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GoNintendo "End of day" thoughts - Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles hands-on

by rawmeatcowboy
19 July 2007
GN 1.0 / 2.0


Everyone is getting sick around the warehouse. I have to find patient zero and take them out! Right now, rest is the prescription for me. I’ll catch you guys in a few hours, have a great morning!

The announcement of Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles came as a bit of a shock to potential Wii owners. With the Cube getting RE4, we were more than happy to see another exclusive Resident Evil heading our way. That happiness turned to bitterness once we learned some more about the game. The hope for an adventure on par with RE4 was gone. Instead, we are getting what can best be described as a light-gun shooter. Not exactly what fans of the series were hoping for. OF course, Capcom told us that heading in this direction was the most plausible due to Wiimote controls. What made matters worse is the fact that RE4 was ported to the Wii and showed us that Wiimote controls could work in a traditional RE game. Not even that, it showed us that they could better an already fantastic game. Still though, what we have heading our way is Umbrella Chronicles, whether you like it or not. I finally had a chance to check out the game while on Nintendo’s booth tour, Zapper and all. While the media has been split on this game, I am siding with the positive impressions.

The demo level I played took place in a portion of Resident Evil 2. Basically, I was running around the alleyways and buildings of RE2. The setting was instantly familiar to fans of the series. For those that are unfamiliar with the gameplay, I’ll clear it up. RE:UC is a light-gun shooter that offers on-rails gameplay. You do not control character movement, you are drawn down a path once you defeat the enemies on screen. The screen moves you from location to loacation where you are supposed to take out all the enemies. Along the way there are items and weapons to pick up. That’s pretty much the gist of how the game works. There were a few things that surprised me along the way though.

By using the joystick, you are able to look around your current location. I was really surprised at how much they allow you to look around. I thought I would be able to gently nudge the camera in certain directions. In reality, I could look a great deal in any direction I want to…I just couldn’t turn completely around. RE:UC actually requires you to keep an eye on your immediate surroundings in order to survive. At times there were zombies coming at me from the right and left. If I just stood there, I wouldn’t have much time to attack them. Instead, you can look left or right and take out those zombies early. There are also hidden power-ups that are just out of your view. You can take a peak around the area to find these goodies. I like the fact that you can check out the area around you…moreso than what’s directly in front of you. You don’t really see that too often in light-gun games.

If you like light-gun games, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t enjoy RE:UC. While there are some new additions to the genre, this is pretty much what you expect it to be. That’s not a bad thing at all though. There is a lot of action going on at all times. The screen usually houses a bunch of enemies, be they zombies, birds, dogs or other infected beings. The zombies have a tendency to be on the slow side, but they do have random bursts of speed. It’s kind of like how the infected act in RE4. I also found the game to offer a good amount of challenge, as far as the demo level was concerned. It wasn’t a walk in the park by any means. I was searching out green herbs to heal myself as much as I could. Thankfully there were a few pots hidden around the demo level. The collection of different guns also helped to spice up gameplay. We all know that it’s a lot more fun to take out zombies with a shotgun than a pistol. The one thing I wish I got to experience was the co-op mode, but Capcom wasn’t showing that off. Overall I had a lot of fun playing the game, but there are a few gripes.

There’s just something that I don’t like when it comes to the impact of the guns. The shotgun and machine gun get the job done, but the pistol seems to lack a certain amount of “oomph”. While I completely understand the pistol’s weak nature, it’s the connection of the shot that bothers me. When you shoot a zombie, there’s really not a satisfying reaction. It almost seems like you’re hitting the zombie with a pellet gun. When I hit a gross, festering zombie with a bullet, I expect there to be a gross, festering reaction. I need to see a good blood spurt, or hear a gushy sound effect. I just didn’t get that sensation from the pistol. I am really hoping that this changes from now until the final game is released. There just needs to be a more satisfying reaction to my shots.

The only other thing worth complaining about is the framerate. While the game never slowed down enough to become unplayable, there were definitely dips. They only lasted a few seconds, but they are quite jarring in a light-gun game. You aren’t in control of walking, the game handles it for you. Cameras in light-gun games always handle walking in a more cinematic way. When you have this smooth motion to the camera and then the framerate dips, it really takes you out of the game. I am much more confident that these issues will be cleaned up from now until the game’s release.

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is a lot of fun. Blasting zombies, lots of action, power ups, and revisiting your favorite locations from previous RE games. There’s a lot to like about the title. Using the Zapper does make the game that much more visceral, but it isn’t necessary for the experience. I am sure the co-op feature will make this game even better. Hopefully the rest of development time will allow for everything to be tightened up. Right now the game stands as a fun outing with a few glitches. Still though, if you are expecting an RE4 experience from RE:UC, you will be sorely disappointed.