The Resident Evil franchise has been one of Capcom’s most successful over the course of more than two decades now, and it expanded outside of the PlayStation realm for the first time exactly 20 years ago this month, with the debut of Code: Veronica on the Sega Dreamcast on February 3, 2000.
The game actually began as an attempt to port Resident Evil 2 to the Sega Saturn console; after realizing that this wasn’t going to be possible, they instead took that development to the Dreamcast and turned it into its own game. Code: Veronica had also been envisioned first as Resident Evil 3, before becoming a spinoff title (and accordingly, the planned spinoff taking the title of RE3).
The story takes place about three months after the events of Resident Evil 2, and follows Claire Redfield and her brother Chris as they attempt to thwart a virus outbreak in a remote island in the Southern Ocean. After being thrown into prison by the Umbrella Corporation, Claire is able to escape, teaming up with another inmate, Steve Burnside, along the way. The two face off against the island’s commander, Alfred Ashford – an unstable man who switches between his own personality and that of his twin, Alexia. Claire and Steve eventually discover that Alexia has been in cryogenic sleep since injecting herself with the T-Veronica virus, and once she wakes up, she captures them both. In Chris’ scenario, he begins his time on the island in search of Claire, but instead finds Albert Wesker, who is looking for the T-Veronica virus to use for his own ends. Chris is able to find and free Claire from Alexia, watches as Steve mutates after being experimented upon, and teams up with wester in order to confront Alexia.
Unlike previous Resident Evil titles, Code: Veronica made use of real time 3D environment and dynamic camera controls, instead of the previously used prerendered environments and static camera angles. In addition, Capcom deliberately changed the art direction for this title; while the previous games had a distinctly American feel to them, Code: Veronica had a European Gothic-inspired flavor to it.
Though the game was released to high praise and critical acclaim – with many reviewers calling it the best Resident Evil game made at that time, and even contemporary retrospective reviews saying how it’s held up better than most others – Code: Veronica suffered commercially, largely due to the low sales of the Dreamcast console. Accordingly, Capcom made an expanded version of the game, Code: Veronica X, for the PlayStation 2, featuring more cinematic content but otherwise being unchanged. A high definition remaster was released in 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.