have to admit to some surprise that this odd concept shaped up into such a fun game. It was hard for me to imagine the idea of distilling the atmosphere and allure of Resident Evil into what amounts to a light gun shooting gallery, particularly after previous attempts like Survivor and Dead Aim were so disastrous. Having now played the finished product, I see the secret lies in embracing the shooter elements and delivering an action-packed thrill ride, while grounding the game in the familiar events and stories that players have encountered for years. Gone are those long, lonely moments of silence and drawn out plots of the original Resident Evil games. In some ways, Umbrella Chronicles is the video game equivalent of a greatest hits album, but one where your favorite musician has had some modern updates to his sound. If that sounds terrible to you, Umbrella Chronicles might not deliver. But give it a chance, and you may warm up to the new vibe.
Each level of Umbrella Chronicles has players adopt familiar characters from earlier games in the franchise before diving into the zombie-infested craziness that were those early adventures. The Wii remote works extremely well, whether you’ve got it mounted in the new Zapper peripheral or not. Fights are fast and intense, but they carry more depth than is traditionally seen in gun-based rail shooters. As the levels wear on, the importance of timing your reloads and noticing critical locations to hit on each body becomes even more important. In particular, the boss battles are a blast as truly horrific giant beasts weave in and out of the frame before diving down towards you to strike. Rapid button press dodges and action commands keep you on your toes, and the level designs are chock full of goodies hidden in lamps, pots, and other paraphernalia, all of which are great fun to shoot to pieces. Meanwhile, the weapons feel solid and powerful, from the head-exploding shotgun blasts to the knife slashes you’ll enact with the remote when the flesh-eaters get too close for comfort.
While playing alone will certainly amplify the scares and the challenge, the game is way more fun with a partner at your side; all of the main story is playable by two gunners simultaneously. Some unlockable bonus chapters only offer single-player, but they are great additions nonetheless. Meanwhile, a steady flow of hidden memos and books keep appearing in your archive as you play, offering a rare glimpse at the Resident Evil mythos as a whole interconnected affair.
Finally, not to be overlooked is the excellent graphical presentation. Well-animated enemies react realistically to your shots, while the environments themselves are some of the best I’ve seen on the Wii to date. This is a surprisingly big and challenging release, and not one to be overlooked as just another simplistic rail shooter. It may not be the next big release in the franchise, but Umbrella Chronicles deserves its place right beside the other games in this venerable series.