The Resident Evil franchise on Nintendo consoles has definitely changed over the last generation. Still what some consider the greatest RE title ever created debuted on the Gamecube last generation, while the standard follow-up was only released to Sony and Microsoft’s consoles this gen. Needless to say Nintendo fans have no doubt been feeling left out. In comes The Darkside Chronicles; a follow-up to the previously released Umbrella Chronicles for Nintendo’s motion-controlled console. Fans of the franchise have always had mixed feelings about the series using the first-person lightgun experience, but Umbrella Chronicles actually turned out to be quite a bit of fun. Darkside continues the trend by expanding the universe and still remaining to be quite enjoyable.
Fans will no doubt be intrigued by the story alone. Mixing in pieces of RE2, Code Veronica and even a little bit of RE4 is sure to draw in players. The game starts off following Leon Kennedy and his (at the time) partner Krauser. There is no doubt that aficionados of the lore will love hearing Leon ramble on about his escape from Racoon City and of course references to his partner Claire Redfield and how she survived the Antarctica headquarters of the Umbrella corporation. The ties with past games really help fill the gaps left by the games themselves. This is certainly not to be missed by die-hard fans of the original.
Being a lightgun game in this day and age can be challenging. It seems to be the second most popular on the Wii though thanks to the design of the console. As far as the actual shooting goes things here are pretty much standard fare. You can opt to play the game entirely with the Wii remote, or attach the nunchuk for a little more flexibility. You shake the controller to reload, tap the directional pad (or use the analog when nunchuk is attached) to switch between weapons. You fire with the B button and you can lock on to enemies or pick up items with the A button. Herbs and medicine can also be used by pressing the + button. On a whole the game plays like any other lightgun game you have played before. The only exception here is the camera.
Things can get messy as you will begin to wrestle with the viewpoint. I consider myself quite the seasoned gamer and there were times in Darkside Chronicles where I had to look away for a moment. The game implements the idea that the view is always of your character, meaning that whenever they sway their head, look around or up and down, or simply just run down a corridor bobbing back and forth; the camera has to mimic it. While it sounds realistic, it actually ends up disorienting you during the game. I found myself trying to fire at enemies only to have my character turn around long before I had a chance to get the shot off. You feel disconnected from the action at times because as you know, you simply have no control over the action.
Surprisingly Darkside Chronicles is a hefty adventure that will take even the seasoned gamer nearly a dozen hours to complete. Throw in all the extra unlockables and you have quite the solid collection of content. Each mission has you paired with a partner that can be assumed by a human player, but only at the beginning of each mission. Playing with someone else is loads better than dealing with the AI, namely because the AI is completely useless. In fact the only reason they are there is for you to babysit their health bar because if they perish, it is game over. There are also a host of online leaderboards for you to compare your scores with other players. The sheer amount of content and things to unlock in the game make it worthwhile for fans of the Resident Evil franchise.
Visually the game does looks quite good for a Wii title. The familiar environments and animations are definitely a sight to behold. The lighting within the game really shows off what a solid developer can manage to squeeze out of the Wii. I was really impressed with how good the animations of the characters and enemies are and even the design of some of the new creations was inspiring. Lip synching is by far not the best, but the excellent cut scenes and fresh level layout more than make up for it. Sound is standard for the RE games featuring cheesy dialogue and moody music. Sure things have improved since the “Jill Sandwich” but they still induce laughter at almost every turn. The music is typical Resident Evil, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.
Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is not going to reinvent the genre, nor is it going to bring in any new fans. Instead what it does is offer a solid experience that fans of Resident Evil’s twisted tale will love because it fills in so many gaps. The lengthy campaign and tons of unlockables will go a long way in satisfying the completionist in all of us and the solid visuals do a nice job of keeping you entertained throughout. The camera will bother you from time to time, but once you get used to it, it’s not enough to keep you from playing. Darkside Chronicles is a great addition to the series, but I would still like to see a traditional RE game on the Wii, as would most Nintendo fans.