Game Review: 'Resident Evil: Code Veronica X HD'

With any classic game there's always the fear that, upon later revisiting that game, you'll find that your fond memories have been viewed through a pair of rose-colored glasses.  As tastes grow and mature with technology, there's always the risk that a game will start to sour, unable to keep up with the times.  Many games avoid this downfall with timeless design, like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  Others, sadly, do not fare quite so well.  Resident Evil: Code Veronica X, I am sad to report, is one of the latter.

This poor aging is almost inexplicable, given that Code Veronica was a case of so many firsts for the Resident Evil franchise.  It was the first to appear outside of a Sony platform, premiering on the short-lived but long-loved Dreamcast, although it would make its Playstation 2 debut not long after as the enhanced Code Veronica X (the version this HD update is based off of).  It also marked the first Resident Evil title to abandon the static, pre-rendered backgrounds of the original trilogy in favor of a dynamic rendering engine that made the environments out of the same 3D polygons as the characters.  It marked so many crucial firsts for the series that it's a shock that it isn't remembered with the same fondness as the original trilogy or even RE4.

 The main problem, ironically, is in Capcom's HD remastering of the title.  The treatment is woefully uneven in the game's prerendered cut scenes, with some shots looking stunning and others hidden behind a cloak of low-resolution pixels.  The other problem rears its blocky head during the game itself.  Simply put, while Code Veronica was a beauty back in 2000 on a standard definition television, blowing those low-poly models up to 1080P makes it easier for you to see every harsh vertex and muddy texture on display.  These sorts of low-resolution titles were made to be played on big, chunky tube TVs, where scanlines and glowing phosphors could compensate for any graphical shortcomings.  Razor sharp LCD televisions bring forth every last wart, especially on an eleven-year-old title. 

Compounding the hideous graphics is the return to Resident Evil's infamous tank-style controls, where walking forward means pushing "up" on the analog stick no matter what your character's orientation is on the screen.  While this was the norm back in the late 90's and early 00's, it feels absolutely miserable on modern consoles.  Simply put, they feel floaty and imprecise, and only make the game more difficult than it needs to be.  Maybe it's the years of being weaned on its contemporaries, but trying to go back to this style of control is difficult and frustrating.

It's sad because, at its core, Code Veronica is a fantastic Resident Evil game…hell, it was a fantastic game in its time.  Key words: in its time.  While it may be deserving of every bit of praise that was heaped upon it 11 years ago, trying to update it for modern consoles simply throw its shortcomings in sharp relief.

Resident Evil: Code Veronica X HD is available now on Xbox Live Games on Demand and Playstation Network for $19.99.