Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
I'm just going to come right out and say it, I love
zombies (and no, not in that
way you sickos). My adoration of the undead started with that ever-so-important film, Dawn of the Dead. George A. Romero's zombie lore has laid the foundation for some of the most enjoyable movies ever (Shaun of the Dead comes to mind), but it also inspired a games company to stop making fighting games and create (and popularise) an entirely new gaming genre – survival horror. Yes, I am of course talking about Capcom and Resident Evil.
The Res Evil titles managed to create something of a phenomenon back when they first appeared on the PSOne, and ever since we've seen some great games spawn from their success (most notably Resident Evil 4, and the one we're all waiting with baited breath for, Resident Evil 5). And despite other companies having their own stab at the genre (Alone In The Dark, Silent Hill), it's always been handed back to Capcom to show everyone exactly
how it's done (again, thankyou Resident Evil 4). With that said, however, it's also up to Capcom to remind everyone of where it all started, and with the success of the Wii on almost every company's radar these days, it was only a matter of time before we'd see the genre rear it's head on Ninty's new console, Capcom in tow.
We've seen Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition released on Wii, but that's just a Wii-ified version of an existing game, the next major release in the franchise is Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, a game that - on paper - sounds like a brilliant idea for the Wii: A light-gun arcade-esque experience that re-chronicles the events of the first three Resident Evil games with updated visuals and all in a single package to boot. Awesome right? Well, yes and no.
Getting hands-on with the title at this year's E3 saw me feeling a little frustrated, but still hopeful. Unfortunately there wasn’t more than a single level to have a play with, but the short amount of time I dabbled did show some promise. Like most arcade gun games, RE:UC sees you traversing through the game on-rails, you have a little bit of movement here and there (such as full reign of the camera left and right), but for the most part you're locked into the game's automatic pilot which in typical fashion for this type of title means you're going to need to be quick with the trigger.
There were plenty of zombies for me to kill, but I found that hits weren't registering as well as I'd hoped they would. It could be that it was simply an early level/build or that the handgun just isn't powerful enough to be overly devastating (which was the main weapon available), but throughout the demo I just felt like I was shooting into carcasses of meat (which, technically I was), and after dealing with such precision aim in a game like Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition, I was wondering what it was Capcom were trying to offer with Umbrella Chronicles.
Eventually I did get my hands on a shotgun though, and this weapon did show a lot more promise. The real issue here is that hit points don't seem to be too area specific. Sure, you can definitely create an awesome pink mist out of a zombie head if you hit the right spot, and sometimes they'll lose an arm or a leg, but it felt more like random chance than precision aiming, which, given the Wii Remote's IR, seemed somewhat redundant. But it would be remiss for me to assume this is exactly
how the final game will play – this was E3, after all, and nothing is ever
set in stone at the event.
All the traditional familiars pop-up – zombie Dobermans, the Crimson zombies who debuted in the GameCube re-imaginings of the first two games (along with the prequel, Res Evil 0), as well as bosses like Forest, the Snake and more. I was looking at easily one of the prettiest Wii games also, with it running at 480p in true 16:9 wide-screen. And for fans of the cheesy B-movie presentation and acting of the originals, it's in place here only even more so (and completely suits).
It would be very easy to simply label this House of the Dead, only with the Res Evil name tacked on, but Capcom have added some nice touches of their own. You'll be able to physically fight off zombies if they get too close, similar to the same system created for the GC versions of the first few games. Equally, far more of the game's environments are destructible, and for the most part these are incredibly high-detailed bits of art, proving the Wii is actually capable of some stellar visual tricks of its own.
I also played the title with Nintendo's new Zapper Wii Remote/Nunchuk housing, which, if you’re not aware, is basically a gun-shaped casing that holds the Nintendo controllers in place. It's reasonably accessible, but after a while became a little clumsy and uncomfortable. The peripheral is obviously strictly an aesthetic tool designed to appeal to the mainstream audiences Nintendo keeps pulling in with their console these days, so I can't help but think it will probably be packed in with this game when it’s released, so be warned, you might have a clumsy looking piece of white plastic collecting dust next to consoles.
With all of that said though, the jury is still most definitely out. I absolutely love this series and wish nothing more than for this to be a must-have title. Everything about it screams righteousness, but as it stands, it just didn't feel all that complete. Here's hoping I was simply playing a dumber, more accessible version of the game created specifically for Wii, but we'll only know that when I get my hands on the review version. As is standard here in Australia, we have no idea when the game is due to hit, but in the US and Europe they’re looking at a November release, so here’s hoping we'll see it at least in time for Christmas, but you just never know with Nintendo of Australia. Be sure to check out the cool trailer for the game by clicking here
, and if we get any more time with an updated build, you'll be the first to hear about it.