E3 Impressions – Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

Infendo

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House of the Dead: Overkill set the bar high for on-rail shooters for the Wii, bringing a linear game to life with solid gameplay and over-the-top humor.  Will Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles make a suitable rival?  I met up with Capcom’s Matt Delgran to find out.

Delgran is Capcom’s Associate Product Marketing Manager for the Resident Evil brand, he really knows his way around Umbrella’s bloodthirsty monstrosities.  “This game will fill in the storyline gaps that weren’t covered in Umbrella Chronicals,” he told me, “…Darkside Chronicles will cover events from Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code Veronica.”  Delgran explained that all of the key events from RE2 and Code Veronica would be recreated in some way, so even new players will come away with a complete understanding of the storyline of both of the original games. “We want to be sure that all those memorable moments are there to experience,” he told me. “…it’s a little bit more intimate than the other Resident Evil games, it’s about the main characters having to deal with their own inner demons when put into stressful and horrific situations.”
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Delgran says the horror has been cranked up a notch, and that the camera behaves differently than in the previous game.  “In most rail shooters the screen is very static and in front of you – you have to shoot five or six enemies before progressing to the next area… in this one, the camera has been pulled in closer to the player and it will move around erratically.” He said the zombies behave differently too, “they’re on all sides so you really have to look around and get shots off when you can.” Later he clarified, stating that the player had no control over where the camera “looked around” to.

“Also new is the 2-player co-op,” Delgran told me, “you’ll see both characters progress through the game at the same time.”  The co-op mode also offered a slight revision to Resident Evil history – fans who played Resident Evil 2 played as either Leon or Claire, whereas in the Darkside Chronicals, you’ll discover that the partners faced Raccoon City as a pair.

The new Co-Op mode seems solid enough, true to classic form you play with a friend side by side and fight your way through unending hordes of enemies – if you don’t clear the upcoming masses in time one character might be overrun, and need to be saved by their partner.  The gameplay itself is about what you expect – your cross hair designates where you shoot, and it’s point and click. Reload by shaking the Wii remote, nothing too new here.  Using the nunchuk and “Zapper mode” will place the functions of the A button and D-pad on your nunchuck – again, nothing too groundbreaking.  The IR tracking worked about as well as you expect, but it would be nice to have that crosshair free arcade feel.  I asked Delgran if RE:DC would feature a calibrated “no crosshair” mode, and although he told me it hadn’t been considered, he offered to bring it up with the team. Still, it was a pretty enjoyable experience, and it was a thrill to revisit some of my favorite locations from older games.
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It’s hard not to compare parts of Darkside Chronicles to House of the Dead – both are Zombie on-rails shooters, but from a very different perspective.  Darkside Chronicles is a more “serious” shooter, and it focuses heavily on storyline and character development.  If you are looking for house of the dead, this might not be your thing – but if you’re a Resident Evil fan who wants to relive two great RE games from a new, fast paced perspective, check it out.