Sunday, 27 January 2008

A Little Bit Of Rotting Text

Afternoon potential readers. I'm the other one in this caustic pair, also known as Aquatic Wanderer.

Oh, and before you start driving yourself mad trying to piece together our identities through our odd internet aliases, let me assure you that neither I nor Octopus live underwater, and that these names are completely devoid of any factual information.

Although he has been known to glow from time to time.

Since my partner in literary crime has already introduced us both, I will spend little time doing the same. It is true we are both students, and yes, we are also geeks. Two important facts you have to keep in mind when reading through all this inane dribble.

Since the formalities are quite over, I though I might as well get on with the meat of this post. Y'see, not only are we geeks, but we are gaming geeks. I'd even be bold enough to say that we are both avid about games. So much so that when talking about games in such fervour, any passer by could easily determine our gaming roots and pin us down in the 'geek' genre.

Which is why I'd now like to dedicate a few paragraphs reviewing a game that I've recently played, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. And I think, because of this quiet interest, (read: obsession) it would not be unwise to assume that this feature will become commonplace in this blog.

I've been a big Resident Evil fan ever since it's original debut in '96. I was only a young scamp back then (for the sake of anonymity, let's say I was 42) but I knew there was something great about the series, despite cowering behind the chair at every blood drenched groan. And ever since then I've had the privilege to watch the franchise grow into what it is today.
And so when I found that Capcom was releasing an arcade style shooter encompassing a vast majority of the Resident Evil time line, I was positively giddy.

The game starts off at the beginning of Resi 0 (or more commonly known as 'the one with the train') going through Resi 1 and Resi 3, ending with a brand new chapter, one year before the events of Resi 4. Considering the game doesn't really have much of a new storyline in itself, it's hard to mark it up for originality, but I love the whole zombie virus outbreak scenario no matter how it's portrayed, so Umbrella Chronicles could have the Tweenies fighting off hordes of the undead in Tellytubby land and I wouldn't care.

So, let's get onto the gameplay. True to the arcade shooter genre, Umbrella Chronicles (or as some have affectionately named it, 'Umbrelly Chronies') is an on-rails, infinite ammo, shoot-em-up at it's core. Thankfully Capcom went a bit further than this and didn't go all Time Crisis on us and instead added a little bit of depth.

A variety of guns can be picked up throughout the course of each level, and with the use of points, you can upgrade these weapons to a certain point, making your zombie infestation worries dwindle away slightly faster. These points are gained by achieving god-like scores in the main storyline by killing more enemies, completing the level faster, getting more files, obtaining more critical hits and
destroying more objects. Hang on a minute. Okay, fine, I understand the first 4 criteria, but destroying more objects? Why would a game where you're supposed to be worried about surviving the onslaught of festering corpses punish you when you don't shoot every lamp to pieces?

To someone who hasn't played the game, it doesn't sound that bad, but it gets to a point where you need to conserve your grenades, not to increase your kill count, but to more effectively destroy every piece of furniture in the god forsaken room. Every new door effectively leads to more lights to shoot out, more chandeliers to obliterate and countless paintings to puncture. Enemies just become an obstacle in your path of defacing the surrounding scenery.
I admit, a great game for all you vandals out there who want to be rewarded for your wanton destruction but for the goody-goody inside me, well, let's just say it irked me a little.

Other than that little bother, the large majority of the gameplay was thankfully great fun. Zombies torso's could be showered with led before succumbing to death (re-death?) but that perfectly placed shot on the head would lead to a very satisfying melon-like splatter. Environments ranged from creepily dark train-stations to large medical facilities, each requiring it's own style of gameplay. Bosses were true to the Resident Evil franchise and were designed greatly. And this isn't even factoring in the experience of multiplayer (in this case, the presence of another player really does double the fun). The zombie fanatic part of me could go on. But let's not.

And then we come to the controls. I decided first on to omit the use of the lightgun, for the sole reason that I looked wrong in every sense of the word. The 'classic' Wiimote/Nunchuk did just fine for me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

First there's the aiming. My immediate woe was that I found that my previously honed skills of achieving headshots meant nothing to this game. At first the cursor seemed to be about half a second behind me. It was as if you were out in the shops and your child would rather not be there, but you've attached him to a rope that meant he would eventually go wherever you go, but from time to time he likes to swing about a bit and throw a temper tantrum. After a while though, you begin to ignore the child (as I'm sure happens in most families) and get used to the slightly drunken movements of the crosshair.

The control stick can be used to slightly extend your field of vision in any direction, which is a nice plus when you're trying to kill all the zombies, or more likely; shoot out this one pesky light in the distance that's moved out of the vision of your frickin' screen.

And finally we come to graphics. Considering it was a Wii game, I had allowed myself to believe way before I even played the game, that I would not be, as you kids call it nowadays, wowed. But contrary to previous conceptions, I was. Not in a Super Mario Galaxy way, let alone a Crysis way, but in a Resident Evil kind of way. By this I mean, there weren't just no jaggies, but the lighting was perfect for the survival horror atmosphere, and the character models and enemies were surprisingly believable. And trust me, at the pace the game moved sometimes, you had enough time to admire the un-Wii-like looks.

Overall, I love the game. It's a great homage to Resident Evil, even though it isn't true to the ammo placement, amount of enemies, or pacing. Buy it, and if you don't enjoy it, at least you've had some practice for inevitable zombie apocalypse thats due any day now.

Well, that should be it, for today at least. Perhaps I should've been more accurate when I said "a few paragraphs". I didn't mean to ramble on as much as that (unfortunately I have a lot more to say) but if you got through it all, go on you. Maybe you won't get eaten.

And for the record, iPod's are gay.
-Aquatic Wanderer


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