The Resident Evil series has been around for a long time, which means there is a lot of debate as to which title should be a favorite or which one should be outright hated. Fans of the series love to debate this topic: some love Resident Evil 2, others love the remake. Personally, my favorite Resident Evil is Code Veronica, while Patrick Kennedy’s is the remake. I’m glad that both of our favorites have the tank controls, or else we’d be arguing that point for several paragraphs. Also, keep in mind that both of these games were released during the same generation, one on the Dreamcast and one on the GameCube before both consoles died a slow, terrible death. Regardless of who possesses the correct opinion, we do need to be thankful that we have so many great Resident Evil games to choose from and argue about!
Jerry: Whenever someone asks me which Resident Evil game is my favorite, the one that pops into my head immediately is Code Veronica. That release is the reason I own a Dreamcast. Had the game not been released as a Dreamcast exclusive, I would never have purchased it. Strong is the pull of a new Resident Evil for me. I was about 20 years old when the game released, a senior in college, and life was just grand. I remember walking from class back to my dorm room in the crisp Denver spring air and rushing to my Dreamcast to continue my harrowing journey through the world of survival horror. Patrick gives me a lot of crap for this—Code Veronica being my favorite game in the series—but I have a feeling a lot of it has to do with the fact that my life was near perfect when I was playing it: I thought I had a future, I was young, and I had hair. Things have obviously changed for the worse. Code Veronica was there when my life was going somewhere; it had a powerful hold on me. There’s so much more that makes it my favorite, but I first want to see why Patrick thinks the remake is the best.
Patrick: I know how Jerry feels. I once had dreams, hair, and a desire to date a woman who worked at a game shop. All of these have died, just like my love for Code Veronica. Surprise, Jerry! I did once really like this game. I remember my mother bought it for me when it released on the PS2, just after my folks separated. Sad times, but it made me feel a ton better. Then I moved on and played the RE remake on the GameCube, which I adore to this day. Why does the remake stand better against the test of time? My personal feelings upon revisiting RE Code Veronica were that it was extremely dull and lacked imagination. At the time, survival horror was dying out through all the clones that came after Resident Evil first launched. The remake was a bold reminder of why we love survival horror, and it added some neat dynamics to the overall design that would work extremely well in, say, a Resident Evil 2 remake or even Resident Evil 8. The remake looked good, implemented some neat survival mechanics, and gave way to more depth in the Resident Evil lore.
Jerry: I will concede to the fact that the remake was gorgeous and did bring some new mechanics to the series. Why haven’t they brought back the “defense weapons?” Nevertheless, the remake was just that, a remake of a game that I had already conquered when I was 17. At 21 I wanted a fresh experience with a new story that introduced me to new characters and brought back beloved characters. Code Veronica was just that: a new tale that brought back Claire Redfield, Chris Redfield, and Albert Wesker. We were also introduced to Alfred and Alexia Ashford, an evil duo that you can’t forget (seriously, they are my second favorite villains in the series following Albert Wesker). Alfred and Alexia were some very unique baddies; recent villains in the series are somewhat humdrum, but these two siblings had what it took to make me remember them for nearly 20 years. Code Veronica also added a lot of depth to the overall story—you learned about the side projects of Umbrella and got to see just how vast of a company they are as you make the little trip to Antarctica. To me, this was the game that brought the previous three games together with one giant, epic story that ended the tank control era, and I loved every minute of it.
Patrick: I will be fair to Jerry and agree that Code Veronica added depth to the lore of Resident Evil. There were some neat ideas for the narrative, including the crazed duo Alfred and Alexia who were fairly camp yet perfectly antagonising compared to Simmons from RE6 (Awful! He’s the worst villain in gaming). However, this is not to say that all elements of the story were good. Steve and the romantic aspect of the game were dull and cringe worthy as hell. Mechanically, compared to RE3 and the Remake, Code Veronica just felt like a massive step backwards. There was no tension or genuine scares, as the developers had a strange approach to signpost every jump scare before it happens. I mean, oh look a zombie is knocking at the window, and there’s also a new gun right next to it. What do you think is going to happen when you pick up the gun? The “scary” moments such as when the dogs or the elevator full of zombies are introduced were so cliché and predictable that compared to the truly terrifying Nemesis or the Crimson Heads from the remake, Code Veronica was pathetic. Plus, the lateral elements resorted to complicated fetch quests, and the bosses were extremely underwhelming. A key example of this is the crappy boss fight with the Adult Albinoid: the game builds it up to be a monumental battle, but when you finally fight it, you realize that it’s insultingly easy. It doesn’t even warrant being called a boss battle.
Jerry: I will agree that Simmons was pure garbage. Thankfully Resident Evil 7 brought us the very interesting Baker family. There was plenty of tension in Code Veronica, and I still have nightmares about the poisonous Hunters. Those things took many a life from Chris Redfield. And while I agree that the awkward romance was embarrassing, the end game of putting a certain someone down did have a gratifying effect to it. The turn of the century had just happened and romance just happened to be awkward for Capcom. The game had one of the coolest boss battles: when you first get to Antarctica you must take care of Nosferatu. While this boss fight is pretty simple once you figure it out, it can be terrifying if you don’t choose the proper way to destroy him. There was nothing underwhelming about Code Veronica; the game’s difficulty has yet to be matched, and it’s one of the longest, if not The longest game in the series, and the developers threw everything they could at you to terrify you and have you use all of your supplies. Item management was huge in the game—you could find yourself with no herbs and no ammo while facing a hoard of Hunters; you would just get a “Game Over,” and pray you made a recent save.
Patrick: I’ll give Jerry that Nosferatu was an interesting character design, and when you first saw him, I freaked the f*** out! The buildup for this boss battle was intense, as his screams from the horrid cage he was imprisoned in and the freaky way he was tied up sent shivers down my spine. Then you fought him and realized that Capcom just made him like the other bosses in the game: Lame, tedious, and dimwitted. As for the remake of Resident Evil, there was the Crimson Head, Neptune, and, of course, Lisa Trevor. These were fantastic boss battles that combined different elements of gameplay, either requiring extreme violence or some good old lateral thinking (Spaced reference for Simon Pegg fans). The remake gave you that overwhelming sense of dread that Code Veronica missed completely. The reanimating bodies, prolonged tension before jump scares, and the soundtrack were eerily beautiful. Plus, we saw our heroes be more human—having Jill puke her guts out after stomping on a zombies head really did ground our characters, and they were all very likeable. Barry’s corny lines were classics compared to the annoying Steve and our cardboard cut-out of a character Claire Redfield. Besides, Code Veronica may have length, but it lacks the substance of the remake’s campaign.
I think Patrick and I can agree to disagree. Thankfully the Resident Evil franchise encompasses so many great games, so much so that we can have conversations like this for years. Neither of us is correct about which game is better, but we should be thankful they both exist, or what would we have played during our tough times and our great times? This franchise is a gift to us and it’s nice to see that Capcom has decided to stop making the games all action movies and have gone back to crafting horror experiences that everyone loved from the earlier titles. I think that I can speak for Patrick when I say that we are both extremely excited for the Resident Evil 2 remake that Capcom has incoming. I just wish we could play it now!