Resident Evil is one of the most popular survival horror series ever created. It has had our adrenaline pumping, our hearts racing, and had us making Jill Sandwiches at 3 a.m. since 1996. Since that time, there have been almost 20 entries in this massive series. Needless to say, the plot can become ahrd to follow, and there are a few holes here and there that could use some filling in. This is were The Umbrella Chronicles comes in. It serves as both a refresher course, and a plot hole filler. Though Resident Evil has had horrible first person entries in the past, CAPCOM proved that it can be done much better now.
Umbrella Chronicles is an on-rails shooter - you never have full control over your character. The game handles movement for you. All you need to do is aim, shoot, and not get eaten. Needless to say, the game is simple, but this does not make it easy. Strategy is still as necessary as ever. Critical head shots take practice and shooting a zombie in the knee cap, and then busting his skull while he is grounded is just as satisfying as it has ever been. Boss fights are often challenging, both mentally and physically, requiring impeccable timing, preparation and the ability to learn from taking a few beatings.
You may have assumed that this game is played using only the wiimote, and while it can certainly be played in this fashion, you're better off using the nunchuk with it. Aiming is as easy as pie, and the reticule responds very accurately The B trigger handles firing, and feels very natural. holding the A button or the Z button allows you to either toss a grenade with the B trigger or slash with your knife by slashing the wiimote. You may change weapons using either the C button or the d-pad, but the C button is much easier to use without disrupting yourself. The control stick allows you to look around in the direction you tilt it - this is why it is better to play with the nunchuk. While you won't likely use it very often, it will occasionally allow you to see something just a bit out of sight, and without this funtion, you will be unable to choose the second option at some points where you may pick a path. Returning from more recent Resident Evil games is the action command feature. During certain enemy attacks and cutscenes, button commands or a waggle icon will appear, prompting you to perform the correct input to avoid death or damage. Finally, a quick shake of the wiimote reloads your weapon. Overall, I'm very satisfied with this games controls - they are easy to learn and very responsive. The game originally came packaged with the Wii Zapper, but as I bought the game used and do not own a Zapper, I cannot comment on its functionality.
The games chapters cover events events from Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil, and Resident Evil 3, as well as a few side stories that tie together some loose plot points. ever wonder what happened with Rebeca between the end of Resident Evil 0 and the beginning f Resident Evil's Mansion Incident? How about what Wesker was doing while you were wandering the mansions in Resident Evil and 0? there are chapters on both of these scenarios and more. This is a great game for new Resident Evil fans who are struggling to put 2 and 2 together as well as for veterans who just want a few things clarified.
At the end of each chapter you are graded on your performance. Higher grades means more stars, and more stars means more weapon upgrades. As you progress through the game, you will acquire new weapons, which all start at level 1. They may be upgraded using your stars to higher levels, the highest being level 5. Everything from completion time to amount of objects destroyed is graded. By getting A and S ranks on missions, you may unlock items from old Resident Evil games which can be viewed in your archives. They don't serve any real purpose, but they are there for the completionist to collect.
Here are where things get ugly - pun unintended. The graphics on this game are not up to par at all. The Gamecube "REmake" and Resident Evil 0 pushed the little lunchbox that could to it's limits, and then broke them. These games still look awesome even today. With that being said, it's sad to see a game from the same company and in the same series on a more powerful console that looks like a PS2 game. Textures are muddy, and character models are hideous. The only models that any effort was put into are the zombies, and even they looked more realistic on the cube. Furthermore, CAPCOM tried to recreate an arcade light gun experience on a home console. In some aspects, they succeeded in that, but in others they failed. For example, enemies are too strong for a light gun shooter. In similar games, such as House of the Dead, zombies are dismembered and downed with ease, allowing fast progression and steady action. Umbrella Chronicles, on the other hand, feels more like just another Resident Evil game minus the puzzles and ability to run away from anything.
Resident Evil: the Umbrella Chronicles is not a masterpiece. It does not flawlessly bring home a light gun experience, nor does it show off Nintendo's hardware. That does not mean it is completely devoid of merit, however. If The storyline has you scratching your head, this game may clear up a few things. It's also a very fun and challenging experience while it lasts. Considering it can be picked up for around $20 at a used game store, there's no reason not to pick it up if you like shooting zombies and want to dust off your Wii.