Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles Review

The storyline of the Resident Evil games has always been a schlocky, B-grade yarn you either feel is taken way to seriously or find to be a competent tale that weaves together its entries in interesting ways. No matter what camp you fall into, you can’t deny the memorable moments and scares the series has provided. From awkward lines such as “The master of unlocking” to the licker getting the jump on you in the interrogation room, the RE games have scared us to death and helped define the survival horror genre.

So what happens when Capcom creates a game that compiles all these great moments into what basically amounts to a greatest hits highlight reel? You get Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, and much like its predecessor The Umbrella Chronicles, The Darkside Chronicles compiles choice scenes from previous RE games, recreates them using modern hardware, and lets you and a friend blast zombies and other beasties into next week in one of the finest light-gun games crafted for the Wii. Where The Darkside Chronicles succeeds over Umbrella Chronicles though, is that the games it’s reimagining are the best ones in the series, making for one frightening, fun, and nostalgic trip through the series’ timeline.

The Darkside Chronicles starts off with its own original scenario, which sees Leon and Krauser on a mission in South America investigating B.O.Ws (biological weapons). After a short tutorial, the game then thrusts you into Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code Veronica, while jumping back into this original side story. The game is narrated by Leon and has a home video feel to it. The menus look as if you are staring into a old CRT television and the loading screens feature white noise as the “tape” is being set to play. It’s a nice touch carried over from The Umbrella Chronicles, which had Wesker reviewing files and narrating, and it pulls you into the world and furthers the nostalga feeling.

While many of you may read “light-gun game” and groan, The Darkside Chronicles has a few tricks up its sleeve that impress and deepen the genre, much like Dead Space Extraction before it. Enemies each have a critical spot on them that deals massive damage. Once you find it, you have to hover your reticle over the point until it glows. Each successful critical hit grants a multiplier that continues to double as you pull of more successive shots — a must for gaining S rankings in missions. The game also features a weapon upgrade system, a la RE4 and 5, where you gain money from shooting objects in the environment. It’s a bit expensive to buy upgrades for the guns though, forcing multiple playthroughs if you want to max out every weapon, a feature some players will like, but left a sour taste in my mouth. Secrets are also accessed the same way, with hidden archives and files in levels that shed more light on the RE universe for those looking to dive deeper into the madness that is the RE story.

The core light gun combat is extremely satisfying. The game throws numerous enemies at you and the Wii Remote’s speaker plays the weapons’ firing sounds back to you making for great feedback. The boss battles are also very fun, having you take evasive maneuvers, such as completing a timed button press to dodge attacks or stepping away from the standard “shoot the weak spot” battle to have you do something different in order to beat them. The game also supports drop-in, drop-out co-op, so a friend can jump in at any time. At times, one of the characters will step out into the view of the other to work computers or open doors, and will be unable to shoot, forcing the able player to protect them.

RE: DC one of the best looking games on the Wii. Environments are rendered beautifully and update the old visuals of the games they are based on. Enemies follow suit and look great. Lickers ooze saliva from their mouths and the insect creatures twitch and move like their real-world inspirations do. The game also plays with the lighting in interesting ways by forcing you to traverse pitch black levels with your gun as a flashlight. The effect looks awesome and really impressed me, becoming some of my favorite levels technically and for the tension they build by not being able to see very far ahead.

The game does take a few misteps that I can’t leave unmentioned, though. The use of the home video trick means that a frustrating shaky cam is used at points in the game. The idea here is that since you can be incredibly accurate with the Wii Remote’s IR sensor, the game shakes the view to disrupt your aim. While this is fine in practice to keep you on your toes, it is used too much. Too many times I would be right about to pull off a critical shot and the camera would shake and make me miss. It can be incredibly frustrating if you are trying to go for a high score, but if you’re just playing casually and want to shoot monsters, you may not have this problem. The voice acting is also atrocious at points. Steve Burnside in the Code Veronica segments is the worst offender as his voice and writing reach the point of hurting your ears. Other characters fare better, but not by much. It’s a shame as the RE series’ voice acting has been improving with the later entries.

Altogether though, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is a solid package with a load of content. The core combat is satisfying, sprinkled with interesting boss fights and fun visual and gameplay tricks to keep the usually stale light-gun formula fresh throughout the campaign. Factor in some secret scenarios (Hunk!) and a deeper look into the RE franchise, and you have a game that fans of the series will fawn over in droves. It’s casual enough for the majority of the Wii fanbase to enjoy, yet features hardcore mechanics that will keep the more dedicated Wii owners blasting away into the night.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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