Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is not strictly part of the Resident Evil series. It would be more correct to label it a spin-off. Umbrella Chronicles is a rail shooter, similar to the popular arcade series 'House of the Dead'. Players are slowly walked through a level with only a small amount of influence over the camera. Not enough to look 360 degrees around yourself but enough to shift the focus to an object that may be slightly off screen. While the game takes you around the level, it is your task to defend yourself against the hordes of undead and other ruthless creatures that frequent the Resident Evil series.
Most enemies aren't a problem and can easily be dispatched with a few shots from your default popgun and its infinite supply of ammunition. However, as things start to liven up you may require the assistance of more deadly firearms. Grenades can also be found in game to help deal with those pesky coordinated attacks. And of course, what would a Resident Evil game be without a knife? When things get a little too close for comfort a quick swipe can deal to most enemies, or at least discourage them a little, giving you room to tag them a few more times with your gun.
At the end of each segment is what any gamer should expect, a boss fight. Usually it is some over sized creature with the talent of being able to cause high amounts of damage and sustain what can only be described as a ridiculous amount of bullets. Similar to segments in Resident Evil 4, players are given a specific action to complete in order to dodge an incoming attack. Any moment that isn't occupied by the zombie version of 'Simon Says' needs to be spent pumping any remaining ammunition into the 'weak point' of the creature. All this is accompanied by the 'helpful' rantings of your characters who are not only stating the obvious, but repeating it, if for some reason you didn't hear it the first four times.
The pace of Umbrella Chronicles is slow at best. There is more than enough time to visually explore, in detail, the whole of a room before your character takes a few steps. This is countered somewhat by having the camera jump erratically from point to point as undead minions appear from every crack and crevice. In what seems to be an attempt to scare the player, creatures are frequently appearing from behind objects, around corners and from hiding places above you. Unfortunately they are trying to be in your face without warning so often that it comes to be expected. Any trace of what could have been fright soon progresses to 'oh look another enemy to shoot'. Levels can get tedious quite quickly, I often found myself hoping that the boss would be close, just so i had something a bit different to fight.
Umbrella Chronicles can be played using either the normal remote and Nunchuck setup, or combined with the Nintendo Zapper peripheral. For this review I played using the Zapper, although I found it better to use it with the Nunchuck detached. This made it much easier to shake the Nunchuck when needed, which happens to be quite often. Aside from the 'waggle to dodge an attack' command, waggling is also required to reload your gun and swipe with your knife. If a zombie gets on top of you, you are able to 'counter attack' by shaking the Nunchuck when the action command appears. Aside from that, the rest of the controls are rather intuitive and simple. Letting you concentrate on aiming for those critical hits.
The scenarios you play in Umbrella Chronicles are assembled from 3 different Resident Evil games. In each of the scenarios you are given the choice to play as one of two characters from the game that the scene takes place in. As far as I can tell, the only difference between the characters is the starting weapon they have. Though you progress you are able to customize your character, giving them whichever weapon you prefer. You can also earn 'stars' by meeting certain criteria while playing and posting a good score for that scenario. Stars can be spent upgrading your weapon, adding such things as extra starting ammunition. This makes life that little bit easier when trying to take down some of the tougher monsters.
Umbrella Chronicles offers the keen players a myriad of weird objects to collect relating to the Resident Evil world. These, along with the ranking system that is used to evaluate your score, gives the game a fair amount of replay value. That is if you are the type that really does love the game and willingly wants to finish everything. Personally I found Umbrella Chronicles to be slow and dull. There really isn't anything in the way of problem solving and more often than not I found myself tuning out and playing the game in a somewhat 'automatic' fashion. However, for those Resident Evil enthusiasts it may be more interesting, as Umbrella Chronicles is much more story orientated than captivating game-play.
If you are an avid collector of Resident Evil games, or love the arcade rail shooters, then this game will suit you fine. If, like me, you are neither of those, then you may consider renting it or just staying clear of it.