One gets the impression that the early success of the Wii took Capcom by surprise. At least that’s perhaps the most favourable tale that could excuse the all-round shoddiness of on-rails gun game, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.
As Umbrella Chronicles only covered the events of the first, third and less than memorable Resident Evil Zero games, a sequel was always inevitable. Cue The Darkside Chronicles then to mop up the rotting remains of the franchise before it went on to become the globe-trotting action blockbuster franchise masquerading as Resident Evil today.
Darkside Chronicles recalls the events of Resident Evils 2 and Code: Veronica, along with the all-new Operation Javier – itself a thinly-veiled attempt at recreating Resident Evil 5’s sun-drenched locale on the humble Wii. I say recalls, but it seems that the staff at Capcom and Cavia have the memory of your average Final Fantasy protagonist; such are the liberties they take with events.
Understandably, recounting the events verbatim would make for a cripplingly slow gun game, therefore a certain amount of Peter Griffin-esque memory embellishment is to be expected: “This kinda reminds me of that time a leapt off of a bridge, jumped out of the way of a moving train then shot a missile out of a monster’s claws.” We know how it went down Leon, we were there, and it really wasn’t that impressive back in 1998.
That is the positive side of developer amnesia. The less positive sides have you babysitting the talking fringe that is Steve Burnside for much of the Code: Veronica missions. He was grating in the Dreamcast original, but his constant wise-cracking here will have you wishing that there was a friendly fire option to put him out of your misery. There are also numerous spoiler-sensitive moments throughout the game that will be sure to irk Resident Evil fans that truly follow the pantomime of a story. While fans don’t approach each instalment expecting Shakespeare, some consistency would be appreciated.
While Umbrella Chronicles managed to encumber the player with an unwieldy control set-up in a genre that demands simplicity, Darkside Chronicles has streamlined that experience by dropping limited camera control of the original and squeezing whole thing onto just the Remote. Idle left-handers can choose to use the nunchuk for easier weapon selection and a rather useless lock-on ability, but the Wii Remote alone allows full access to four selectable weapons, healing, knife attacks and status screens – All in a streamlined configuration that definitely improves the game.