Review by SMuffinMan
"An improvement over Umbrella Chronicles, but not completely."
Needless to say, after finally getting around to playing UC and upon beating it, I was totally geared up for this game, and it delivers in pretty much all aspects. My only gripes with the game are relatively minor, and it's still a most excellent game.
Gameplay (9/10): Darkside Chronicles, like the Umbrella Chronicles, is an on-rails shooter, much like House of the Dead or Time Crisis. There's a variety of items to pick up. First Aid Sprays make a return as a continue or extra life, depending on how you want to look at it. One thing that's most definately an improvement is the herbs. In The Umbrella Chronicles, when you picked up an herb, it was used immeadiately. Now you can store them for later use, instead of having to waste them. The system for upgrading weapons has improved too. In levels you'll find various amounts of cash either out in the open or by shooting a light fixture, candle, etc. When it comes from an object being destroyed, it takes the form of a coin. If you can keep shooting the coin, you can juggle it, and increase it's overall worth. You then use the money you get to upgrade your weapons. Also, like in the Umbrella Chronicles, destroying certain stationary fixtures may net you an archive file for later reading, watching, or even listening to. New costumes for characters can also be unlocked.
The difficulty has made a noticeable jump, especially with the help of a rather shaky camera, ala Cloverfield. Headshots have become a little tougher to pull off because of this, and sometimes the shakiness gets a little ridiculous. The developers claim they were going for realism when they did this, but again, it's taken sometimes to a ridiculous level. Not to say you can't counter it if you're good enough, though. But even with this camera system, the horror aspect is almost non-existant. It's more like an action game. There's really none of that creepy factor. It doesn't bother me in the least, but you should know this.
The scoring system has added a few new elements. For instance, you can get headshot combos that will constantly raise the multiplier if you keep pulling them off, this definately helps when you're striving to get on the leaderboards. Speaking of which, awesome new feature right there. You can submit your scores after beating a level, and see where you rank against other players. There are two different kinds of scores you can submit. Overall score, and number of head-shots. Each level has a specific leaderboard, so it doesn't span the whole game. So if you discover you're good at a level, practice a bit on that stage, and you may very well make it in the top 30 for that level.
Story (10/10): For me, the Chronicles games are more like a fun way to replay the older games, I don't care if they made a few minor changes. What shines for me are the stories independant of the re-hashed games. The RE2 scenario was pretty much spot-on though, with the Code Veronica scenario changed up a bit, in case you're wondering. But again, the changes aren't all that huge, and still provide a decent summary. So some new story is added to the canon, painting a clearer picture for you. In this scenario, you play as Leon Kennedy and Jack Krauser in South America, prior to the events of RE4. You go to investigate a series of kidnapped young girls, and on the way to your goal, of course, there's zombies and monsters. I won't spoil anything for this scenario, you have to play it for yourself.
In the RE2 scenario, you get your choice of Claire Redfield or Leon Kennedy to play as. How it differs from the game is that they don't split up, making the two-player function a little more believable. The story however remains the same for the most part as you battle your way through the police station and eventually to the secret underground laboratory. You still get chased by Mr. X and Birkin, and the fights have become really tough.
In the CV scenario, you play as your choice of Claire Redfield and Steve Burnside. Again, you don't split up until towards the end, and even then, someone replaces Steve at a certain point. There's some more changes here than in the RE2 scenario, but once again, it sums up the events pretty okay, and not enough for me to get upset about.
Graphics (10/10): This has got to be the best looking Wii game yet. There are a small few moments where for a split second, the cutscene almost looks like that of a real movie. These are few and far between however, and still noticeable that it's a game, when you give these moments a good look. Also, there are some more effects to the camera that don't really affect gameplay here, but really do help with the realism factor. Now water will splash on you, and it's just like looking through a wet lens. Or blood may be splattered on the camera as well after pulling off a (amazing looking, I might add) head-shot.
The environments are very detailed and very well rendered. Again, at points it almost looks real. Javier's Dam in the original scenario is the perfect example of that I'm talking about.
The character models, again, not much to say here. Very well-rendered, very realistic. And the dubbing was spot-on with the voices.
Sound (10/10): The game really shines here, as well. Music from RE2 and CV have been improved drastically. Same songs, higher quality. As well as some original tracks. One of my favorites has to be the one that one of the aforementioned girls sings. It's a hauntingly beautiful lullaby, and definately worth a mention.
The sounds effects are great as well. Everything from the gunshots to the zombies moaning sounds amazing. You can also often tell what you're going to go up against next by hearing that enemy's trademark sound, that way you don't get too caught off guard. Sometimes, however, they will remain silent in an attempt to surprise you. This usually happens when your character is trying to peek around corner very carefully, and typically the monster won't be there right away, and end up surprising you later. So it also manages to keep you on your toes from time to time.
The voice acting is also worth a mention. Every character clarely has emotions when they speak, even the badass ones. You can hear it in their tone. And even the villain of the original scenario doesn't sound over-the-top evil. It helps to relate to the character a bit more, drawing you in. Those who aren't evil sound legitamately scared or creeped out without going over the top also. Everything is very well balanced here, and the voice actors pulled it off flawlessly. They sound believeable.
Graphics: 10/10 (for a Wii game, best looking yet)
This game is definately worth a rent and if you're a lover of on-rails shooters like myself, or liked the Umbrella Chronicles enough to buy that, then you can't pass the opportunity to own this game up. Definately worth it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/30/09
Game Release: Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (US, 11/17/09)
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