Nintendo’s Wii is a natural fit for a shooting gallery game, and “Resident Evil” is a natural license for some good old-fashioned zombie-shooting fun. Hence, Capcom’s “Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles,” in the tradition of light gun games that used to be found in arcades a decade ago. It’s goofy, gory and the perfect title to show off the Wii’s stuff. Expect killer sales.
“Umbrella Chronicles” is about shooting and nothing else, so it moves players automatically through locations like haunted houses, secret labs and the streets of a zombie-infested town. Monsters leap out or shamble forward. Gamers’ task is to go along for the ride, pointing at targets and pressing a button to shoot. Reloading is accomplished with a simple flick of the wrist. An additional button is used to throw grenades, pick up found items and occasionally play a dodging minigame.
Those who want to truly immerse themselves in the shooting can buy Nintendo’s new Zapper peripheral, essentially a plastic casing that makes the Wii controller feel like a gun. Either way, it’s is as simple as games get.
Boss creatures can be a frustrating roadblock, particularly at tougher difficulty settings. But to the game’s credit, pretty much any level can be beaten by simply hoarding ammo for the best gun and then unloading it onto whatever ultra bad guy shows up at the end.
Furthermore, finishing a level earns stars, which can be spent improving weapons. This gives the game an ongoing sense of progression, and offers players an incentive to replay missions. The result is a forgiving game, perfect for some light-hearted goofing around, that won’t wear out its welcome after a single play-through.
In co-operative mode, “Umbrella Chronicles” is a great party game. Players share the same pool of health, so it’s in their best interest to look out for each other. In practice, it’s a bit chaotic. But unlike many multiplayer videogames, it’s perfectly suited for gamers of different skill levels.
Long-time “Resident Evil” fans will appreciate nods to the franchise, like the layout of the mansion from the first game or the extensive backstory in files hidden throughout the levels. For everyone else, there’s the delightfully over-the-top quality that has always pervaded the long-running series. Consider that the game opens with a droll narrator explaining that “it was a stormy night when the leeches overwhelmed the Ecliptic Express.” Horror doesn’t get much cheesier than “Resident Evil,” and shooting games don’t get much better than “Umbrella Chronicles.”