Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles is an on-rails light gun shooter and follow up to 2007’s Umbrella Chronicles. Where Umbrella Chronicles delved into the stories of Resident Evil: Zero, the original RE, and RE 3: Nemesis, Darkside Chronicles retells the stories from RE 2, and RE: Code Veronica. There is also an added chapter that ties them together, Operation Javier. All three chapters are narrated by series regular Leon Kennedy.
Familiarity with Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica helps you appreciate these story re-tellings, and it’s nice to see modern graphical updates to an overrun Raccoon City and the Antarctic research facility, for example. Operation Javier, set in 2002 in sunlit South America invokes RE 5. But it’s not necessary to know the stories to enjoy the game. You pretty much get the gist: The Umbrella Corporation represents the Epitome of Evil, and their bioengineered viruses mutate people into monsters. Other than that, shoot every bloody thing in sight. Go for a high score. Light gun shooters are elegant in their simplicity.
The control input is also simple, elegant, and user-friendly. Use the Wii Remote to point and shoot, and use the Nunchuk stick to switch weapons. It’s also compatible with the Wii Zapper. The handgun with its infinite ammo and precision with headshots will be your primary weapon, but the ability to use different weapons adds some nice variety, not to mention that higher caliber weapons are more effective against some of the wilier creatures. Over the course of the game you’ll attain a submachine gun, a shotgun, a magnum revolver, grenades, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher, and a rather useless bow gun. Finding gold scattered throughout the areas allows you to buy upgrades to the weapons, too. Occasional quick time button prompts relieve the need to constantly shoot. Blasting the heads of zombies is always good fun, but even better with a friend during co-op play. It also makes tackling the tough boss battles easier.
I love a good challenge, but some of the boss battles are just ridiculously hard. Some of them have impossible-to-avoid projectile attacks forcing the use of healing herbs. A number of them regenerate their health or take a new form. Also, to go for a “you-are-there” feel, the developers employed the use of a shaky, hand held camera effect. It works well cinematically for the horror elements, but frustrating in use. Defeating bosses often requires shooting a constantly moving weak point like a head or open mouth, where the shaky camera is a total liability. It’s also necessary for both offense and defense, as precise shots can prevent the enemy from dealing ugly damage. Yes, it’s exciting, but exhausting in single player. The final boss is the perfect example of this love/hate relationship. The shaky cam will also drive you crazy when trying to grab crucial items like healing herbs and first aid sprays. Maybe I’m just not “hardcore” anymore, but insanely hard does not necessarily equate fun. Browsing the online leader boards, I observed that all the top scores are also on the “Very Hard” difficulty. Good for them, but no thanks…Normal difficulty is fine enough for me.
Though as far as light gun shooters go, you really can’t go wrong with Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles. Its user-friendly interface, upgradeable weapons, and intense shooting action make the game a fun way to waste a few hours, especially with co-op play. RE completists will also appreciate the archives collected throughout the game, offering detailed monster info, character files, and movies. Camera issues aside, Darkside Chronicles is an entertaining, gory stroll through Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica.
Steve Burnside and his stylish choke collar: not the best attire for prison.
- Simple, intuitive interface
- Co-Op Play
- Weapon variety
- Light Gun vs. zombies never gets old
- Shaky camera great for cinematics, not for gameplay
- Single player can be insanely difficult above Easy
Final Verdict: Praise It