We revisit Resident Evil 2 in Capcom's Wii on-rails shooter.
Capcom's upcoming Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is the follow-up to its popular Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles for the Wii. The game is once again being developed by Cavia and follows the same basic structure as Umbrella Chronicles, although Cavia and Capcom are taking into account user feedback to improve the overall experience. We had a chance to see a presentation on the game given by producer Masachika Kawata, which included a short demo.
Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles appears to be taking a more focused approach than its predecessor. Whereas Umbrella Chronicles featured scenarios set at different points in the RE timeline, Darkside Chronicles is rooted in the story of Resident Evil 2. You'll play as Leon Kennedy in the single-player game, with Claire Redfield tagging along in cooperative multiplayer--two unlikely survivors thrown together when Raccoon City, arguably the town with the worst luck in video game history, has a zombie outbreak.
Before hopping into the demo, we were given a rundown of the approach being taken this time out with the game. The decision to focus on RE2 came from the fact that the team felt as though Leon and Claire were strong characters that should be revisited. In addition, RE2 stands as a fan favorite. However, Kawata noted that the team wanted to create a game that would stand on its own as a strong horror experience. As a result, user feedback on the first game was taken into account and affected the gameplay in Darkside Chronicles. At the same time, the game engine was beefed up to support a host of lighting and graphical effects as well as Havok physics in order to better create an immersive horror atmosphere.
The demo started at the beginning of RE2 and followed Leon as he went into town and met up with Claire. As before, the gameplay is on rails, although you'll no longer be able to look around. User feedback on the look feature in the last game and the team's desire to create a certain type of atmosphere have resulted in a more traditional rail shooting experience. Some smaller touches being added to set the tone include a more cinematic camera--a benefit of removing the look feature--and a lot more audio. You'll now hear Leon and Claire chatting among themselves as they go through the city. The level we saw followed the pair into the convenience store whose owner was famously chomped. You'll be able to collect items as you make your way around the world by moving the aiming reticle over them and hitting the A button when prompted. One of the nice new touches is the ability to assign items and weapons to directions on the Wii Remote D pad, which allows you to swap weapons and heal on the fly. The healing option is an especially nice tweak, since you were unable to save healing items for later use in the last game.
The demo continued with the pair making their way to the police station. The path took the pair through streets and alleys and along building rooftops. The route provided a showcase for the various enemy types you'll be facing in addition to zombies. Undead pooches and flocks of evil birds, easily dispatched with a shotgun, were all on hand as a reminder that things are pretty messed up in town. More importantly, the route provided a plethora of reasons why exploding barrels are your best friend. The demo ended up with the pair arriving at the police station and realizing that undead law enforcement officers aren't helpful to the living.
A Q&A session following the level play-through revealed a few other nuggets of info. The game will not support the Wii MotionPlus peripheral. In terms of story, the game will use RE2 as its basis, but the specifics of what it does with the iconic tale are something the team wants you to discover for yourself. One nice bit for fans is that the team actively sought out the original voice actors to voice the characters and was able to get the voice actors for Leon, Claire, and Ada. Unfortunately, the actress used for Sherry Birkin no longer sounded like the character, so another voice actress was used. Also, the difficulty is being tweaked from the last game. Finally, on the subject of online multiplayer, Kawata stated that it had been considered for the game, but the feature was nixed because of the technical hurdle of overall game performance when playing online. He did state that there will be some kind of online feature in the game, but he didn't elaborate.
All told, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles looks like a solid enough follow-up to Umbrella Chronicles. The more traditional rail shooting experience seems like a better fit for the action, and the use of RE2's story is a smart move. The visuals are still work-in-progress, much like the game's HUD, which wasn't shown, and seem to be coming along well. There are some nice, albeit modest, lighting effects on display already. Odds are that if you like Umbrella Chronicles, this game will be right up your alley. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is slated to ship later this year exclusively for the Wii. Look for more on the game in the coming months.