RESIDENT EVIL: THE UMBRELLA CHRONICLES
Developed by: Capcom
Available on on Nintendo Wii
Wii owners have now been treated to their own exclusive title, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. It's a brand new game in the series, although you'll recognize a lot of familiar locations. The basic story is one that ties games 0-3 together, learning more and more about the Umbrella Corporationís mistakes and eventual fall. Grab your Wiimote and nunchuk (or the newfangled Zapper controller accessory), we're going zombie hunting!†
If you've read any of my reviews (and I know you do), you know I'm a huge fanboy for Resident Evil 4 and consider it to be one of the greatest games of all time. Unfortunately for me, that has soiled my Umbrella Chronicles experience more than a little bit and I just can't help but feel a little disappointed with the game as a whole. What I really like is the fact that the Umbrella story has been tied up a bit more succinctly (as much as I love RE4, all the games before it led the player to believe that Umbrella was finally going to get it, only to find out that they just fell apart in RE4).
With that being said, none of it really feels all that satisfying, it just doesn't seem like the meat that real fans are looking for- each game is detailed in its own section and they just don't seem fleshed out enough. But that's enough minor griping story-wise. How does the game play?†
Really, for better or worse, this is House of the Dead, Resident Evil style with barely any surprises. I'll preface anything else by saying you really need to play this with a buddy- it makes the game much more fun. The Wiimote will serve as your gun; while your nunchuk will help you switch weapons. The Wii is really tailor made for this sort of thing, because the controller really points targeting reticule and it's relatively responsive, adding to the realism.
You don't have to buy the Zapper (which I believe is really just an expensive plastic mold), you've got a remote shaped gun right in the palm of your hands. The target moves realistically enough, and it's satisfying. There are lots of items you can pick up with the action button (although if you blink you'll miss them), and holding down that button will let you slash your knife repeatedly.
As for the bad guys, there's tons of them and they vary in size, shape and difficulty. If playing with a partner, you both share the same life meter, and when you die, you have the option to continue. I think it's really sort of annoying when at one moment the room you're in is empty, then out of nowhere the place is filled with Zombies who must come up through the floor. Another thing about enemies- they all have weaknesses, and you won't often know them.
So while you're pumping rounds into a foe, you'll accidentally kill one in one hit and not know why, which detracts a little from the gameplay. You'll blast away and hack with your knife, you'll pick up weapon mods that do a little extra damage, and you'll probably die a lot too depending on the difficulty level. Boss fights can be ridiculously easy or hard, and are fairly unbalanced- they deal with shooting a weak point and hoping for the best.
The whole game is 'on rails' and you won't have a lot of choices to make. There's context sensitive decision moments, but those don't really add a lot to the game one way or another, and you'll probably find yourself wondering why you keep losing health because you can't seem to get the timing right. The biggest gripe about this game is that it's really short. Hardcore gamers will beat it in one sitting and unfortunately there isn't much worth revisiting afterwards unless you want to upgrade weapons.
This game looks slightly better than a decent GameCube game. The levels look really nice, and it's great to see some familiar places. The enemies don't look so great all the time, and tend to resemble action figures, seeming nowhere near as detailed as RE4. You won't be buying this game for its graphical capabilities; it really falls in the middle of the pack.
RE: Umbrella Chronicles brings a moderately passable audio game. The music is decent enough, and the monster sound effects are passable. The biggest problem here is the voice acting- all of it. I don't expect perfection, but man, this is just aaaawful stuff, pure schlock, you have to wonder if the whole thing seems intentional. It's really that bad, so bad, that it lowers my opinion of the game. The story just doesn't translate as well because of the cheesy, awful dialogue and it plays a big factor in my enjoyment of the game.
I had huge, huge hopes for this game and it let me down. That doesn't mean that it wasn't fun to blast through things once over, but the whole experience was a bit monotonous and that's not a good thing considering the game's short length. I had a good time playing with a buddy, but this game just felt like a mediocre outing painted with a Resident Evil brush. The awful voice acting and the imbalanced AI just keep my verdict on the "3rd choice rental" side of things. I love Resident Evil, but this was just a case of an Umbrella being opened indoors: bad luck.
Final Score: 6.5/10