The Wii has single-handedly revived the light gun game. I hadn't played an on-rails shooter-which is to say, a game in which the camera moves on its own accord while the player simply takes aim at anything that happens to pass in front of it-in a long time, and now I've played three in a single calendar year that I've really enjoyed. I had a blast with September's Dead Space: Extraction , and last spring's House of the Dead: Overkill was pretty fun, too. But my favourite Wii light gun game to date has to be Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles Developer/Publisher: Capcom / ESRB Rating: M, which hits shelves Tuesday this week.
For starters, it looks great. The opening mission, which takes place in a South American town, looks much like the African village from the beginning of Resident Evil 5. The dilapidated shanty houses are filled with detail and are as close to photo-realistic as anything I've seen in a Wii game.
The terrific graphics are appreciated all the more once one of our heroes, Leon, begins remembering a mission from earlier in his career, which sets to stage for us to begin revisiting classic scenes from previous Resident Evil games. Working through the bulk of Resident Evil 2-an iconic game that's been stamped into the minds of many '90s-era players-with updated graphics, new voice acting, and more cinematic pacing, is a blast. Ditto for the scenes in which we return to in Resident Evil: Code Veronica.
And the action is spot-on. The rail-based play, which more often than not has us pausing in one location to take out groups of approaching enemies, is a perfect fit for Resident Evil, a franchise bred on the notion that one can't run and shoot at the same time. There were times when it felt like I was playing one of the series' traditional, numbered entries.
Indeed, the game always feels authentically Resident Evil-ish. Whether we're using a handgun to blow the heads off of slowly staggering zombies, piling bullets into giant spiders with a sub-machine gun, or using a rocket launcher on Resident Evil 2's fittingly named Nemesis, there's never any doubt as to the universe we inhabit.
The one classic Resident Evil element that's missing is contextual puzzles, but, interestingly, I hardly noticed their absence-which makes me wonder about their true value in the series' primary releases.
But as much fun as I had with The Darkside Chronicles, there were moments of intense frustration.
The biggest problem is the camera. It constantly jostles about, which makes it hard to take a bead on enemies. The jerky movement was clearly done with the intent to increase realism; the camera is supposed to imitate the movement of our avatar's head. However, there are times when aiming becomes terribly difficult-especially during boss fights.
One battle in particular near the end of the set of Resident Evil 2 chronicles requires the player to shoot the bulging eyes perched on the shoulders of a giant enemy, which proved exceptionally challenging given the camera's chaotic movements. Not until I dived back in with a buddy (the game supports two-player cooperative play) was I able to defeat this aggravating archenemy.
The occasional annoying boss fight aside, I had a splendid time with this lengthy light gun game. In fact, it makes me want to give Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles-another Wii-exclusive that revisits earlier entries in the franchise-a shot. That one was released in 2007; long before my new appreciation of light gun games took hold.
It seems that in writing off this genre a few years ago I may have been depriving myself of some good, mature fun on the Wii. I have some catching up to do.
Follow me on Twitter: @ chadsapieha