It took me a little while to notice that the intro sequence had finished. I watched the motionless figure of Claire waiting for the video sequence to finish until realisation hit that this was in fact the game engine, and my chin slowly hit my chest. Code Veronica is graphically stunning, far surpassing any adventure game released to date. Static pre-rendered backdrops from the early outings have been replaced by intricately crafted three dimensional environments similar to the surroundings in Dino Crisis, except here they're beautifully displayed with the awesome power of the Dreamcast, with not a fuzzy texture or a jagged line to be seen. Impressive use of dynamic lighting is used early on with your surroundings lit only by a dim hand held cigarette lighter, a bit later eerie shadows are cast around a zombie filled room by a swinging light above a cluttered table and you can't help but sit back in awe of it all. This impressive technology isn't just eye candy, the tireless attention to detail from environmental effects outdoors to the very smallest splattered blood stain indoors really does enhance the experience of the game. The environments feel solid and real, making them far more disturbing as a result. Your characters are also fabricated with unbelievable and intricate detail, Claire's face is extremely expressive and her head moves around and focuses on certain objects as you move her through the environment.The expressions of horror are clearly visible, the clarity of the visuals really tugs the emotional strings you have for her, the blatant flirtations with another character Steve add a depth and roundness to the character rarely seen in video games. You feel empathy for this character like no other before, which makes the horror of seeing her torn apart by zombies incredibly disturbing. Add to this the roaming camera, complete a host of effective sweeping fly-bys and weird angles and you have a masterpiece of tense and sweaty horror like never before. The subtle Audio effects also play their part in creating a chilling atmosphere. The music is dynamic, engaging in combat produces frantic music from your TV speakers while you fight off the hordes of undead, then the music fades away leaving the fallen zombies soft moans an eerie contrast to the sudden silence. Fans of previous Resident Evil installations will be familiar with the level changing door opening sequences but here they're further apart and occasionally overlaid with a disturbing heartbeat sound, it really adds an ominous feeling to entering a new location and adds even more to the depth of feeling this game generates. Unfortunately the awful control system from previous outings has been retained almost completely. Its still virtually impossible to make your character run in a straight line, they sort of bounce off the walls and slide along objects, and fleeing grasping zombies is almost out of the question. The quick 180 degree spin from Dino Crisis has been introduced, but sadly the ability to move while holding a weapon hasn't, or the sidestep feature from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, making combat a little frustrating if you've played these titles recently. Nasty control is something we've learned to live with through the different versions, but it's a genuine shame more couldn't be done to improve things with the move to the Dreamcast.
This single slur aside, Resident Evil: Code Veronica is by far the most impressive installment, and the best game of it's type yet. With two discs, multiple characters and a fantastic hidden first person mode it's a far longer experience than before. Buy it, play it alone, in a darkened room, with headphones on and no nappy. I dare you!
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