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Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles – Wii

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles – Wii

box artPlatform: Wii

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date: November 17, 2009

Genre: Rail Shooter

Nerd Rating: 5/10

Reviewed By Steroid Gamer

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is the sequel to 2007’s rail shooter, The Umbrella Chronicles, and while it improves on several aspects of the original it also takes a couple steps backwards.   This time around there is more emphasis on visuals, story, and in-game extras.  Unfortunately, the gameplay takes a bit of a backseat.

Woah! Mr. Gator!  What large teeth you have!

Woah! Mr. Gator! What large teeth you have!

Darkside Chronicles follows the events of Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil: Code Veronica X, and a brand new scenario called “Operation Javier.”  The story sees series mainstay Leon S. Kennedy and his partner Jack Krauser (whom many will recognize as an antagonist from Resident Evil 4) investigating a series of disappearances in South America.  According to the game’s timeline these events take place in 2002, so it makes sense in the often confusing Resident Evil plot that Krauser and Leon are partners.  During the beginning their relationship has a lot of promise and has little teases that lead you to believe you are going to learn more about these two fellas shared history.  Sadly, nothing really important stems from their mission. If you were looking for an explanation as to why Krauser became the man he is in Resident Evil 4 you’re going to have to look hard.  After initial completion of the game, unless your scores were high enough, you won’t get the hidden scenario that unlocks the explanation of Krauser’s motivations.  On one hand it’s a nice treat for your hard work, but on the opposite hand it feels like most people won’t see the “true” ending to the game because their score wasn’t high enough.

Poor zombies.  Always getting shot at.  Didn't anyone ever try to talk with one first?

Poor zombies. Always getting shot at. Didn’t anyone ever try to talk with one first?

Throughout the story there will be “breaks” when Krauser will very bluntly say something along the lines of “Leon, what happened all those years ago in Raccoon City?” all while the two of them are in their current mission.  At that point, the game will flashback to the older games in the series and players get to visit the events from those previous entries.  The introductions to these are indeed very cheesy and presented in a lame way, but playing through the chapters is fun, so it’s easily forgotten.

Players can take control of Claire Redfield, Steve Burnside, Chris Redfield, and more in the two flashback scenarios.   Now, just to be clear there is more than one chapter for both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica X.   The visuals are substantially better than they were in the Umbrella Chronicles.  Textures seem to have improved greatly and the character models have much more detail.  It’s also awesome to run around iconic locations from the previous games such as the Raccoon City Police Department, Ashford’s estate, and the underground lab.  The improved visuals also make the South American setting of “Operation Javier” feel authentic and help set the mood.

Leon and Krauser "BRO-ing" down.

Leon and Krauser “BRO-ing” down.

For the most part the gameplay has remained untouched.  This game is a rail shooter as well, so while the game moves you along a determined path you point your Wii-mote at the screen and shoot anything that moves.  Occasionally, the game will offer a path for you to choose.  Either left or right.  It’s neat that this feature has been implemented, but after replaying chapters and choosing the opposite path you’ll find that the differences between the two are minimal.  Once again after each chapter you are rewarded a score and that score translates to the game’s currency which you can use to upgrade your weapons and buy new outfits for your characters. Players have separate health meters this time around (not that it makes much of a difference. If one player dies you still have to start over) and online leaderboards have been introduced.  The leaderboards are a great addition, allowing you to compare your scores to those all over the world which was something the first game lacked.

I mean WTF is this thing?

I mean WTF is this thing?

You can play the game with two players, or solo, but like the previous game it’s more fun in pairs.  The story is interesting, but the Darkside Chronicles relies a little too much on its story.  There are several areas of the game where it slows down to a crawl in order to fill players in on the back-story of the events.  When these sections pop up the gameplay disappears entirely, so much so that you can put down your controller, stretch your arms, or do some jumping jacks.  It really doesn’t matter what you do because there is zero threat coming from enemies in these sections.

Darkside Chronicles doesn’t have too many flaws, but the one glaring issue it does have is so bad it’s impossible to overlook.  That problem is the dreadful camera.  For years, gamers have played plenty of awful games with absolutely atrocious cameras.  Unfortunately, the camera in video games can be like what kryptonite is to Superman.  Hearing about a game’s dreadful camera is the last thing anyone wants to hear.  Well, your zombified journey in the Darkside Chronicles is going to come with a really crappy camera. Sorry, folks.

The Wii's visuals are pushed to the max in Darkside Chronicles.

The Wii’s visuals are pushed to the max in Darkside Chronicles.

For most of the game, the camera is honestly not that bad.  However, there is a “shaky” effect with the camera that I’m guessing is supposed to make the player feel more connected to their character.  Is Krauser running away from a Hunter?  Claire trying to get away from the clutches of deformed William Birkin?  If so, the camera is going to bob up and down like it’s on a rickety white water raft.  During most of the game these sequences only come up on occasion and while it’s a battle in itself to face the enemies you’re fighting, let alone the camera, it’s not too frequent to bother you.  However, EVERY single boss fight has this, and it’s one of the worst possible cameras a player could ask for.  The boss fights constantly keep you on the move.  Remember this is a rail shooter, so you don’t have control of your own movements.  Each boss has the stereotypical “weak” spot, but it’s too damn hard to hit the thing with a precision shot.  Boss fights drag on far too long, and require constant attempts over and over because the camera is failing you.  The camera barely puts into frame the spot you’re supposed to be targeting, and when it does, it’s only there for a second before it looks off in another direction.

On occasion, your partner will appear on screen.  A new feature this time around.

On occasion, your partner will appear on screen. A new feature this time around.

It’s actually pretty sad.  What is a pretty solid game across all other fronts ends up being a disaster because of its despicable camera.  If you want to play the Darkside Chronicles, odds are you’re looking to fight off some zombies, not the game’s camera.

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles takes several small steps forward with the improved visuals, online leaderboards, and improved storytelling.  It’s too bad the story, in some cases, takes heavy priority over the gameplay itself.  The most important aspect of a rail shooter is the camera which is probably one of the worst you’ll deal with in any Nintendo Wii game.  If you can suffer through the painful camera you’ll enjoy the game’s take on previous events in Resident Evil and the new Operation Javier missions.  If you suffer from motion sickness however, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is a game best left in its grave.

Written by Sean Collins

Sean Collins


Sean Collins (aka Steroid Gamer) started playing video games when he was 8 years old. His first console was a Nintendo 64 and his first game was Mario Kart 64. He fell in love immediately and has been playing games ever since.

My current systems include; N64, Gameboy Color, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS, PS3, Vita, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.

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2 Comments

  1. Huge fan of rail shooters and Resident Evil, so I picked this up at launch. I definitely agree about the camera, though. I understand that they were going for a cinematic approach, but when the meat of the game is aiming at small spots on a moving target, having the screen constantly quake is beyond annoying.

     

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