It was a bit of a surprise when Capcom brought the hugely successful Resident Evil series to Nintendo's GameCube, which, for better or worse, had become known as a family-friendly system. Now that the Wii has become hugely successful across all demographics, it's no shock at all that Resident Evil is headed to the Wii in the form of Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. We've seen the game not once, but twice before, and at the Leipzig Games Convention we got a third taste of the game in the form of a new playable level.
For the uninitiated, Umbrella Chronicles is an on-rails shooter that takes place in locations from previous Resident Evil games. The game can be played with a Nunchuk in the left hand and Wii Remote in the right, but it's best played with the plastic gun peripheral. This molded piece of plastic holds the remote in the gun barrel and the Nunchuk where the handle is.
Sure, this solution sounds absurdly simple, but it works quite well and you have a surprising amount of control at your fingertips. You aim by moving the gun, fire with the trigger, pick up items with the C button, change weapons with the D pad, and reload by shaking the gun for a second. Because the game is on rails you have no control over your character's movements, but you can look around a bit with the analog stick.
The new level we got to play took place on a train and should be familiar to anyone who played Resident Evil Zero. Playing as Bill we slowly made our way through an old train car... and then the zombies attacked. Using a handgun we fended off the hordes of undead, quickly adjusting to the controls and aiming accurately. It's helpful that your aiming reticle glows when it's over a zombie's weak point. Not only does this allow you to dispatch them faster, but it also saves ammo. Your handgun actually has unlimited ammo, but other weapons such as the machine gun and shotgun have limited ammunition, so you'll want to make every shot count. Not all of your weapons fire bullets--you can use a knife to fend off enemies that have attached themselves to you by holding down the C button and waving the controller. This came in real handy for the little grublike creatures that dropped down on us from the ceiling. We also caught a quick glimpse of a swordlike weapon called the Samurai Edge in a different level but didn't get to use it.
Other than the control scheme and the Resident Evil theme, Umbrella Chronicles plays like most other on-rails shooters. There were a few pauses in the action to help build tension and give your trigger finger a break, but outside of those few moments our time was happily spent taking down zombies and tearing up bits of the environment as we moved from car to car. Eventually we made our way through a hatch on top of the train and into a driving rainstorm, but just as things began to get really interesting the demo ended, meaning we'll have to wait a few more months until the game's release to finish the job.