It’s not that it’s the most basic gun game around. There are bonus collectibles and power-ups a plenty to collect, and even alternative routes if you highlight the right opening and press A when directed. You can even customise your weapons between levels, though we’re hardly talking RE4 levels of tinkering here. However, at its heart this is simple and fairly repetitive fare. Keep shooting the zombies, and try for those fatal head shots when you can. Sometimes they come alone, sometimes they come in packs, and sometimes they come racing at you like something out of 28 Days Later. All you need to worry about is blasting them as rapidly and efficiently as possible.
When it comes to the other creatures, just learn their attack patterns and watch for their weak spots. Umbrella Chronicles has done an excellent job of raiding the extensive RE bestiary, and packs in all the spiders, snakes, leeches, mutants, frog-like hunters, crows, dogs, and sharks (!) fans could wish for. In terms of pacing and shock value it’s no House of the Dead 2 or III, and it relies on sheer numbers or tough enemies for much of its challenge, but it’s nonetheless enjoyable for that.
Enjoyable, that is, until we come to the dreaded Boss battles. I’ll never understand why Capcom gets this so right in some games and so horribly wrong in others, but the bosses in Umbrella Chronicles are either pitifully easy or painfully difficult, with only a tiny few that hit the right balance in between. I don’t mind the easy ones so much; they’re not forcing you to waste an hour going through an overly intricate and excessively long-winded procedure just to gun them down and get on with the next chunk of the game. Hard to see, impossibly to hit, constantly moving weak spots are a recurrent theme, and not one that I’ve grown any more fond of as Umbrella Chronicles has followed its course. One boss, only a little way in, was so annoying that – but for professional pride – I would have ditched the bloody game right there and then. “Shoot the mouth? I can’t even see the %@#%* mouth from over here!”
To make things worse, a number of boss battles incorporate quick-time event style button presses to dodge particular attacks. Pressing A and B when prompted is a no-brainer, but the game also insists on a waggle-the-remote manoeuvre that can be tricky to pull off in the heat of battle, while also ensuring that you need to spend a second or so lining up your sights again when it’s over. Wouldn’t using the Nunchuk to duck, dodge and dive have been so much better and more satisfying? Put all this together, and you have a game where you push your way through the main sections with ease only to get ground down time and time again by a boss.
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