With any talk of zombie killing, Resident Evil is always at the top of my list. I love the Resident Evil series, my absolute favorite being Outbreak on PS2. The Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles HD collection gives us two more arcade-like, on-rails shooters to experience what our favorite characters are dealing with first hand as they traverse through the world practically owned by the Umbrella Corporation. The HD collection consists of both The Umbrella Chronicles and The Darkside Chronicles. Both titles were originally released for Wii and the recent HD collection was released on June 2012 for PS3. They are both PS Move enabled, unfortunately, I don’t have one so I wasn’t able to check out that type of gameplay, but I do have a Kinect that I really, really hate. I figured I’ll just blame it for not being a PS Move.
With the Umbrella Chronicles, you begin with Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen attempting to escape from a trainload full of leeches and leech-powered zombies. The story continues on with Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine as they attempt to uncover the truth of what has occurred in the Mansion Incident. Leon Kennedy and Jack Krauser are the first characters you encounter in the Darkside Chronicles where they battle against dead villagers and a particular former drug lord named Javier Hidalgo. You go onto to play as Claire Redfield as she first arrives in Raccoon City or Leon Kennedy on his first day as a police officer. Each of these scenarios coincide with the rest of the RE series.
I’ve finally accepted that I generally suck at shooters. My aiming sucks and my only tactic is to rush and die. However, I felt more comfortable with the on-rails style exhibited in both games, since it makes the decisive movements for me. In Umbrella Chronicles, your partner doesn’t help you out unless you physically have a player two to assist. It felt pretty lonely until the cutscenes. You can see your companion in Darkside as they walk with you and shoot enemies. They have a health bar and engage in normal combat with you.
The controls were fairly easy to learn after a while, but the camera work in The Darkside Chronicles made me a bit sick. Its attempt at making your character’s experience realistic only made the movements harder to control, especially when aiming. I could never aim directly at the enemies if I was running through an alleyway. Herbs, intel and extra ammo were hard to pick up at times just because I wasn’t quick enough to move my reticule over and press X. I died a lot until I figured out an easier way of picking items up, since the items would glow. I’d scan the room as soon as I’d walk in, just in case of a cutscene, for any items that caught my eyes. It does have auto save and once you die, you go back to the last checkpoint.
The zombies took on more of a darker approach as to how they attacked and how much damage they inflicted. They crept slowly and lunged unexpectedly quickly at times, however, many of the movements were a bit predictable. If they got close, they swiped. The bodies that littered the areas you walked through seemed out of place at times and gave you the clue that they were about to be reanimated once you walked past. Personally, I felt that the attacks were too orchestrated. I usually love being surprised with zombie faces. The AI did what they were going to do as per the story you were being guided through.
The gameplay grew repetitive when escaping certain enemies and areas. I was frustrated that the bosses had a small weak spot that I had to shoot since my accuracy was pathetic and I was guided around a warehouse or lower level furnace room. The shotgun was great as a temporary weapon as I soon learned that picking it for an entire scenario would cost me a lot of patience, heartache and frustration. I mention heartache because I was trying extremely hard to kill a huge enemy and would die when its health was at 10 percent or less. I was angry and only felt compelled to scream obscenities at my TV and throw my controller.
The Umbrella Chronicles retained the original Resident Evil-esque atmosphere where the lighting is allowed you to see what the developers want and keep you guessing as to what else is next. The cutscenes were like normal gaming sequences and they didn’t tear you away from the intended gameplay. Although Darkside looks somewhat nicer and appears to be more realistic with shadows and contour, both games have the same art style and are relatable to the rest of the series. The camera movements and angles tend to distract you as you continue on with the gameplay.
One major factor has to be shooting leech-powered zombies and leeches, even though the leeches get pretty annoying to deal with. The gameplay gets you involved with the continuing story of the Umbrella Corporation, even if it’s been a long while since you’ve played Nemesis or RE4. The story itself isn’t stale and the first person perspective allows you get up close with your enemies, only to intensify the gun fight. I may have said the camera movements as hindering a bit of the gameplay, but I went back and played more of Darkside. It felt as if it does get you more active in the game and the experience is supposed to be jarring. You are supposed to feel disoriented when you’re presented with a huge city full of flesh eating monsters that were once living.
The HD collection brings the on-rails action to the PS3 with zombies and leeches and yeti looking things, oh my! The Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles keep you entertained with huge worm looking enemies and zombies. Yes, more zombies. I’ve enjoyed the majority of the Resident Evil series and feel that this collection is a great addition to any gamer’s backlog. It retains the dark, ominous mystery that Resident Evil encompasses in each game and only surrounds you with the story of good versus evil in a world covered in zombies.