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Hands-on: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

6:12 PM on 04.14.2007 // Robert Summa

Remember how House of the Dead felt to play in the arcades? Remember that rush of excitement or surprise that lurked around every corner? Yeah, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is not that. Actually, think of those good times in House of the Dead, imagine the opposite, and that's what you have in Umbrella Chronicles.

And you know what the surprising part is? It's not even the Wii's fault. In fact, this game COULD work on the Wii if done right. If there's an FPS style that can function correctly on this system, it's one in which you are on rails -- a game like Rayman proved that to me.

Check out my full impressions after the jump.

Let's first get this dirty stuff out of the way: Of course the graphics and sound are not up to par. We expect that, right? While the look of the game certainly was dark, it just lacked that real polish that you'd like to see in a "next-gen" game. Besides a large snake that popped up during the demo, there was really nothing that made you sit back in eye-stimulating delight.

You know how when you see something you'll nudge a pal, saying, "hey, did you see that? Cool, huh?" Yeah, none of that was there. The game was just bland, at best. 

In fact, the enemies and environments of Umbrella Chronicles were just plain ugly. Certainly a limitation of the Wii, but nothing a little time and effort couldn't have helped quench. While developers may be be limited by the technology, that's no reason to just abandon all hope -- the fact God of War 2 looks as it does is a perfect example.

So, yeah, we all knew that would happen, but what I didn't know would happen was how boring the game actually felt to play. There was no rush, no excitement, no anticipation for something that may surprise you. The game felt slow, sluggish and extremely forced. All I could think to myself while playing was, "Why am I standing here playing this?"

And speaking of forced, let's touch on the controls. In the build we were given to play, you essentially only use the Wiimote. Not a problem, you would think, because like I said, the game is on rails. But, when you're forced to reload by shaking the remote (you know, the thing you're trying to aim with), the whole thing feels like a massive failure in game design.

Why in the world would you choose to map a reload to something that is meant to be your main way of playing? For example, would you ever consider reloading in a game like Halo by moving one of the sticks in a circle? No, you wouldn't.

Hopefully this major flaw will be fixed by the developers with either a remap of the function or incorporating the nunchuck as a reload option, ala Rayman

As far as the story, obviously we couldn't tell if there was one in the demo we were handed. But apparently, this one is deep and closes out the series. Capcom did promise to have something much more meaningful with this edition, but we'll see about that.

Overall, the game is bad right now. But hey, so was Elebits right? And you may be shocked by this, but the game could actually be worthwhile for the Wii and something you'd want to have. It's the kind of game that I could think and would want to work on this system. I don't want to be relegated to just party and non-games. I'd like to see something like House of the Dead work on the Wii, this just doesn't do it right now. 

All the developers have to do is take a step back, look at what they have, and improve and tweak those big problem areas. The foundation is there, we just need some better window dressings. 

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Robert Summa, Contributor
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