This post could have been entitled "Bastard bloody bollocking Blockbuster", for it was at that wretched establishment, that I had placed my pre-order. So, on my way out for a romantic meal with Mrs. K, I suggested that we nip out and pick up my game. (Romantic meal out of the way, my weekend was mapped out with UC until I went to bed on Sunday night.) So we pull up at Blockbuster and I ask Mrs. K if she wants to come in and enjoy the moment when I receive the most coveted game I had ever bought. She sensibly (and predictably) said she would wait in the car. I strolled confidently up to the counter to collect my prize AND... and... and... NOTHING!!!
Those stupid fuckers must have fucked up their distribution or something, because they weren't getting the game till 3 o'Clock the next day! And this just wouldn't do... 'Cos I'd planned my entire weekend around this sucker, including Friday night! I had the (rare) permission to just indulge my gaming passion, to dominate the main TV of the house and to be excused for household chores for the weekend. BAH!
So I rang around the main game stores in Manchester (UK) and they said they had loads of copies. I then suggested to Mrs. K that we would go and have our meal, then I would casually saunter out, and grab my game. But what did my saintly wife suggest? That I would enjoy my meal more if I had the game in my posession. God love her! And thus, I trudged through the wind and rain, battling against hostile Christmas shoppers, to secure the game. Eventually, after a beautiful curry, I stepped through the door and unwrapped the game.
AAAARRRGGGGHHH! the electrical spaghetti underneath my telly was so confusing, that my Wii remained unplugged and powerless. Not that much of a problem you might think? Imagine a TV, connected to a VCR, a DVD, a Dreamcast, a PS2, a Sky Box and a Wii, all with their power sources plugged into one of those six pronged multi plugs, eventually leading to one 'health and safety' risk. Their cords were entwined like a mass of warring cobras, but eventually I managed to get the Wii plugged in. PHEW! OK, ready to play right? AAAARRRGGGGHHH!(2)The fucking Wiimote's batteries had died! Damn! I then had to send my biggest ugly son over to the shops to grab some AA's...
OK! On to the game! Well I was always going to love it wasn't I? As a lover of Light Gun games both in arcades and on home consoles (House Of the Dead, Virtua Cop, Confidential Mission, Death Crimson OX, RE:Code Veronica Gun Survivor ) and as a relatively recent devotee of the Resident Evil franchise, it was a no brainer that this would deliver on every level! And it does! In spades!
My Wii sleeps most of the time, whilst the Dreamcast, DS, PS2 and even Saturn get regular attention. The only games that have brought it to life are Red Steel (uncompleted) and RE4 (lovingly completed and oft replayed.) But as I knew it would, Umbrella Chronicles means that it will be the only console that gets played until the game is completed. I had hoped to play it with the Wii Zapper. After all, Light Gun games are partly fun because you hold a big gun! But the Wiimote on it's own is a fine substitute. The B button makes a perfect trigger and the fact that it is just a cuboid shape doesn't detract from it feeling more like a gun than a regular controller.
Graphics? Gorgeous! I may revise my opinion when I get "the kids" ;) a 360 for Christmas, but being a largely Retro Gamer, I'm massively impressed by some of the graphics on the Saturn. Therefore, when hit with the graphic spleandour of 'last gen' games like RE4, Shenmue, Code Veronica, the RE remake for the Gamecube, or God Of War, I'm blown away!!! Needless to say, although Capcom have recycled a lot elements from it's 'last gen' RE releases, the end result is nothing less than sumptuous to look at.
Gameplay? Fabulous! It's 'pick up and play' potential is excellent. There is something of a tutorial on the first level, but it doesn't take long, and soon the use of Wiimote (and to a lesser degree the nunchuck) comes as second nature. And as I've often stated before, the joy of brainlessly blasting at zombies encapsulates for me the joy of escapism that video games should supply. It's fun! Pure unadulterated fun!
But the real joy of the game, comes from the fact that it was created by Capcom, as a nod to all the diehard Resi fanboys. All the geeks (like me) who have swallowed the Umbrella saga wholesale, who have played the games, watched the films and want to tie up every inch of the storyline.
Narrated by Wesker and connecting every unsolved mystery from the story, it's a Resident Evil gameplayers dream. I'm actually sad enough to have spent hours trawling the Internet, to read every Umbrella file or memo, in order to map out the whole Resident Evil saga correctly. And it's actually a powerful way of wrapping the story up of the last and last but one gen excursions.
The Wii isn't powerful enough to house Resident Evil 5. Hopefully I'll be travelling that particular journey on the 360. But Wii owners couldn't say they've been neglected by Capcom. Both this, and RE 4 Wii edition, are essential purchases.
Where am I up to in the game? Well I've played through the RE Zero chapter of the game. I've never played the Gamecube's RE Zero (but I will) which means that the Rebecca Chambers/Billy Cohen storyline was unfamiliar to me. I loved it though, and I've now completed the RE Zero chapter of Umbrella Chronicles. But now I'm almost wetting myself, because I'm now playing as Jill Valentine, back in the Spencer Mansion where it all started. I know what's behind every door, what is about to happen in every room, enjoying seeing it all in tear inducing graphic glory and it's one of the most sublime gaming experiences that I've ever had.
Gripes? Well OK, there's one or two! No criticism of the game as such. other than the fact that it doesn't feature any revelations or gameplay from RE4 or RE:Code Veronica, but hopefully that means Capcom are saving it for Umbrella Chronicles 2.
To sum up, I must say that although I've enjoyed video games since the mid seventies 'Pong' era, on a variety of consoles and computers, it's only in the last couple of years that I would consider myself a 'gamer'. I now live and breathe videogames, research them, read about them, play them and comment on them. I even have two websites about them and contribute to two more. I subscribe to Games TM magazine and spend hours on the Internet looking up games I've never even played on consoles I've never owned. And I've researched enough (and played enough on about 15 different formats) to know that Capcom's Resident Evil franchise is a must for my fellow gamers.
And if there is one game that encapsulates the back catalogue of this wonderful series it is Umbrella Chronicles. If you own a Wii, go out tomorrow and buy it. If you're disappointed I'll personally reimburse you. But you won't be. One of the pinnacles of the Wii's releases so far, I couldn't give a flying fuck about Super Mario Galaxy or Metroid Prime 3 Corruption. It's all about the Umbrella Chronicles. This is Father K, for Wiikly Sermons, signing out. Now over to you Ted for the sport and weather...