Biohazard Code: Veronica Kanzenban (バイオハザード コード: ベロニカ 完全版)
The Biohazard, or Resident Evil series has somewhat lost its way in recent times. While number 4 was a wonderful gaming experience, it wasn’t really a true Biohazard game. It just wasn’t scary, didn’t really feel like you were trying to survive, instead you were an action hero fighting jumping monks with rocket launchers and Gatling guns. Then there were the tragedies that were 5, and to a further extent 6 which in my mind leaves the once Dreamcast exclusive Biohazard Code: Veronica (hereafter referred to as CV) as the last best game in the franchise. The game was initially intended to receive Roman numeral and the third game in the series before pressure from Sony saw a rethink by Capcom and that position instead given to the rather offbeat Biohazard: Last Escape which was more of an extension of the previous game, rather than a true sequel.
Biohazard Code: Veronica Kanzenban (Complete Edition)
The story picks up from Biohazard 2, were Claire Redfield was looking for her brother Chris Redfield (the hero from the first game). Claire and a rookie cop named Leon Kennedy managed to escape from Raccoon City and go their own separate ways, with Claire’s exploits bringing her to Umbrella's European Headquarters, to search for more clues on what happened to her missing brother. However, things take a turn for the worst and soon after she is captured and taken to an isolated island, which is then attacked, and finally Claire is set free by the prison guard who supposes her fate is already sealed by the the undead hordes which have suddenly appeared.
Initially, the most obvious change to the series is the moving camera. While it won't move around so that it's directly behind you, and it can’t be manipulated, it will follow you subtly around the area which is an improvement over the old static cameras. Also, everything is now in 3D and so the backgrounds don’t have the clarity issues that the other Biohazard and Dino Crisis games with pre-rendered images do on the Dreamcast. Characters are also well drawn and animated and the finely edged visuals still look decent, especially if your system is connected via VGA.
The CGI is still genuinely impressive, if not a little grainy
The main part of CV’s gameplay consists of avoiding the undead monstrosities as you search areas for items that will enable you to access the next area. Ammunition is initially in short supply and doesn’t regenerate so you need to be pragmatic with what little items you find; going guns a blazing you will soon find yourself out of ammo and into a knife fight with a herd of zombies. Weapons are meant to delay enemies, not clear a path so every single bullet, every grenade and shotgun shell counts. This more considered approach emphasizes the survival element and it genuinely can be quite scary when you are down to your last few bullets and can hear the undead banging at the window. Tension in the game is also increased due to the fact that you are only able to carry a certain amount of items at any one time, requiring you drop items into the all too infrequent item boxes. It also doesn’t help your cause that zombies are more plentiful than in previous games and health items are in short supply, so you either have to run a lot of the times, or dare to get close enough to attempt a head shot to preserve ammunition. Ink ribbons returns, which let you save your progress on local typewriters and it’s good to see a trademark of the system return. Puzzles another mainstay of the series are also back and less cryptic than in previous games with many of the puzzles involving items and equipment that you might actually find like generators and cranes as opposed to stones and dragon heads (BH1 I am looking at you).
3D environments still looks stellar
One thing that did detract from the game was the omission of the dodge trick from Biohazard 3: Last Escape. It is a bit of a shame as it was a very handy trick which would have been helpful given the restraints on ammunition in the game. Fortunately, the 180 degree turn escape has been finely integrated into the gameplay, and it is indefinitely a relief that Capcom returned this idea into CV. The auto-target has returned to the mix as well and helps mask some of the issues with the control. You see, although the analogue stick can be used to move the character, it is not true analogue and so can be quite clumsy and I still find myself returning to the digital pad. Some people may also bemoan the infamous “tank” controls but as someone who has played these games from the start they feel a part of the fabric of the series, and the limitations add to the fear factor. Otherwise, the choose-your-own-adventure branching, "Live Selection Choices" from 3, which I thought was one of the best additions to that game adding some kind of game play elements which were kind of personal to the player, have also been cut. The game also lacks the elaborate replay value of 2 which required multiple sittings to witness all of the storyline.
CV is one of the most atmospheric games in the series
The story itself is actually my personal favourite in the series, mainly due to the distinct characters, especially the zombie-making Umbrella Corporation heirs Alfred and Alexia Ashford whose story is both tragic and chilling. It is a rather darker tale than previous with the numerous antagonists, all being human, playing a very strong role into the game with one of the greatest, if not slightly obvious twists in gaming folklore. Special mention has to go to the actress who plays Clare and does a rather sterling job in the role. The big letdown is Steve, who is kind of an annoying, melodramatic version of Jack Dawson the Di Caprio character from Titanic who somehow manages to survive an island full of zombies and monsters, despite being as tough as a chocolate fireguard.
Alfred, pull the trigger, pleeaaasseeee!
The audio is much better than the previous Biohazard titles. Once again, dissonance and clashes make its way into the score and the haunting groans of the zombies are constantly heard, whether or not one is actually in the area, but the actual music have been well composed. The soundtrack has a constantly ominous feel and there are a few tracks that are very memorable, including a particular piano scene which is particularly chilling. Overall, I feel the audio is one of the highlights of the series.
Hunters make an unwelcome return
Like I mentioned before, the game has some problem with re-playability as once you have completed the game, extras are minimal compared to previous games in the series. Coming on two GD-Rs the game will take you a fair while to complete but there really isn't much to unlock and everything is rather placed out in front of you. The only extra being a Battle Mode which allows you to play as to take one of the characters, Chris, Claire and even Wesker, through unrelated series of rooms were you are timed on how long it takes him or her to defeat all of the monsters. Clearing the rooms as quick as possible and achieving a high ranking allows you to open up other options like rare weapons like Steve’s golden Luger pistols.
Alfred & Alexia make for the most terrifying adversaries in the series
I find it a tragic disgrace that the survival horror has been disowned by Capcom in place of the action orientated Gears of War rip-offs that the company churns out these days. Sure, the pacing may be a little off in the latter half of the game and the controls may frustrating for those use to modern duel sticks but there is something to be said for the slower paced, more considered puzzle and item based experiences of old, and for me Biohazard Code: Veronica is one of the best representations of the genre. The characters are memorable, the story is always interesting there are some awesome set-pieces (one of my favourites involves a fight with the Tyrant on board a cargo plane in mid-air) and the gameplay remains solid throughout. In short, it is a title I am proud to have on Dreamcast and simply, a title which should be in all Dreamcast fans' collections.
Back at the time the acquisition of Biohazard Code: Veronica as an exclusive title was somewhat of a coup for Sega. As such two limited edition Biohazard consoles were commissioned, a super rare Stars Blue (200 pieces) and the slightly more attainable Claire Red (1,800 pieces) although both came in exactly the same box so you had no way of knowing which you would receive when purchasing the console.
The highly sought after Biohazard edition Dreamcasts
In addition to standard release of the game in Japan, there was also a limited edition version which came which a special red cover slipcase and featured Wesker’s face on the title screen like in the Western versions.
Biohazard Code:Veronica Limited Edition
A year after the release, in typical Capcom fashion the game was repackaged and released as Biohazard Code: Veronica Kanzeban (Complete Edition). The game includes two new cut-scenes which shone more light on Wesker’s involvement on Rockfort Island. Another addition, and exclusive to the Dreamcast release, was the Battle Mode unlocked from the beginning. The intro screen is also different and Steve’s infamous ginger barnet has also been darkened and made to look a little less like Leonardo Di Caprio in Titanic. The Kanzenban is undoubtedly the rarest of the 3 versions but can still be picked up for a reasonable price and the small additions make it the version to own.