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Red Beret avatar 3:59 PM on 06.29.2010  (server time)
House of the Resident Evil

Ever since my first visit to an arcade, I've been a pretty big fan of light gun rail shooters, including Confidential Mission, the Jurassic Park games at places like Frankie's Fun Park, and most of the House of the Dead titles. Thus, it was a pretty standard purchase when I walked into my local GameStop and bought Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.

I figured that it would be a great game, and I was pretty much right. I'm a huge fan of the Resident Evil games (I've played up through Nemesis, so I'm not sure about the others, sadly enough), and as I said before, I'm a big fan of the rail shooter style. It couldn't possibly miss, could it?

Folks, I'm rather torn as to how to rate this. The Umbrella Chronicles is a game that is both absolutely fantastic and frustratingly difficult at the same time. Unlike other Wii titles that I've encountered, the graphics were superb and finely detailed. The story, I was relieved to see, also details the events of the segments (it covers the events of Zero, the first Resident Evil game, and Nemesis, as well as making allusions to Resident Evil 2 in sub-missions) quite accurately. Of course, there are some details that are fuzzy in my memory, but I was fairly impressed with how the story turned out.

Players are also able to select their weaponry from a growing arsenal as they go along, and any ammunition for a weapon that isn't expended during one level is available for the next. Players are able to upgrade their weapons with the points they earn from their ratings, and are scored on a letter system based on kills, headshots, damage taken, the time it took to get through the level, and items collected.

Zombies could either hit you or bite you, and some of the more mutated specimens had other special attacks. Generally, you could get away with a "grapple scene" after instructions flash up on the screen. If you follow the instructions, your character will dodge and in some cases execute the enemy attacking them in one hit.

That said, combat could be rather irritating. The zombies and other creatures you face can take a helluva lot of damage. Even if you're just facing down a regular, non-severely-mutated zombies, it takes the better part of a magazine to put them down. Headshots are recommended, even encouraged, but there are segments that had you completely surrounded. That by itself isn't the issue--Resident Evil zombies have always been able to take a lot of damage. No, what's irritating is that you don't always have time to aim, and you don't always get a chance to "shake the zombie off." This results in you getting beaten to a pulp while being able to do virtually nothing about it.

It's worse in multiplayer--the players have a shared health bar, and if one player fails to follow through with the instructions for a "grapple scene," both players take damage. So, even if you're doing everything right, you can still get killed if the person beside you is doing everything wrong... this doesn't exactly promote friendly feelings of well-being during co-op sessions. God help everyone if the situation is volatile enough, haha (I've seen people beat each other over less significant things than a video game).

Also, the difficulty levels don't seem to affect anything other than how much damage enemies do. On easy, a zombie can kill you in about ten hits. On hard, that goes down to four. I didn't play long in "Hard" mode, so I don't know what the deal with items and such is there, but I know I got killed a lot quicker, haha.

Still, in the end, I've got to give this game an 7/10. I loved the fact that they stayed true to the Resident Evil canon (though I was disappointed that it left out a few characters--Nikolai being amongst them, that magnificient bastard). It's definitely tougher than most of the light gun rail shooters I've played in the past, but I don't like the way the multiplayer works, and as far as I'm concerned, there's no point in playing a rail shooter if you don't have a buddy on board.

Still, worth checking out if you've got some free time and extra cash.

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