Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles Review

Resident Evil has never been much of a thinker’s game. No one has ever played Resident Evil primarily for the puzzles. At least, not over its horror theme or somewhat colourful variety of B-movie inspired monsters. Then there are the weapons, most specifically the shotgun which was once famous for its “Boom! Headshot!” like effect when used upclose on zombies.

Overall, Resident Evil is less Survival Horror and more Action Movie. It’s about mortal superheroes, self mutating monsters and really big explosions. But perhaps most importantly, it’s about starting the game with a pistol and combat knife and then finishing it with a rocket launcher.

It should come as no surprise that the Resident Evil games have finally found a comfortable seat within the on rails shooter genre. Before tricks like first person angles and over-the-shoulder cam techniques came about in Resident Evil Dead Aim and Resident Evil 4 respectively, previous Resident Evils, including two titles which make their updated appearence here, played like on rails shooters anyway.

You could say Darkside Chronicles is Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica minus awkward controls and nearly all of the puzzles.

The game looks great, with cutscenes looking sublime in filter, and the game being shown through a camera so shaky you could find yourself wondering if the Blair Witch might make a cameo. However, the latter feature can sometimes make aiming difficult which is especially frustrating during boss battles.

When the camera isn’t shaking during boss battles, it’s staring at suspicious zombie corpses which you know – YOU SO KNOW – are going to pop up the second the camera turns away. It’s a repeated trick in Chronicles, which is supposed to scare but serves nothing other than to waste your time. What’s more, you can’t skip these contrived setups. Blasting away at a “dead” zombie’s head does nothing UNTIL they come get you. This might be “on rails”, but that’s no excuse for ignoring a lazy bug.

The voice acting is okay, though Code Veronica has some notable tone differences from its “classic” version. Steve Burnside’s voice is now surprisingly bearable, with the “surfer dude” meets “whiny bitch” attitude curiously absent. Alfred Ashford doesn’t sound as camp and doesn’t do nearly enough evil laughing. Meanwhile, Alexia Ashford is… just horrible. To me, she sounds a bit like a head girl stealing lunch money at the boarding school cafeteria.

Up to two players can take part in the action, each controlling a cursor which, as well as shooting monsters, is also useful for picking up items including those that are somehow hidden within the enviroment. Despite exchanging of dialogue, in game interaction between two players is none existant for the most part, except when one player has to “help” the other. Each player receives their own pistol but has to share everything else which may lead to arguments over ammo conservation (or lack thereof).

Despite this, it is probably better to play through Chronicles with a second player if you can because it can get really difficult at times. There are some situations which make it seem almost impossible to prevent any health loss, such as when you encouter a sequence of hunters that sometimes has you taking on two at once.

Powerful weapons such as shotguns, grenade and rocket launchers are at times useless when they have slow reload times. And it will drive you crazy when the shotgun’s reload animation seemingly takes forever while the on screen boss appears more than ready to perform a fatal blow. Weapons can be upgraded, but the process is slow, forcing replays and testing patience.

Thankfully the replayability is high. Episodes are broken down into chapters with each containing hidden archive items to look out for. At the end of each chapter, a score is displayed tallying statistics such as clear time and the number of headshots performed. This makes Chronicles better as an arcade experience as opposed to blasting your way through the entire game from start to finish.

Fans of the franchise will love revisting past tales told in Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles. It is a Resident Evil game on auto-pilot, dismissing the factors that killed the pace of the action in the previous “classic” titles. Just don’t think you’ll be in for an easy ride. Even with the rocket launcher.

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