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Resident Evil Code: Veronica X
Review By:  Christopher Coey
Developer:   Capcom
Publisher:   Capcom
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Survival Horror
ESRB:   Mature
Date Posted:   10-03-01

In every sense, this is a typical Resident Evil game. Some readers will read this and think "that's exactly what I was hoping for, more great chills and thrills." But my advice would be to take what I wrote with a grain of salt. Apart from being a much better looking game, there is nothing new here. As in: no improvements to an aging style of gameplay. And quite frankly, the graphics are NOT good enough to carry this game.

There are various tricks that's programmers can use to 'fake' better graphics. Even gamers not familiar with the technology behind graphics have seen the signs: darkness and fogging are the two most frequently used of these techniques. By making the levels darker, less detail can be seen, and the characters and environments don't need to be drawn as impressively as ones set in the open (if you want to see truly impressive environments, check out the upcoming game ICO) Second is fogging. By using fog, and fogging in general programmers can lower the 'scope' of the levels. Because of the dark, cramped environments that naturally come with games in the horror genre, Veronica X has these techniques by default. And for that reason, I say that the graphics are not very impressive. They are certainly better than those of the previous RE games, but they are nowhere close to what the PS2 is capable of. Given that all of the levels and environments were dark and foggy, the extra processor power should have been put to use in other ways: character animations or textures for example.

Speaking of character animations; is there no way to fix the 'sliding' problem? I'm talking about what happens when, while standing still, you attempt to turn the character in another direction. Instead of any form of natural motion, the character simply pivots. The entire body spins without the feet moving. I could put up with this sort of thing back while I was playing various NES games. But that was countless software 'generations' ago, and it's unacceptable now. The new generations of consoles are powerful enough to fix this unnaturalism, and to clean up the small details that we have overlooked in the past.

I asked myself a number of perplexing questions while playing this game. Most of them sounded familiar, and something along the lines of "couldn't they have fixed that problem this time around?" I've addressed a lot of those problems already in this review. But one of the biggest problems that fans of the RE series have lamented about throughout each new game is the camera angle problem. "Why am I being attacked by something that I can't see?" Veronica X is a 'full 3D' game. All of the environments are fully rendered. Some of the camera angles work well, and are very cinematic. But, would it be SO hard to have programmed in a 'look' function? I know this was originally a Dreamcast game, and that system suffered from a lack of available buttons. But shouldn't this PS2 port of the game be an improvement? Certainly Capcom doesn't want to end up the same way the Dreamcast has (as in useless and outdated.) Then, I finished the game. Subsequently unlocked the 'battle mode' where, to my surprise, there was a first person option. Lo and behold, the programmers actually DID include the function. So why didn't they put it into the game? It would have improved things tenfold. The fact that they didn't just seems plain stupid to me.

Let's recap the RE 'style of play': Third Person perspective (with fixed camera angles and no 'look' function), slow pace and shallow puzzles, those damn door-opening shots, and that ridiculous storage system. I think it's time to re-think the series. All these things are argued to add suspense. And, of course, that's what horror games are all about right? Problem is, it's 'false' suspense. I don't get chills waiting to see what is behind the next door, especially the hundredth time I see a door opening sequence. And the only time I worry about going around the next corner and being hit by a zombie is when I have next to zero health and no one has bothered to program in any health power-ups or save points in the last hour of play. SO, if I do die I know I'll have to go back a repeat all that madness again. That's annoying, not suspenseful.

I'm not saying that the entire series is without merit. OR even that the 'tried and true' RE style should be thrown away. But it should be overhauled, drastically. Other games have used third person, fixed cameras effectively (MGS). I still think any third person game should adopt Nintendo's 'look' function and 'Z-Target' system found in the Zelda series. Speaking of Nintendo, they've even managed to use door-opening sequences in such a way that they ARE suspenseful, and not annoying: in the upcoming Luigi's Mansion (yes, I've played it). So, it can be done.

Another issue I have is the storage system. Maybe the designers are trying to add some semblance of realism by not allowing characters to carry around an unlimited number of weapons. And yes, it is ridiculous that in most FPS you can carry, and quickly switch between a mounted rail-gun, and a rocket launcher ("I was keeping it in my back pocket.") But if the only alternative is this lame storage system, I'll take the enormous back pocket any day. I found it incredible annoying when I came across an item I desperately needed, only to be forced to leave it behind because I couldn't carry anymore. And yet, you can't drop any items you're already carrying. How realistic is that? How about a simple discard function? Throw out those 3 leftover bullets and pick up the damn shotgun! Is that so difficult? And really, how realistic is it that any storage box at any point in the game has ALL of the items you've stored? It's just trading one unrealistic option for another.

Now let's talk about the voice acting. This is an area constantly harped on in almost any game. The thing is, unlike in a Disney cartoons, game characters are not usually lip-sinked to the voices. There are very little facial expression in most cases. For these reasons, voice acting in games often seems over the top. It's not that the voice actors are over acting, it just seems that way because the voices are not in sink with what we are seeing on screen. Taking that in mind, I enjoyed the cut-scenes and character acting. And I'm not just saying that because I'm Canadian, and it is very obvious, very early on that the actors are as well (especially Steve and his "I'm Sow-ry"'s)

If you're a fan of the series you'll probably love this game. And as a fan, you've somehow managed to get over all the problems plaguing these games, and still find them enjoyable. I can respect that. Some people think I have bad taste in movies. But I say, if Veronica X is one of your favorite games, you have bad taste in games.

HIGHS:

  • interesting story
  • good length of play
  • best of the series

LOWS:

  • same old crappy control scheme
  • fairly boring
  • cheap deaths, annoying puzzles
  • average graphics

FINAL VERDICT:

Take out the cut-scenes, and the travel time between puzzle areas and what you're left with is, well, a whole lot of walking around, slowly. There isn't much actual gameplay here. The game DOES takes about 10 or 12 hours of gametime to complete, which is a good length (about as long as Metal Gear Solid.) Fans of the series might be rejoicing this game as the best yet, but I'm not really a fan, and this game did nothing to turn me into one. The style of play is outdated. There are so many annoying features that getting past them becomes a chore, not fun. In the end, above all else, a game should be fun to play, not just fun to watch.

Overall Score: 6.5

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