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Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (Wii) artwork

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (Wii) review

"When Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles came out, there were several glaring omissions from the level selection. What happened to Resident Evil 2? Or Code Veronica? It was pretty obvious that Capcom left them out on purpose. Perhaps they thought RE2 and RE3 were too similar in location to both feature on the same game? A more cynical view is that they probably saved RE2, their most popular game, and Code Veronica, the least popular game, for a separate release in order to milk the series for mor..."

When Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles came out, there were several glaring omissions from the level selection. What happened to Resident Evil 2? Or Code Veronica? It was pretty obvious that Capcom left them out on purpose. Perhaps they thought RE2 and RE3 were too similar in location to both feature on the same game? A more cynical view is that they probably saved RE2, their most popular game, and Code Veronica, the least popular game, for a separate release in order to milk the series for more money. Whatever the reason, Umbrella Chronicles left out these chunks of the story. Thatís where Darkside Chronicles comes in. D.C covers both Resident Evil 2, and Code Veronica, as well as a completely new scenario entitled Operation Javier.

Thereís no denying it: Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is very similar to the last Chronicles game. The same formula remains, with a few minor improvements, and perhaps just a few missteps thrown in. The rail shooting system is exactly the same, with the characters choosing the movement and telling most of the story through their thoughts and comments to each other. Just like in Umbrella Chronicles, Darkside is not an exact representation of what happened in RE2 or CV, but more like a remake, with all the puzzles and a lot of the sequences taken out.

Resident Evil 2 follows Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they traverse through Raccoon City, and Code Veronica follows Claire as she attempts to escape from an Umbrella prison island. Characters from both games, such as Ada Wong and Steve Burnside, both make appearances in the game. The most noticeable difference between Darkside and the original games is that both player characters are always together. That means that Leon is always with Claire, or Claire is always with Steve. Leon and Claire allude to this fact in a brief conversation to each other while in the Raccoon City Police Department. Operation Javier is brand new content created just for The Darkside Chronicles, and serves as a prequel to Resident Evil 4, 5, and Degeneration. The story has Leon and Jack Krauser in South America, trying to contain yet another B.O.W outbreak.

Despite the apparent butchering of the Resident Evil storylines, Darkside manages to make the RE2 and Code Veronica scenarios more sensible. The way the characters behave, and how certain parts of the story are carried out simply make more sense in the Darkside representation. Those who havenít played the original games might enjoy Darkside Chronicles a lot, and the game does serve to bring about the general storyline of both games, if not the fine details. Darkside Chronicles is also worth checking out for long time Resident Evil fans, if simply just to see an updated version of the old favorites.

There really isnít too much to Darkside Chronicles. The Wii Mote is pointed at the screen, and the trigger is pulled to shoot a gun at the monsters on screen. The camera control for the nunchuk has been removed, and instead the analog stick is now used to change weapons quickly. The nunchuk doesnít appear to be required, since the D-pad on the Wii Mote can also be used to change weapons. A major improvement over first Chronicles game is the addition of an inventory. At anytime during the game, the player can access an inventory to switch out various guns, or to use a green herb to restore health. No longer are herbs instantly consumed. Instead, they are stored in the inventory until they are manually used by the player, by press the ď+Ē button, or by entering the menu and selecting the item. Darkside Chronicles doesnít really do anything new beyond this feature, although the inventory certainly makes the game much more enjoyable to play than the previous one, which had a distinct arcade feel to it.

Several gameplay aspects have been changed, some for the better, but certainly not all. The most refreshing change is that Darkside Chronicles doesnít feature a boss battle every single level, or even every two levels. Players can go several levels without fighting a large enemy, and this simply makes more sense than facing down a boss every few minutes. In regards to the boss battles themselves, they are a quite deal easier than the boss battles in Umbrella Chronicles, with most bosses requiring very little firepower to destroy with ease. There are perhaps two or three bosses in the game that require a special action or weapon to destroy, but these are generally simple tasks that really only make you fight the boss for a few minutes longer than usual. Unfortunately, the camera in Darkside Chronicles attempts to mimic the effect of someone following the characters around with a small camcorder. This means tons of hand shaking and twitching. There are several parts of the game where players are expected to shoot enemies on screen, except the camera doesnít appear to want to center on the enemies, nor is it staying still. While this doesnít really make it any harder, it becomes annoying, since it basically means that the characters literally arenít looking at what theyíre shooting at.

Players can upgrade weapons in between scenarios in order to make themselves more powerful. Gold is obtained by breaking random objects in levels, such as paintings, boxes, and just about anything that isnít a wall or the living dead. While the weapon selection is smaller when compared to U.C, the core few weapons are more than enough to serve the purpose of keeping the player alive. In addition to gold, players can often find archive items, which are documents or objects from past Resident Evil games. These collectibles can be viewed or read in the archive section accessed from the main menu, and are well hidden throughout the game. Fans might find it interesting to collect every single piece and examine everything, although most of the archive items are simply documents that players stumbled upon while playing the previous games.

The biggest problem with Darkside Chronicles is probably how lopsided the game feels. Resident Evil 2 is extremely well done, and very interesting to play. The story is well explained, and facts are easily connected. On the other hand, Code Veronica starts off with only a sentence of dialogue from Leon, who serves as a narrator. The transitional segments of Code Veronica that are crucial to understanding how the story is progressing are completely removed, instead relegated to a single sentence from Leon yet again. This makes Code Veronica kind of like a cheesy arcade game, with nonsense transitions between levels that make it seem like Capcom simply got lazy and didnít put effort into certain parts of the game. Finally, Operation Javier isnít really worth the price of the game, for those hoping for some new material. It really only serves as a chance for Leon to basically recount the events of RE and CV. The South America segments are short, and a lot of it feels recycled, since there are often times Leon and Krauser track through the same areas. In addition to this, Operation Javier doesnít really have too much of a plot beyond the two agents trying to stop the outbreak by killing a drug lord. A minor side plot on the side involving Javierís daughters adds a more human element into the mix, although the entire affair is completely predictable and unoriginal.

Unlike the first Chronicles game, most of the tracks featured in Darkside are kind of mundane, with several being recycled from RE2 and Code Veronica. It appears that most of the good music was left out, however, and Darkside suffers from the lack of a significant soundtrack. The sound effects quickly become mundane, especially because every single pistol, regardless of caliber or manufacturer, sounds exactly the same. Since the pistol is what is going to be used for the majority of the game, this quickly becomes a problem. In regards to voice acting, however, gone are the days of the cheesy ďEngrishĒ voice actors. The voice acting in Darkside, like all new generation Resident Evil games, are done in perfect English, even if the majority of the dialogue spoken are stupid jokes.

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles isnít necessarily better, or worse than the Umbrella Chronicles. Itís really more of the same, with different characters and new levels. Being a particularly short game, it probably isnít worth the full price that it was selling for at the time of writing. The hype surrounding the game was clearly exaggerated. The Darkside Chronicles isnít a bad game, however, as long as you donít have a problem with heavy motion camera angles, or the lack of new features. The difficulty has been brought down to the point where most people can literally pick up the play the game with ease. At the end of the game, however, youíll probably be left wanting more, even though half the game wasnít particularly enjoyable anyway. The portions of the game that were well designed, however, are definitely worth checking out.

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Community review by Probester (December 14, 2009)

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randxian posted December 22, 2009:

It sounds like this game is really three games in one. Obviously, you have a lot of ground to cover, but there are parts of the review that could be more succinct. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate the information, but there has got to be a way to trim the fat a bit here. I do appreciate how you took the time to explain how the core game really works so readers know what they are getting into with this game.

Also, I'm slightly surprised by your score of 7/10, which usually means it's a fairly good game. However, your tone fails to convey much of a positive message. You even say at one point "There really isnít too much to Darkside Chronicles. " You also point out later that RE2 is really the only quality game and the other two are sub-par.

But please don't take my critcisms personally; you obviously put a lot of time and effort into making sure your readers understand the important core aspects of a game. I'm just saying you need to make a few tweeks here and there.

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