Welcome to part two of NSFW Gamer’s look back at the series that made the phrase “Itchy. Tasty.” a part of gaming vernacular.
We have already delved into the earlier entries that helped make the original Playstation one of the biggest success stories in the history of console gaming. This week, prepare yourself as we enter a new generation of survival horror. Resident Evil 6: Archives will include two entries exclusive to the Xbox 360 collector’s edition.
Along with the new generation came a massive leap forward in graphics and gameplay, paving the course for a new direction in what is sure to go down as Capcom’s most lucrative creation ever. Put the coffee and tea back on – it’s time to once again enter the world of survival horror!
Resident Evil Code: Veronica
Original Release Date: February 3, 2000
Included in Resident Evil 6 Archives
Much like Capcom showed faith in the infancy of Sony’s Playstation, they made an immediate impact on Sega’s new Dreamcast by making the direct sequel to Resident Evil 2 exclusive (originally) to the new system in town. Our main characters are the Redfields this time – Claire is caught sneaking into an Umbrella facility in search of her brother, Chris. This doesn’t end well for Claire, and after she is captured gets transferred to a remote Rockfort Island prison. After getting out of her cell, Claire learns that the T-virus has managed to infect the entire facility. While she puts her now-hardened zombie hunting skills to work, Chris begins his own search for Claire. The tried-and-true formula of RE horror was still alive and well at this point, and Code: Veronica was a showcase for it.
Resident Evil 2 and 3’s Raccoon City setting opened up the world from the isolated, claustrophobic mansion of the first game. While the sequels certainly had their own scare factors, the sense of loneliness and despair was not really brought back until Claire wakes up on this deserted island. From the moment you dig out a lighter to illuminate your path, you get the sense that there is no help coming. Even in the mansion, you continuously run into other team members and hear radio chatter. Claire’s only contact with another living being comes in the form of Steve, another inmate who takes to her presence. They occasionally cross paths before leaving for Antarctica, but not before encountering one of the most manic villains in Resident Evil history.
I am still surprised to this day that Capcom did not get a letter from Squaresoft’s legal department asking them about blatant similarities between Kefka and the owner of Rockfort Island, Alfred Ashford. A cackling, psychotic power-tripper who hates, hates, HATES anyone who interferes with his workings, Alfred manages to be the biggest oddity in the entire game – a game that includes a virus capable of reanimating dead flesh and creating bioweapons out of animals. The moment when you come across Alfred chasing you while dressed as his dead twin sister, only to catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror once his wig falls off is a highlight of the entire series. Eventually, captain badass villain Albert Wesker joins the party – along with an army of MOTHERFUCKING HUNTERS – and yet another virus becomes the object of his desire.
As much as I still enjoy Code: Veronica, this was the point in the series where fans started to take issue with some still-present issues. After five years, more and more people began to lament the “tank” control scheme and the overall lack of anything significantly new in terms of gameplay. Re-releasing the game as Code: Veronica X on the Playstation 2 a year later did nothing to address the complaints, despite adding almost ten minutes of cut scenes to further the story. Going back and playing this game again, it is hard to argue these points. The graphics took a major leap forward with fully-rendered 3D background as opposed to static images from fixed angles, although the camera was still focused on one point. The game itself was more or less unchanged from Nemesis.
The Resident Evil series as we knew it died along with the Dreamcast, which was almost doomed from the start by launching a year before the PS2. Capcom went on to remake the original game for the Gamecube along with a prequel, Resident Evil Zero. Ports of every main game in the series were now available on just about every system available. What happened next not only changed the Resident Evil series forever, but has continued to influence video games ever since.