Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (Wii) Review

I was quite excited for this at-the-time-Wii-exclusive on-rails shooter back when it was released. Not only did it have an entirely new scenario that showed the final straw that took down Umbrella but it also had new mini-stories set during or in between the three games it covered (RE 0, 1 and 3). Story aside though, what was it like to play, and what’s it like now? Let’s find out!

Background:

“I just blew its head to pieces, I think it’s taken down enough, thank you…”

The Umbrella Chronicles was released in November 2007 worldwide, though the exact day was different for some regions, including the US on the 13th, Japan 15th and Europe 30th. The Wii exclusivity came to an end in June 2012 when this game and its sequel (Darkside Chronicles) were packaged together and released on the PS3 as the “Chronicles HD Collection”.

Gameplay:

Nemesis striking a cool pose while he attacks, as all B.O.W. killing machines do!

The game is a simple on-rails shooter, meaning all you do is move your aiming reticle and shoot things while your character moves down a set path… a genre tailor made for the Wii and its Wiimote! Along with shooting many zombies and other creatures you can also shoot the scenery, often revealing new weapons, ammo, health restoring items or files to read outside of play. You can upgrade certain weapons’ firing rate or damage, and pick one non-handgun weapon to take into a stage with you, along with grenades to clear a screen and a knife you can swing to knock enemies back (or kill smaller bugs) that’s your whole arsenal. You have infinite handgun ammo, obviously, and often have to evade boss attacks or other dangers via a QTE prompt. You can also play 2-player co-op, but only after you’ve unlocked it, oddly enough…

Along with files to read there are unlockable side stories, like seeing how Wesker went from an Umbrella lab to the RPD in time to head out to “rescue” Bravo team in between RE 0 and 1, or how Ada escaped Raccoon City. That’s about your lot, there are plenty of levels and hidden files, so there’s quite a bit of replay value. I know I had a blast going through some of my favourite RE games and new content in a rather stress-free gameplay style…

Graphics and Sound:

Wesker making sure to say some cool lines to himself as he escapes the mansion…

The graphics are… well, they’re very Wii. Everything is a bit grey, a bit muddy and pixelated, but otherwise not too bad. They use the models from RE0 and the original Remake, so at least they look good, though the environments aren’t up to the same level, I guess due to having to have so much of it destructible. Due to having no hi-rez assets to use the RE3 and original Russian base content look a bit rougher than the RE0 and 1 segments, it has to be said…

Sound is fine, I mean there might be some background music but it’s hard to tell given most of the sound is you blasting away at the screen destroying everything in the hopes of finding a hidden file (or killing enemies, obviously). The voice acting is … not that great, though the Wesker voice in this game is top-tier cheesy. I could listen to how he pronounces “zombies” in the intro all day long…

Story:

I wonder just how many employees of Umbrella ended up infected by their own creations by the end?

The game shows us a condensed and clearly non-canon retelling of Resident Evils 0, 1 and 3 but weaves a new canon story around them, as well as showing us a few extra scenes mostly based around Albert Wesker. We see him running from the Umbrella Factory to the RPD to play his role as STARS Alpha Team leader in between RE0 and 1, we see him wake up with his new virus post Tyrant attack at the end of RE 1, and we see Ada escaping from Racoon City, plus another look at Hunk’s escape as well. We also see Rebecca and Richard wonder around the mansion pre-Alpha team’s arrival, though that doesn’t really add up…

The core new story shows us Umbrella operative Sergei Vladimir and his two Tyrant-like bodyguards called IVANs. He travelled to Raccoon City to save Oswell Spencer and Umbrella’s key computer containing all their research and files (sadly dubbed the “Red Queen”, which I really didn’t need a RE movie reference within the game series… well, beyond the laser grid trap from RE4 anyway…) A good while later Vladimir is back in his own base in Russia and is assaulted by a team led by Chris and Jill, while at the same time Wesker infiltrates the base to get his hands on Umbrella’s research data for himself. Chris and Jill battle their way through the base, kill some IVANs and defeat the new Tyrant model known as T-ALOS before leaving as the base explodes. Unbeknownst to them Wesker also reaches the centre of the base, kills a mutated Vladimir and ceases all of Umbrella’s data for himself. We see a post-credits scene implying Wesker intentionally leaked a bunch of the most incriminating files to the US government, giving them all the ammo they needed to close Umbrella, finally showing us their downfall after RE4 had previously glossed over it…

Thoughts Then:

Headshot! … At least I think that’s the head…

I was absolutely hooked on this over Christmas 2007. Each new chapter either brought back nostalgic memories in small bites or gave me some new RE timeline content. I replayed it many times looking for files and generally had a real blast with it. I came back to it a few times over the years, too…

Thoughts Now:

T-ALOS gets up-close and personal.

Now? It undeniably looks rough, to put it politely, but it’s still fun. On-rails shooters don’t really age due to their simplicity, and I still get a nostalgic kick or thrill by seeing the old levels or the new side stories. If it weren’t a pain in the arse to hook up my Wii console I’d probably break it out more often, but as it is it’s still good fun when I do…

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