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Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles


The photo cuts off their faces, but oh well.

A couple of years ago my hubby bought me Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles for Christmas on the Wii. Steve-O and I played it all night and completed it in one sitting. Outside of my limited arcade experience, it was the only rail-shooter I’d ever played. I’m also going to say it’s probably the only game that successfully implemented Wii controls, too. Point and shoot the zombies. Easy and entertaining enough. I got my zombie fix and also got to laugh at the ridiculous ways the writers tried to write in new and superfluous facts with their already-established canon. Kinda like all those stupid Final Fantasy spin-offs with forgettable one-dimensional extra characters.

I saw Resident Evil Chronicles HD for free on PSN, so I downloaded them  both because I’ve been meaning to try The Umbrella Chronicles. Sadly, I can’t say we had as much fun with the first installment in this zombie-killing shooter. The developers made it perfectly clear this game is intended to be used with the Playstation Move. Well, I don’t have Move, but silly us figured we could get away with playing it like any other FPS game. Wrong! The sensitivity is absolutely terrible and you can’t adjust it. I don’t think I’ve ever played a shooter and thought, “I need to lower/increase the sensitivity” and not had the option to do so! It might be premature for me to say this one paragraph into the review, but I don’t recommend purchasing this game unless you get the Wii version or own Move for the Playstation.

This sucks because I really wanted to like this game (and every other Resident Evil game since the PS2 era, actually.) Games offering local co-op seem few and far between these days, so Steve-O and I try to play as many as possible. I will say playing co-op is more fun, and by more fun I mean less frustrating, than playing single player in Umbrella Chronicles. Because even if you want to play every level co-op style, you can’t. In order to experience all of the content, there are several extra stages to play that are only one-player. Even though, in the case of Rebecca’s stages, she’s not even alone. Richard is RIGHT there! But for some reason they want you to play single player. Not really sure why because the single player moments suck. I’m not entirely sure why… I’m assuming it’s because the difficulty isn’t scaled to reflect one person killing zombies instead of two.

Making a zombie dead again is about as difficult as the old school resident evil games, except now everything is super fast-paced and you don’t get to keep any herbs on hand. Many zombies completely disregard headshots because why not? I’m sorry, but if I’m given the ability to perform a headshot, outside of boss fights I want to be guaranteed a satisfying explosion as a result. The only gun you’re guaranteed to have ammo for is the pistol which you never get to upgrade! Awesome, right? The weapons you do get to upgrade vary from shotguns to magnums to rocket launchers which are mostly unlockables. Before each level begins, you get to select a beginning weapon to carry alongside your crappy-but-always-loaded pistol. Otherwise, you have to cross your fingers that you might happen across (and have quick enough reflexes to pick up) any of the other weapons you like.

Weapons are upgraded with stars earned from completing stages. The better your performance, the more stars you get to improve your arsenal. We didn’t seem to perform well enough to get more than 2 stars a stage when guns began costing 4-5 stars to upgrade. And, well, we didn’t really enjoy the stages enough to want to do them again. Thankfully we  both had our own favorite guns we almost always chose to go into a stage. But once you blow through your initial ammo allotment, you’d better cross your fingers that you happen across more. Otherwise, you’re left to the game’s devices regarding which gun you’ll be using. Thankfully there’s also grenades, which are fun to toss around into the hordes of zombie’s you’ll come across.

One other aspect of the game I want to complain about real quick are the quicktime events. Oh. My. God. They are absolutely terrible in this game. I’ve played plenty of games which incorporate QTEs, and this is the only game that succeeded in elevating them to hair-tearing-frustration level.  During co-op, both players must manage to pull them off correctly. If not, many times you’ll get a one-hit kill. Which, whatever, there are checkpoints nowadays so I can forgive that. But what I can’t forgive is the randomness of them, their insistence on using trigger buttons for QTEs and the small window you’re given to pull them off. Trigger buttons! Who does that? It’s like, “We’re giving you two seconds to figure out whether this is L2 or R2. And if you die, we’re gonna change it to the opposite trigger button for your next attempt so you get to die again!”

Umbrella Chronicles covers the events of Resident Evil: Zero, Resident Evil, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. I think it’s quite telling that if you remove inventory juggling, crank handle matching, and locating keys to match keyholes, you can crunch the action of three games into one 6ish hour game. But anyway, that was the bread and butter of those old games, I just find it a little amusing.

All my grievances aside, I have a feeling this would’ve been as much co-op fun as Darkside Chronicles if I wasn’t playing with a regular PS3 controller. So don’t make the same mistake we did if you decide to give this game a go!


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