previews\ Jun 1, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles - WII - Preview

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For years, Resident Evil has tried to venture into on-rails shooter territory. But it wasn’t until The Umbrella Chronicles arrived in 2007 that Capcom finally got it right. This surprise hit wasn’t as much a surprise in sales figures as it was with the people who bought it – with fast and inspired gameplay and a stellar reward system to keep you coming back, the game avoided much of the replay value-killing repetitions that have hurt other shooters.

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles aims to continue our survival/horror love affair with the same brand of Wii Zapper gunplay that made the first game a success. Focusing on the events of Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy (and just about everyone connected to them), The Darkside Chronicles takes you back to the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3.

From the moment you step inside the game, a few things really stand out: (1) the graphics are incredibly good, (2) the camera never stops moving and (3) The Darkside Chronicles is much more horrific than its predecessor. “Scary” isn’t the right word, so I’ll refrain from using it. But if you’ve ever wanted to play a true horror on-rails shooter, this could be the first one to capture some of what makes the survival/horror genre so great.

If it’s hard to imagine what the Raccoon City Police Department will look like without the stiff CG backgrounds rendering every detail, remember that Resident Evil 4’s real-time effects made them obsolete. The Darkside Chronicles isn’t quite that impressive, but it’s very close. For one thing, Claire has never looked better, and Leon’s character model closely matches the way he appeared in RE4. The backgrounds are covered in rich textures that realistically mimic the surfaces of buildings and other man-made constructions. The lighting and shadow effects rival those of the Silent Hill series, setting the mood for the thrills and chills we’ve come to expect from the series.

Darkside’s zombies are the best yet; when you shoot them, several ounces of blood are thrown from their bodies. If shot in the head, they’ll fling back for a moment, then quickly bounce forward as they try to recuperate (and retaliate).

But while any part of this could be found in other on-rails shooters (albeit without the cool characters, monsters or Umbrella Corporation), The Darkside Chronicles is the first to use a fast-moving camera that practically flies you through each scenario. It’ll slow down for battles – it’d be hard to shoot a moving target if you’re moving as well – but is otherwise on the move, leaping across each area as if you were the cameraman running for his life. This, combined with the lighting, shadows and overall design of the game, makes the experience so much more intense. Aside from the between-mission breaks and occasional movie sequences, there aren’t any free moments. You are always on the run.

As expected, the controls haven’t changed much from the first game. You’ll still use the Wii Zapper (or the Wii remote by itself) to blow the heads off every creature that stands in your way.

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles seems like it’s going to be a great way to relive our favorite Resident Evil experiences. The impressive blood content and dark scenarios could also make this one very horrific game.


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