TGL’s Shane Willoughby remembers a time when USB sticks and Hard Drives didn’t exist and the typewriter was the ‘game saving’ king, down zombified memory lane in Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles.
The Wii is becoming more and more like an ode to the Resident Evil franchise. Nearly every title in the franchise (bar HD fuelled Resident Evil 5) is represented on the console, either in Lightgun shooter style or in a repackaged Wii controller type update. And why not?, even Resident Evil 5, in all its HD majesty, can’t hold a torch to the likes of Resident Evil 2 or 3. Capcom should be applauded for keeping the franchise alive. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is Capcom’s way of reintroducing Wii gamers to the events of Resident Evil 2 and Dreamcast favourite Code Veronica.
The Darkside Chronicles (DSC) is something of a direct sequel to 2007’s The Umbrella Chronicles and is presented as your typical on-rails lightgun shooter, in a similar vein, but not identical to, Namco’s Time Crisis, Sega’s House of the Dead and EA’s Dead Space Extraction. The Darkside Chronicles immediately plunges the player into a new scenario, created especially for the game in an outdoor South American setting which looks very RE5. It doesn’t take long however before you’re in the familiar setting of Raccoon City, the bane of Leon Kennedy’s and Claire Redfield’s lives. The game succeeds in complimenting the stories of RE2 and Code Veronica (CV) in a way that the Umbrella Chronicles (UC) failed. You would do little more that literally shoot your way through scenarios in the UC but DSC actually drags you into the plot very subtly and in a way that requires the player to actually negotiate and understand the story. Sure, it helps to know your Licker from your Bandersnatch, your Sherry Birken from your Ada Wong, but it doesn’t actually matter that much. DSC allows you to pick up, play and enjoy without any previous knowledge of the games’ convoluted, T-virus ridden, Wesker manipulating history.
The game plays significantly better than the Umbrella Chronicles. The controls feel tighter and more adept to the drones of zombified challenges you will face. The Wii-mote/Nun-chuck combo works best; I wouldn’t recommend the Wii Zapper for this one. The graphics are sharp and at times lush. It’s aesthetically pleasing but remains dark and drab the Resident Evil way, with the odd green, blue or red blood droplets, the only kinds of bright colours which make sustained appearances. The South American levels are among the most colourful, showcasing a palette of sandy light yellows and browns. It’s an interesting contrast but looks quite good. The graphics are among the best seen on Wii and really showcase some genuinely nice character animations and lighting effects. The shoot and move gameplay is addictive and fun but is hampered considerably by the camera which literally rocks to and fro at nausea. Motion sickness, eat your heart out. It’s a major irritation. Sure, it’s a first person view in the true sense but you can’t help but feel that if someone actually moved their head the way the camera work suggests, then well, Leon Kennedy’s or Steve Burnside’s heads would have fallen off a long time ago. The camera makes hitting enemies or targets all the more harder. There’s enough going on in the game without an out of control hyperactive camera thank you very much.
Everything you do in DSC is done in pairs. You are always accompanied by a partner in all scenarios and this ups the tension as well as the actual action. Each player has their own perspective of course and plays with their own set of weapons. You actually share your ammo with your given partner, handgun bullets are in infinite supply but the shotgun shells and machine gun bullets are a little more lethal but a little harder to actually find, let alone use. You should really try and conserve this stuff for the bosses. This game really excels in two player mode, where you and a mate can blast though scenarios with a lot of guaranteed cooperative fun. It’s a real shame that Capcom don’t include online play. That would have been a major coup for a title that’s entering a now saturated Wii Shooter market. The game does however include online leader boards.
You won’t complete DSC in an evening, there’s anything from 10 to 15 hours of solo blasting ahead of you which gives the game a lot of replay ability. There’s lots of hidden extras, features and even secret modes (remember Tofu?) to find also so it’s a game that will command your attention for some time.
Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is a great game which really gives other games in the on-rails shooting genre a real run for their money. The game packs a lot of weight and will keep you interested and entertained long after you’ve completed its main story mode. It’s just such a shame that the camera work couldn’t have been contained a little bit, it really holds the game back from greatness. All in all an enjoyable addition to a franchise we all know and love.
TGL SCORE [8/10]
Release date: 27th November 2009
Developer(s): Cavia Capcom