I’ve always been a Resident Evil. But I didn’t realize how big a fan I was until I found myself buying a Nintendo Wii– a system I normally cared little about- so I could play the bunch of Resident Evil games on the system. I guess Resident Evil 5 (PS3) got me invested back into the zombie-and-mutant-infested universe, so over the weekend I spent the whole time cooped up in The Sanctum, blowing away the undead and the abnormal with a wii-mote in Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles.
While the previous entry in the RE On-Rails Shooters titles, Umbrella Chronicles, focused on the franchise’s original hero and heroine, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, DC logically gives over the reins to Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield (With RE4 villain Jack Krauser also playable as Leon’s partner), reimagining the scenarios originally portrayed in Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica (arguably my favorite entries in the proper series games). Even if you haven’t really played the actual survival horror games, this shooter does do a good job of relaying the gist of the franchise’s convoluted storyline, and showing off the pivotal events that befell the characters. Of course, there are some bits that I wish they hadn’t changed from the original, but there are also things that were pretty awesome.
The game gives you three separate scenarios- Operation: Javier is an all-new adventure and flashback that shows Leon and Krauser on a mission in South America to investigate some Umbrella Activity with a local crime lord. Playing through will open up the other two scenarios. Memoirs of a Lost City retells Resident Evil 2 through Claire and Leon’s eyes, and finally Game of Oblivion is a high-octane retelling of Code: Veronica, recounting Claire and Steve Burnside’s battles with Alfred Ashford and eventually his twisted (yet very hot) sister, Alexia.
For the most part, the graphics, while not HD, are of very high quality. The pre-rendered cutscenes are suitably slick, but the in-game graphics are also quite detailed and fine. Voice-acting is usually good as well, even if the Spanish accents can kinda grate after a bit. Sound effects were pretty excellent and the music in particular is awesome, which includes both classic and new tunes. It all results in a game that is both scary-beautiful to see and hear.
In terms of controls, this played pretty easily and smoothly- but then, all you really do is squeeze the trigger, press the A button or both. That’s pretty much the complexity of the in-game controls; so you’ll be able to pull of a Dodge easily as long as you’re paying attention; it’s nowhere near as hard as the QT events in the mainstream RE games. You WILL have to aim the reticule at stuff to interact with them, from targets to stuff you wanna pick up. I don’t know if the game helped me or I have pretty steady hands, but pulling off headshots or shooting out teeny-tiny lights in the distance was quite easy, and is damn satisfying in this game.
As an on-rails shooter, you basically just watch the whole thing unfold before you, interacting with anything and everything solely with your gun (or the very rare moments when you pick a branching path). You’re actually encouraged to blast pretty much everything in sight (good thing there’s no friendly fire) even if there are no enemies onscreen, since breaking windows or random objects can net you extra points, gold or even reveal hidden power ups.
When you’re not blasting, you’re picking things up (using the A button as opposed to the Wii Mote B trigger) like healing herbs and ammo. So a bit of reflexes and sharp eyes are needed since there’s only a small window of opportunity to grab these items before your view turns away.
That all said, the game pretty much does all its’ best to place you in the shoes and behind the eyeballs of your chosen zombie-fighter, with all the pros and cons. The view is pretty immersive, but tends to have a bit of a handicam feel (well, people don’t come with anti-shake technology after all), making it all feel like you’re watching The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield… except you’re ARMED.
You get a bunch of weapons to lay waste with, from a shotgun to the powerful magnum or even a rocket launcher. However, I found myself relying mostly on the default handgun since while all the rest have limited ammo that you need to scrounge in the various stages, the pistol has infinite bullets (you still need to reload though). Anyway, with a few exceptions (boss fights), you can pretty much kill everything or anything with a steady hand and some headshots. Still, it’s good to have a full arsenal whenever you can. It’s good that the game’s scenarios are divided into smaller chunks that you can revisit anytime to grind and accumulate gold or ammo, or to replay your favorite encounters.
The gold you accumulate is used to upgrade the properties of your many weapons, making kills easier and faster, and speed is often key to unlocking some of the game’s secrets and goodies. There are quite a lot of stuff to work for- unlockable files, character models, costumes and even a couple of hidden missions, so replay value is there in spades. Though I know I’ll be revisiting this a lot just to blow off steam at the end of the day.
I heartily recommend getting REDC for zombie fans or shooting fans in general- it’s got oodles of bloody good point-and-destroy action that will keep you coming back for nice satisfying action chunks. If you’ve got a Wii, then by all means get this one. If not, well, I’m not sure if it’s really worth getting the system just for this one title, but I did and I’m pretty happy right now. Heheh…