previews\ Oct 19, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles - WII - Preview 2

E for All 2007 Preview

Resident Evil 4 was unforgettable. It earned endless acclaim, including GameZone’s own Game of the Year award (2005). Everyone that touched it was blown away by its reinvention of survival/horror gameplay.

The problem with success isn’t the game itself but everything that comes next. Expectations are at an all-time high, making it difficult for any developer – even the men and women responsible for RE4 – to make a game that satisfies our horrific needs.

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, the on-rails, arcade-style shooter for Nintendo Wii, didn’t start out an incredible game. Its E3 07 debut was cool but not overly impressive. The graphics were washed out and the gameplay, though promising, didn’t have much excitement.

It’s hard to heavily criticize an early preview build of a game, but there are times when it’s necessary. In this case, the game needed to be bashed before it could be praised. In just four months Capcom has turned Umbrella Chronicles into one of this generation’s most promising lightgun shooters.

Shooter Haven. Shooter Heaven.

The Umbrella Chronicles is essentially one big trip back through time. This build focused on the train area from Resident Evil Zero. You know the one: poorly lit rooms, zombie dogs, dozens of slithery creatures that won’t go away… It’s as horrific as can be – for the characters within the game. For players it’s cool, creepy, and downright intriguing.

UC’s weapon lineup is the same as when we saw the game at E3: unlimited pistol ammo, machinegun, shotgun, knife (for warding off close offenders), herb pickups, and other Resident Evil staples. Though these weapons haven’t changed in purpose, their functionality has been greatly improved. The game is so much faster, so much more intense, and controls with a level of precision that’s typically not found outside of the arcade.

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles Wii screenshots

Graphically UC is now nearly on par with Resident Evil 4 – a huge step up from where the game was in July. The backgrounds are very smooth and detailed, cramming so much realism onto the screen that you’d swear it’s CG. And at times it may be. When the action heads to the top of the train, the camera doesn’t pull many tricks. It sticks to one semi-angled view, and allows the train (and the rain storm pouring in) to create excitement. The trick works, but there’s no way it’s real-time… Wii isn’t that powerful. Or is it?.

Whatever it is, the game looks great throughout each zombie-blasting stage.

Capcom has yet to reveal each of the game’s locations, but there will be visits to the original mansion, and areas from RE2 are likely. Will the game go further than that? We hope so. Personally I’d like to bust through the environments of CODE Veronica. Just imagine how good that game would look running on Wii hardware?

Playtime was short, leaving many gamers saddened as they left the busy kiosk. Fortunately they won’t have to wait much longer to play the game at home. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles ships this November.

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