Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection Playtest: Two Takes on the Same Theme

By Kris . July 2, 2012 . 4:31pm

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is a simple concept: a retelling of Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis with some extra backstory in the form of narration from series supervillain Albert Wesker in lightgun shooter format.


…and it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, at least at first. There were a few elements that frustrated me. For one thing, it’s not a purely arcade-style rail shooter. Optimally, you’re supposed to use more than just the Move controller so you can look around your environment and find items off in corners that you wouldn’t necessarily see without seeking them out. This has unfortunate consequences on gameplay. Since you can look in any direction to a limited extent, enemies will occasionally come at you from just offscreen, often above or below you. I found myself frustrated by the fact that I was occasionally looking the wrong way when an enemy got close… a strange experience for a lightgun game.


Secondly, for a game of its genre, Umbrella Chronicles has some very long levels. There are only two checkpoints each, one halfway through the level, and one just before the each boss. It’s a tad frustrating to tear through the majority of a level without a healing item in sight, then die due to enemies attacking you just below your field of view only to restart 5 minutes earlier… and then die in the same spot. Boss checkpoints are appreciated, but often those fights can kind of overstay their welcome. When you’ve figured out a boss’s weak point, there’s little more to do than just keep pumping bullets into it and making sure you successfully perform all of the QTEs that pop up.


The bonus missions were more densely packed with enemies and shorter than the main missions: this meant that I picked up more items more quickly and had to make use of them. Making the missions more about utilizing the tools at my disposal than endurance made me enjoy the game quite a bit more. The fact that I could carry any weapons I found in the side missions into the main story and also sweetened the deal, since the side missions generally had better firepower lying around.


When I’d gained some extra weapons and used the “Stars” I received for completing missions to upgrade some of my weapons, I managed to get into the rhythm of the game. I used submachine guns and grenades for keeping multiple enemies away or getting rid of fast enemies, pistols to get headshots on standard zombies, and shotguns for tougher enemies or bosses. I still had some troubles with being attacked from offscreen and brutal checkpoints, but I was having fun.


Meanwhile, Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles is built along similar lines, except this time telling its own story alongside retellings of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica.


While Darkside Chronicles is far and away my preferred game of the two in the collection, I think the game’s “shaky-cam” design turn people off. It’s almost distractingly implemented, and assuming it’s supposed to be your player’s view directly, it seems like whoever you’re playing as seems drunk. The constant bobbing around makes headshots harder to pull off and shooting down projectiles can be a challenge.


That said, I personally love the shaky-cam. I think it does a great job in terms of making things a bit more exciting and even making some of the game’s jump-scare moments work a little better than Umbrella Chronicles’ relatively static and underwhelming takes on what would normally be jump-scares (like the game’s take on the zombie dog jumping through the window in the first Resident Evil) which were occasionally relegated to QTEs.


I also liked that the shaky-cam removed the ability (and need) to control the camera outside of my lightgunning, so enemies no longer felt as though they were attacking me from offscreen. Sure, it was harder to hit enemies while they were attacking at some points, but on the whole, I preferred Darkside Chronicles’ approach to Umbrella’s.


Part of my preference comes from the way that they’ve streamlined things from the first game. Each weapon is assigned to a direction (or a button if you’re just playing with a move controller alone), so you’ll only ever have four weapons equipped as opposed to having a list of (occasionally empty) weapons to cycle through like in Umbrella Chronicles. Green herbs have also been changed around. In Umbrella, green herbs were used as soon as you picked them up, but in Darkside, you can save up green herbs until you need them, which makes bosses much more manageable as you get used to their attack patterns.


Most of my complaints with Umbrella Chronicles are remedied in Darkside Chronicles. Levels are shorter and more focused, fitting with the arcade feel. The enemies are mostly standard zombies, but I prefer those to the random bats, crows, and apes that filled the first game. The QTEs seem to be just a tad more lenient, too, which makes boss fights less annoying. After playing Darkside Chronicles for an extended length of time, I found it hard to go back to Umbrella.


Food for Thought

1. Headshots in both games are very finicky. You need to shoot zombies at the very tops of their heads (when your reticule glows red) to make their heads explode. The more headshots you get, the better grade you receive. I found that after playing Darkside Chronicles for a while, I became much better at getting headshots in the less-shaky Umbrella Chronicles.


2. While some lightgun games reward you for accuracy, you’re pretty much supposed to shoot at everything in the environment in both of these games. Occasionally you find healing items or collectible files hidden in lightbulbs and dressers. While having infinite ammo with the pistol doesn’t make this particularly risky, it’s kind of weird to try to shoot out every light you see.


3. Both games look quite nice in HD, particularly Darkside Chronicles. There are definitely some lip-sync issues going on though.


4. It’s a little detail, but because the two Playstation Move-specific buttons are kind of similarly-shaped (and the same color), I found myself having more trouble with QTEs than I expected. Curiously, Darkside Chronicles actually spells out “Press the Move button” above the graphic, which helped me distinguish what button to press better than the graphic alone. It’s a bit distracting, but it did help me.

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  • Told you Kris , DC is loads better than UC xDD

  • gomas

    different strokes for different folks, I guess, these two  were my most played game on the Wii. There`s a huge amount of goodies and collectibles, the game is refreshingly hard and the script adaptation of previous R.E are surprisingly good.
    In fact, there`s a coupe of moments that are even better than their original counterparts (Alfred`s death). Not only that, the Russia plot of U.C and the South America plot of D.C are simply brilliant… Oh, and, both games have an excellent OST (being U.C my personal favorite)

  • Solomon_Kano

    I’ll definitely be picking this up. I wanted to play through RE1-3 but, after playing the first for a bit, I decided that wasn’t the way to go. Getting their story in lightgun form sounded good, so it’s good to know these are… good.

    • SeventhEvening

      Well, the plot is pretty stripped down. You’ll still be missing a lot of plot. It mostly fills in a few gaps between the titles (Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of what they filled the gaps with) and lets you re-live particularly awesome action sequences and boss fights, but if you really want the whole of the plot, you’ll need to play the originals or supplement chronicles with wikipedia articles. 

      If you like RE and lightgun games, I think it is pretty solid, although the new plot lines in Umbrella require you to stomach some pretty ridiculous cutscenes, like a lame scene of Chris dodging a laser using a mid-air spin.

      • Solomon_Kano

        I’ll go for the Wiki supplement. Thanks.

    • You should be able to watch the cutscenes on YouTube, if you want the story, but can’t stomach the gameplay

      • Solomon_Kano

        Ah, that’s a good idea.

    • Well….just note tht the RE3 portion in UC and RE2, CV prt are non-canon. U need to refer to wiki material.

      Tht said, Psycho Alfred in DC is waaaaay better than CV counterpart.

      • Solomon_Kano

        Ah. I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.

  • Chow

    I’m waiting for my Asia-Region version to arrive in the mail because I wanted a physical copy.  And yes, I’m aware that one of the official blogs sort of gave away the fact (inadvertantly?) that North America will get a disc version by saying “it’s available at a discount price over the retail release”.

    I hope it’s like my Asia-Region Siren: New Translation, where it’s actually in English.  The site I got both from (though years apart) have similar listings for language.

    Curiously, it lists the Asia-Region version at 600g and 2 units, where the Japanese version was 300g and 1 unit.

    • SeventhEvening

      I didn’t buy it, but I held an Asian Region copy in my hand last weekend and it looked like it was one disk and seemed like any other title. I think the 600g is a mistake. 

      • Chow

        Turns out the extra weight was because it was the Collector’s Edition.  I think all Asia-Region versions are CEs.  Totally forgot about that. :]

  • WingsOfEternity

    hmm, I actually liked Umbrella Chronicles a bit more, I still remember spending so much time on it with my brother and cousins, trying to S rank all the stages, 1 shot zombies with headshots, shooting every object in sight for some lulz. Meanwhile Darkside felt much more arcade-like, which I did not like very much, however I did enjoy how it told the story of how Leon and Krauser met.

  • Nitraion

    I hope capcom will remaster RE:Zero from gamecube Since i sucker for old style gameplay or Re-online Outbreak series again….

    • Guest

       Seems like a novel idea much like Konami’s MGS Twin Snakes. But unfortunately both remakes (and also Tecmo’s Fatal Frame II remake) are licensed by Nintendo.

      • Nitraion

        Is it this game from Nintendo too?
        it’s originaly from wii right?

        • malek86

          Different situation. The MGS and FF2 remake were actually commissioned by Nintendo themselves, that is, they paid Konami/Tecmo to have them developed.

          I don’t think the RE remake was the same though, but then again, there must be a reason why it was never re-issued outside of Nintendo platforms.

          • Yeah, I’m sure their is a lot of red tape to overcome when it comes to bringing Resident Evil REmake and Resident Evil Zero to the HD consoles.  But, to any reader who hasn’t played it, and is on the fence, get yourself a Wii and a component cable, because those two games have aged WELL! 

            All praise to Shinji Mikami and his team for two well designed games.

  • Now if they would make Outbreak Chronicles next…..

    Still kinda annoyed tht my partner hardly do a thing….. But oh well.

  • Alexandra Cordes

    Steve!!!! ^-^

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