Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
Distributed by: Capcom
Reviewed by Frank L. Ocasio
Ah, the On Rails Shooter (or, as I call them, ORS's, because I'm lazy). It's been a long time since a new ORS of note was the talk of the industry. Sure, you can still go to some arcades and play House of the Dead 4 and other ORS's, but seriously, next gen consoles have left arcades so far in the dust that I'd probably slap you for suggesting I drop my Wii Remote or a 360 controller to find one. However, when we all first saw the Wii, during those first weeks when we were all thinking of the things that could be done with the Wii-mote, I'm pretty sure all of us had that moment when we thought, "Oh. Of course! It could be used as a light gun too! It'd be just like the arcades!" Well, my friends, its been a year and the Wii-mote has finally been put to that application by probably the last batch of saps the videogame community ever expected: the cast of Resident Evil.
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles was an unexpected move for Capcom and something of an immediate disappointment for players. After playing the crap out of Resident Evil 4 (again) on the Wii, we were all hoping for a brand new RE that explained the fall of Umbrella. What we didn't see coming was an ORS that took us through the downfall of the corrupt corporation we've all come to know and love. All's not lost though; Umbrella Chronicles may not be what you were hoping for, but it's still a pretty damn good time.
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles leads gamers through the events of Resident Evil 0, the original Resident Evil, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, and a new chapter that involves Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine infiltrating a B.O.W. factory in Russia. These three portions of the games are divided into chapters that start off kind of slow, finish with plenty of excitement, and are jam packed with fan service through and through.
Like any ORS, you shoot enemies (in this case zombies and other B.O.W.'s) by aiming your Wii Remote at the screen and pulling the Remote's natural trigger--the B button. Items (guns / healing items / bonus material) are picked up on screen by aiming at them and pressing A. Holding down A also turns your Wii Remote into the knife, which allows you to slash at enemies when they get too close, and holding A and pressing B lets you lob grenades into crowds for instant gratification. Finally, you can look around a bit with the analog on your nunchuk, cycle through your weapons with the Wii Remote's D-pad, and (in case you prefer the option) you can switch to your knife or cycle through weapons with the nunchuk's C and Z buttons.
Umbrella Chronicles isn't just any ORS though, and that's really a good thing. The pacing is a bit slower than it should be at first, yes, but the main differences are the grading system that follows each stage, your ability to collect and cycle through a bunch of different fire arms, and your ability to destroy lots and lots of stuff on your screen, unveiling items and the tons of bonus materials you'll find in the game. These bonus materials are files and items from each chapter that serve both as fan service (in the form of character, item, and enemy profiles) and additional info concerning Umbrella's inner workings and their eventual fall (in the form of letters and other official Umbrella documents that are always interesting to read in that classic Resident Evil way).
Also, you can unlock a bunch of bonus chapters that answer many of the series' questions--like how Ada Wong got out of Racoon City after RE2, how Rebecca Chambers and Richard wound up where Chris found them in the first RE, and, most importantly, how Wesker escaped the infamous Arkley Mansion before it exploded. These bonus chapters are probably where the game is strongest because they're really awesome--and especially because the actual retellings of the games' stories are horribly (and sadly) butchered. Seriously, Barry Burton somehow does not exist at all in this game (which kind of pissed me off to no end, considering he appeared in two of the three plots retold). Nor do Lieutenant Mikhail and Nicholai of Nemesis fame.
But true RE fans won't mind the alterations because the game is pretty solid and there's enough fan service in those mixed up retellings to balance our wild tempers. On top of that, the game is just a lot of fun--especially with two players. Added touches, like the tiny weak spots that can be exploited on every enemy (you shoot zombie's brains!) and time active events like those in RE 4, make the experience more engrossing. And although the graphics can be better, they're at least not as bad as the graphics in Ghost Squad.
So how could I not tell you all of this and say anything other than "you should definitely check out Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles"? I don't think I can. If you have a Wii and enjoy ORS's, at least give it a look. Unless, of course, you've played and hated Resident Evil. Then you should just stay away. On the other hand though, if you have played and loved the Resident Evil franchise, you really should already own this game.
One more thing before I quit: So, I won't tell you the last important thing you unlock in this game, but I will tell you the very last thing you unlock, because it's not important at all, and so that when you do unlock it, you'll finally be certain you've unlocked everything. And also because I feel it's more of an incentive to own this game. So here it is: Zombie Whackamole. Yeah. Or Whackazombie. Whatever you want to call it though, it's hilarious and something that I feel everyone should experience--even other zombies. I'm that emphatic
Grading: On a Scale From 1-10, 10 Being the Best
Overall Gameplay: 9