Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles Wii Review
One year on, and the madness of trying to get yourself a Wii is worse than ever. To accompany the console, an equally elusive game hits the shelves in the form of Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. On the face of it, this game should be pretty good, given the recent good form of the Resident Evil series, the deep and rich back story that it’s drawing on and the promise of superbly fun controls provided by the Wii.
Now, Umbrella Chronicles can be taken in a few different ways. On the one hand, it is the first full Light gun game on Wii so many people will be buying it for that experience alone. Also, it is like the Bible of the Resident Evil series, so Resi fans will find a lot to love here. In terms of gameplay, it leaves a lot to be desired. The controls have been made to be simple, a good point you’d think, seeing as how you’re supposed to be using a Wii Zapper and won’t be able to reach most buttons. However, there’s not much point in simplifying the controls if, half the time, most of them don’t even work properly. Classic example being the reload. The way to reload is simply described as ‘Shake the Wiimote’ but I have to report that, after spending much time trying, only rarely did it ever actually work. The other times, I stood idly whilst zombies tore my person to pieces, shaking the crosshair side to side to try and make it reload when I should’ve been painting the walls in a nice brain colour. Somehow, this wasn’t enjoyable to be frank. The reason why I’ve opened with this is because it is the only serious flaw with game I have found.
You can go for the quick and easy experience, blasting through all of the levels and side missions without needing to know the tiniest thing about Resident Evil. You get grades on your performance, and then points based on which grade you got. These points can then be exchanged for gun upgrades (more on this later). The incentive to beat your own scores takes over, and you can find yourself constantly replaying levels. The more fun way to do it is to immerse yourself in the whole of Resi’s history. This provides the other drive to keep replaying. Dotted throughout the levels are various documents that explain every detail of the Resident Evil story, it’s a fan boy’s dream. The cut scenes, narrated by a certain villainous character by the name of Wesker, are pretty and they set the stage in a sinister way. Or they would have, if the voice acting wasn’t yet again hysterically bad. If you turn the sound off, you could scare yourself with the details in these scenes, and love the game more.
Playing through a level is an extremely arcade-like experience. Shoot the zombies that are on your screen, then you get whisked away to another place to shoot more zombies. The inclusion of hidden items to find by keeping a whether eye open makes the in between bits a little more lively, but unfortunately, you’re usually forced to listen to more comic voice acting during these parts as well. In-game, Umbrella Chronicles shakes things up in the standard formula that you might expect. The pay-attention-or-you-will-die-because-you-didn’t-press-a-button cut scenes return from Resi Evil 4, and the possibility of finding different routes by forcing the view in certain directions at different times always keeps you wondering of the possibilities, which way can you go, and what might be down there? Also from Res Evil 4 comes the ability to level up your weapons. This is far less detailed than the earlier version however. You use points to buy a level upgrade, rather than an upgrade in a specific area. You have to persevere to get the only one you’ll truly want, a firepower upgrade for the shotgun. Even then, it seems a bit… weak. In fact, all the guns seem to be a little pathetic. The real fun is finding all the guns, as most can only be found by picking them up in a certain level.
The way the game begins to shine is when you bring a friend. It suddenly transforms from an otherwise slightly monotonous shooting game, to an adventure with a friend. The radically new style for a Resi game means it is not actually in the Survival Horror genre, and in this way, it is not one that is best enjoyed alone, in a dark room, with the lights off. Rather, it’s much more entertaining to bring a friend, and team up to put a cap in the ass of some unfortunate undead.
Although I did say that I could hardly find actual flaws, this game still disappoints. It is a game that, although polished in most areas and delivers in all aspects, it doesn’t excel in any of them. It doesn’t stand out at being fantastic at anything. In fact, the only way this should really be at the top of your shopping list is if A) its cheap/on sale or B) you are a die hard Resi fan. Otherwise, there really isn’t a good enough reason to fork out the money in here.
A so-so game. As in, it could’ve been so-so much more.
5.7 out of 10