Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles
Darkside revisits areas from Code Veronica Resident Evil 2 and also features a new side story involving Leon Kennedy and RE4 baddie Jack Krauser
The Darkside Chronicles had me excited since its original announcement, but little did I know that it would ultimately be like playing the video game equivalent of The Blair Witch Project: it's a game with a low-budget home movie feel that it can't quite shake. Like its sibling The Umbrella Chronicles, Darkside is a rail-shooter re-living Resident Evil stories of the past and places more emphasis on shooting than thinking.
- Gorgeous cut scenes, great attention to detail, nice sense of fan service for franchise diehards
- Weapon selection is minimal, the camera is your worst enemy, boss fights are far too repetitive
If you absolutely loved Umbrella Chronicles and know the Resident Evil series by heart, you might extract enough fun out of Darkside to make it worth your while. but otherwise, you can safely pass this one by.
It Smells Like a Battlefield
Darkside revisits areas from Code Veronica Resident Evil 2 and also features a new side story involving Leon Kennedy and RE4 baddie Jack Krauser. The three storylines are interconnected beautifully, with the action moving smoothly from Leon and Krauser's missions in South America to Raccoon City and the events of Resident Evil 2, then back to the Code Veronica tie-in with Chris and Claire Redfield. But as much as I enjoyed revisiting tales of Resident Evil's past, no amount of nostalgia can make up for the sketchy mechanics that underlie Darkside's core gameplay.
A handful of issues drag this "could have been a contender" game down from its potential heights. The camera constantly works against you at every turn, making it difficult to rain down bullets on enemies with any sort of effectiveness. Every boss encounter also devolves into a frustrating treadmill where you shoot the hell out of the bad guy until his life bar is exhausted only to see him disappear and return with full health. To top off the downward spiral, there's a surprisingly low volume of enemies thrown in your path, which makes for less than a challenge, not to mention that the weapon selection definitely leaves something to be desired.
Did We Kill It?
Darkside's saving grace is its beautiful presentation. Although you circle the same handful of areas throughout the chapters, the attention to detail present in each set piece prevents it from becoming too big of an issue. The cut scenes also shine with memorable machinima moments such as a scene when Leon and Krauser find Manuela, a Veronica Virus infected young woman, singing to a mutated creature in an abandoned church.
The pure campiness of the game's dialogue also holds some entertainment value: Resident Evil has always suffered from b-movie horror film schlock and fans of the franchise will appreciate just how much of the game's story has turned into an insider joke. I should also note that the game performs much better when experienced with a partner -- fighting zombies is always best as a group activity -- but even these highlights can't fully compensate for what is an overall poor effort. Issues like a wonky camera and cheap bosses are momentum killers, turning what could have been an enjoyable romp through Resident Evil history into a lackluster spinoff.
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