Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles Wii Review
I have good memories of both Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica. They were two games in the series that were built around the lumbering zombie as opposed to the faster and more intelligent breed that is the modern living dead. Following on from the trend set by Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, The Darkside Chronicles is a combination of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica, as well as the events leading up to Resident Evil 4.
Like The Umbrella Chronicles, this sequel is also an on-rails shooter in the same vein as the likes of Time Crisis and Virtua Cop. A more recent example is the Wii’s very own Dead Space Extraction, and both games actually share more than their genres: the shaky camera. If you suffer from motion sickness, then The Darkside Chronicles fast moving camera will probably make you feel nauseous, and, even for those who don’t suffer from sickness, it may be a little too much. I personally got on well with the camera and appreciated its dramatic movement and its great success at building tension.
As The Darkside Chronicles source materials are Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica, if you’re a fan of Capcom’s horror series you’ll probably know which characters to expect. Indeed, it’s Leon and Claire during the Resident Evil 2 events and Claire, Steve and Chris battling the zombie horde in the Code: Veronica timeline. As for the events leading up to Resident Evil 4, Leon or Krauser are your picks. The story is as cheesy as ever and the voice acting and script are generally quite hard to take seriously, though praise where praise is due, both have dramatically improved since the laughably bad attempts in the 1996 original.
Obviously with two player cooperative multiplayer options, the scenarios have had to be altered. For example, those who have played the very first Resident Evil sequel will remember that Leon and Claire are separated at the beginning of the game, but here they remain together throughout.
As a long-time Resident Evil fan, it’s certainly nice to see familiar locations and events play out from a different gaming perspective. It’s Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica without the key cards and the puzzles, but with more enemies, more shooting and a panicky camera that adds so much to the tension.
The Darkside Chronicles controls perfectly well: wisely using the pointer of the Wii remote to shoot and shaking the nunchuck to reload (the Wii Zapper hasn’t been forgotten either, with the game fully supporting its use). Switching weapons also comes easily, as does quickly using any health that you may have picked up along the way. Like The Umbrella Chronicles, the game has button prompts popping up on the screen during boss (generally of the oversized and angry variety) fights, although this time around, because there are no instant deaths, they’re less maddening.
Again, it’s possible to upgrade individual weapons. This is done by finding bars of gold (lying around or by shooting particular objects in the environments), which can then be used to improve said weapons between levels: upgrading the power, rate of fire, reload speed, capacity and stopping power.
A single play through will last you six or seven hours, which isn’t too bad for this type of game in my book. You could always return to play the game on a tougher difficulty level (normal is very, very easy) and you also receive a grade at the end of each level, meaning that perfectionists will be coming back until they have S ranks on every single one of them. Not forgetting to mention that there’s all manner of files to be found, and, as there’s branching paths, you won’t find them all in a single level play through.
The Darkside Chronicles is one of the most visually spectacular games that you are going to find on the Wii. The character models and zombies are immensely detailed, familiar environments have been nicely recreated with a moodier look, and the lighting is impressive enough to showcase that the Wii does actually have a considerable amount of power. It’s just a shame that it is rarely used to this extent.
Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is not a typical Resident Evil game, although it will appeal to franchise fans for its nostalgia, as well as those who enjoy action packed on-rails shooters. I hope that the developer gets another chance to build on this with a third Chronicles game, as this is once again a nice twist on the popular undead franchise.