[Games] Quick Review: Resident Evil – The Umbrella Chronicles

Look at how beautiful it isn't.

Look at how beautiful it isn't.

Wet bank holiday Mondays in a grimy northern seaside town. The mush that accumulates around the sink strainer after a particularly vigorous session of washing-up. John Major wearing a grey suit, shirt and tie giving an eight hour lecture on fiscal responsibility. These are just some of things that are more visually appealing and mentally stimulating than Resident Evil – The Umbrella Chronicles.

A whistle-stop tour through some of the supposed highlights of the ever-more-boring Resident Evil franchise, the game retells some of the key moments of Resi canon through the time honoured medium or, er, the on-rails shooter. The Wii remote makes a less than perfect substitute for a true lightgun, but don’t worry because accuracy is less important than you might think, with many enemies filling the screen with their big, ugly, pointy, pixelated faces.

There are the usual series hallmarks of jumpy things smashing through windows, dogs running from around corners, and hordes of shuffling zombies who like nothing better than coming back to life once you make the mistake of assuming they’ve been offed. It’s all about as horrific and unpredictable as an episode of the Antiques Roadshow, only with slightly fewer on-screen appearances by the walking dead.

In the absence of a Time Crisis style duck mechanic, Capcom have tried to liven things up by including lots of non-shooting interaction. There are herbs to be picked up, knives to be waved around and even choices of path to be made from time to time. Frankly I’d rather all that was ditched in favour of a cover system, but that’s just me, I suppose.

He's wearing shades, yet it's murky and dark.

He's wearing shades, yet it's murky and dark.

The action is neither particularly interesting, nor can it even be described as relentless. There are too many moments of artificial calm, clearly introduced in an attempt to build anticipation ahead of the next supposed shock. In effect they just serve to build boredom ahead of passages of tediously repetitve shooting and random knive waving.

Still, at least being on-rails and freed from the need to render and design detailed open-world environments, it will all look good, right? Wrong. Even for a Wii title this thing is hideous. The texture detail is so low it would make a PSOne blush, and the the colours seem to have been chosen from a palette consisting solely of shades of brown and beige. It’s like being trapped in a pixellated version of Terry Wogan’s outfits from the mid seventies.

What’s really depressing is that Capcom says many of the development team behind this stinking abomination were former employees at Clover, the studio behind the wonderful Okami. It just goes to show that even talented people can turn out bilge from time to time.

If you must get some gun-based action on the Wii, stick with Dead Space Extraction. It’s more entertaining, better paced and less hideous to look at – it even delivers better shocks. This dross on the other hand is too much like its subject matter, ugly, slow and, frankly, on its last legs.


(Yes, I realise this game was released in 2007, but it’s the first chance I’ve had to get my hands on it – and no, its age does not excuse its ugliness, I’ve seen PlayStation games ten years older than this that are better looking.)


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