Game Review

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sean Aaron

Do not underestimate the power of the Darkside!

When Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles was seen to only cover RE0, 1 and 3 it was pretty clear that a sequel would be in the offing; the positive reception and respectable sales figures it received probably didn't hurt. If you're a fan and expecting more of the same in this digest-version of the Resident Evil saga, then you certainly won't be disappointed as Darkside Chronicles delivers the goods for Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica.

Whilst Umbrella Chronicles concerned the rise and fall of Umbrella from the P.O.V. of outside agents like Chris Redfield and his S.T.A.R.S. team and inside agents like Albert Wesker, Darkside Chronicles has a slightly less coherent narrative about the journeys of Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy through the nightmares resulting from Umbrella's actions and its destruction. The game starts out years after the events of Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica and presents their stories as flashbacks bookended with audio from Leon S. Kennedy. It's an interesting narrative choice and not unlike that used in Umbrella Chronicles which had opening and closing voice-over from Albert Wesker, though it was a bit surprising to start the game out in broad daylight in South America side-by-side with Krauser from Resident Evil 4.

The look and feel of Darkside Chronicles is jarringly different from that of Umbrella Chronicles. Darkside Chronicles has a bold, new menu interface which represents choices between different story pieces and characters as parts of a broken mirror spiralling out of a whirlpool. It's graphically quite impressive and you'll continue to be impressed when you get into the game itself. The opening level in South America is lush, vibrant and new -- people wanting Resident Evil 5 on the Wii can regard this as a preview of what that experience could be like. You'll see a mix of old and new character models in the Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica game chapters, but everything is more crisp and colourful than in the previous game and many models have been updated: most noticeably the Hunters and Lickers.

The biggest new features in Darkside Chronicles are more dynamic camera work and focus on partnership. If you're prone to motion sickness in games with a first-person view, you'll probably want to self-medicate before playing: during running sequences the camera will bounce around actively making it difficult to get a good shot off, whilst elevating the immersion and excitement. It's very much more of a cinematic experience like Dead Space Extraction, though Darkside Chronicles has a lot less interactive narrative portions and isn't quite as tense given your comparatively massive arsenal. Whilst conceptually there were two characters in each of the Umbrella Chronicles chapters, in a single player game this didn't really mean anything. Darkside Chronicles changes that quite a bit by not only frequently displaying the second character on-screen, but also giving them a visible health bar. If the NPC dies the game is just as over as if your character dies, so defending them when they're under attack or giving them herbs when their health is low is a priority.

The controls have changed a bit from the first game with some give-and-take from the perspective of players familiar with Umbrella Chronicles. The (DPAD) is still used for weapons, though rather than simply toggling through them, weapons are mapped to specific directions. Furthermore, you can swap out weapons with any you've gained access to via a Status screen you can call up by pressing - or via the regular pause menu. The trade-off is not only that using the Status screen breaks game flow, but more significantly grenades are no longer automatically part of your arsenal and must be found and equipped like any other weapon. This also means that grenades must be selected then fired with (B), so gunning and chucking grenades is out. Of course that also means you won't accidentally be chucking grenades when you use your knife, which is still a combination of (A) and remote wave as before. Naturally (A) is still your action/context button for picking up or using items when prompted, but there's no true Quicktime events in this game; instead you'll be prompted to press combinations of buttons to evade some attacks during boss battles.

The player no longer has any camera control, so whilst the nunchuk was optional in Umbrella Chronicles, it's even more dispensable now. You can use a nunchuk shake to reload instead of a remote jerk if you like and the (STICK) can be used instead of the (DPAD) for choosing weapons, but why burden yourself? It makes selling the game with a Zapper pack-in an even more bizarre decision; especially since they recommend using the Zapper without the nunchuk installed.

Herbs are no longer automatically consumed but stored for later use and you'll still find a health spray on every level for an automatic continue; though if you perish again you can choose to continue from your last checkpoint when prompted. You can use herbs by pressing +, but if you're playing solo and want to top up your NPC health you'll need to go through the cumbersome process of calling up the Status screen and then click the herbs and choose who to give them to. Of course if you're paying attention you'll be blasting threats to your NPC friend who will return the favour by blasting threats themselves; the more hurt they get the less helpful they'll be. In a two-player match each player has a separate health bar, but you still have an incentive to look after your partner because either one of you dying ends the game. You'll now be sharing the ammo supply, so be sure to work together to maximise it or you'll have a tough time with the bosses, all of whom require hits to critical areas (marked by cursor flashing as in Umbrella Chronicles) to dispatch.

You'll still find the familiar Umbrella icons hidden about which unlock text files relating to the story. Since there's some overlap with the events of the other games in the Resident Evil series you'll find a bit of repetition here with text files talking about Raccoon City and the Umbrella Corporation, but much of it is interesting and fresh. There's a new pick-up in the form of gold which you use to upgrade your weapons in place of earning stars, and unlike the Umbrella icons you can sometimes find gold bars laying about for the taking. Finding the hidden stuff isn't quite as straightforward as the last game, because rather than changing your targeting reticule overtly with white lines, red lines in your reticule move toward the centre. It's so subtle you're unlikely to notice it whilst running away from zombies, so just blast everything in sight in the hopes of getting some goodies and upping your score.

The trade-offs in the control and weapon upgrade system changes give the game a lot more balance. Easy difficulty level has easier to acquire head shots as well as a "lock-on" feature where you can hold the A button to auto-target zombies aimed at players who aren't terribly good shots, but want to follow through the story. Weapon upgrades are no longer lock-step; players now have a shopping list of features that can be individually improved for an increasing amount of gold. You can improve the reload time, rate of fire, capacity, damage and stopping power (enemy knock-back) of a weapon, though some will have a pre-set maximum and/or an upper limit: you still won't be increasing all your weapons to S-ranks in this game. This provides better flexibility, but also adds some balance due to a more restrictive set of weapons on offer (though there are still quite a lot to choose from). Lastly, your weapon ammo only increases according to what you find; unlike Umbrella Chronicles you won't automatically start out with each weapon fully loaded. You can equip a weapon to find there's only two rounds for it; avoiding the old scenario of maxing out the upgrades on the rocket launcher and laying waste to every chapter with it.

After finishing a chapter you're still given a grade from unthinkably low (surely there's nothing below "C?") to S, but which aspects are graded has changed a bit. Finding archives is no longer relevant; nor is there a "destruction" grade. Instead you're graded on score (a point total based on objects destroyed and enemies killed), number of enemies dispatched, number of head shots and completion time. You're then awarded an overall grade and your gold total and numeric score for the chapter are displayed. During play your score is normally hidden, though there is an option to constantly display this if you so desire. Your score and head-shot count can be uploaded to Wi-Fi leaderboards, but frankly the process for uploading and downloading was so tedious that it's really not worthwhile. Since you can only view the top 30 you probably won't see your score there anyway! Besides, the only reason to get the high ranks in the game is to unlock extra content, right?

Archive content can be viewed in a separate menu area and there's a lot on offer. Text files are found everywhere; many chapters have a dozen or more and you'll sometimes find two in the same area so blast the background liberally! Any videos viewed in-game can also be found here and there's further audio files to unlock as well as models to view for characters and enemies which you can zoom and rotate. Having on-screen partners means that you'll find also be able to unlock alternate costumes for some of them which can be equipped before replaying a chapter later. Most of this is only unlocked by playing through the Normal or Hard modes of the game, so replays are encouraged at different difficulty levels to see what you get as bonus.

Disappointingly there doesn't seem to be much in the way of bonus chapters to gain access to as the game unlocks new ones in a linear fashion, but you'll need to replay through multiple difficulty levels in order to find out for sure! Still, there is a lot of content here with the new South American storyline having 5 chapters and the Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica stories having 8 or 9 each. The plot of RE2 will be very familiar to people who played through the original game, though Code Veronica has had some details changed for this presentation. The narratives can get a bit disjointed, but they're quite entertaining with the usual mix of occasionally awkward dialogue and good voice acting shoring up the insanity. If you've played Resident Evil 4 and Umbrella Chronicles you'll be pleased to note reappearing actors that provide continuity and playing the chapters in order across the two games should provide a very lengthy, if entertaining, journey for fans.

Conclusion

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is a worthy sequel to Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. It nicely fills in the story gaps of the first collection and presents a very good-looking and deep light-gun experience. There are some interesting trade-offs in terms of the controls and some of the story lines are overly long (especially true of the Resident Evil 2 sections), but better visuals and more dynamic camera action keep the game fresh and exciting even hours into it. It's a shame there weren't the same amount of bonus chapters featuring alternate points of view like the first game, but there's still plenty to see and enjoy for fans of Umbrella Chronicles or the Resident Evil franchise in general. Here's hoping for a 3rd one covering Resident Evil 4, 5 and beyond!

More Stories

Game Trailer

Shaky cam galore in this RE:DC trailer.

User Comments (45)

Hoffkage

#1

Hoffkage said:

A friend let me the first one and it was cool. I might give this one a chance too. The graphics looks gorgeous for a Wii.

RaylaxStaff

#2

Raylax said:

These are pretty solid graphics for Wii :D
Haven't gotten around to playing a Resi game before. Might pick this up after Christmas, and/or Resi 4.

bro2dragons

#4

bro2dragons said:

i've been wanting this considering i need a good light gun game, and i LOVED Resi 4. i've yet to play any other resident evil games though. would this one fill me in nicely on Leon's story, or would i be totally lost having not played Umbrella Chronicles or any of the other numbered entries?

Egg_miester

#5

Egg_miester said:

i'll check this game out sometime but i am getting a little bored of all the rail shooters

Sneaker13

#6

Sneaker13 said:

Umbrella Chronicles was awesome and can't wait for this one. Too bad I don't have the money for it at the moment. But you can bet your ass that it will enter my Wii Games Collection someday.

PhillaLoup

#8

PhillaLoup said:

an awesome game! the weapontuning is much more complex and the rating-system is way better - compared to UC. the graphics are great for a wii game and the new chapter is very good too!

Let's hope for a 3rd one including Resident Evil 4, degeneration, 5 and beyond ...!

Great Review though ... BUT I have to say you don't have to push the (1)Button and then choose STATUS ... you just can press (-) or (C)...

Sean_Aaron

#9

Sean_Aaron said:

@bro2dragons: Leon first appeared in Resident Evil 2, and the new content takes place before Resident Evil 4, so no, you don't have to have played Umbrella Chronicles for Leon's Story. You will get more out of a few cameos if you have though as there's some bits that take place before and after Umbrella Chronicles in there.

@Gonzo: I do make mention of the - button, but if you're playing remote-only it takes you to your weapon equip screen. With the Zapper layout - is the pause button instead of 1, so I take it you're using those controls?

madgear

#10

madgear said:

Along with the Umbrella Chronicles, most of the graphics for all the pre-Resident Evil 4 games have been re-done in real time 3D. I'd love it if the entire series got remade for the Wii in Resident Evil 4 style. Maybe we could have 2 collections - Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil 1 and a sequel with 2, 3 and Code Veronica.

nintendo87

#11

nintendo87 said:

This game is worth full price loved it and I loved the tofu stage but it's a little hard if u loved UC u will loved this game

PhillaLoup

#12

PhillaLoup said:

@SeanAaron: I use the wiimote-nunchuck controls ...

(control stick) or (d-pad): weapons
(c) or (-): weapon equip menu
(1): pause menu
(a) or (z): action button
(b): shoot-button

I think they should've kept the grenades-system from UC ... it was much more fluent in terms of gameplay + the grenades were much more efficient and powerful

EDIT: can you use the classic controller and how? i saw it in the instruction manual ... but thought it was a failure...

Objection

#13

Objection said:

Nice review. I was a big fan of UC, so I appreciated the detailed lowdown on the changes for this sequel. Hopefully be picking this up with any leftover cash I may have after the holidays.

Sean_Aaron

#14

Sean_Aaron said:

@Gonzo: that is a bit confusing. The first part of the instruction booklet just lays out all the possible controls you can use with the Wii for some reason; not all the ones supported by the game.

I prefer to hold my remote with two hands, cop-style when playing these games to help with the aiming. They really did a nice job with this, but I do miss the multi-faceted nature of Umbrella Chronicles and wish they had done that here.

I suspect we'll see more of Ada Wong and Wesker's actions in the background of the events of Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica in a 3rd game along with RE4 & 5 -- at least I hope so! I suppose they could always do a release just on them and then a separate one for 4&5. I'd happily have a shelf full of Resident Evil light-gun games if they can keep up the quality.

Kirk

#17

Kirk said:

Until I play this game myself I'm not convinced.

The first one was utter garbage imo.

Ren

#18

Ren said:

Yeah, these seem like fun quick games but ultimately just fancy arcade rail shooters. Not a bad thing, but also not very deep. basically rental fare to me.

Ninten

#19

Ninten said:

Nice review, I might pick it up when I have money. I'm still hoping for a Resident Evil 2 remake.

WolfRamHeart

#21

WolfRamHeart said:

Great review Sean. I was considering picking this game up at a later date but now it is a definite must have for me.:)

Sean_Aaron

#23

Sean_Aaron said:

@Gonzo: I never noticed the herbs on the screen I pulled up with -, so I'm embarassed to say I didn't realise it was the status screen! I've corrected the relevant passage in the review, though I still think it's pretty cumbersome. Better to allow to you point at the NPC health bar and press + -- anything but dropping out of the game just to top up NPC health.

Still a great game, but getting S ranks on Normal difficulty is a big pain!

#25

said:

How much has the aim lag improved? that was one of the things that never liked about the 1st part.

Sean_Aaron

#26

Sean_Aaron said:

Well, I cannot say I ever noticed any aim lag in the first one. Are you talking about speed of the targeting reticule?

davegorack

#27

davegorack said:

I loved the frist one though i had to take it back cause i was low on cash.
(Long Story)
Im so geting this one for 2 resons.
1/ I love Resi 2
2/I love lightgun games
oh and ive seen it for £25

LEGEND_MARIOID

#28

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Revw pretty much agrees with what the other reliable revwrs are saying about this game. However, they hate the "wonky", dynamic camera that makes "aiming ridiculously hard"....

Good revw, thanks...but not for me unfortunately.

Sean_Aaron

#29

Sean_Aaron said:

Well, the camera only goes crazy in short bursts when, like, running and anything you cannot hit during that time doesn't matter to your score. I like it better than slowly panning about all the time.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#30

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

I would get it if I could get zombie light gun shooters; but I've sort of retired myself from them as I have three kids and a Mrs (a gamer too) who doesn't like them, lol ;-)

I still have my copy of Res Evil 4 Wii Edition though

Sabrewing

#31

Sabrewing said:

If they make a third one, it needs to cover the Gun Survivor games. Make at least the first one and Dead Aim actually canon, and in a positive way.

#32

said:

@sean aaron - Uhm, no I mean sometimes when I was shooting the screen registered the shot after a small, albeit annoying, time. I thought that was normal but House of the dead 2 and 3 doesn't have that issue.

Or maybe I am being picky I dunno.

angel_m_rivera_colla

#35

angel_m_rivera_colla said:

This game scares the hell out of me....too much tension....I love Cloverfield type games! I am satisfied with my RE collection:RE4 and RE:DCs. PS:I love ZOMBIES!

gertee

#37

gertee said:

Why is it that the Wii gets taken for a ride every time. With XBOX 360 and the PLAYSTATION, Resident evil games are set up to be more player controlled, more choice making. Playing the Wii game is like your the robot going where every the game demands you to go. This game gets a no buy, even though I already purchased it. When it comes to games like this please WII step it up. I'm going back to the XBOX game where I can run away from the monster instead of stand there getting beat to death. COME ON IT WAS RELEASE CLEARLY FOR PROFIT!
WHERE IS the last version of Resident Evil made for XBOX.. why was it not made for the WII

Ristar42

#38

Ristar42 said:

I've played this a good bit for the last two days and I think its a really good 'light gun' game, right up there with the best in the genre for me - enjoyed it way more than UC and Dead Space on the Wii. I would add though, if you're not familiar with the environments from the old games it might not hold the same draw...

Ristar42

#39

Ristar42 said:

Its true the camera shakes like crazy, but it didn't bother me too much as the remote is very precise compared to the 'light guns' of old. There is also the lock on / rocket launcher for delivering those all important final hits to some of the bosses.

Gamer83

#40

Gamer83 said:

The camera was really the only thing I was worried about after reading reviews. But I still bought the game and honestly, I didn't find the camera that bad. I got thrown off once or twice but nothing too major.

Sean_Aaron

#41

Sean_Aaron said:

Yeah, other reviews made a big deal of the camera, but I didn't see it as a problem. The full-tilt running bits are not key point-scoring sessions (though it's a good idea to chuck a grenade at lounging zombies you might pass by).

Hokori

#43

Hokori said:

Ive started to like light gun games a bit more, my friend and I like to play REUC a lot and im thinking of getting this one as well as HOTD2+3R and HOTDO

juztme23

#45

juztme23 said:

This game is God awful. I've enjoyed playing the original RE on PS1, but been busy with work and stuff forever so haven't gotten to the RE games over the past few years. I got RE 4 for wii a few months ago and enjoyed it. Was everything I remembered of the game, solving problems, figuring things out, that's what makes the game fun. So after I beat that 4 different times (you know to get the upgraded weapons) I bought this game. Dreadful, and feel as if I got robbed. This game is pointless as you have no control over anything, the game just pushes you along and you have no choice to turn or run or go anywhere! You also can't go pick up herbs or gold or ammo, instead the shaky camera view gives you a total of 2 seconds to scan over an item to pick it up and if you don't get the item in 2 seconds you have no other chance to get it as the game just pushes you forward. All this game basically allows you to do is push the shoot button, THAT'S IT!!!!!!!! If you're idea of a good game is to hit 1 button continuously until you beat it, this is definitely the game for you, as there's no skill or planning involved with it, not to mention any free choice. How this game got a review of 8 of 10 is beyond me, this game is a 1 on it's best day. Do yourself a favor and pass on it.

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