Friday, 5 July 2013

Resident Evil Chronicle Games Wii Review

Short, bullet-points on the first Resident Evil games don't do the originals justice.

With Resident Evil going from cult fame to mega stardom when Resident Evil 4 came out, along came a new generation of gamers. They all loved the game and Resident Evil 4 instantly became one of the best and highest selling games ever made. This was because of two reasons, the lesser reason of the two is the loyal fans of the series bought the game and the more important reason was that it was a breakthrough in the survival horror genre. The critics raved about it and the gaming community embraced it. Most of these people had no clue as to how the story developed to a sophisticated tale and how deep the last few games went to get to the point of R.E. 4 in the first place. So instead of re-releasing these games to make them have improved graphics and a similar gameplay format as Resident Evil 4, Capcom created two games that capture the essence of what made this horror survival series so memorable in the titles The Umbrella Chronicles and The Darkside Chronicles for the Wii. Even though it is nice to revisit the older games again, these titles for me took a lot out of what the first games gave and I would imagine that people playing them would think that the first games were pretty awful as a result.

Let me quickly explain before I go into each game. These games are not your typical Resident Evil games. Instead of assessing buildings/towns and completing puzzles like we are used to, these titles are cemented in the shoot 'em up genre. In the style of House Of The Dead before it, you can only shoot enemies and items on the screen before moving further into a level. It makes going through the games a lot quicker and so you will get the jest of what has happened in the past from the outbreak to when and why the T-Virus took over Racoon City. However, a lot has been taken out to make these games fit onto one disc in the attempt to make buyers of the games play through them in one quick swoop. This philosophy for me doesn't work and sadly, I wish this was my only problem with these games.

The Umbrella Chronicles Review

Let's start with the first game to get released out of the two, The Umbrella Chronicles. This was released in 2007 on the Wii, a relatively early title on the console and by today's standards, it hasn't aged well. This game takes you through the games where Umbrella, the company who created the T-Virus, was prominent. These were Resident Evil Zero, 1 & 3. You go through each of these games in 3 level sections where you would fight a boss from the respective game after each section. For instance, you have to face that Giant Scorpion at the end of the first section of Resident Evil Zero, such an awesome boss from the original game (a poor substitute on this one). You can collect a number of different guns and ammo along the way and for a bonus, you have unlimited amounts of ammo for your handgun. At the end of each section, you are given a grade of your performance depending on how many enemies you defeated, head shots and item pick-ups. 

There are a few things I like about this title. One is when you finish one of the games like Resident Evil Zero for instance, you will get a bonus section to complete as Albert Wesker, the main villain in the series as you find out exactly what his motives are. You cannot do this in any other game, so I give Capcom full marks to give the fans of the series a backstory for Wesker. Wesker is not the only person you can do this with. As a follow on when you complete Resident Evil 3's story, you can do an extra mission involving HUNK. We don't really know much about this character as he has only appeared briefly in the series. Another part I like is how after each section in a level, you can change which character you want to play with. For instance, if you choose Jill Vallentine when you are playing Resident Evil 1 on the first section, you can then choose Chris Redfield for the other sections if you wish. Since the original games (apart from Zero) didn't allow you to change character, even though this doesn't benefit the player during the game itself, I thought this was a nice touch. The best part however was the inclusion of a new sequence at the end that sees Jill Valentine & Chris Redfield fighting another outbreak of the T-Virus at another Umbrella base. Again, I love how Capcom gives you more story for this great series as you find out a bit more on Umbrellas reasons to create the T-Virus and what eventually happens between Wesker and Umbrella. It is interesting to play and watch this sequence but at the end of the day, is this game worth it? Not really.

The reason why I say it's not is because it feels like a half asked attempt to retell the past games. The graphics are worse than the Gamecube games, the speech and dialogue are rushed beyond belief and it hasn't got the same presence as the original games. This is coming from a fan of the original series and my expectations for this game were pretty high. But they fell short on making it a Resident Evil bundle game when they took away the atmosphere, the spooky surroundings and the lucrative puzzles. They did try to make it similar to the 'House Of The Dead' series by having it a light gun action game but it is not as enjoyable and it is quite a frustrating experience. The reason for this is because even though you can get many guns and ammo throughout the game, when you go select which level you want to play, you can only select one other gun apart from your pistol. Why can't you bring more than two guns?? It makes no sense because you can find other guns and ammo during the level. It just makes you need to use your infinite pistol more which is very very weak. There are countless of times when you are riddled with zombies and you need to take them out quickly. I found myself doing perfect head shots but they were still standing. My record I believe was 8 hits in the head. A normal zombie! I don't understand why they made the hit detection so much more difficult compared to other light gun games. It's a joke really how you can make all your guns improve as well apart from you handgun. Makes the challenge a bit more unbearable. You can throw grenades by shaking the Nunchuck which at times can be awkward, mainly because I used the Wii Zapper to play this. Though good for shooting, the Wii Zapper is not a friendly accessory. So you would have to shake the whole apparatus to get out of tight spots, not very attractive I must say.

But taking everything into account, the thing that really annoyed me about this game was the process on how to get to the end sequence of levels. As I stated before, at the end of each level, you get a ranking which depends on how many enemies you defeat, the amount of item pick-ups you obtain and how quickly you complete it. You don't need a decent ranking throughout as it's just for referencing your own personal record. That is, until the last level on Resident Evil 3's section where you MUST get a A ranking to unlock the next section of the game. Why? I don't know. Though it may technically be an epilogue if you will, the last section does feel part of the game and therefore you shouldn't have to work that hard to get there. When I mean hard, you need to make sure you beat the hardest boss in the game 'Nemesis' in no time at all. Plus grab nearly all the items in the level and kill a substantial amount of enemies along the way. It took me quite a while to get that A ranking because of all the other problems this game possesses. I was not too pleased.

Darkside Chronicles Review

Now for the sequel. The Darkside Chronicles was released a couple of years later in 2009 and is quite clearly thankful for those extra years from its predecessor. The graphics look a whole lot better, the story and the dialogue have improved, shooting zombies feels satisfying again, you can carry more than two guns and the whole adventure just seems grander. Capcom got some harsh truths after the first game and they tried there best when making the next title in this mini-series. In many areas they succeeded but there is still something lacking here.

So what makes this game better than the last? Well for starters, this game has a premise not like the previous one which just seemed like the randomly slapped segments from previous games on a disc. Here you start off as Leon S. Kennedy and Jack Krauser on a new mission in South America where they are trying to find an ex-drug lord called Javier Hidalgo because there are reports of him approaching Umbrella. They find out that a mutated form the the T-Virus has turned the community living locally to Javier into zombies. During this venture, Leon remembers his time at Racoon City when the virus first broke out and tells Krauser his tale. This is so much more appealing than just playing through the old games again just for the fact of getting new fans to notice then. It doesn't feel like the focus of the game and I think that's what sets it apart from the last one. Besides, this game only carries two entries of the Resident Evil series with it in Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica X so there needed to be a bit more action elsewhere. Capcom delivered with some new enemies and great boss challenges (apart from one which I will get to) as well.

Another improvement deserving of some praise is the gun selection/variety and the way you can improve the gun settings. This time instead of two guns, you can have a selection of three. Still not that impressive but an improvement for sure. The thing that makes this part stand-out though is how you can improve your infinite handgun. I made sure the handgun got the royal treatment as I knew I would be using it more than any other gun. The Shotgun, Machine Gun and the Magnum all feel satisfying enough but there aren't enough bullets to make them consistent weapons choices. The Crossbow is just useless, don't bother using it.

The only point in this game that I really wanted to stop playing was during the 2nd boss in Resident Evil 2. It's not because the guy is extremely hard or anything but it's because the fight is built in sections and you need to make sure he is almost dead before the last part, when you are falling off the bridge. If he has a lot of health left at this point, your health will go down very quickly. The only way to do this though is to have you strong weapons ready to annihilate him and so you have to go through the whole level with just your handgun. This is extremely difficult because you have to go through Hunters and Lickers. Took me quite a while to do this part because I had to keep starting all the way from the beginning to save my ammo.

Apart from that part of the game, Resident Evil The Darkside Chronicles is a standard Light-Gun shooter and probably up there in terms of being the best one of the Wii with House Of The Dead 2 & 3 and Overkill. Is it a masterpiece? No it is not. It's good enough for what it is but it's no real Resident Evil game and still holds a few flaws. The grenade throwing action still remains a problem on the Wii Zapper and the game is a tad short. Maybe I am being too harsh on this game because Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica are great games and there was a lot missing from these titles to make it a more memorable experience. Instead this brand of gaming doesn't light up my interest the same as a true survival horror does and I would think that these two games will be forgotten very quickly.

The Verdict: If after this review you do want to play these games, my advice would be to get The Darkside Chronicles. Only touch The Umbrella Chronicles if it’s only a couple of quid to your wallet. My overall suggestion to any fan of the Resident Evil series, old or new, is to get the original games. If you can, get them on the Gamcube so you can play Zero and the updated First game (avoid the Playstation version like the plague, it hasn't aged well). Resident Evil 2, 3 and Code: Veronica can be played on any platform but again, if you can, my suggestion would be the Gamcube. The controller just fits perfectly with the survival horror genre like no other. You won't be disappointed with the hours of thrills and puzzles in these 5 games.

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