Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles
Hearing about another light-gun game for Wii isn’t always the most exciting news. While the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles get endless streams of AAA titles from the canons of their favorite franchises, most Wii owners are left with quick cash-ins and side stories. With the success of Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, it is, therefore, no surprise to see Capcom churn out another on-rails shooter in hopes of satiating fans. Is this latest entry into the venerated saga worth its weight in gold, or is Darkside Chronicles just another generic zombie-fest that’s dead on arrival?
Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles is told from the perspective of Leon S. Kennedy as he travels throughout parts of South America (along with his cohort, Jack Krauser) in search of Javier Hidalgo, a drug lord who has had dealings with the Umbrella Corporation. The game flashes back to the events of both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica, but it also offers up new bits of story that fill in the gaps between various entries in the series. If nothing else, Darkside Chronicles offers a great way for newcomers to catch up with the Resident Evil lore, as well as giving vets of the franchise a few healthy doses of fan service.
You can opt to play with just the Wii Remote, Wii Remote and Nunchuk, or the Wii Zapper. The differences are minor, and I found using just the Wii Remote to be the most comfortable choice. Weapons are mapped to the D-pad, you aim with the pointer, of course, and fire with the B button. You can use your knife at any time by holding the A button and swiping with the controller. The set-up works well, and a variety of cinematic nuances often make the game feel like more of an adventure than just another on-rails shooter.
Camera control and movement is completely driven by the game, however, but there are occasions when you’ll be given a choice on which direction to travel in. Considering you can redo completed chapters as often as you like, multiple paths definitely add some replay value.
As you make your way through chapters, you’ll come across gold bars and such, which will allow you to purchase upgrades for your weapons. Healing herbs and sprays can be stored, and handgun ammo is unlimited. The other types of ammo, on the other hand, are finite. If you’re playing co-op, the ammo and herbs are shared amongst yourselves, and even on the normal difficulty setting, most folks will want to conserve their good stuff for bosses and other more powerful enemies.
Darkside Chronicles has good pacing, but it’s still very much an arcade experience. Unlike Dead Space: Extraction, there’s not a whole lot else to do besides shooting. Bosses are formidable and the gameplay gets challenging; just don’t expect a true survival-horror experience. Though the shaky cam adds a bit of excitement to the onscreen action, this is not a scary game.
With that being said, there are tons of great little story tidbits tossed into the mix, as well as ample Resident Evil quirkiness to enjoy. The shooting feels good, and though we appreciate the “strategic dismemberment” of Extraction, there’s nothing quite like an old-fashioned headshot. The game’s extras and unlockables are a bit on the meager side, but there is, surprisingly, an online leader board, which adds a bit of competitive fun to the equation.
Visually, the game has its ups and downs. The character models exhibit some wonderful detail, as do most environments, but there’s a lot of shimmer, especially when out in full daylight. The animations look good, though, and there’s plenty of enemy variety. A few impressive lighting effects elevate the production values above most other Wii games, but you won’t mistake Darkside Chronicles for a next-gen title. There are some cool sounds and feedback that emanate from the Wii Remote, yet the bullet sounds aren’t that great. The voice work, however, should prove pleasing to most fans, with many familiar voices from past games in the series.
Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles isn’t the best light-gun shooter on Wii, and generally speaking, it feels like Capcom skimped a bit with respect to extras. Still, folks are getting quite a hefty story, and the pacing of most chapters makes for a fun, casual ride down memory lane.