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SummaryGood game despite lame pay-off of the title.
The GoodChanges from REUC
The positive changes from REUC to REDC are numerous. The largest and most well done is the 1st person aspect. Let me explain - REUC was a rail shooter in the vein of House of the Dead, a 1st person-esque camera floating around while the character models are not seen. REDC takes great strides to provide a much more 1st person experience (in 1 player mode, at least). You can see your gun and hands, arms and legs while climbing ladders, and the camera is very shaky-cam. This added realism makes the game both more difficult and more immersive. The HUD for REDC separates the health bars of the two adventurers instead of having one bar for both, reason being that the 2nd character (again, I’m only talking about 1 player mode) acts independently and can open doors, attack, and be attacked. If the helper character is injured they will be slower and less effective.
Another change that caught my eye is that the standard hand-gun is now upgradeable. This makes playing on the harder difficulties and getting good ratings much more possible. The rating system includes critical shot count, and getting a critical shot with anything other than the 9mm is extremely difficult.
The writing for this game is better than REUC. Not by leaps and bounds, but it is much more natural and better read by the voice actors. It’s better in some places and worse in others, but consistently above REUC. Graphically the game is better, the cut scenes this time around rely more on pre-rendered and less on in-game graphics. While I’m usually on the fence about which is better, let me explain my feelings: If you are going to do a cut scene with two persons running down a hallway and around a corner do it using in-game graphics, don’t pull me out of the game to show me something mundane. If you want to do a high-paced action scene using motion effects or high-res close-ups a pre-rendered CGI scene is ideal. E.g. When meeting Ada for the first time in this game it kicks (without load times) into CGI, a very nice zoom shot on her face, and she sticks her tongue out in a ‘sexy-concentrating’ way as she caps three Cerberus (dog zombie) BOW’s with precision aim. THAT is how you do a cut scene! I’m not saying that REUC was devoid of CGI, but that many of the cut scenes were mundane.
The game no longer requires or encourages the use of the nun-chuck controller. You are going to see a blurb about this in the ‘dislike’ section, but I will admit that it adds to the ambience of the game. Imagining that you are holding a gun in one hand and an… egg shaped thing… in the other is a little silly sometimes. You can use the nun-chuck in the Wii-zapper to switch weapons with the nub-stick. The interface for the missions is also re-done in a more stylized way, with glass shards that fragment into smaller pieces as you unlock new missions (sadly the name “Shattered Memories” was already taken, HAYAO!), set in front of a misty abyss.
The RE:2 Content
This is why I bought this game. RE:2 is my favourite game in the series, I own it for PS1 and Game-Cube (The version with absolutely no enhancement, just PS1 graphics. I‘ve got Nemesis like that too). When Resident Evil 1 was remade for the GC there were a lot of us out there wringing our hands in anticipation for RE:2 to be given the same treatment. Well, it never came, making this the first time that this game (Rated right alongside Metal Gear: Solid as one of the best PS1 games of all time) has gotten made-over.
In my honest opinion just the RE:2 content justifies the purchase of this game (for me). It’s only about 1 ½ hours of playtime (one one difficulty, as one character), but it is also just that much fun. It is the main attraction (as shown in the marketing of the game), and of course they separate it into chunks and hide those pieces between the new material written for the game (the South America scenario). The reason that the RE:2 scenario is the strongest of the game is the same reason that RE:2 rated so high in the 1st place: It has a great story, great enemies, and great pacing.
I’m actually going to go out on a limb here and say that REDC has actually improved on the RE:2 content by doing something the original couldn’t: Putting Claire and Leon in the same place at all the key moments, and letting them banter with each other. The dialogue in REUC was very much “Oh no, what is that?”, “We need to go here.”, “We will survive”, etc. Wesker was a little smug but he didn’t have anyone to talk to. The dialogue in REDC is actually funny in places, and written in-canon with the personalities of the established characters. Leon is a rookie cop who shows up late on his first day to encounter a zombie epidemic; Claire is a confused, sarcastic college co-ed, and they play off of each other very well.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that Alyson Court provides Claire’s voice. She doesn’t just have anime cred like a lot of game voice actors either, this lady has got range - she’s been everywhere from Jubilee on Fox’s X-men to Loonette the Clown on Big Comfy Couch. The voice actor for Leon is the same guy from RE:4, he’s also good but not as unique as Claire’s voice actor.
RE:2 was built very much on a sense of duality: Two parallel characters, two parallel main bosses, eventually a dual-shock controller… I’m stretching now. REDC slams it all together but still creates two separate experiences at the same time. Sure, Leon and Claire are together now, but depending on which one you play you actually see through a different set of eyes (hard to explain). The two main enemies of the game, Mister ‘X’ and William Birkin both have very different fighting styles reminiscent of the original game. One is a mechanical, unstoppable cold force and the other is hot animal rage that keeps getting bigger the more you punish it. I don’t often laugh out loud at a game, but when Mister ‘X’ crashed through the roof and proceeded to stalk down the hallway towards me, flinging zombies bodily through windows with casual gestures I laughed. I wasn’t laughing so hard when he started punching me repeatedly, but as always with Mister ‘X’ running is the better option.
Over-all the RE:2 content was the highlight of the game.
The Code: Veronica Content
Resident Evil: Code Veronica was probably the most planned Resident Evil game in my opinion. It certainly wanted to bring focus on creating a canonical time-line. It came out during the height of RE mania when EGM was running 10 page spreads to catch people up on RE history and several pages of most gaming mags had adds for RE toys. Unfortunately it came out on the Dreamcast initially, and I’m not sure how many people caught the PS2 re-release. RECV is a dark tale with great atmosphere and a prevailing sense of dread right up until the end, it is also one of the very few RE games where the villain(s) in charge are still human. And Chris smacks Wesker’s shades off with a lead pipe to the face. I was hoping they’d show that in REDC but it went down a little differently. This content was strong, and tied into the ‘present day’ South America storyline much better than the RE:2 content did.
The re-done cut scenes did a good job of taking the longest (or 2nd longest, I didn’t time RE:4) RE game and condensing it into 45 minutes or so. The get the plot exposition out of the way Claire is usually narrating as the characters progress. While this isn’t as much fun as the banter with Leon, I could listen to her ramble on about stuff all day. The breaks from canon in this chapter are mainly to make more interesting fights out of the bosses, the sniper battle(s) with Alfred Ashford are very reminiscent of MGS’ battle with Sniper Wolf. The Nosferatu battle was surprisingly well done - I always thought the RECV version of that fight was gimmicky.
I always found Alexia Ashford to be the most frightening of the RE villains, I mean, she could tentacle rape you from over 10km’s away and had an I.Q. over 190. THAT is scary. The fight with her is by far one of the hardest in the (normal) game, you need good timing for it.
The South America Content
Jack Krauser and Leon Kennedy go to South America to see if some BOW dealings are going down. Turns out there was a leak of the T-Veronica virus. Story-wise I like it. Writing wise it’s great, good banter between Leon and Jack and even the girl they get stuck escorting. Good writing for the villain, all around fine. I came for the nostalgia though, this is just icing on the cake for me. Actually I forgot to give praise for the new enemy design - finally something new that isn’t Los Plagas or just a re-hash. This time we get some creepy pterodactyl type “Anubis” BOW’s that might rival the Chimera in sheer shudder-inducing factor. Giant spiders actually do it to me worst, but only after they are dead and do that convulsing thing, so it doesn’t really count. Jack is the funny one (wouldn’t guess that from his stint in RE:4) this time around. The graphics here go above and beyond what I am used to seeing from the Wii console, wide open areas with over-head weather and distant terrain - they should be doing this more often.
The Bonus Content
I don’t want to spoil it for you if you are an RE:2 fan, but I was both laughing AND horrified at the bonus game for this one. REUC had a shooting gallery mode, let’s just say that in the bonus game here you get chased by something you usually eat rather than zombies. Top marks and at least 1 star in my ‘personal like’ score just for this!
The BadChanges From REUC
There are a few changes made from REUC to REDC that I frankly don’t approve of. First and foremost is how text files are handled. It’s called “Darkside Chronicles”, this implies some reading I think. I am shooting every flower pot and picture frame in the hopes of unlocking files and memorabilia from the past games - and the text files have a tiny thin font on a black background that has a white/blue mask effect pulsing over them! Take a look at how they were in REUC: sample. Now image if that was ½ size, not bolded, and flickery-blue set on a black background. Have fun squinting.
The guns are scaled up. The handguns, at least. By a lot. I’m a bit of a fire-arms nerd, and when I see a HK VP-70 scaled up to at least HK Mk. 23 size I get a little riled up. I LIKED that Leon had a VP-70 in RE:2. It made sense from a design perspective: It is a gun which can fire 3-burst shots if you install the shoulder stock, it has a large capacity, it is the kind of gun a rookie cop might have in 1998. The designers here obviously felt constrained by Canon to keep the gun the same, but they super-sized it to make it look more ‘bad-ass’. I think that is just stupid. And they went through the trouble of scaling up Leon’s VP-70, but they gave Claire a different gun! One that is the same size as her Canon one! And they did it twice! And then they did it to Chris too! How hard is it to model 4 different hand-guns? I understand that they already had the M92FS modeled from REUC, but Claire needs a Browning HP (RE:2) and then a 93R (Which shares the back-half of the M93FS), and Chris is using a Glock for RECV. So why did they bother to model the HK VP-70 for Leon? Ugh, it baffles the mind. Oh, and Krauser actually has a Mk. 23 but it is the size of a LAR Grizzly! It’s very annoying!
You want to know why it is called “Darkside Chronicles”? Because the pay-off you get for clearing missions with “S” ratings is the “Darkside” of missions. Sound cool? Get ready to be disappointed - all it means is you play the same mission with the same enemies in the same places but the voice-over is a narration by a character revealing ’The Dark Side’ of their thoughts. That is the lamest pay-off I can think of. Couldn’t they write a file for it? Oh wait, I wouldn’t be able to read it, maybe they should have done an audio file instead? Actually, despite the fact that the instruction manual says you can unlock audio files I haven’t found any. I’ll admit that REUC had some silly unlockables, like little pictures of the sword/armour/helmet/ keys and a note saying “These keys were used to unlock s#$%”. Really? Thanks for chronicling that for me! I hope I unlock the picture of the hexagonal crank next, that was my favourite! But REDC is by far the worse offender here.
Remember when I said you didn’t have to use the nun-chuck anymore? I did mean what I said earlier, but the other side of that is that you can no longer control the camera to any extent. If you miss picking up something and it is hovering just outside the frame of the screen forget it. Play though again and maybe you’ll be fast enough. Sometimes accuracy picking things up is just cruel! Running, tripping, falling, getting blown up - and while you’re at it grab that little flashy thing please.
Usually when you do a sequel it’s a good idea to include one thing; more. This game took a look at the 16 different weapons from REUC and dropped more than half of them. Okay, maybe we don’t need four flavors of magnum hand-gun, but now that we can actually see them wouldn’t that be nice? In REUC you also had to choose a load-out for a level consisting of one extra gun. In REDC you can access any weapon at any time through the pause menu.
I never mentioned the Counter-Attack system in my REUC review, sorry about that. If you shake the Wii-mote when a zombie grabs you it will activate a ‘Counter-Attack’ that will kill that zombie. They are pretty cool (except HUNK’s, his was stupid), and they’re back for this. They might have done something a little more involved for this but left it the same. One of my sayings for giving criticism is ‘if you can’t suggest better don’t complain’: This game heavily features having a partner - involve the partner in the counter attack. Instead of Chris just stabbing a zombie in the head have him stab it and Claire kick it - something different.
The RE:2 Content
Yes, I found something to dislike - in an effort to increase the number of boss battles RE:DC turns Police Chief Brian Irons into a G-monster. I didn’t like that at all - Irons getting pulled down that hole and then the top half of him plopping back out was one of the best out-of-nowhere moments in the original. For him to just roar and turn into some monster instead of getting his come-uppance was a let down. Even that fight is a let-down, it’s just a circle-strafe fight, not dynamic, not much fun at all - just padding.
The Code: Veronica Content
I realize that they were pressed for time (game-play wise), but considering that they re-used set pieces from the PS2 game I would have liked a sequence involving the stupid mini-submarine. The hunter gamma’s were under-showcased and since they are amphibious this would have been a good excuse to make me fight off a wave or two. I’m just going to come out and say it: the shooting gallery puzzle is stupid. I know it’s an arcade style rail shooter, I know Resident Evil has puzzles, why not just have them shoot the lock on the door or something instead of making it a shooting puzzle? I’m supposed to believe that Alfred has to play a shooting puzzle every time he wants to go to bed? The Wesker/Chris hand-to-hand fight may have only been part of the Code: Veronica X re-release, but it really should have gotten a new CGI. I had to watch the 3rd (RE:2, RE:O, RE:DC !!!) version of “William Birkin gets shot up” I have seen, but you couldn’t re-animate an awesome Chris/Wesker fight? Balls!
The South American Content
The original content, with the original areas and characters (except Jack and Leon) suffers only in its attempt to tie RE:2 and RE:CV together. Sure the first flash-back makes sense, but Leon only got an e-mail from Claire about Rockford island. If they had put Leon and Chris together (a never-before done team up!) in South America it would have been more coherent. It’s not like Chris needed to be anywhere in that specific time-line, he went free-lance BOW hunter in-between RE:CV and RE:5. Maybe they could have explained how he gained 95 pounds of arm muscle somehow.
The Bottom LineBottom Line:
The game has a weak titular pay-off, the “Dark-Side” is frankly lame. The first game had a story to tell, the rise and fall of Umbrella - and I found that interesting. This game seemed to want to focus on the personal horror and sacrifice that the tragedy brought on - the tragic death of the very annoying Steve Burnside.
The Worst Part: The camera-path director (what the camera points at) thinks it’s suspenseful to look at slumped zombies as you go by. At least 45 minutes of this 7 or 8 hour game is staring at things as you slowly walk by.
The Best Part: Smarter boss fights. I shot a rocket launcher at a Tyrant and he snatched the rocket out of the air and threw it back at me! That was frankly awesome.