Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles HD Review (PSN)

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.

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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.

Pros

  • A nice nostalgia kick for Resident Evil fans.
  • Move works well.
  • Will last a while.

Cons

  • 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.

Score: 5/10

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12 Comments

  1. So in a game full of zombies and the game is a on rails shooter, you can’t shoot them in the head to kill them. Makes sense,i mean it’s not like the only way to kill a zombie is to shoot it in the head. Oh wait…

    Not surprised it’s average as Capcom just can’t be bothered when it comes to HD updates and would rather sell us the super awesome hyper extreme editions of games that come with 1 new mode and 8 maps for £40.

    I was hoping that it would support the use of a traditional controller but seeing as it doesn’t. I will flat out refuse to get it due to my dislike of motion controls.

    • Why would you want to play a light gun game without the light gun?

    • You mention Capcom & the fact that its a HD remake, but weren’t the recent re-releases generally regarded as having a decent level of sheen on them?

      • You don’t like motion control??

        My child hood would not of been the same without all those afternoons down arcades playing on rail shooters!!

      • Light gun games arnt bad like house of the dead had good times in arcades with those types of game but motion controllers nah gimme a controller any day of the week.

    • If memory serves (and it hasn’t been changed in the re-release) all the enemies had critical spots which when hit would kill them instantly, zombies had a small area on the forehead which blew their head off quite reliably.

    • Have you not tried the likes of Time Crisis or House of the Dead at the arcade? (on holiday if they still exist somehow) The Move does that just fine however the game really needs to be at least good and enjoyable. Anyway I’ve only played a demo of The Shoot and I thought it played quite well.

      These games would be rather painful without a Light gun or whatever.

    • It DOES support traditional controller.

  2. Just started playing on Resi 3 again to relive some memories.

    STTTTAAAARRRRSSSSSS!!!!!!

  3. Was totally put off by this when I saw the price- 21.99! Sega’s House of the Dead HD remakes are alot cheaper. In fact, I picked up House of the Dead Overkill Extended Cut for 7.99, brand new, from my local GAME a couple of weeks ago. A score of 5 out of 10 is just the final nail in the coffin lid for this.

    • House of the dead is probably better too, by the sounds of it!

      • House of the Dead Overkill is top fun and absurd and trying to maintain a goregasm for more than 2 minutes is actually a lot harder than it sounds

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