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Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles

by Zachary Miller - December 3, 2007, 2:51 pm PST
Total comments: 17

9

House of the...Biohazard?

While the Wii might not be getting Resident Evil 5, Capcom was kind enough to produce an exclusive game for us Nintendo gamers. That game is Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, which encapsulates the early storylines of the series and throws in a new one for good measure. The game is basically a rail shooter, and the horror atmosphere inevitably leads to comparisons with the House of the Dead series…which Umbrella Chronicles is clearly inspired by. Capcom, however, has done an admirable job in making RE: UC a fun, surprisingly deep adventure that will please not just fans of the series, but Wii owners looking for the next great action title. Umbrella Chronicles includes various areas from Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil (the GameCube remake), and Resident Evil 3, as well as several bonus missions and a new "chapter" in the RE saga. At the game’s outset, you select a character, your subweapon, and which stage you want to tackle. Then it’s off to the rails!

For those unfamiliar with "on-rails" shooter games, the basic idea is that you do not control the movement of your character, aside from some limited "looking around." Rather, you are in complete control of the character's gun and grenades while undead beasties and biological weapons attack at every corner. Umbrella Chronicles makes great use of the Wii Remote, although pressing B instead of A to fire your gun takes a bit of getting used to after playing Metroid Prime 3. Umbrella Chronicles expands Resident Evil 4’s action and dodge mechanics. Pressing A while the target is over various shiny things will result in you unlocking new guns or files that further the plot. Boss fights are a combination of good aiming and quick reflexes (think about the Krauser knife fight in RE4).

Each stage is divided into two not-necessarily-equal parts, and the halfway point is auto-saved, so when the stages start getting a bit long in the tooth (as they do late in the game), you can take a break and continue later. After finishing a stage, you are ranked from S to D, based on various criteria, and are awarded a certain number of stars that you can use to upgrade your guns.

Umbrella Chronicles puts an enormous emphasis on shot accuracy. Each enemy in the game has a specific weak point, and you should try to shoot it for massive damage. That weak point is generally somewhere on the head, although there are a few enemies (like Leech Mimics) that either don’t have a weak point, or it’s just hard to find. Grenades are good for clearing out a big group of undead, but I found aiming to be a little tricky—your grenades will bounce farther than you think they will. And like most other RE games, it takes a quite a few shots to down a shambling zombie if you’re not right on the mark. The different guns generally fall into three classes: handguns, machine guns, and shotguns. There are some specialty weapons, like revolvers and a grenade launcher, but I didn’t find them to be worth the trouble, especially given their low ammo capacity.

The game stays amazingly true to the RE games, and each boss fight is a memorable experience (although some go on for too long). You’ll battle such famous creatures as the giant scorpion (RE0), Tyrant (RE1), and the Gravedigger (RE3). The bonus missions add new bosses to the series and fill in some of the plot holes that have dogged the storyline (like how Rebecca got into the mansion). Sadly, other plot holes inevitably open up. It’s kind of cool that your character and your partner talk to each other throughout each stage, so there’s a real feeling of immersion—you only know as much as the characters do. Shooting various environmental objects will often net you Umbrella Files that you can read from the main menu.

Co-op is where the game really shines. Get two Wii Remotes, two Nunchuks, and a buddy and go nuts! The game doesn’t throw extra enemies at two players, so team efforts are a little easier than the solo game, which can, at times, be quite difficult. Boss fights become a little bit too easy sometimes, when one player is knocking the boss away while the other player constantly fires at its weak spot, but that’s why it’s fun, too. If you don’t have any friends, you can cheat and duel-wield, which is a whole different kind of fun (although a little tricky).

Now, there are some complaints to be had. First and foremost, RE2 is not included in the game. Neither is RE4, but we just played through the Wii version of that game, didn’t we? At any rate, the omission of RE2 segments is unusual to say the least. Another complaint is that many enemies have extremely small weak points. For example, in order to blow the head off a zombie, you have to shoot it right at the top of the forehead. That becomes difficult when the shambling undead lurch, dip, and stumble at every turn. Once you get the hang of finding that weak spot, it’s actually much easier to stay "on target," but the learning curve for weak points is severe.

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is a real treat, and I can’t recommend it more. Unless you have an aversion to rail shooters, you’d be silly not to at least give this game a rental. It also makes for a wonderful summary of the major points in the complex RE storyline, so players new to the franchise can warm up to the current situation.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 9 9 8.5 9 9
Graphics
8

Not the best I’ve seen on the Wii, but it looks darn good for a GameCube game. Everything is a little bit too dark, although the water effects are nice, and the monster designs (while very little is actually new) are spot-on. Some of the creatures have somewhat jerky animations, though. I say it’s on par with RE4.

Sound
9

The music is present, but not overbearing. In fact, I often didn’t notice it, but there is lots of ambient noise and a ton of spoken dialogue. I’ve never really liked Wesker’s voice, but it would seem that the entire cast from the GameCube games is reprising their roles for Umbrella Chronicles. Carlos (from RE3) certainly isn’t Mexican.

Control
9

Press B to fire, and wiggle the Remote to reload. That’s honestly all you need to know! The controls are awesome in their simplicity. This game is compatible with the Zapper, if you care.

Gameplay
8.5

I like rail shooters, because I’m not good at first-person shooters. Thankfully, half of the job is being done by the computer (the moving), and I’m quite good at the aiming and the shooting.

Lastability
9

It’s almost criminal how many things you can unlock, although the vast majority will be interesting only to the RE hardcore among us. Still, the plentiful bonus missions, guns, and info files will keep you going long into the night. It’s incredibly fun to go back to older missions after upgrading your weapons and improving your aiming technique.

Final
9

It’s very hard not to like this game. Aside from some graphical irks, it’s just about the perfect rail shooter and an obvious choice for Wii owners looking for some action. If you like Resident Evil, it’s a no-brainer. If you’ve never played Resident Evil but like House of the Dead, it’s also a no-brainer. If you’ve never played either series, at least give Umbrella Chronicles a rent. It’s something special.

Summary

Pros
  • Co-op is amazingly fun
  • Lots of unlockables and, thanks to the ranking system, replay value
  • Nicely summarizes the main RE storyline
  • The old-school arcade vibe is appreciated and works wonderfully
Cons
  • Graphics haven't evolved much since RE0 and RE4 on the GameCube
  • Some of the main bosses repeat in the bonus missions
  • There are times where the sheer number of enemies will frustrate the solo player
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

Smash_BrotherDecember 03, 2007

I agree.

The game is easily the best lightgun game I've played. I hope this bodes well for taking the genre in new directions.

GoldenPhoenixDecember 03, 2007

I haven't gotten a chance to play a ton of RE: UC, but from what I played the game deserves this score.

Smash_BrotherDecember 03, 2007

If I didn't have piles of other things to play (dumbass xmas gaming flood...) I'd have been working on my Hard S-ranks by now and getting all the weapons upgraded fully.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterDecember 03, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Smash_Brother
If I didn't have piles of other things to play (dumbass xmas gaming flood...) I'd have been working on my Hard S-ranks by now and getting all the weapons upgraded fully.


Since you mentioned it, I have the feeling UC is going to be a lot like RE 4; Difficult when you first start it but once you put a lot of effort into upgrading the weapons and getting better ones it becomes an insanely fun experience.

I know I had a blast unlocking the best weapons in RE 4 and just going on a rampage, tossing villagers and monsters aside like they were flies.

And I agree with this review. The game is surprisingly well made and deserves at the very least a rent. Who knew that the RE spin off game fanboys made a HUGE fuss over in the last couple of month turned out to be one of the best action games and third party offerings on the Wii? XP

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusDecember 03, 2007

I have fond memories of playing arcade light gun games (like Area 51) and dual wielding the guns. Although that always cost twice as many quarters. It's rather hard to aim two guns.

I know I had my reservations when I heard that this game would be a light-gun game... but it's just so awesome. I was so wrong. I am so happy.

The game is actually pretty challenging in single-player though. It's almost like the game was balanced for two-player instead... or I just suck. &P

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterDecember 03, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Kairon
I know I had my reservations when I heard that this game would be a light-gun game... but it's just so awesome. I was so wrong. I am so happy.

The game is actually pretty challenging in single-player though. It's almost like the game was balanced for two-player instead... or I just suck. &P


Oh, it isn't you. I've played the game single player and its indeed difficult. I think its Capcom's way of forcing the player to work cooperatively against some incredible odds. I know there have been times in which I would struggle with a boss, but once a second player joined in we smoked those suckers!

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusDecember 03, 2007

I am not surprised that it is balanced towards two players. Virtually every light gun game out there that allows two players are almost unplayable with one gun/player to the end on one credit. But seriously, with almost any light gun game dual wielding is where the action is.

DjunknownDecember 03, 2007

Quote

I’ve never really liked Wesker’s voice, but it would seem that the entire cast from the GameCube games is reprising their roles for Umbrella Chronicles.


I'd like to dispute that. Rebeca Chambers sounds different in each game, from the REmake, to RE 0, to RE:UC. Same with Billy. Same with Jill, the voice actress does her best to hide her southern accent, but slips in the opening cutscene when she's talking to Carlos for the first time. The giveaway line is "I'm fine..."

Quote

Carlos (from RE3) certainly isn’t Mexican.


He's not. He's Columbian! At the very least, from South America... face-icon-small-wink.gif

Has anyone scored a D after clearing a level? I consider myself to be pretty bad, since I continue like mad, adding lots of time, but get everything else at least a B.

Quote

First and foremost, RE2 is not included in the game


If you count Hunk's 4th survivor and Ada's scenario it'd be more like RE 2.5. But I get your point. Is Capcom thinking REmake v2? And what about Code Veronica X? Hmmm....

RE:UC does have that universal appeal. The people that I play with aren't obsessed into RE a whole lot, but dig the action. Definitely a game that anyone can play.

The removal of tank controls automatically makes the game awesome.

GalfordDecember 03, 2007

I have mixed feelings towards this game.

While it's cool to see the fall of Umbrella it leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

It also skews heavily towards two player combat.
You fight the same number of enemies one and two player mode.

I just can't shake the feeling this game could have been so much more, but Capcom futzed it up.

PS- This game was suppose to play like RE4, but was changed because the producers thought an RE4 style game would be too hard.

GoldenPhoenixDecember 04, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Galford
This game was suppose to play like RE4, but was changed because the producers thought an RE4 style game would be too hard.


Actually I have a feeling that was BS, I think the main reason was budget.

Shift KeyDecember 04, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Galford
It also skews heavily towards two player combat.


All I'm hearing is "I have no friends, why didn't Capcom consider me and me alone?"

Grow some testicles and play with both hands.

LuigiHannDecember 04, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Shift Key
Quote

Originally posted by: Galford
It also skews heavily towards two player combat.


All I'm hearing is "I have no friends, why didn't Capcom consider me and me alone?"

Grow some testicles and play with both hands.


Hey now, I think it's a fair complaint. Fighting the same number of zombies whether you're alone or with a partner seems somewhat odd. Then again, I'm not familiar enough with this particular genre to know if that's common or not.

AManatee2December 04, 2007

lolz, weak points involving massive damage.

Smash_BrotherDecember 04, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: AManatee2
lolz, weak points involving massive damage.


Shame "Giant enemy scorpion" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

I'm actually surprised. I just kept expecting another bad RE light-gun game. Man, now I have to buy another game.

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Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles Box Art

Genre Adventure
Developer Capcom
Players1 - 2
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
Release Nov 13, 2007
PublisherCapcom
RatingMature
jpn: Biohazard: Umbrella Chronicles
Release Nov 15, 2007
PublisherCapcom
Rating15+
eu: Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
Release Nov 30, 2007
PublisherCapcom
Rating18+
aus: Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
Release Dec 13, 2007
PublisherCapcom
RatingMature (15+)
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