Genre: On-Rails Shooter
Year: 2007
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom
Platforms: Wii, Playstation 3
Feeling Like: House of the Dying

The Resident Evil franchise has come a long way and I’m not sure if that’s an insult or a compliment. Undoubtedly one of the most influential games of the 1990s, the combination of schlocky B-movie horror elements, action and puzzle solving was a huge success for Capcom. The introduction video to the first game is both parts compelling and hilarious, despite hokey acting and shaky camera work, it really is impossible not to be drawn in.

The series went on to spawn countless sequels and SEVEN big screen movie adaptations, grossing nearly one billion dollars. A big step from a small Playstation title that had you investigating a series of murders in a might-as-well-be-haunted house. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is one pillar among a Stongehenge of mixed bag quality. It’s not one of the best Resident Evil games, but certainly not one of the worst. The Wii itself was a solid console choice, as the controller lent itself perfectly to pinpoint accuracy that is desperately needed in an on-rails shooter. It wasn’t as much fun as holding a plastic gun and shooting offscreen to reload at Johnny Zee’s, but it did the trick.

Shooting a zombie in the head never gets old, as proven by the thousands of zombie games that get released each week, but Resident Evil was certainly among the first to popularize the craze among gaming enthusiasts. Umbrella Chronicles does a wise thing and relies heavily on this nostalgia of the original games in the series. You’ll re-visit iconic locales, like Raccoon City and the mansion with a new, first person perspective during the events of Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil 1 and Resident Evil 3. A nice touch for fans, I’ll admit.

I’m not a hugger

It’s all here; the pointless dialogue that is too full of exposition, the snarky one liners that could only be proclaimed by the toughest of action heroes, the evil science corporation conspiracies, the giant creepy crawlies, classic characters such as Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield and, naturally, hordes of undead ghouls looking to take a bite out of you.

Really, the only way to play is with a friend, as gleefully shouting and yelling at each other only adds to the B-movie fun. Aiming with the wiimote, shaking it to reload and counterattacks all feel pretty natural and with a buddy, you can time your reloads to ensure a non stop barrage of bullets without any pregnant pauses. Friendship will be tested, however – if one of you doesn’t react quickly enough during a QTE, you both suffer damage. Hey, there’s always a dual wield option if you’re tired of Henry your friend in question screwing up.

It’s not in HD on the Wii, but the graphics still look pretty good. Although you won’t find much color among the muddy textures, the frame rate holds up and most of the enemies are detailed well beyond what you’ve seen in the past. It also helps that Umbrella Chronicles never overstays its welcome. David Rathbun and I beat it in a few hours on a cold, January night in his old apartment in Halifax. The dreary setting seemed apt for a Nova Scotian winter, and our drunken walks from bar to bar were highlighted by memories of previous Resident evil games, and the one we had just beaten together. It could’ve been more pleasant, I daresay. Ever walked in the Maritimes in the winter? It’s cold. Brutally cold. And we really could’ve used an Umbrella.

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