Thursday, November 29, 2007

NGamer Review Of Umbrella Chronicles

I was e-mailed this today and I thought I'd share it with you all. I stress the words aren't mine of course, (I've yet to play it!) But it seemed like an honest and balanced review, and contains some great information about the game. for example, I didn't realise how much of the game was recycled... But any way, I'll let them tell you all about it...
Import review: "There's no doubt in our minds that at some point in the recent past, Umbrella Chronicles was a very different game to the one that has finally emerged. Far from being some elaborate mystery for us to unravel, the evidence has been there from the start - early interviews with Capcom's team suggested Chronicles would be a game more like Resident Evil 4, while later interviews changed the script. After the brilliant Resi 4, it's a shame we never got that original concept, but it's hard to fault Umbrella Chronicles for what it's not, when what it is is so ridiculously fully-featured and complete.

You are dead. Continue?You want levels? How about 12 hours' worth, all set in the midst of the zombie holocausts from Resident Evil Zero, 1, 2 and 3, and featuring a final, all-new level to wrap up Umbrella's Story? You like guns? Capcom have provided every famous weapon from the series, every one upgradable using the points you'll earn on your missions and each handling in its own unique way.And how about the characters? Every chapter of Umbrella Chronicles stars characters from the original games, with each given different introductory cutscenes depending on who you choose to play as. Even better, further unlockable missions are based around untold side-stories from the series and help patch over Resident Evil's big mysteries - like how Rebecca Chambers made it from the Umbrella management training facility to the Mansion, or what Wesker was up to while the STARS team was preparing to move on the Mansion.

Chronicles is the most blatant example of fan service Capcom could have conjured, filling in every gap in the story with new cutscenes, lengthy dossiers, files, and those new chapters that patch up the continuity holes and rewrite the questionable parts of the series' chequered past. Umbrella Chronicles is like a 1970's exploit-o-movie version of Resident Evil's story - not smart or especially stylish, with everything about it designed to appeal almost exclusively to the most niche of audiences. But, what it does offer fans of the series, it offers perfectly. Chronicle triggerAces, then. We'll have some of that. Except, as successful as Chronicles is as a fan-pleasing piece of Resident Evil cake, it's a very ordinary shooter. Sega's Ghost Squad may be pushing around fewer polygons than Super Mario 64, but it's the most exciting all-out shooter on the Wii; like two sides of the same coin, Ghost Squad succeeds where Umbrella Chronicles fails, and conversely, fails everywhere Resi succeeds. Where Chronicles is long, Ghost Squad is short; where the zombie blaster is beautiful, Ghost Squad looks like an especially unattractive Dreamcast game.

Like Ghost Squad, Umbrella Chronicles is an unmistakably cheap game, but again, in a very different way. The Zero stages use the 3D models that provided the backdrops to Resi Zero, the mansion levels are ripped straight from the Gamecube Resident Evil Remake, and since the 3D models used to recreate Raccoon City were of too low quality for a modern game, the Raccoon City stages are torn from the code for Resident Evil Outbreak on the PS2. Recycling like that might make Al Gore a happy man, but it's a cheap and easy turn-around for the boys at Capcom, and rather makes us question the price of the game.And where Ghost Squad is a thrilling rollercoaster ride of a shooter, Resident Evil is a particularly lethargic ghost train - riding along at a snail's pace, you encounter zombies and other beasties every now and again as if they were an afterthought.

It's as if Capcom were so intent upon making an atmospheric and frightening game, they forgot what it is that makes a lightgun shooter so entertaining - there's no relentless pace, no test of your reactions, and you'll even have to conserve ammo and save your biggest and most fun guns for the astonishingly resilient bosses. Chronicles, of course, is shaped like a Resident Evil game where extended periods of calm are punctuated by moments of extreme action and terror, but what works for survival horror doesn't work so well for a lightgun shoot-'em-up, and your ride on the ghost train is about as scary as a sit-down on Santa's knee.

Looking down a dark hallway on a stormy night and knowing you have to walk to the door at the end is a difficult, stomach-churning dilemma; being led down there on rails whether you like it or not is just another turn in the tracks on that ghost train, and when those dogs leap out at you, you won't even clench your bum cheeks. We like what they were aiming for with the atmosphere, but Capcom have missed their target on this one.
Although the design choices made along the way are often confusing, the game Umbrella Chronicles finally became isn't the disaster it was seemingly destined to be.

Lest we forget, Capcom has no strong record for quality Resident Evil side stories, and a particularly bad reputation for lousy lightgun games -the PlayStation Gun Survivor and Dead Aim games are notorious stinkers, Resident Evil Gaiden was a catastrophe, and those two PS2 Outbreaks were less Shaun Of The Dead and more Stig Of The Dump, so it's a miracle the clearly micro-budgeted Umbrella Chronicles worked out as well as it did. A slow start makes way for more intense action on later levels, and though it never feels like an all-out shooter or a true Resi experience, it occasionally touches on both, and when it does, it's at its best. For any fan of the series, it's a tour of a world you love with enough unlockables to keep you squeezing the trigger until the day you die, and a mountain of plot minutiae to read through once you've been reanimated again. Chronicles is no shoot-'em-up, but it's the best Resident Evil side-story in close to eight years. And since the last good one was Code Veronica, that's lofty praise indeed."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Day After Tomorrow!

Yes folks it is just two days until I get my hands on it! I can barely bare the excitement! Umbrella Chronicles will be the first game I have ever bought on the day of release, the first game I've ever pre-ordered and will represent my 11th purchase from the franchise!

My collection so far is:
Resident Evil (Saturn)
Resident Evil 2 (Dreamcast)
Resident Evil 3 (Dreamcast)
Resident Evil Code Veronica (Dreamcast)
Resident Evil Code Veronica: Gun Survivor (PS2)
Resident Evil: Outbreak File (PS2)
Resident Evil: Dead Aim (PS2)
Resident Evil 4 (PS2)
Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition (Wii)
Resident Evil Deadly Silence (DS)
Resident Evil was a game I stated I hated earlier this year, when I played it on the Saturn (look here). And then a complete U-turn showing what a fickle and contrary bastard I am...

And when I get into something, I get RIGHT into it! Some might say obsessed. I've included links for this excellent game here. For some excellent videos look on the official Capcom site (don't be put off by the Japanese writing). For some fascinating background on the game have a look at the excellent Wikipedia page!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

House Of The Dead Wii Compilation!

As if it wasn't exciting enough to be only six days away from a new and exclusive, Resident Evil (Umbrella Chronicles) title to be hitting our shores within six days, I've just become "all of a flutter", about the chance of more zombie ass kicking, with the Wii Zapper, from a Wii exclusive re-issue of HOTD2 and HOTD3 on the Wii!

This is a franchise which I've loved on both the Saturn and the Dreamcast (HOTD1 & HOTD2 respectively) and also in the arcades. Indeed, this was my first experience of video game zombie ass kicking, and I've since become somewhat obsessed with the pastime...

Whilst Sega's odyssey comes nowhere close to the massive epic delivered to us by Capcom, the storyline is a good one. Basically it's a plague of zombies thrust onto an unsuspecting population by an evil corporation. And it's the job of a crack team of agents to try and clear it up! Sounds familiar?

But HOTD differed from the Resident Evil franchise, due to it's FPS light gun credentials, which until recent times made it far more appealing and accessible to me. The RE 'Gun Survivor' series attempted to bridge the gap, but somewhat unsuccessfully. Umbrella Chronicles will hopefully silence critics of Capcom's 'Gun Survivor' outings.

But Sega aren't missing out on the potential of the Wii for Light Gun games. For those of you happy with your last (and last-but-one) gen light gun games comes the problem, that HDTV doesn't gel well with last gen light guns. Want to play HOTD1 (Saturn), HOTD2 (Dreamcast) or HOTD3 (Xbox) on your HDTV? Well you can't!

Technology has moved on! However, the Wii zapper is completely compatable with your lovely new telly, so if you want any HOTD action, this game is the one for you...

I really don't have a problem with classic 'last gen' games being given a rebirth on the Wii. Putting last gen titles up for another outing on newer consoles (or vice versa) is nothing new.
I've been around long enough to see both new titles re-released on their older brothers (Simpsons, RE4, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker or Altered Beast anyone?)

The only gripe I've heard about the HOTD Wii edition, is that it doesn't include a graphically polished re-issue of the heavily pixellated Saturn original. Not one to moan, I'd also like to add that if we wanted a complete a 'dream package' we'd have to include the much under-rated Zombie Revenge. It's a Dreamcast exclusive that places the whole HOTD world in a third person perspective. And what a fun outing it is! ( And maybe we could sneak in Typing Of The Dead too?) Click on the link to see more...

Anyway it looks like the Wii is beginning to deliver some quality games that might not share the limelight of it's bigger profile releases, but has certainly got this correspondent more excited about his latest console, than he has been for some time.

Jesus! The next thing they'll be telling me is that there's a new edition of NiGHTS coming out...

Oh and IGN have confirmed the whole outing thus...

"US, November 16, 2007 - Following leaks from Europe yesterday, SEGA of America has officially announced that is planning to bring updated versions of House of the Dead 2 and 3 to Wii in 2008's spring season. The two arcade games will come packaged together on one Wii disc in a set SEGA is calling The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return.
Gamers who pick up the compilation will be able to play both classic arcade titles, "battling the relentless attack of bloodthirsty zombies with steady aim and a quick trigger finger." As with all Wii on-rails shooter, House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return fully utilize the Wii remote, which can alternatively be housed in the Zapper shell to simulate a light-gun.
The two titles will feature more than six gameplay modes, including Arcade Mode and Time Attack, according to SEGA. In addition, up to two players can target zombies simultaneously in the title's cooperative mode.
"The House of the Dead franchise has been revitalized for today's gamer looking for non-stop shooting action on the Wii," said Rick Naylor, director of marketing, SEGA of America. "This will take gamers back to experience the celebrated first-person arcade shooter that was so popular in the late '90s."
When asked, SEGA said the titles are being developed by AM1/HIC and further noted that it's too early to comment on whether or not the Wii efforts would feature significant content changes or graphic improvements."

This is Father Krishna, in Raccoon City, signing out for Sky News At Ten... LOL! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Super Mario Galaxy Screenshots

Having been something of a Sega fanboy for most of my gaming life, I never really got into those crazy I-talian plumbers. In fact, apart from Donkey Kong at the arcade, the odd flirtation with the original Super Mario Land on the Gameboy and enjoying the film adaptation with Bob Hoskins, that everyone else thought was a crock of utter shit, I've really had no interest in Mario at all.
But since the day I got hold of my DS, I've become something of a Nintendo convert and of course, now proud Wii owner. These days I've softened towards our little moustachioed friend, although he doesn't evoke the sense of nostalgia and familiarity that Sonic does.

But all that is about to change with two new titles that are exciting me lately. One is Mario and Sonic At The Olympics (about which, more later!) and the other is the upcoming Super Mario Galaxy. Looking like a cross between Mario 64 and NiGHTS, this is one of the titles that featured heavily in the Wii promo videos, but gamers have had to wait an age for it's arrival.
Getting some great write ups recently, I will probably rent before I buy. Who knows? Maybe it'll be the turning point and finally Mario will mean as much to me as he does some of my blogging contemporaries... God! One day I might even care about Link! And talking about links
(he! he!) enjoy the links below... If you're unfamiliar with J's Corner, it's a fabulous Nintendo resource and also provides a lot of funny stuff and great music!

Super Mario Galaxy Video

J's Corner Of Randomness

Super Mario Galaxy IGN

Nintendo UK


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rockstar's Table Tennis

This baby has been out for some time on the 360, and it was always something of a shock... I've always associated Rockstar with 'pimps' and 'ho's' and guns and guts... Vice City and all the vices that it contained. I hated Vice City 'cos my sons pissed about on it and it took up my TV time, whilst they free-roamed in tanks and fire engines, 'bitch slapping' 'ho's' and failing to complete levels...

But since playing Max Payne I've softened towards the developer. I now know that Rockstar develop damn fine games... But Table Tennis??? PUH-LEASE??!!!

Well yeah... Actually this is a "no-brainer"... Pong was one of the first video games ever developed... With the Wii's 'hands on' control system, as demonstrated in Wii Sports, and a game that had already been a success on a less interactive system, they've already proved that a simple game could sell well.
So it made perfect sense to port it to the Wii... Nintendo had done Pong (Wii style) but with simple graphics and gameplay... Now we've got sumptuous graphics and good gameplay...

Happy days!! I fancy this title and the Wii finally looks set to fulfill it's potential. 'Nuff said!' Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


God I'm so excited! I might just piss myself! It's only 23 (oooh!) days until my Wii gets the game it's been waiting for! UMBRELLA CHRONICLES! To compensate for RE5 not making an appearance on the Wii (and maybe that's a good thing) Capcom have given us a Resident Evil exclusive in the shape of UC...

For those four of you who check in on this obscure site, it's a Light Gun game that utilises the Wii remote and nunchuck in the form of a gun, to shoot those danged zombies, but also sheds light on the missing story lines from all of those RE games that we've come to know and love...

Classic characters, destructable environments, THAT mansion and a host of other features make this a must have game for Wii owners.

In a sense it's gonna fuck up my game playing which is already schizophrenic to say the least... At the moment I'm half-playing (and not completing) a plethora of games... This one looks set to keep me occupied for another couple of months which means that a lot of games I'm mid way through will be further "backed up".

On the go at the moment on various consoles are God Of War II, Resident Evil 3, Half Life, Headhunter, Red Steel, Need For Speed Most Wanted (Own The Streets), Shinobi 3, Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Max Payne, Comix Zone and so on...

All of those games will fall by the wayside when this little number comes out... And there's also NiGHTS: Journey into Dreams on it's way. But still, at least there's a couple of titles I'm playing which are current, I'm not as locked into the past as I used to be.

Last night I actually played Wii Sports (Golf and Bowling) and Mrs. K got right into it! I'm still waiting for that definitive Wii game, and do you know what? I think UC might just fulfill that role...