Resident Evil – Code: Veronica



It’s been a minute since I’ve last worked on this project. It’s not that I haven’t been playing Resident Evil games; I just haven’t been writing about them. Since my last entry back in (checks the site) February, I’ve played through the Village DLC, Code: Veronica, the Resident Evil 1 Remake, Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil 4, the Resident Evil 3 Remake, Resident Evil 5 co-op with Sean, and the Resident Evil 4 Remake along with its DLC. I’ve been doing my part in the fight against fictional bio-terror. More than that, even, if you count Dead Space, its remake, and The Calisto Protocol. I even interviewed Resident Evil novelization author S.D. Perry! An interview I will publish soon. I promise. 

But today, I’m here to talk about Code: Veronica. A notably divisive entry to the franchise, it’s often criticized for a tendency to soft lock players (forcing a restart), and for being the beginning of the franchise’s shift into less grounded storytelling with Wesker’s superhuman abilities, a more convoluted plot, and some extremely eccentric characters like Alfred Ashford. But I’m getting ahead of myself.


Welcome to REvisited: A Resident Evil Retrospective, an Exposition Break series that explores the highs and lows of the Resident Evil franchise as we go back and replay the mainline games, their remakes, and their spinoffs. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to check out the series introduction to learn more about this project.

Resident Evil: Code: Veronica was, for all intents and purposes, my first Resident Evil game. While I’d played a little of the others here and there growing up, Code: Veronica was the first game I started and finished on my own. After being blown away by Silent Hill 2, I rented Code: Veronica X on Playstation 2 (a version with some updated cutscenes and a few other tweaks) from the local video store, hoping that it might capture some of the spirit of its Konami-made contemporary. What I played was nothing like Silent Hill 2. But while I initially felt disappointment, I grew to love this other game for different reasons—even after falling prey to the all too common Tyrant soft lock on the plane. Code: Veronica is where I learned to enjoy the Survival part of Survival Horror, to appreciate the rush of making tough decisions around the best uses of my resources. As a diehard Metroid fan, I loved revisiting old locations and unlocking new doors. The story and its presentation, however, made a different impression. 

Claire’s back!

Code: Veronica detractors are right about one thing: the game is certainly a tonal shift from what came before it, even if I didn’t entirely know it at the time. The game opens with an exciting music track and RE2 protagonist Claire Redfield running full sprint through polished corporate halls as she’s chased by heavily armed security. Gratuitous slow motion ensues, as she dodges a strafing run from an attack helicopter firing its machine guns through the building’s windows. Eventually cornered, this time by a whole damn platoon of corporate military agents, Claire triggers the slow-mo again, dropping her gun in false surrender, diving to the floor, catching the falling gun, and firing a shot into an explosive container, killing a whole lot of people. But it was her last bullet, and she’s captured and knocked unconscious. This was all a FAR cry from Silent Hill 2’s subtle and moody storytelling, seemingly more akin to a third tier Metal Gear Solid knockoff than something that would bring the fear and dread that I was craving. But as I played, I found myself, unbeknownst to me, falling in love with the Resident Evil formula. A love that would eventually become this series. 

Years later, I have a lot more experience with the franchise, and I was curious how revisiting the game that started it all for me would go. This would be my first complete playthrough of the game since I was a teenager. Not only have I played a lot more Resident Evil games since then, I’ve played MANY more video games in general. I’ve also had countless more life experiences. All of this would surely frame the game differently for me in 2023. 

This Time on Resident Evil…

First, let’s talk about the story. Now, in the past, I’ve done a more beat-by-beat breakdown of the games’ plots, but as these plots get more complicated (and convoluted), that’s just not practical. I’ll recap in (maybe occasionally incorrect) broad strokes, and you can check out a wiki or play the game for yourself if this entry entices you. We’ve already covered the bombastic intro, so let’s jump to what comes next. 

Resident Evil – Code: Veronica picks up the story where Resident Evil 2 left off. Claire Redfield is still hunting for her brother, Chris, and has been captured by Umbrella after attempting to infiltrate one of their headquarters in Europe (see: bombastic intro cinematic). Umbrella flies her off to Rockfort Island, a secret prison for Umbrella’s enemies, as well as a training site for Umbrella’s agents and another research facility for their experiments. Shortly after her arrival at the island base, it is attacked by an unknown military force and a sample of the T-Virus escapes containment, infecting most of the island’s population. It’s here that the survival horror begins. 

Claire escapes her cell with the help of a gravely injured Umbrella Security Service employee named Rodrigo. Claire sets off to find a way off the island. It isn’t long before she meets what, at the time, was Resident Evil’s most hated character, Steve Burnside—a bratty teenager with a cartoonish Canadian accent. Claire and Steve cross paths several times as she explores the island, and we learn that Steve and his mother had been imprisoned by Umbrella after his father was caught selling company secrets. As a result, Steve has some major daddy issues that culminate with him killing his zombified father to save Claire’s life. 


As they explore the island, several key things happen. First, Claire discovers that Umbrella has been tracking Chris and knows where he is. She forwards this information to Leon Kennedy, asking him to contact Chris and fill him in on her situation. Second, she comes across some EXTREMELY eccentric twins, Alfred and Alexia Ashford, who are convinced that she is a spy and responsible for the attack that unleashed the virus. The twins are descendants of one of the three founding members of Umbrella. Hellbent on revenge, the twins are determined to kill Claire. But all is not as it seems. Claire eventually discovers that the Alexia she met is nothing more than an alternate personality of Alfred’s that he developed in the absence of his twin sister. 

See, Alexia was a child genius, and had been working on her own strain of the T-Virus that she called T-Veronica—named after the family’s original matriarch, Veronica Ashford. She and her brother tested that virus on their father, Alexander. They had beef with their father that is frankly too much to get into here, but their hope wasn’t necessarily for his death. Alexia’s T-Veronica virus was supposed to be an enhancement to those infected, but it instead turned their father into a grotesque beast. Alexia determined that slowing down the whole process of infection would get the results she wanted. With the help of her brother, she was infected and cryogenically frozen, allowing her time to properly bond with the virus over many years. Alfred, missing his sister, grew up lonely and developed a second personality of Alexia to make up for her absence. But where is Alexia now? Antarctica! More on that later…

Meet Alfred
and Alexia! (But not THE Alexia. She’s frozen.)

So by my count, that leaves one more major mystery to solve on Rockfort Island: who was responsible for the attack at the beginning of the game? Well, it turns out that it was the one and only Albert Wesker! “But Wesker was brutally killed by the Tyrant in the first game!” you say? He was! But T-Virus magic gave him super powers! Now he moves and hits like an agent from The Matrix. Wesker, now working with a new organization, arrives at Rockfort Island to retrieve virus samples, including Alexia’s T-Veronica strain. He and Claire cross paths and she recognizes him for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. I guess we’re to assume that Chris had talked about Wesker before the mansion incident?… but that also wouldn’t quite explain how she seems to know Wesker is a bad guy. To be honest, I might be misremembering the cutscene, too…. 


Right, broad strokes. 

Ok. So Wesker toys with Claire a little bit before running off to do other business on the island, and Claire and Steve manage to secure a means of escape. Somewhere along the way, a self-destruct sequence gets triggered and Claire and Steve take off in a seaplane just in the nick of time, escaping the island. After a fight with a Tyrant in the plane’s cargo hold, Claire and Steve breathe a sigh of relief. They’ve escaped. 

“Corey Heart?!?!” It’s still funny, dammit!

But they haven’t! Alfred seizes remote control of the plane and sends it to a secret research facility in Antarctica. Meanwhile, in a very Chris Redfield turn of events, Chris Redfield arrives at Rockfort Island to rescue Claire. Chris eventually realizes the princess is in another castle and hops into a fighter jet, making his way to the Antarctic base. 

Back in Antarctica, Alexia is revived by Alfred and has crazy tentacle powers. Honestly, having played the whole mainline series, this is by FAR the most powerful a villain becomes. She’s able to control things with her weird tentacles from seemingly miles away as she creates destruction across the base, stopping Claire and Steve’s escape. Steve gets captured and infected, turning into a horrific monster that tries to kill Claire before he dies. It’s an emotional moment for her, though perhaps not for the legions of Steve haters out there. Chris arrives at the base. Wesker is there too. Wesker fights Alexia in a slow motion Matrix fight and loses. Chris and Claire eventually manage to kill Alexia before escaping Wesker and the self-destructing Antarctic base, flying off into the sunset in a jet fighter. Oh, and Alfred also died somewhere in there, too. 

There’s Alexia! Found her!

So yeah, that wasn’t necessarily the broad strokes I intended, but it turns out this stuff matters! AND as much as I want to, I’m forcing myself to not go back and re-write the whole thing. Sorry to my editor [editor’s note: ‘sup]. Talk to my therapist. 


Do I think this was a good story? Not necessarily. But I do think it’s a fun story held back by some pacing issues, TERRIBLE voice acting, and a problematic (transphobic) script. If Capcom ever comes to their senses and actually remakes the game like they should, they’ll have to take a long hard look at the Alfred/Alexia dynamic. I’ve seen a few opinions on Reddit that Capcom could NEVER remake the game because of these parts of the narrative, but Capcom has made it clear they’re willing to make big story changes in their remakes, and I think they certainly could come up with a version of Alfred’s story that that removes the underlying AND overt transphobia.

[Editor’s note: Wait a moment, you finished wrapping up the story, but I still need to know: why is it called Code: Veronica anyway?]

[Author’s note: Right… So the “founder” of the Ashford family was Veronica Ashford. She was renowned for her intellect and beauty. Well, Alfred and Alexia weren’t actually children born into the family, rather the product of a cloning experiment called Project CODE: Veronica. Veronica is also a password that is used once or twice throughout the game.]

Game Changers

As far as gameplay goes, there isn’t too much that’s new here to talk about. The game has Resident Evil 3’s game changing quick turn, but is more of a return to the survival roots of 1996’s Resident Evil than 3’s more action-based approach. And when I mention survival roots, I mean it! Code: Veronica is punishing with its ammo conservation and careful inventory and save file management. Getting soft locked in a no-win scenario is a distinct possibility if you’re not conserving the right ammo, storing the right weapons in the storage boxes at the right times, and cycling save slots with each save. The most common soft lock is probably the Tyrant fight on the plane. Without the right resources, specifically a rare and specific kind of ammo, the fight is extremely difficult; it’s where I got stuck on my first playthrough. And I hadn’t been cycling save slots, so it was back to the beginning of the game for me! Other soft locks come from non-telegraphed character switches that take place. See, when Chris arrives at Rockfort Island, you play as Chris for a while. If Claire has all of the big guns on her person, they aren’t available to Chris in the storage crate; later, the reverse is true. Now, the first time it happened was a pretty big warning to me to be ready for future switches like that, but I don’t blame others for being salty about it either. If you’re playing Code: Veronica, leave some supplies in the crate. Oh, and make sure you get the fire extinguisher into the crate before leaving Rockfort Island, too. You’ll thank me later. 

Yup, that’s a Resident Evil gameplay screenshot

While the gameplay was familiar, Code: Veronica did make a pretty major change to its presentation. It did away with franchise’s prerendered backgrounds, instead building the world in textured polygons. The camera was still fixed and we were still driving a tank, but the camera could now pan as Claire and Chris ran through areas, and cutscenes were more dynamic. On top of that, there were a handful of weapons that could actually be aimed in first person. They controlled terribly, but it was a big shift for the franchise. I’ve seen some argue that CV’s decision to ditch pre-rendered backgrounds has caused the game to age more poorly than 1-3, but I don’t feel that’s true. It’s just a different aesthetic. 


The Menagerie

Reflecting on the enemies in the game, I think CV is a bit uninspired. There are zombies aplenty, and a few other classics make a return like hunters and dogs. But the biggest common new enemy, the bandersnatch, is just a grotesque humanoid with stretchy limb attacks. The only other memorable enemy is the moths. Not because they themselves are interesting, but because they make for one of the worst areas in the franchise. See, they exist in only one hallway. But a hallway you pass through A LOT. If they manage to attack you, they lay larva in your back that eventually hatch, causing a lot of damage. Oh, and they respawn every time you re-enter the area. They’re the worst. At least until we get to the monkeys in Zero

I hate this hallway
Giant Worm

Giant Moths
Zombie Dogs
Giant Spiders
Large Roaches
Giant Alligator

Hunters (new variants)
Brain Suckers
Sliding Worms
Grave Digger
Drain Deimos

G-Types (Includes W. Birkin)
Bold = New in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica | Strikethrough = Didn’t return

A Flawed Classic

So that is Resident Evil – Code: Veronica. It’s not a perfect game, but one I really enjoy. Now that I’ve played and finally enjoyed Resident Evil 3, I better understand people’s issues with CV, even if I can’t dismiss it the way they do. It’s also weird to me that Capcom is so reluctant to remake it given that it is the game that is easily in the most need of a remake at this point AND that it explains Wesker’s return for 4 and more importantly 5. Alas, we’re probably getting a remake of 5 before they do anything with CV. Still, I have my hopes. 

Wesker really hates Chris. Relatable.

Up Next

First, I need to turn my attention to publishing my interview with S.D. Perry. I’m very excited about it and I can’t wait to share it. People have opinions about the novels, but I think they’re fun and entertaining adaptations of the source material, and I really loved getting a chance to hear about the author’s process and Capcom’s (often lack of) involvement.

And with Code: Veronica wrapped, we’re onto the remake of Resident Evil 1! Spoiler: It’s still pretty great!

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