Version tested: Wii
As mindlessly enjoyable as The Umbrella Chronicles was, the absence of the Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica storylines was conspicuous. Capcom said there wasn't enough time to include the full story and has tried to make amends by releasing a follow-up to its successful on-rails take on the franchise.
Like so many Capcom titles, The Darkside Chronicles follows the formula of the preceding release almost entirely. Presented like an old-school lightgun shooter, it lets gamers relive memorable moments of key Resident Evil titles in an on-rails context with the focus entirely on filling zombies full of holes. With Resi 2 and CV in the frame, Claire Redfield is joined by rookie cop Leon Kennedy and escaped prisoner Steve Burnside. Together they must take down the mutated menace via the wonders of the unlimited ammo pistol.
To kick off proceedings the opening chapter skips forward to the previously unseen 'Operation Javier' scenario, set just prior to the events of Resident Evil 4 in 2003. Leon Kennedy and future troublemaker Jack Krauser (both playable from the start) are on a mission to find a girl named Manuela in the South American village of Amparo. It doesn't take long for them to figure out that the whole place is overrun by an infection that has gripped not only the locals, but the wildlife as well. Cue gunfire.
No sooner have you fought off the attentions of a gigantic aquatic beast than the game flits off on a tangent, offering up around two hours of Resident Evil 2-based fun. Complete with all the best bits that you may or may not remember from the late nineties classic, the formula is a joyous rollercoaster ride of almost non-stop blasting.
The section is split into eight chapters and the premise couldn't be any simpler: shoot at anything that moves, shoot things even if they don't move, and then shoot everything again just to make sure. It's the same deal with the seven Code Veronica chapters (titled 'Memories of a Lost City') with all the highlights of the last-gen epic present and correct. Once the two 'old-school' Resident Evil tales are over the game switches its full focus to Operation Javier, and you explore the murky depths of a dam complex before everything spirals out of control.
As you'd expect, enemies come thick, fast and in many forms, from the standard shambling zombies to giant moths, dogs, bats, giant spiders, wall-running lickers and horrendous triffid-like aberrations. As for the bosses, well... If you've played the original games you know what you're in for, which is to say far too many tentacles.
Thanks to the inherent suitability of the Wii remote to lightgun-style gameplay no extra peripherals are required to play, though the game has Wii Zapper configs for those who prefer to wield extra plastic mouldings while they shoot. As before, you simply aim the reticule at the screen, shoot as fast as you can with the B button and collect loot with the A button. Aiming is precise and swift and you can now - rather uselessly - add a laser pointer if you wish.
Weapon-switching is make somewhat easier this time around. The somewhat superfluous ability to move your head slightly with the nunchuk stick which featured in The Umbrella Chronicles has been abandoned. Instead weapons are mapped to the four stick directions, and flicking between them during the game is as simple as pressing the required direction.