brother, Chris. There has been a viral outbreak (the T-Veronica virus) causing humans (and dogs) to turn into blood thirsty zombies and the shady Umbrella organization is behind it again. While searching the island for her brother, Claire crosses paths with a seemingly shady islander, Steve Burnside.
Together, they must avoid or kill the zombies, collect weapons and solve puzzles just to get off the island! Eventually, you escape the island, only to find yourself auto piloted to Antarctica thanks to the game’s initial main antagonist, Alfred Ashford. The plot thickens in Antarctica and without spoiling the many twists and turns the game takes, let’s just say Alfred won’t be the only antagonist you’ll face.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica is a multi-disc game with a lot of things going for it. The gameplay isn’t exactly intuitive to start out, and I found myself spending quite a bit of time getting used to the controls, making mistakes and having to do things over because I didn’t do them right the first time.
I would say this is pretty typical for Resident Evil games of the time, and action-adventure games in general. Zombies can be tough to kill early on if you don’t have the right weapons, so avoid them if you can. I found success avoiding smaller enemies that required me to aim and shoot at the ground. This was never easy for me, and always resulted in wasted ammunition and life. Saving the game can be difficult as well since you need “tape” for the typewriter before you can proceed. For games this dense and time consuming, it’s always best to just allow the player to save whenever/wherever, but that’s just my opinion.
Most Polarizing Character
Steve Burnside. Steve is the little shithead you meet very early on who tries to blow your brains out with automatic weaponry. At first, he’s extremely off-putting with his attitude and, I hate to say, the irritating voice acting. I understand that Steve is supposed to be either a teenager or young adult, but his “too cool for school” persona in the early going made me not like him, even as he became Claire’s confidante and partner. There’s a pretty significant plot twist towards the end of the game that involves Steve and Claire’s relationship, but I wasn’t as affected by it as I probably should have been because I could never get past my dislike for Steve. Sorry Steve fans!
There are a lot of great scares and genuinely creepy situations you find yourself in during Resident Evil: Code Veronica. One of the most effective is one of the very earliest, however. At one point Claire is running around outside of a prison guard shack having just escaped a number of zombies. It seems like she’s gotten through the worst and is making her way back towards the main gate, when out of the blue, a zombie dog bursts through a basement window to drag a body away in a cut scene. You just knew there were more dogs in those windows ready to jump out and attack you too, but you had no idea when or where. Nerve wracking as hell.
Colt Python handgun. An extremely powerful handgun that will take most enemies out with one shot. As awesome and powerful as this weapon is, it really should be saved for boss battles as ammunition isn’t exactly plentiful. You won’t be able to retrieve this gun until you take over the game as Chris in Antarctica, however.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica‘s graphics are top notch and a step up from the PlayStation outings, and the music, sound effects and general feeling of being stranded with zombies so early in the game really ups the horror ante. Later, RE:CV turns into more of a psychological body horror as Alfred’s unstable mind and relationship with his twin sister, Alexia, becomes the main plot point. If I had any complaints about the Code Veronica, it would be the difficulty. It will be much too hard for many gamers, especially those who have trouble mastering the shoot and aim controls, but don’t let that stop you from trying this game out if you own a Dreamcast as Resident Evil: Code Veronica is one of the best instalments in the entire Resident Evil series.
Jason Breininger: Author and Chief Games Writer
Retro gaming enthusiast and blogger that grew up on the classics from the 80’s and 90’s. Enjoying the process of documenting my extensive video game collection & providing personal retro gaming experiences on my Cartridge Corner blog.
My wife and two daughters, classic video games, Alien franchise, the music of Prince, the films of Stanley Kubrick, Christopher Nolan, and Jack Nicholson, indie rock, classic hip-hop from the golden era of ’87-’94, musician related biographies.
VHS Revival is a non-profit venture. Any donation, no matter how small, will help towards the site’s running costs and ultimately enable us to grow. Thank you.