The Master of Uhhh…Lightgunning?
It's possible, even entirely likely that I have a problem. When I look at Resident Evil Chronicles: HD Collection, I can't help but ask myself why it exists. It's a high-res port of a couple of 5-year-old games made for a system with arguably 10-year-old tech. What's more, these are rail shooter spinoffs of a franchise infamous for having terrible shooting. If you asked me, I would say that absolutely no one needed these games to be released in the first place, let alone wanted them necro'd like a 6-month-old NeoGAF thread.
But I'd be wrong, because critics and fans alike received them both rather warmly back in their day. Anyone who enjoyed the originals will be pleased to know that theses are in fact the definitive versions, both with sharper visuals, and thanks to the Playstation Move, better controls than their Wii counterparts.
For those not familiar, Resident Evil Chronicles: HD Collection collects both Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles and gives them shiny new coats of paint. The goal of these games is to take all the water-cooler moments from Resident Evil Zero, 1, 2, 3, and Code: Veronica and re-imagine them a la House of the Dead lightgun style. So if you're a total Resident Evil superfan, these games are something of a greatest hits—a quick and easy way to take a stroll down the nicest back alleys of memory lane. The Darkside Chronicles takes the fan service a step further with bonus chapters that provide new insights into the backstories of some of the characters.
While this all sounds ideal for longtime fans and the HD Collection does a competent job of sprucing the originals up visually, the truth is that these are a couple of flawed games. I'm convinced neither, particularly The Umbrella Chronicles, would have sold if not for the attachment of the RE brand. Taking the fast-paced, twitch action of arcade rail shooters and slowing it to a crawl for the sake of “tension” and story is a terrible idea, especially when said story hinges entirely on the famously terrible writing and voice acting the series is know for.
Things don't improve much when you start shooting, either. Gunshots sound completely neutered and often fail to have any visible impact on the brain-munchers you're plugging, making the core mechanic feel hollow and lifeless. The Darkside Chronicles fares better in this regard, with bolder effects, and enemies that actually react to being hit, but it still pales in comparison to the meaty, satisfying sensation I remember getting from fragging zombies in House of the Dead. The nicest thing I can say is that if you are one of the five people in America with a Move controller, the aiming is extremely fluid, easily eclipsing the comparatively clumsy Wii-mote.
And exactly who thought that inserting pass/fail quick-time events that force you to replay several minutes of content was a good idea? Because I want to punch that person. I mean, this would already piss me off in a fun, fast-paced game. In a slow, plodding one, where every attempt is exactly the same as the last, it's just sadistic. What's great too is that you can't memorize the QTE inputs because they're random every time, and the indicators for what you're supposed to press all look alike. I especially love when they come up without any warning during a boss fight, while you're mashing the fire button, which makes you fail it automatically, unless you lucked out and it wanted you to press the fire button. Oh, game design…
On each of these charges, The Darkside Chronicles pleads guilty less often. It looks, sounds, and plays far better than The Umbrella Chronicles and is the real reason, if any, to own this collection. Keep in mind, though, that you'll be able to buy it separately for less within a few weeks, and for people who just want a decent lightgun game, that'll be a better deal in my opinion. That said, neither game is good enough to spend money on unless you're a diehard Resident Evil fan. Even then, there are better ways to blow $30 bucks in the name of fandom, like buying as many of the Resident Evil films on DVD as you can. At least you'll have a shot at seeing Milla Jovovich side-boob, and the acting will be a little better.