The Resident Evil franchise is certainly an odd choice to convert to an on-rails light gun game with the slow, oppressive atmosphere seemingly at odds with what light gun games are about. Never-the-less that didn’t stop Capcom from releasing The Umbrella Chronicles and The Darkside Chronicles on the Wii a few years back, and if memory serves me they did pretty well at retail.
Now they’ve hit the PSN with a fancy “HD” moniker, and my task is to grab The Umbrella Chronicles by the scruff of the neck and see if it’s worth your hard-earned Bison Bucks.[drop]The Umbrella Chronicles takes you on a whirlwind tour of some of the best bits from Resident Evil’s back catalogue. Chapters can be played from Resident Evil 0, 1, 2 and 3, and never before seen locations are thrown in for good measure. It’s total fan-service, and the chance to replay key moments from a new perspective is certainly interesting.
I’m not the world’s biggest Resident Evil fan, but even I had a little shiver of anticipation when stepping into that mansion again.
You’ll also get to take on the role of lots of familiar faces such as Rebecca, Chris, and Jill. That’s right; you can once again become the master of unlocking! For a game of this type there’s certainly a decent amount of content on offer, and you can expect to push past the six hour mark if you play through to the end.
Where the Wii version on the game relied on the Wiimote, PS3 owners get to break out their PlayStation Move controllers, and these certainly don’t disappoint. Calibration is as simple as aiming at a couple of test targets, and once that’s done it’s on to kick zombie ass.
Move feels precise, and certainly more comfortable to hold than the Wiimote. Whilst you can play with just the Move, it’s advised that you also have a Navigation Controller too.
Changing weapons is a button-press away and weapon reloading can be done by shaking the controller, which works really well. If an enemy gets too close you can give them a brand new smile with a knife attack. What’s also neat is the little currency system the game has, whereby earning stars during the campaign allows you to upgrade your secondary weapon.
Unfortunately things go downhill from there. For starters, although the name has “HD” in the title, The Umbrella Chronicles is certainly no looker. Game environments look flat, enemy models basic and the cutscenes look ridiculously grainy.[drop2]Yes, you can argue that it’s a cut-price PSN title, but look at what games like Stranger’s Wrath have achieved – now THAT’S how you do a HD remake. The voice acting is also terrible; probably some of the worst I have come across since 2007, when I played Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles on the Wii.
The amount of damage your weapons do also seems to be a bit hit and miss (pun intended), and rather than being treated to a wonderful shower of brains upon performing a headshot, you get precisely zilch. It’s just not satisfying – a fact made worse by lacklustre weaponry that sound and feel like you’d be better off attacking the zombies with well-timed barbs about their terrible smell and general lack of decorum.
There are also a number of teeth-grindingly frustrating quick-time events which, rather amazingly, can be failed if you happen to be tapping the fire button when they appear. So; a light gun game that will sometimes punish you for playing it like a light gun game.
The main issue is that, whilst the game isn’t overly terrible, it just feels average. There are moments that get the old heart pumping, but these seem few and far between as you trudge from room to room, with the pace of the game totally at odds with what a light gun game should be about.
- A nice nostalgia kick for Resident Evil fans.
- Move works well.
- Will last a while.
- Doesn’t look great and sounds even worse.
- The pacing just doesn’t feel right and the game suffers for it.
- Frustrating quick-time events.
For most of the time Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles fails to impress. Whilst it’s certainly not the worst game out there, it struggles to rise above average, and I wonder if it would sell at all if not for the Resident Evil name behind it. If you’re a fan of the franchise there’s a good chance you’ll get a kick out of this, but for everyone else I struggle to recommend it.