Hands-on: Umbrella Chronicles: Pt2, the Dyson side of things

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I never thought the day would come that I would agree with Summa’s opinion of a Wii game. Normally he and I are of two different views on just about everything, but as far as Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is concerned, he’s pretty much right. (Aah! It hurts!)

I know that Rob gave you his ‘unbiased’ view of what he saw, so I’m just going to going to play devil’s advocate with my own impression. Unfortunately, my devil is asleep and is hardly in the mood to advocate. So I’ll just be giving you a more fleshed-out impression and, believe it or not, support Summa’s verdict. (The agony!)

Watch me sell my soul after the jump.

When Capcom showed off the video for Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles I immediately thought to myself “House of the Dead?” because, well, that’s what it looked like. I’m not saying this as a negative either, I really like both of these series and would love to see a good Capcom shooter on the Wii. But it’s just that the game really looked like HotD when they showed the video.  

In fact, when mingling around the Capcom event, (as a joke) I kept calling the game House of the Dead. So much so, that when one of the Capcom people came to get me for my turn to play, they told me that “House of the Dead .. er, Umbrella Chronicles” was available. Pure hilarity.

Actually, it would’ve been funny if it weren’t so true. The only way that you can discern that Umbrella Chronicles (UC) is a Resident Evil title, is that during game play you’re occasionally shown small cinemas of RE’s Jill and Chris. Without that nod to canon (along with the fact that the demo level is the mansion from RE1) Umbrella Chronicles is almost identical to SEGA’s zombie filled shoot-fest, House of the Dead.

Sadly, it’s when you begin comparing the two games that you start to realize how flawed UC is as a shooter. It seems that Capcom hasn’t fully committed to making a Resident Evil gun game; one that could mimic the play and control that you would find in the other zombie gun game. Instead, they decided to kind of ‘split the difference’ between the shooter and adventure genre and opted to included the use of the Nunchuck peripheral. It is at this point where Umbrella Chronicles goes horribly awry.

See, Rob was almost right when he said that you only “essentially” use the Wiimote. The game does utilize the Nunchuck attachment, but all the important gameplay functions are controlled by the Wiimote (shooting, weapon change, stuff like that). The Nunchuck is relegated to moving your character’s point of view around while you progress through the level (on rails, remember) and nothing else.

To get and idea of how the Nunchuck camera control works, all you have to do is look forward. Now, without moving your head, look left, then look right, now look up and then down. That is, I swear, the full extent of the Nunchuck’s usage. While having extra control doesn’t sound like a bad idea, you need to consider that you’re playing a gun game. When was the last time you played a gun game with only one hand on the gun controller? It’s pretty hard, right?

That’s the problem. The Wiimote’s aim is a little shaky as it is, and forcing the player to take his second hand off the Wiimote to utilize the relatively useless Nunchuck control, completely negates any precision shooting you may have been able to accomplish with both hands on the Wiimote. Keep in mind that this shakiness may not seem like a big deal to you when you’re using the Opera Browser to look at porn, but it’s going to make a huge difference when you’re trying to headshot zombies in Umbrella Chronicles. I had a hell of time just trying the keep the reticule on target with one hand, and considering UC is a game about targets — that’s a bad thing

As far as the overall game play, I’m going to agree with Summa yet again. (Now it burns!!) I wouldn’t go as far as to say “massive failure in game design,”  but you do feel as if the game’s designers weren’t really thinking things all the way through.

For example, since I was never told how to reload my weapon I just kept shaking the Wiimote as a solution. This seemed to work, but wouldn’t it have just been easier to fire a shot offscreen like every other gun game?

Also, instead of using a side graphic to represent the amount of ammo you have left, the developers created a circular ammo ‘meter’ of some sort. This meter is now part of your aiming reticule. As you’re firing your weapon, the level on the meter will go down and will eventually let you know when it’s time to reload.

What it fails to tell you is how many actual bullets you have left.

I found this not only incredibly frustrating, but also ridiculous. It’s like looking at your car’s gas gauge and trying to figure out exactly how many gallons of gas are in the tank. It’s these poor choices in game play design that causes me to believe that the wrong type of development team is working on this title.

Where' my eyes?!

Now lets talk about the graphics. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, Rob is a graphics whore — the shinier the better. I on the other hand, tend to judge my games on the level of fun that they provide, regardless of the amount of polygons being pushed. But once again, I painfully have to agree with Mr. Summa; the game lacks effort, the backdrops are as blah as can be, and the general presentation is underwhelming to say the least.

This doesn’t surprise me, though. Not because I think poorly of the Wii, but because the developers told us that the graphics were crap before we even played. They specifically said that the graphics being used in the build were old, and were just there to give us an idea of gameplay.

So, yes, the graphics are pretty meh, but don’t let Summa rain on your hope parade, the graphics that you’re seeing now aren’t going to be the ones you’ll (supposedly) see in the final product.

Overall, I would have to say I was definitely not impressed. It feels like the team that Capcom is using is ill-suited for this type of game, or that the team they’re using just couldn’t decide whether to make an adventure title or a shooter. Too many elements from both genres are combined here in the worst possible way, and it shows.

Umbrella Chronicles has the potential to be an award winning title, and I hope Capcom will realize this and make changes. All of the issues that I felt detracted from my enjoyment could easily be fixed before the game’s release. But as it looks now, this game is a bust.

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