Nintendo Wii: Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles

I’ve finally gotten around to: A. Playing this; B. Playing it enough to review; C. Actually reviewing it.

The game is a “rail shooter.”  That is, you just get brought along, like a carnival ride, and you shoot what comes up in front of you.  You’ve probably seen such games in movie theater lobbies, from Resident Evil to House of the Dead to any of the movie tie in games.  However, there are a number of neat twists on this format in the game.

First off, there are “bonuses” to be found.  These are mainly “files,” which can be read in the main menu.  These files are story bits form the Resident Evil story line, and add to teh over all story with more backgorund details, and explaining some oddities.  You do have to be quick to grab these when they show up (little umbrella symbols), or you will miss the opportunities.  This is a bit of a twist on the usual weapons and ammo to be found.

Second, you do get some chances to go a different way.  Some are short cuts, some are “safer” than the main path, others are harder.  The option to go an alternate route pops up on the screen, and if you press the “A” button, you move down the alternate path.  Yes, this has been done is a fashion previously, but in this case, it is seemlessly integrated into the game play, rather than during cut scenes or end of level screens.

Other game play features include the ability to upgrade your weapons, in a fashion similar to Resident Evil 4, ecept you use “stars” (gained from completing chapters) rather than loot gained in game.  You can upgrade weapon capacity, damage, and the number of rounds you can carry.  I have only done a few upgrades, as they can be “expensive,” and when you’re just happy to get thorugh a chapter, getting maximum stars is just not on the agenda.

The game itself allows you to play thorugh the events of Resident Evil 0, 1, and 3, plus new materials.  So far, in two player, we’re up to Resident Evil 3.  Additional materials to play through include what Albert Wesker was doing, and Rebecca Chambers between Resident Evil 0 and 1.  I have not yet tried any of the extra missions, but if they are even close to the main story missions, they should be extremely fun.

Game play is straight forward.  Point, shoot, repeat.  You will always have at least two viable wepaons, your pistol, and a knife.  Each enemy has a weak point, which if you hit it enough, or hard enough, will cause a critical hit, which will either take them out, or do serious damage (bosses).  The knife is very useful, as the game will tell you, for fending off small enemies that will “jump” at you (parasites, small spiders, et al).  Hold the “A” button and swing madly to force the critters off you and kill ’em.

Guns are your friend.  The bigger the gun, the better the friend.  I know, I know, it’s a “well duh” moment.  Even so, some weapons are better suited to taking out some enemies than others.  The pistol never runs out of ammo, but is limited in damage and capacity.  The shotgun is great for crows, bugs, and the frog things.  The SMG (the classic MP-5), is good for lots of small enemies, leechmen, and giant spiders.  The grenade laucher is fun.  For large groups of small enemeies, it’s king.  The drawback here is it’s slow to hit, and isn’t great for accuracy.  Hand grenades are tricky to use effectively.  The two button command is difficult to use quickly, but can be rewarding with large groups of enemies.

Health items are a must.  There are only two items to be found, herbs and first aid spray.  Herbs restore an amount of health immediately, while first aid sprays will restore you to full health if reduced to zero (essentially a free automatic continue).  These items are also your friend.  You can only have IIRC, two first aid sprays at anytime, and can’t hold on to herbs for future use.  This can be a problem in some situations, where you romp through a section, never using any of them, then get hammered in another section where you don’t have enough. 

I just got the pistol grip gun-con’s (Namco) for the Wii remotes the other day.  I haven’t tried them out yet, but it should at least keep my hand from cramping by using the Wii-mote straight up.  I’ll post on how that effects game play once I’ve played with them for a while. 

On the whole, this is a fun shooter, more so for fans of Resident Evil, but if all you want to do is vent on some poor zombies and genetically mutated critters, this is the one for you.  It’s certainly not for everyone, as the blood and gore content is high.  But if you either like this sort of thing, or are a fan of Resident Evil, this one is a good pick up.  The additions to the story line, the recreated scenes from the older games, and a few “easter eggs” for older fans makes it worth while.  This is a game where the Wii-mote is a decided advantage over more traditional controllers, and does not require you to get a new controller to get the most out of the game.



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