Review: Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
This game needs reviewing. It would be good if you, the master of reviewing, reviewed it.
With Resident Evil 5 coming at some vague point in the future and a conversion of a conversion of Resident Evil 4 appearing on the Wii Capcom have hardly been falling over themselves to release fresh content in this the premier zombie franchise. Now we have this, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles an on-the-rails FPS shooter set in the Resident Evil universe using established events and locations for the different settings, but I thought Capcom do that already with the Survivor series, and they all sucked. Oh dear this could get citricâ€¦
So what is here? You get mini versions of Resident Evil: Zero, Resident Evil: Remake and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis each one being split into three parts that take about 10-15 minutes to play through. There is also numerous extra episodes dealing with the behind the scenes events including what Wesker’s role was in the various featured games and expanded storylines for other characters like Rebecca Chambers and long time black clad enforcer come easter egg, Hunk. Unlocking these is requires you to compete the main story episodes to a certain standard or completing the other unlockables on offer.
Other incentives to replay the levels include upgradeable weapons, a few parts where you have a choice in the route taken through a stage and hidden files. These files are often sealed inside background objects scattered throughout the stages be it lamps, vases, crates or even signs and paintings. Once shoot open and collected they can be read from the main menu and further flesh out the characters, events and monsters in the stages. There is very little new content but it serves as a reminder of who people like Oswald E. Spencer or James Marcus are and why Wesker references them in his little voiceovers that connect the various bits of FMV.
Wesker himself is thankfully in ‘classic’ mode with a full-on English sneer. Most characters have the same vocal talent has previous games, although Wesker himself is not voiced by Richard Waugh but you would be hard pressed to tell. The game reuses FMV from the previous games along with (re)animated sections and original content. Capcom have done a great job and you will get a kick recognising areas you are walking through. All the Resident Evil trappings are here from herbs and first aid sprays replenishing health to dagger counterattacks. My personal favourite being the aqua ring from Resident Evil: REmake with its water effects and thrashing Neptune boss.
So enough about the presentation, how does it actually play? Despite my fears about it being on the rails and playing like a re-skinned House of the Dead it has become probably the best shooter of its type since I blasted cardboard ninjas in Point Blank. The Wiimote controls your aiming reticule with the trigger to shoot your selected weapon and with reloading done by waggling it from side to side. The nunchuck functions as your trusty knife (always useful with leaches, bugs, spiders and birds flying at your face) flinging grenades and a limited amount of free look with the analogue stick that can be handy to pre-empt a move around a corner or by making a tricky shot a tiny bit easier.
The thought of light-gun games on the Wii does appeal to me (I may finally get some use out of the bastard) but worries me also. The Wii-mote is not a light gun. Light guns require skill, aiming and accuracy, something not possible when you cannot calibrate your Wii-mote to actually highlight the area you are pointing to. I feel this was worth mentioning while you consider lightgun games on the Wii. This is one of the reasons I won’t be getting a Wii-Zapper any time soon.
Ok this game is lots of fun. Go through the levels, shoot zombies â€“ and every other single item if you want to find all the hidden files (my bloody OCD won’t allow me to have it any other way). Replay levels to find said files and earn points to pimp your weapons (although I never really felt a big difference in the upgraded weapons).
Changing weapons is a bit of a bastard though. Hitting ‘C’ on the nunchuck to cycle through them one at a time does add to the tension (don’t even kid that this was its purpose Capcom) but that is not good when you want to select your shotgun, but accidentally fire the precious grenade launcher you were saving for the boss.
Boss battles = QTE’s + shoot the mouth + QTE’s = Win = Fun? I’m not being bitchy, that’s just the way they are, but all in all I say get this game just because it will be a taste of things to come for Wii shooters. As long as the Wii doesn’t get bombarded with cheap licensed pap and games with gimmicky controls.Secondary Score: 8/10
Moving your reticule over a valid target turns it from green to yellow and then to flashing red if you find the monsters weak spot. For the common zombies this is its forehead that makes for a traditional headshot splatter, bigger monsters like the various Tyrant bosses have exposed organs that require damaging. Here a steady hand and calm nerves will serve you better than twitchy reflexes, as pumping bullets into most monsters will only speed them up unless you can find the sweet spot and put them down for good.
From time to time, the screen will flash negative colours like in Nemesis signalling an upcoming QTE sequence. As in Resident Evil 4, you have to perform a sequence of button presses or Wiimote waggles in a very short time (often less that a second or two) to avoid damage be it from an unexpectedly appearing Hunter or rampaging Crimson Head. Thankfully, these are rare and when completed in the time limit often give you a quick action sequence FMV for a reward. My personal favourite is Chris and Jill going to work on a Crimson Head with their knives.
Be in no doubt there is nothing new on display here, the game mechanics are lifted from other shooters and given Resident Evil costumes to wear. All the locations, plot, dialogue, weapons, items and files are all recycled but despite the lack of originality, it makes for a very satisfying package. Even the ‘new’ episode set in Russia during the fall of Umbrella is another retread of the ‘lunatic releases the T-Virus in revenge’ plot seen several times before.
Despite all this, it is still a damn good game full of playability and even replayability as you try to nail those S grades or find all the hidden files. Going through the chronicles has made me want to replay those featured games all over again.
Sure, there are a few graphical glitches here and there and the odd clipping issue but in the panic of a firefight, you will not care about these small blemishes and just enjoy the satisfaction of capping another shambling zombie. Hey deadhead take a bite of peach!