Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles - WII - Preview
E3 2007 Preview
Lightgun shooters were a popular tradition for arcades in the 90s. They were fun, easy to learn, and required no sense of direction whatsoever. This gameplay style, dubbed “on-rails” by the gaming community, does not usually translate well to game consoles. Thirty minutes of mindless, quarter-stealing gameplay is perfectly fine at an arcade. But when players spend $50 on a new game, they want something more substantial.
There have been a few exceptions to the rule, most notably with T2: The Arcade Game. That shooter came packed with replay value. On the downside, its SNES and Genesis lightguns were big, clunky, and not as responsive as their arcade counterpart. This made the home gaming experience a little less than arcade-perfect.
After playing the lightgun shooter mini-game in Rayman Raving Rabbids, I immediately started to anticipate what else could be possible with Nintendo Wii. The House of the Dead was the first game that came to mind. Sega has yet to announce that it’ll be bringing its horror-shooter home to Wii (however, the company did announce that Ghost Squad will be ported from arcades to Nintendo’s console). Capcom, on the other hand, will be taking every ounce of its zombie-loving hit and cram it into a Wii-exclusive shooter – Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles – a game that is sure to make the Wii Zapper fly off store shelves.
Before I explore the game itself, allow me to critique the initial design, comfort, and functionality of the Wii Zapper peripheral. Players will appreciate the smooth plastic and contoured handles, which allow for easy gripping and zero pain. This two-handed controller uses the Wii remote as its crosshairs sensor and the nunchuck for slight camera changes. The E3 demo was entirely on rails, but you’ll be able to tilt the camera (using the thumbstick) to see a greater part of each area.
The plastic felt firm and sturdy, more so than the lightweight plastic of the Wii Classic Controller. It’s also heavier since the Zapper must hold the remote and nunchuck. The weight is a good thing though. I want a lightgun that feels solid, just like those featured in the arcade.
This is not the first time Capcom has attempted to turn Resident Evil into a lightgun shooter. The Umbrella Chronicles, however, is the first one that doesn’t lose the trademarks of the series.
Weapons are an extremely important part of the game, as there are more zombies to shoot than in any other RE title. The handgun comes equipped with an infinite number of ammo clips. To reload, simply shake the Wii Zapper, an obvious feature that was previously seen in The House of the Dead 4.
Shotguns, machineguns, and other, more powerful weapons do not have unlimited ammo. The same goes for grenades, which have the strength to wipe out multiple zombies in one blast, but are very hard to come by.
The Umbrella Chronicles is an intense shooter, but it’s hard to know where the game is headed at this stage of development. The graphics were darker and less detailed than expected, and the zombies – though challenging up close – seemed to take a while to notice a human’s presence. That made it easy to eliminate zombies that were far away, but difficult to fight those that had already inched closer to the screen. The controls and other gameplay aspects are on the right track though so you shouldn’t be too worried.
Will the finished game be comparable to the visuals of Resident Evil 4? That’s what every fan is hoping for. I’ll be watching this one closely, and hope that the finished game is every bit as scary (and challenging) as its non-lightgun predecessors.