Monday, January 14

Resident Evil The Umbrella Chronicles Review

The version played for review: Wii
Available on: Wii, PS3
The price I paid: £3
Other Notes: N/A

The Umbrella Chronicles tells the story of the Umbrella company and its fall from power. This is retold via a rail-shooter rushing through the events of Resident Evil 0, 1, 3 and an original story.

If you have never played a rail-shooter before then the idea is rather simple. The camera moves through a level on its own while monsters crowd in front of it, wait for a short time and then attack. You have control of a cross-hair on the screen that you can use to shoot the monsters, preferably before they attack you. Umbrella Chronicles has a number of weapons that you can use such as the shotgun, SMG, grenade launcher, knife, and frag grenades. Your pistol has unlimited ammo but every other gun is limited so it’s best to save these supplies until you encounter a boss. The knife is pretty useless most of the time but can be used to attack leeches, bees, crows and so on. Ammo is persistent between stages and even chapters so try not to make the mistake of using it all during one stage. While Umbrella Chronicles is far from a survival horror game this need to preserve ammo does go a little way towards making it feel like a Resident Evil game. It’s a small token effort but it’s one I appreciate none-the-less.

I tend to dislike this type of shooter so as a result my experience and skill with them is lacking. This may be why I found a lot of this game hard. Dying will send you back to a checkpoint which can be around 10 minutes away from where you died. This gets very irritating at times. Of course, if you’re not a complete noob like I am and can actually shoot with the Wii remote then this won’t be as much of an issue. What will be an issue, however, are the cheap attacks and unresponsiveness of the controls at times. I’ve had multiple accounts of the camera turning around only to have a monster already in it’s attacking animation meaning I had no time to shoot them. This feels cheap and annoying seeing as they take a decent amount of health away with a single hit. During boss fights, you will have to press a button or wiggle the controller to dodge attacks which worked most the time but now and again it just wouldn’t register my movements. This wouldn’t be too bad if you only lost a little health but you don’t. During some of the harder fights missing just one of these prompts can mean death. To say this is annoying would be an understatement.

There is something about rushing through the events of Resident Evil 0 and 1 shooting classic era monsters that endeared itself to me. I’m no fool, I know this is all just fan service playing on my nostalgia and love of these games but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. Resident Evil 0 and 1 use a lot of their graphics, style and even assets from the Gamecube games. This means there is nothing we haven’t seen before but it was nice to see the environments from a first-person perspective. Sadly the same can’t be said for Resident Evil 3 or the final original chapter.

Jill’s escape from Raccoon City reuses assets from the PS2 Outbreak games. This is such a wasted opportunity seeing as we don’t have a remake of this classic game. Instead, what we get are environments and zombies ripped wholesale from a game with a completely different art style to Resident Evil Remake and 0. Now I love the Outbreak games, even to this day I think they look great so that’s not the issue here. It’s just when putting them next to the environments, bosses, and zombies from the Gamecube games they do feel out of place. You will also never visit any of the locations from Resident Evil 3 such as the Clock Tower, Hospital or Park. Seeing as this is supposed to retell the events of that game this is beyond unsatisfying. Even Nemeses doesn’t survive the butchering. Instead of him mercilessly chasing Jill through the streets of Raccoon City he only appears during the last stage of the chapter. Then instead of the epic struggle between Jill and the further decaying monster in the Umbrella facility we face him on the roof of the police station. During Resident Evil 3 Jill used a prototype railgun to finish off the relentless beast but here he just falls off the roof. Seeing my favorite classic-era Resident Evil mangled with all the best parts, locations and characters missing is utterly foul.

The only thing The Umbrella Chronicles has left is the final chapter that tells an original story. Set in between Resident Evil Code Veronica and 4 we follow Chris and Jill to Russia in an attempt to finish off Umbrella once and for all. I love the idea of an all-new story following two of my favorite characters at such an important time of the lore. Sadly the plot boils down to nothing more than shutting down Umbrella’s final facility and BOW. Every single enemy bar 1 boss has been taken from the Gamecube games. Despite this being a previously unseen Umbrella base almost every part of its design feels unoriginal. A lot of inspiration has obversely been taken from the 2002 Resident Evil film. The problem with this is that it’s so different from the games in style and appearance that seeing rooms copied perfectly from it is jarring. The laser room, in particular, feels like it’s in the wrong franchise. We also get introduced to the Red Queen who is a computer A.I from that same film. Not that any of this matters as nothing with any impact to the series or characters happens. The Red Queen doesn’t even do anything and you never even get to fight her in any way. It’s just filler which wouldn’t be so bad if it was at least enjoyable filler but it’s not.

The Umbrella Chronicles feels cheap and lazy containing almost no new assets and absolutely no new ideas. Even the gameplay feels about as basic as this simplistic genre can get. While it’s certainly playable it’s far from gratifying or even fun. Unless you really enjoy these types of shooters I’d leave this one alone. You’re far better off just playing the games these chapters are based on over this forgettable experience.

Recommendation Rating: 3 out of 10

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