I first played Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles in early 2009. Even then the game was dated, having launched for the Wii back in '07. But the excellent House of the Dead: Overkill had just come out, infecting me with light gun fever. I was eager to play the Wii's slim selection of on-rails shooters.
I remember forgiving the rough graphics and laughable dialog, but the difficulty was harsh. My wife and I stopped playing after the first level. Our weapons seemed useless, crippling quick time events sapped our shared life bar, and the checkpoints were few and far between. Since we had gotten The Umbrella Chronicles on the cheap we quickly moved on. It was so bad we passed on Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles when it came out later that year.
Despite our unsatisfying experience with RE: TUC, I was eager to give the Chronicles titles another shot when I heard they were coming to the PSN as the Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection . Recent re-releases of the House of the Dead 3, 4, and Overkill: Extended Cut have once again turned us on to light gun shooters. I’m happy to say that this time we had a much more enjoyable experience.
When you purchase the Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection you’re actually getting two games. That means two downloads and two installs. Not that big of deal, but I thought I should mention it. Both games can be played with a regular controller or a PS Move. You can pair a normal controller or a navigation stick to the Move for camera control. It’s actually required that you use an extra controller if you use a shooting attachment, because you’ll need the face buttons to change guns. Reloading is handled by shaking the controller. I found a quick upward flick of my wrist could get the job done. You can also hold the Move button and flail your arm around to wield a knife if you're feeling especially brave. (Just don't. You will die. Often.) We kept it simple and each used a Move motion controller. But that’s enough about the controls. Onto the games!
We dove into The Umbrella Chronicles. The HD polish really did nothing for the graphics. It’s simply not a good-looking game. The voice acting is Capcom bad: charmingly cringe-inducing. RE: TUC offers two player local co-op and a new perspective on the events from the early Resident Evil games. We played through several classic scenes as different characters from the franchise. Unlike our 2009 experience, we had no problem shooting our way through the game.
Instead of the plodding, ammo-conserving crawl that was the Resident Evil: Zero, 1, 2, and 3 survival horror experience, we were whisked through memorable areas while raining lead upon T-Virus infected monstrosities. Zombies, Hunters, decomposing dogs, and an assortment of other horrible creatures crawled forth from every corner. I had forgotten that there was so much to the original Resident Evil than just zombies. Remember the shark tank? Yeah, that’s in there.
Each level culminated in a QTE-heavy boss fight. The QTE's are very unforgiving, requiring you to shake the controller, hit the Move button, or pull the trigger with precise timing. Of course, if you're pulling the trigger to shoot you'll fail these events. It can get frustrating, but it's manageable.
RE: TUC is still a little slow-paced for an on-rails shooter, but considering the source material it’s a veritable roller coaster. We blasted through the train of RE: Zero, battled the Tyrant in the mansion that started it all, and pressed back the hordes on the streets of Raccoon City. Once we figured out how to score critical hits we were unstoppable (Protip: Aim for the forehead. Anything below the eyes may as well be a body shot!)
Health items, data files, and most importantly, new weapons and ammo can be picked up along the way. Weapons can be upgraded with Stars earned after completing a stage. You’ll need to play through each level multiple times if you want to collect everything. This adds a longevity to the title, something absent from Sega's HotD counterparts (with the exception of the Overkill titles). That crazy Capcom scoring system is in full effect. You just know you’ll unlock something sweet if you score an “S” rank on each level. Or will you?