Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles takes a shotgun approach to game development and misses all the targets. Fans of the series will have problems with the on-rails shooter gameplay and flat dialogue. On-rails shooting fans will have problems with the nauseating third person camera and the horrid graphics. And the average Joe Wii player will find little joy in this uninspired dud.
Perhaps it is unfair to expect much from Cavia, makers of desperate titles like Bullet Witch. According to Masachika Kawata (Chief Director), the term "darkside" refers to three things: the untold story of previous RE titles, the tumultuous emotions the characters feel, and the famed horror of the RE series. But what's scary about a game with infinite ammo that doesn't record accuracy?
The revisited scenes of previous Resident Evil games are nostalgic reminders of better games that have now been perverted. Playing Resident Evil has always been an explorative, cautious, and fearful experience, but Darkside Chronicles is a theme ride. Once a group of enemies is destroyed the camera drags you to the next group, and the additional backstory story does not feel like Resident Evil cannon, but throwaway drivel.
The worst part of the game is the dialogue. Don't look for tumultuous emotion here. All the fantastic voice actors from the previous series are back, but the script is awful. It is unfortunate the game doesn't offer Japanese dialogue with subtitles, to see if the delays between when one character finishes speaking and another commences are the English voice actors waiting for their Japanese counterparts to finish their lines.
The gameplay has two modes: nauseate and bore. When you are running from something, the camera becomes a wild, unhindered pendulum; drunks flee more coherently. When you stop running and the zombies are dead, you're rewarded with drawn-out, empty, dull, dialogue.
Another problem is the shared ammo. If this game is supposed to be designed for everyone, judicious players are going to suffer playing alongside cavalier friends. When you have an infinite handgun ammo, it encourages players to still waste bullets when switching to other weapons where ammo is limited. Fortunately this game has the most entertaining knife action yet seen in a Resident Evil title. Simply hold one button, and flail your Wiimote as wildly as you can. The knife will mimic your every slash with broad, sweeping animations.
The graphics are classic Wii-fare. It's difficult to say something fair and unbiased about Wii graphics anymore, and not unlike taunting a disadvantaged child – it's cruel to make fun of things people (systems) can't change. But if a Wii game doesn't have cartoony graphics, the Wii can only offer dull, grainy, desperate attempts at something more realistic or detailed.
On the upside, it's great to see Krauser, Claire, Leon, and Ada return. The idea is akin to the Final Fantasy VII sequels — take an extremely popular franchise, gather its most likable characters, and place them in a new game. Fans of the old games will be excited to see their old favourites, and new players should fall in love with what must have been charming characters and scenarios the first time out. But the scenarios and gameplay here are simply too different to keep the good feelings going.
On a system for everyone the game fails to please anyone. There's no hook here for a new player picking up the game, and fans who love the series will be pissed off with this heartless remake. Stay away from this thoughtless, bastard stepchild.
Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language.