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Perfecting the Formula
The Darkside Chronicles is not a ground-breaking title by any means. Aside from its prequel, Umbrella Chronicles, Resident Evil-themed rail shooters have existed since the days of the original Playstation. While Darkside Chronicles may not have been released with much fanfare, its a game that doesn't damage the series' good name and its a must have for casual and diehard Resident Evil fans alike.
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Again, nothing really new here. The title really isn't about suvivor horror as much as simply shooting to kill. Using the Wii Zapper, you blast your way through zombies and other Umbrella-created nightmares in a new scenario jungle in South America, as well as the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica. The controls are decent, though not outstanding in this rail shooter. You gain ammo and special items (i.e. green herb) by shooting destructible items and picking them up - though the shaky camera makes this a lot more difficult than it sounds with the realistic, but irritating camera shakes.
The boss battles can be very irritating. They are either easy and repetitive, or extremely difficult without really cluing you in to what a given boss' weak spot is a la the House of the Dead series. There was even one boss whose enemy life meter and completely emptied, but he didn't actually die until I shot in him one more time in a specific location.
Another major drawback is while you can carry over weapons and munitions from level to level, the same can't be said for healing items. It appears the fine people at Capcom were trying to add an extra layer of difficulty to keep gamers from stockpiling health. Also, interestingly enough, while you can utilize the herbs at any point, the health spray itself will automatically utlize itself once you've been killed, call it a one-time 'do over.'
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Game Modes and Replay Value
There isn't much depth in terms of modes, though anything else would likely add up to sub-par mini games anyways, similar to Resident Evil 4. Apart from collecting items, there isn't much built in for replay value, either. By collecting gold you can upgrade your weapons, which is a plus.
There are also Umbrella "Archives" you can collect which fill in the pieces of the story. This is all well and good regarding the new South American scenario, but for most hardcore fans, the back story of Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica are well known. Obviously this was a wise and necessary add on by Capcom for newcomers to the series.
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Graphics and Sound
The actual in game graphics are a bit above average for the Wii, and the various cut scenes look superb. Seeing the sights of Racoon City, including the Police Station, the sewers and the secret Umbrella factory so faithfully recreated was pleasing to this nostalgic gamer, but its really the sounds of the game that brings experience alive. The eerie music, while slightly enhanced, appears to be exactly same as when the games originally appeared on their original consoles years ago.
The sound effects are also decent, while the voice acting is nothing spectacular. However, when compared to some of the voice acting in previous entries of the series, most notably the first, the voice acting here deserves some sort of award or accolade.
While this may get downplayed a lot in other games, Umbrella Chronicles is a perfect example of how great the speaker is on the Wii Remote. This is one significant attribute of the Wii that the good folks from Nintendo don't get nearly enough credit for. There's nothing more satisfying (other than perhaps a good head shot or two) than hearing the sounds of gun fire and reloading from the remote itself.
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While this game is a significant upgrade over Umbrella Chronicles, it reminded me too much at times of the House of the Dead series in terms of both game play and presentation. In the event Capcom decides to create another rail shooter based on its popular survival horror franchise, one would hope they could do a bit more to set it apart.
Given that the prequel retold the events of Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, the series is running out of source material. Its highly doubtful that a new chronicles game would be in the works based on Resident Evil 4 and 5 as both titles are still relatively new.
That said, the music is fantastic and the gameplay is certainly fun. Capcom very faithfully recreates the environments and characters from some of the previous entries of the series. Longtime Resident Evil fans will delight in this and may stir newcomers to go back and try some these survival horror classics. So grab your trusty Wii Zapper and get ready to blow some zombies away!