I love Resident Evil. Plain and simple. Though I've gotta tell the truth…aside from Resident Evil 4, I haven't ever actually finished a RE game. Closest I got was almost finishing Code Veronica on the Dreamcast. Still, that fact doesn't stop me from being a huge fan of the series. Which is why I was so excited to hear that Capcom was making a Resident Evil game that made use of the Wii's unique features. Then once it was revealed that the game would be an on-rails, arcade style shooter, I was worried. The Gun Survivor games weren't exactly top-notch, after all. But as the months went by and more and more information was revealed about Umbrella Chronicles, I became more confident that it would surpass the Gun Survivor series' quality. And now that it's out and I've had a chance to put some real time into it, Capcom has shown me that my confidence was not unfounded.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is sort of a re-telling of the Resident Evil story, all the way from the train derailment in the Arklay Mountains to the destruction of Raccoon City, as well as a new chapter covering the fall of Umbrella. Fans of the Resident Evil storyline will find a lot to like about RE:UC. However, it may disappoint some fans that both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica are not represented in Umbrella Chronicles. However, as these two games had very little to do with Umbrella, they don't really fit in with the theme of the game. Also, aside from the main story, you'll get to experience side-stories from the viewpoints of other characters in the series. Ever wonder what happened to Rebecca from the time that Resident Evil 0 ended up until she's found by Chris (or Jill) in the mansion? Well, you'll get to find out in RE:UC. It's scenarios like this one that will really excite hardcore Resident Evil junkies (myself included)
Umbrella Chronicles is, as I mentioned before, an on-rails arcade style shooter. Meaning that, aside from being able to slightly manipulate your viewpoint using the Nunchuk's analog stick, you won't be able to control your movement. While this may turn away some newer gamers who haven't had experience with rail shooters, it certainly isn't a bad thing for those of us who spent our teenage years playing Time Crisis and House of the Dead. However, it isn't exactly like a rail shooter. In RE:UC, you have an aiming reticule, unlike normal rail shooters. Which makes it a lot easier to tell exactly where you're aiming. Also, if you're a veteran of arcade rail-shooters, you'll definitely notice (and perhaps be displeased with) the fact that the action in Umbrella Chronicles isn't as fast-paced and twitch-centric as a standard lightgun game. Zombies come at you slowly, and take several hits to bring down. Unless of course you nail them with a critical headshot, which will cause their heads to pop in true Resident Evil fashion. Still, if you like your rail shooters to be chock full of heart-stopping moments, you may not like Umbrella Chronicles. While there are moments where things get tense, you're never on the edge of your seat wondering where the next zombie is going to lunge at you from.
Another factor that separates Umbrella Chronicles from it's arcade brethren is length. While it's not unusual to blaze through the average arcade rail shooter in an hour or less, RE:UC is significantly longer. It will take at least eight hours of playing to finish all the main scenarios, and twelve or more to unlock and complete everything the game has to offer. And with the ranking system the game employs, there's plenty of reason to replay levels if you're a perfectionist who will want to get S ranks on every stage. Also, there are over 100 files hidden throughout the game's various stages, which provide information and backstory on the series' characters, enemies, and locales. So Resident Evil fans will definitely want to take the time to find all of these files. Also adding to the replay value is the customization system. By completing stages you'll earn stars, which can be used to upgrade your weapons, allowing them to hold more ammo and also upgrading their power. Add multiplayer support into the mix and you'll most likely find yourself coming back to Umbrella Chronicles quite often.
Where Umbrella Chronicles definitely does not differ from other games in it's genre is difficulty. Make no mistake about it, RE:UC is HARD. Unforgivingly so, at times. Oftentimes you'll find yourself facing two or three powerful enemies, such as Hunters or Chimeras, and just getting ravaged by them. Adding to this is the fact that all enemies have "critical points". Shooting them in these points is usually the only way to stop them in mid-attack. What makes this difficult is that some enemies' critical points are small, and oftentimes quite hard to find. This applies especially to the bosses. Giant scorpions, mutated plants, and classic Tyrants are just some of the bosses you'll take on. Boss fights are no small undertaking in RE:UC. Many of these fights can take up to ten minutes or more to complete, and are undoubtedly the most challenging portion of the game.
Resident Evil games have been infamous for their cheesy dialogue, and Umbrella Chronicles is no exception. While you won't get anything on par with classics like "Stop, don't open that door!" or "Saddler, YOU'RE small time!", there's still plenty of cringe-inducing lines. However, most Resident Evil fans won't view this as much of a negative, as the series' cheesy voice acting has been one of it's most endearing factors. On the other side of the audio spectrum, the game's music is fantastic. A mix of new and redone old, Umbrella Chronicles has one of the best soundtracks the series has ever seen.
Overall, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is a fantastic game. Is it perfect? No. But it's still a great game, and you'll definitely get your money's worth from it. It has loads of replay value, and for hardcore Resident Evil fans, the sheer amount of fanservice present in the game will justify a purchase. Newer gamers, especially those not accustomed to rail shooters and those whose first experience with Resident Evil was RE4, may not like Umbrella Chronicles. However, longtime fans of the series and fans of on-rails lightgun games will find plenty to enjoy.