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Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

Platform(s): Wii
Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Cavia Inc.
Release Date: November 17, 2009 (US), November 27, 2009 (EU)


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Wii Preview - 'Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 30, 2009 @ 4:11 a.m. PDT

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles' story is based on Resident Evil 2 and includes Leon S Kenney and Claire Redfield. Its on-rails style gameplay and active camera will create a more immersive "Chronicles" survival experience. As in the last installment, this is a first-person game with extreme shooting gameplay and interactive pathways.

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was billed as a game that both told the "true" history of the confusing Resident Evil story line and introduced a few new twists and turns to the overarching plot. However, gamers were quick to notice that while the game covered Resident Evil and Resident Evil 3 in plenty of detail, it was missing fan favorite Resident Evil 2, except for a brief scenario where you got to play as the mysterious Ada Wong. It was a curious absence, especially considering that many fans consider Resident Evil 2 to be one of the high points of the series. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is looking to solve this problem by forming a companion game to The Umbrella Chronicles and allowing gamers to go through the entire  Resident Evil plot on the Wii, barring the new Resident Evil 5.

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is set to cover most of the Resident Evil plot that the original title didn't cover. So far, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica have been announced as playable scenarios. While both of these scenarios will roughly cover the events as they appeared in the game, there will also be some noticeable differences. For example, Resident Evil 2 seems to be combining the Leon and Claire scenarios and has the pair traveling together. Likewise, Resident Evil: Code Veronica will have infamous Steve Burnside traveling alongside Claire for much longer than he does in the original game. In addition, there are a number of indications that there will be new scenarios in the game that cover events in the Resident Evil timeline that never before occurred on-screen, similar to the final levels in Umbrella Chronicles. While the exact content of these stages wasn't apparent from our E3 demo, recent information suggests that it will involve Leon in his adventures prior to Resident Evil 4.

The Darkside Chronicles plays very similarly to the original The Umbrella Chronicles game. Up to two players can team up and take on the endless hordes of zombies and monsters in a classic rail shooter. As players venture through the zombie-infested areas, they'll be challenged to defeat enemies as quickly and efficiently as possible. As you'd expect, this usually means headshots. In particular, zombies are most vulnerable to a shot directly to the brain. Players are encouraged to go for headshots whenever possible so that they can avoid getting gnawed by zombies. As more advanced monsters appear, you'll have to adapt to their changes. Sometimes the head won't be the most vulnerable area, or sometimes you'll discover the monster's head is far more difficult to hit compared to a lumbering zombie. Either way, the focus of the game is less on rapid fire and more on quick, efficient shots.

The Darkside Chronicles seems poised to play up the idea of efficient shots being more important. In the scenarios that we got to play, we found that the game generally had a lot more going on than its predecessor. The levels played more like they were shot from a handheld camera instead of the more static scenarios in the previous game. It wobbled, shook and moved around a lot more, and the characters stayed stationary for less time and tended to perform more active maneuvers, like leaping over tables. This made it a lot more important to aim your shots carefully, as firing wildly made it more difficult to defeat zombies. Fortunately, this never occurred during scenes where a zombie was just about to bite us. Instead, it seemed to exist when zombies were well outside of our danger zone. If we could, it was easier to handle the more dangerous zombies when they got close. These new hectic moments are also punctuated by an increased focus on the game's multiplayer. Every so often, one of your characters will be grabbed or ambushed by a monster, and you'll have to do some fancy shooting to save them. While you can't shoot your partner during these scenarios, he also can't fire his gun, which makes things difficult, if you're not careful.

While Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was fun and relatively easy to learn, it could be a bit tough to hop right in and play. The Darkside Chronicles looks to make things more user-friendly. The game adds an inventory, allowing you to pick up herbs and items to be used later in the game. You can now carry up to four weapons at once and switch between the weapons on the fly using the Wii's d-pad. Simply bind your weapon of choice to the desired direction on the d-pad, and press that direction to equip the weapon. While the pistol is going to be your mainstay gun, there will be a wide variety of Resident Evil favorites to equip, including shotguns, magnums and grenade launchers. You'll also be able to choose from branching plot paths. For example, in one area, you'll find a door with a lock on it. If you're quick, you can shoot the lock and go through a new path. Take too long, and a zombie ambush will distract your characters from the possible route. In general, The Darkside Chronicles looks a more like a "pick-up-and-play" game when compared to its predecessor.

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is a full-on sequel to The Umbrella Chronicles. While not a lot has changed, there appear to have been a number of tweaks and changes to make the overall gameplay more interesting. The new camera makes the experience quite different, as it gives the entire situation a far more hectic and tense feel than its predecessor. However, the simplified gameplay controls mean that it also looks to be a lot more friendly and easy to pick up, which could do a lot to make The Darkside Chronicles a fun party game. Either way, those Resident Evil fans who are looking for a new fix now that Resident Evil 5 is out will be quite pleased with the chance at new scenarios in the Resident Evil universe. Those of you who don't know the difference between a Hunter and a Chimera, however, may still find Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles to be a solid rail-shooter that makes good use of the Wii's controls and is easier to play than its predecessor. Either way, you should be able to get your fill of zombie-killing action when The Darkside Chronicles hits the Wii later this year.

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