In 1996, Capcom introduced a gaming revolution with Resident Evil for the Playstation. Gamers were entranced by ‘B’ grade acting, sharp graphics, and fluid animation. For the next 12 years, Capcom would perfect their franchise, even going as far as to remake their premier title for a new generation of players. And now, we stand here in 2007, wondering what Capcom has up their sleeves for a new Resident Evil title. With the runaway success of Resident Evil 4, which has found a home on the Gamecube, Playstation 2, PC, and the Wii as of June 19thth and is considered by many critics as “one of the best games ever made.” Capcom will have a hard time topping its success, and pleasing the rabid fans. Well, much to the delight of many gamers, and the dismay of others, Capcom has announced a new entry into their highly acclaimed Resident Evil franchise for the Nintendo Wii. Why would Capcom not go for a more powerful console? The answer is simple…
Designed to tie up any loose ends in the Resident Evil timeline, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles explores the stories of Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3, and even goes as far as Resident Evil 4. An interesting plot twist is that even though you will be playing the likes of all the classic Resident Evil characters, the story will be seen through the eyes of Umbrella, enforcing the official trailer’s motto “Witness the end of Umbrella.” So, in essence, you’ll be playing as familiar characters (Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, etc) but the story will be told by Umbrella. We can only imagine what this will clear up, and what new mysteries it will open in the process.
As important as plot is in a game, the gameplay is what ultimately keeps a gamer satisfied, and this is where Umbrella Chronicles will hopefully soar. As any long time fan would tell you, Resident Evil has been known for its pre-rendered backgrounds and “jump out of the closet” scares. Up until Resident Evil 4, the series has depended heavily on cinematic camera angles to create a more disturbing atmosphere. Capcom has decided not only to fix that, but to punch it in the face. Umbrella Chronicles sports a brand new first person view featuring completely rendered environments from across the Resident Evil universe. Now, rather than having a group of zombies shamble from around a corner, that same group is in your face as you turn the corner; a frightening scenario seen only in movies so far.
Meet the Undead
The environments from the aforementioned Resident Evil titles return as well in beautiful three dimensions that really show what the Wii is capable of producing. Speaking of the Wii’s capabilities, this is what makes Umbrella Chronicles stand out from other entries: its reliance on the Wiimote’s pointer. The Wiimote transforms into a virtual gun, as you shoot zombies, mutants, and other freaks across the span of nearly four storylines. Weapons and items are obtained by simply pointing at them, and you can switch guns on the fly by using the D-pad. Bullets are limited for bigger weapons such as shotguns or SMG’s, but your initial handgun is unlimited, giving more trigger happy players a bit of leeway. The physics are also worth mentioning, as nearly everything reacts to gunfire. Picture frames fall, doors splinter, pipes hiss, and the entire game sings as the graphic engine puts on an amazing show.
Umbrella Chronicles plays as an on rails shooter, more akin to House of the Dead than Resident Evil 4. Knowing Capcom though, this will not hinder the game, but enhance it. The “cineractive” cut scenes of Resident Evil 4 will also return, adding even more intensity to an already intense series.
Being an on rails shooter, we can already question the games replay value; however, knowing Capcom, there will be plenty of bonus unlockables for curious fans. With gorgeous graphics, fluid animation, spot on controls, and (thankfully) improved dialogue, Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles sounds to be the whole package. If all goes well, it should be released by late 2007. So brush up on your zombie survival, grab some Jill sandwiches, and get ready for the most intense Resident Evil to date, complete in 480 progressive scan and 19:9 widescreen.