Friday, May 28, 2010

recommendation: "Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles" (2009 video game)

Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles is a follow-up to 2007's Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, both on-rails shooters for the Nintendo Wii. I played RE:UC with my best gamer buddy and it rocked, so clearly we had to play this one. I'm also quite the fan of rail shooters. I've heard them derided as archaic, arcade-style, outmoded games, but I find them to be a very particular and very enjoyable blend of movie-like storytelling with gaming. Sometimes, I really enjoy having control of the camera and world taken out of my hands--letting the director guide me, yet still asking for my input in order to progress. It's a particularly effective mixture of relaxation and tension. And it trains you damn well for the headshot.

RE:DC is, in fact, a serious improvement over its predecessor. Lots of shaky cam and jostling about, meaning you're frequently confronted by oozing, rotting zombies RIGHT IN YOUR FACE and you'd better be damn good already at the ol' headshot. There are plenty of opportunities to upgrade your weaponry. The bowgun is silly but rad, the grenade and rocket launchers are badass, and the shotgun is still trusty (though you can't upgrade its reload speed. Realism. Sigh.) The inventory (I love a good inventory) is easy to manage; you never have quite enough ammo, of course, and rightly so. The co-op mode is fantastic. Your health and your partner's health decrease separately, and you've got to decide whose state is the critical one if you've only got one restorative herb. Sometimes, the camera will cut away to show you your partner in the third person, and you'll be unable to shoot (this happens equally for player 1 and player 2). It's massively frustrating, but in a good way, as it adds to the tension--"BEHIND YOU! I CAN'T SHOOT IT! YOU HAVE TO!"--and it allows you to ogle your exquisitely hot partner.*

You get to play as five characters from Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code Veronica: Leon Kennedy, Jack Krauser, Claire Redfield, Steve Burnside, and Chris Redfield. There are three scenarios: Operation Javier (South America), Memories of a Lost City (Raccoon City), and Game of Oblivion (Rockfort Island). The adversaries are nicely varied between the scenarios. The only real disappointment is that the scenarios are pretty short. It took us about seven hours to finish the whole thing, and this even with getting stuck on one of the bosses.** The graphics, pacing, and overall story are just so bloody*** good that it is a Major Bummer when it's over.

You can certainly have a grand old time with RE:DC without being a Resident Evil fan (though I am a wild-eyed one of both the games and the movies). You might not understand everything that's happening, but just remember: T-virus bad. T-Veronica virus bad. G-virus bad. All make BOWs (Bio-Organic Weapons)--gross mutated zombie monster things--giant toad monsters! giant plant monsters! giant turkey monsters! They're all bad. Kill them. KILL THEM ALL.

* By which I really just mean Leon Kennedy. SMOKIN' HOT, right there. Of course, your tastes may vary, but if so: you're weird. Leon is the man. He's perfect. End of. Don't argue with me on this one.
** A minor flaw: the occasional cheap trick is involved in order to off certain bosses. Relying on blind luck is no fun.
*** Seriously.


  1. It's SO good. Especially if you're a bit familiar with the Resident Evil universe. Lots of references (lots I know I missed, too).