As for the story, it takes you through RE 0, 1 (the remake), 3 as well as a brand new scenario. Each game includes side-stories for characters specific characters (mainly Albert Wesker and what he was doing behind the scenes.) You’ll face familiar bosses and be in familiar locales; so if you have an itch to revisit some of the most well-known areas and enemies of Resident Evil, then you should be pleasantly surprised. If you have been paying attention to the RE canon (you haven’t), you will notice some discrepancies but it doesn’t take anything away from the overall experience. Besides, it wouldn’t be Capcom if continuity wasn’t hurt in some fashion.
Gameplay is basic, simple and fun. Shoot enemies, throw grenades, or stab the ones attached to your face. Shooting with either of the guns is as expected: point, pull trigger, repeat. Enemies have very small hit boxes for one-hit headshots, but the difficulty is almost exactly where it should be. When needed, grenades can be thrown to clear a path through the horde of undead. If you see a green herb, click it to recover lost health. First Aid sprays revive you to full health if you die. Some enemies (such as leeches from RESIDENT EVIL 0 ) will jump on you and when you hold the Z button while shaking it, you will slice off the enemy. This doesn’t make much sense, as the enemies are, stuck on your face; what further adds to the confusion is that you are perfectly able to shoot the enemies…off of your face. It’s obvious this feature was used so you would be able to use the infamous knife but it doesn’t mean it makes any sense.
Confusion aside, the game offers several reasons to give itself another runthrough or two. To unlock some of the side-stories mentioned earlier, you’ll need to get a very good rating at the end of the level, so some missions may require several play-throughs before you get the required rating needed to unlock them. Also adding to the replay factor are the rewards given at the end of each mission. Depending on the rating you will get stars. Those stars are used to upgrade your weapons. The higher the rating, the more stars you get; nothing new there. If the difficulty gets to be too much in the later levels then you can easily replay any of the previous levels in order to upgrade your favorite weapons.
UMBRELLA CHRONICLES starts out at RE:0 and chronologically works its way through the series with the new scenario being the final area. While the game scales moderately through the earlier titles, once you hit Resident Evil 3 the game gets pretty hard pretty fast. Though if you have a friend helping you out, the game is too easy regardless of what level you are on. The downside to this is that the amount of enemies stays roughly the same, so your kills will be divided, further hurting your respective grades at the end of a mission; which leads to less stars, which leads to fewer weapon upgrades. Considering the ease with co-op, it’s a fair tradeoff. Although, while on co-op, you share an overall health bar; so your friend has to be somewhat competent or you’re both screwed.
I find the biggest hindrance off the game is the total lack of fine tuning the controller itself. No adjusting, centering, setting your specific controller. This makes it impossible to aim the gun at the screen the way you would at an arcade. It may seem silly, but you can’t deny that’s why you played TIME CRISIS. You got to fire a ‘real’ gun and kill bad guys. With this, you have to adjust your own sense of direction and position with how your Wii sensor bar is setup. The lack of calibration is a huge disappointment considering games like GHOST SQUAD, a port of a 2004 game(!), have said pointer calibration as a feature.
While the lack of calibration takes away some of the immersion, using a controller or accessory as you would use a normal Wii controller does not make the game feel clunky or awkward. I bought the Nyko Perfect Shot accessory specifically for RE:UC. A friend preferred the original Wii controller, where I preferred the Perfect Shot, so it’s what works for the individual rather than an exact method. Because of certain reasons, I purchased the ‘official’ Resident Evil Blaster shortly after I completed UMBRELLA CHRONICLES and I fell in love with it. The holder for the Nunchuck, and how light weight it is make it hard to hate. If you don’t want to buy an extra accessory for the game, don’t worry; there are several controller setups for that ease the lack of calibration.
The presentation of it all is well put together. The graphics leave something to be desired as it seems to be running on the same engine as RE:4. By no means ugly, just is not up to par. Unlike most rail shooters, the entire campaign is fairly long covering several hours of gameplay and there’s even more if you want to try to upgrade everything and get all of the hidden weapons.
While it is far from perfect, UMBRELLA CHRONICLES easily manages to be the best shooter for the Wii so far and it’s a great side-story to the overall RE world. It makes me very hopeful for the sequel. If you have a Wii and want to blow the hell out of some zombies, then you will be hard pressed to find a better way to spend twenty bucks.